Need vs. Want

31 Days of Cheap Tricks - Living for Less:  Need vs. Want and how to tell the difference

Many of our needs are really wants.

Ten people just clicked off this blog at once.  I think my screen flickered a bit.

Remember, this month is all about Cheap Tricks to help us Live for Less.

If you’re not trying to save money, ignore me.  But, if you want to save money, then you need to distinguish the difference between needs vs. wants.

I need a whole lot of things from Target.  They still have the shiny red patent leather pumps I most definitely NEED want.

I keep an imaginary list in my head, adding and subtracting at will.  Every time my mom visits, she’ll point out something we need for the house.  I always say the same thing, “I’ll add it to my list.”

It’s kind of a joke.

I really do need to go buy some of those items on my list.  My mom is right.  I need to get a few things, but finances are tight and I’m picky about what gets to come off the list.

There is genuine needWe all experience it.

Then there are a whole lot of things on my need list that are really wants.

The new pair of Madden Girl boots with the red zipper up the back are on my imaginary needs list, but if I’m honest with myself, they are a want, not a need.

Here’s where it really gets bad.  Because I’ve allowed myself to think about those boots for so long, they’ve become a burning desire, a nice brew of lust and covetousness.

Not. A. Good. Idea.

Girls, this is getting downright ugly!

Every time the Bed, Bath, and Beyond flyer comes in the mail with my 20% off coupon, I find stuff I think I need.  You know how it is.  You never once thought you needed something until you see it displayed all perfect and pretty.  Then suddenly it’s a need that starts in the outer edges of your heart and burns bright until you are consumed with the item.

Hate to break the news, but that is 100% pure want.

Yup, no need anywhere in sight.

I don’t think it’s wrong to buy things you want.  Please understand.  I don’t think we should all take a vow to never look through a sales flyer or step foot into the mall.  Not. At. All.

We just need to be honest with ourselves.

We’re talking about saving money this month.  If you want to live for less, you need to know when it’s a need vs. a want.

Need vs. Want is easy for us to pick out in our kids.  Do you they need another iTunes card for their iPod?  Of course not, but they want it.  Do they need snow boots for winter?  Absolutely.

It’s pretty dang difficult when we’re trying to distinguish need vs. want in ourselves, because we’re schooled in rationalization.  We know what words to say to convince ourselves of need.  We’ve been at these mind games for years and we’re good at them.

It’s time to break the cycle.

Tomorrow’s trick will help you.


Ironically, I’m over at Fancy Little Things today talking about a fall fashion trend  – Booties.

They are pure want, not need.

I’m beginning to think I have a shoe problem.

Visit me over there if you aren’t trying to save money!

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31 Days of Cheap Tricks - Living for Less - A series providing you with tips on saving money and living while spending less



  1. says

    Apple Hill Cottage– oh yes, you are wise to NOT buy the cheap one. Frugal means finding value– whether it’s in quality, or a want that YOU have decided merits exchanging your money for, not some advertiser or your impulsive inner voices lol!
    Like Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else so that later, you can live like no one else.” I’m living proof!

  2. says

    yeah, I especially have this problem in the redoing of the cottage. Did we need a new faucet? Absolutely. Did I buy the cheap one? Noooo….
    And here we get into the issue of stewardship — is it better to buy a good one once, than three or four over the course of your lifetime? Oh, it’s such a struggle. And yes, I’m throwing away my catalogs too! (except for Pottery Barn…) :-)

  3. says

    Looking forward to reading your next trick. I know window shopping online has helped a lot. Less chance for me to make impulse purchases. It’s nice having a wish list on amazon and etsy. Plus, I have saved a lot of money by not eating out as much just because I want Mexican food one day. Or coffee. It’s hard to distinguish at first, but I’m a lot happier and life is much simpler. I think media and the internet kill us with all the marketing hype and instantaneous gratification. And it’s hard to teach our kids. My son just got $45 running shoes from his dad and he associates them with being fast. Or he thinks he’s only handsome if he wears “cool” clothes. He’s only 5. I had to tell him that he’s handsome because of his character that shines out of him and because he’s a kind and loving person and that makes him handsome and that he’s fast because he’s fast, not because of his shoes. It’s so hard when the media leads us to believe that we are lacking and have needs that aren’t really real. Thanks for this series and this post. Looking forward to the next one. :)

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