Wants vs. Needs: A One Day Chronicle

Defining “wants” vs. “needs” is an essential money management skill that many people do not realize they already possess. Personal finance educators often encourage using “wants” vs. “needs” before making a purchase. To show how prevalent this skill is in our daily lives, I thought it would be interesting to chronicle my “wants” vs. “needs” for one day.

6:30 AM – The alarm goes off, and my seven-year old son’s face is about an inch away from mine. He says to me, “Mommy, you need to brush your teeth. I want you to make me chocolate pancakes for breakfast.”

7:30 AM – I need to go to the gym to fit in some exercise, but I want to blow off my workout and go back to bed instead. I am paying a monthly membership fee, so I decide to get on the treadmill and start running.

8:30 AM – My Starbucks, sugar-free, hazelnut coffee ($2.00) is a pure want, but I have convinced myself that this daily coffee run is the morning ritual I need to start my day off on the right foot. Not only do I get my caffeine fix, but it’s an opportunity to glance at the newspaper headlines and create my local “community” feel by chatting up some of the regulars there. My mother reminds me that there is a free cup of coffee waiting for me at home that she wants me to consider.

12:00 PM – My lunchtime Target visit turns into an Olympic-size testament on the need for self-restraint and financial discipline vs. a primal want for more “stuff.” I stride into the store with the sole mission of buying milk that my children need, to grow big and strong. I take a detour through the women’s clothing (there is always some item on clearance that may never again be on sale in the future); the dollar aisle (“These prices are too good to be true and everything’s so darn cute!”); the kids’ toy section (“It never hurts to have an extra gift or two stashed away for an unexpected birthday party!”); the seasonal aisle (“This lawn furniture is to die for, and I need seat cushions for next weekend’s barbeque!”); and finally, the newly anointed grocery section (“We need milk, but the Goldfish crackers are on sale.”) I walk out of the store with a gallon of milk and the Goldfish crackers, bemoaning my other lost clearance opportunities.

3:00 PM – It is time to pay the bills, but I need a quick mental break before delving into such complicated and stressful matters. I want to go to Hawaii for vacation sometime in the future, so I convince myself of the immediate need to check Travelzoo and LivingSocial for any travel specials that could save us lots of money. I finish paying my bills, because I want to stop stressing over them and have peace of mind.

5:30 PM – The car needs gas. It costs almost $4 a gallon. I want to start using my roller blades as a less pricey alternative for transportation.

6:00 PM – Time to pick up the kids from summer camp. They tell me they are ravenous, that they have not eaten for hours (but it feels like days), and we need to run to Sizzler’s or Home Town Buffet so I don’t have to cook since I am tired from working. I tell them how much I appreciate their concern for my mental and physical health and remind them of the leftover meatloaf we need to eat at home or it will go bad. I remind them that we cannot go out to eat every night since that costs money. They remind me that we do not go out to eat every night, and it’s “Kids Eat for Free on Tuesday Night” at Chevys (I tell them it’s Wednesday night). By the time we get home, they delve into the meatloaf, and tell me I’m the best cook ever!

8:00 PM – The kids need to take a bath, and my son wants me to pay him $2 to do so. I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit, but diminish his hopes of ever making money by trying to negotiate bath time with an over-tired mother. We nip that conversation in the bud.

9:00 PM – Tucking my two kids into bed. My daughter reminds me that I need to put my spare change in the goldfish bowl downstairs, since we all want to make a Coinstar visit in the near future (it’s fun!).

10:00 PM – I want to go to sleep, but I need to write my blog for Forbes. Once that’s done, I settle in for an hour of Food Network, then head to bed.

For one day, consider tracking how often you negotiate “wants” vs “needs” in your own life. In particular, see how you apply this when it comes to deciding whether an item is worth buying. This one act of differentiating between “wants” vs. “needs” could save you a few dollars every day! Good luck!

Source : www.news.yahoo.com

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.