Wants Vs. Needs

By: Nikki Willhite

Wants versus Needs! It is said that we spend the first half of our life accumulating possessions, and the second half giving them away. This is true for most people.

Why do we have to have so many things? Why do we buy things only to turn around and sell them for a fraction of the cost we paid for them or give them away?

We not only buy too much, but we often go into debt doing so. Self-control, when it comes to money,  is at an all time low. Our children seem to think that they should have everything that we have, ignoring the fact that some of our possessions have taken years to accumulate or to be able to afford.

Have you ever found yourself jealous of something someone else owns? How about a house, a car, clothes, jewelry, tools, appliances, furniture, swimming pools, big screen televisions, or computers?

Do you have any preconceived notions that you just have to have a certain item (whether you need it or not) just because your family had it? When we were first married my husband use to stop and look at every Grandfather clock he saw. He said he'd always wanted one.

Yes, they are lovely. However, a simple wrist watch accomplishes the same task of telling you the time. If we had a LOT of money, then perhaps we would have purchased one. With our finances, it would be an unaffordable luxury.

All families are different. Some have one television, some have more. Some have one computer, others have a several  Some families make do with one car.  Other families have several cars, motorcyles, boats and RV's.

We all spend our money in different ways. Some people have to have the latest- whatever it is. Their clothes must be new, they consider their furniture old in 5 years, redecorate or remodel what they consider a "dated interior" every 10 years, and replace their cars while they are still in the payment process.

If you want to live like this, you will have a lot of help! Every newspaper ad, television commercial, billboard and magazine will urge you to act on these impulses. If, however, you wish to live frugally, you will be walking alone.

When you pay cash for an item at the mall, you will be asked if you have a credit card and urged to apply for one with the promise of a discount on your purchase. They do not tell you that having an excessive amount of credit cards will lower your FICO score, resulting in higher interest rates and loss of money for years to come.

You probably receive a LOT of mail urging you to take out credit cards and home equity loans each week in your mailbox.

There are not a lot of role models for frugal, responsible living. Only you can decide what is important for you to own. When you get older you realize that when you have so much, it is just more to worry about.  "Things" break and "things" are stolen. It is more work having to keep "things" clean. You learn when you are older to choose your "things" more carefully.

Decide what you need to make you comfortable. Learn to distinguish between your wants and your needs. Don't be so strict that you take all the fun out of life. Everyone should have a few things that they just love, even if they are not practical. Just use prudence (does anyone even know what that word means anymore?) and try and keep your taste simple. Learn to live with less. Learn to shun envy. Appreciate what you have. If you have less, you will appreciate what you have more, and you will be happier.

Nikki Willhite, mother of three, and an Interior Design Graduate, is the editor of The Pennypincher E-zine and Tightwad Tidbits Daily.  Visit her at http://www.allthingsfrugal.com/.

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