Wants Or Needs?

Yesterday at work there were several of us talking about how some people don’t know how to save money. One person mentioned how their son is remodeling a house and went out and bought brand new tools to work with. He was so mad that his son spent so much money on stuff that he will probably use only a handful of times. He tried telling his son that he spent way too much money and that he really didn’t have to. I mentioned to my co-worker that really it wasn’t a “need” that drove him to buy those tools, it was a “want”, He looked at me funny so I said to him does your son have friends with the same tools? He could borrow them for a while and do what needs done and then return them. He could pay them back for the time and use of the tools by taking the friend out to dinner or do something with them that they would enjoy. It would be a lot cheaper to do that than to go and spend several hundred dollars or even almost a thousand dollars on tools.

I tried explaining to my co-workers how I was an at home mom for 19 years and we had to figure out what was a “want” or a “need”. If we truly needed something that we couldn’t wait for, we bought it new. If we could wait we would buy it second hand. If it was a want, I would stop and think twice about it. Was it something that I truly wanted or was it an instant gratification want? We got by in those years by me being frugal at saving money at the grocery store and by shopping for clothes at thrift shops and garage sales. I still shop that way even though I am back to work part time.


I have used coupons, shopped at scratch and dent stores, and discount stores for groceries. You can distinguish which food is a need or a want. Chips is a want not a need. You need nourishing food to live. Chips, soda pop, candy are all wants. You don’t need them and think of how much money you could save if you didn’t buy those items.

When we were talking I was told it was a generation thing. I reminded him that his son is around the same age as me so I didn’t think that it is a generation thing. I think that some people don’t care how much they spend whether it is groceries or anything else no matter what the generation is. I am by nature a thrifty person so I am probably in the minority.


If we all took the wants and needs approach to life, just think of how much money we would be saving! We lived that way out of necessity but now it has become second nature and I will always be this way.

So I am wondering if anyone else that reads this blog knows how to distinguish between the needs and wants of life? I would live to hear stories from you.



2 thoughts on “Wants Or Needs?

  1. This ‘needs vs wants’ is new to me. I have been in the ‘I work hard, I deserve _________” group. I had much encouragement in this thought process. What my fiance and I do is anything over $75 has a 24 hour waiting period. In that time we make a list of pros & cons of the purchase. We also list separate from the pros & cons how it will improve our lives over the next 6 months, year, and 5 years. After this we usually do not buy the item. We did buy 2 new window fans to cut back on our A/C us this summer that was borderline but due to the savings we decided it was more of a need. We also write down separate how we are feeling. Angry? Stressed? Depressed? Happy?
    etc This helps us to truly identify why we are feeling compelled to buy. I’d love to know what others do.

    • Hi. While I do agree with the 24 hour waiting period I even do that if it is under $75. I also agree with the fact that sometimes we shop to get that “high” if we are depressed, stressed, etc. Check out the Tightwad Gazette. It has tons of info on this kind of thing. Thanks for responding!

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