Don't Confuse 'Needs' with 'Wants!'

Let's say you're planning to take a leisurely trip to the mall for – well, nothing special. As you're perusing the many stores there, you come upon an item and decide to buy it. But wait! Before you do, ask yourself this question first: "Do I need this item, or do I just want it?" We as humans tend to play psychological games with ourselves when it comes to defining the difference between needing and wanting something. We rationalize why we may 'need' a particular item rather than ascertaining that we may simply want it.

The dictionary defines need as a "requirement, or lack of something deemed necessary;" whereas want is defined as a "desire, wish, or crave." Obviously, these two terms are often used synonymously, but the difference is quite significant. Technically speaking, the difference is akin comparing to apples and oranges.

So, we see that needing something because we lack it and wanting something because we desire it are two very diverse sentiments, and they must be addressed and weighed honestly; especially if, like most of us, your money is often at a premium. Most of us tend not to overly desire the things we actually need; yet the things that we desire we often think we need. It's a common conundrum we all face. The key is to make the proper distinction in our own minds.

Here's a scenario that may sound familiar: you take a trip to an electronics store to browse. A salesperson comes along and asks if he or she can help you, then mentions that the store is having a sale on flat-screen TVs. Well…there's no harm in looking, right? Hmmm.

After a few moments of marveling at the picture and sound clarity of this great new machine, you find yourself quietly starting to contemplate a few questions: "Can I afford this? Do we really need this television? The one we have now isn't 'high-definition,' and this particular brand comes with a built-in DVD player. The family would love this TV! Besides, it's time we upgraded to a 21st-century model, anyway." Then, almost as if you're watching from across the room, you then hear yourself ask the dreaded question: "How much is it again?"

What you may not realize (until it's far too late) is that you've actually talked yourself into making the purchase. You most likely didn't the new TV but, rather, you desired it. And that desire overruled your need (remember that 'need' is based on a lack of something). You have a perfectly good TV at home, so there is really no need to buy a new one. But, the desire is there and, after wrestling with it, you find yourself ultimately pinned to the mat by it.

Then, once you get home, there is the tendency to justify the purchase made. You may say, "Hey, everybody! I just got a great deal on a new flat-screen TV. Come and take a look! It's great, isn't it? Just what we needed!"

But, eventually, buyer's remorse will rear its ugly head. You'll ponder, "Did we really need this extra expense? Our old TV was perfectly fine." Ironically, the desire, once so strong, has now lost its potency and a more sober examination of the facts reveals that there was really no lack present at all. What's more, now you've got a brand new bill.

The next time you go shopping, think long and hard about the two words 'need' and 'want.' Though often interchanged, they each deserve careful consideration and attention before making any financial decision.

blog comments powered by Disqus