Whether it’s an expensive watch, a third dog, or a bear-skin rug, there’s a good chance you don’t really need it. You might want it desperately, but you certainly don’t need it. That doesn’t mean you can’t have it, but there’s a good chance you’d be better off without it. How can you know for sure?
Try these techniques to be clear on your needs versus your wants:
- Wait. When you want something that you don’t really need, you’ll often find that the desire to own it will fade if you give it time. Whether it’s a puppy, a new car, or a banjo, you might find that you can live without it if you wait 30 days. See how you feel about it next month.
- Remind yourself of why you don’t need it. Be logical with yourself. Maybe you don’t need a new car because your current car works just fine. Or, you don’t need a puppy because you already have a dog, a bird, and a tank full of fish.
- List the disadvantages of acquiring it. What are the negatives of following through on your impulse?
- For example, a new car is expensive, requires more expensive insurance, and you’ll be worried about someone scratching it. You’re also not sure about how much your boss likes you. It would be challenging to be stuck with a car payment without a job.
- Talk yourself out of it.
- Avoid buying anything that doesn’t fit into your life. If you live in an apartment and enjoy your peace and quiet, a noisy parrot doesn’t really fit into your life. Buying snowshoes doesn’t make a lot of sense in Florida. You don’t need the latest and greatest running shoes if you don’t run.
- Buy one thing but get rid of two. If you’re going to buy something, at least make your life a little better by creating some extra space. For each thing you bring into your home, get rid of at least two. That way, you’re gaining ground.
- Find a more suitable substitute. Why do you want to buy that particular item in the first place? Perhaps you want to buy a grand piano because you love the sound of a piano. However, you might not have the space and finances for an 8-foot long, $100,000 piano.
- A small, less-expensive digital piano might be perfect for your situation.
- A cat might be just as good and require less time and attention than a dog.
- A Prius might make more sense than a Mercedes.
- A sports package on your cable box could be a wiser decision than season tickets.
- What benefits does your urge fulfill? Is there a better way to fulfill it?
- Just say “No”. Just be strong and tell yourself, “No.” For some people, that’s all it takes. You know you don’t need to eat that doughnut, so don’t. Some people are better at telling themselves “no” than others.
- Most of us are good, however, at telling ourselves that we’ll begin telling ourselves “no” tomorrow. Unfortunately, we continue telling ourselves that over and over.
- Consider getting it. If we only acquired the things we truly needed, we’d have little more than bread, water, and a toilet. Obviously, there’s much more to life than the bare minimum. We need more. Just be choosy in what you decide to bring into your life.
Be careful giving in to your wants. You only have so much time, money, and space. Maximize their utility. Take note when you really want something. You might be leading yourself astray.