The Old Wants Vs Needs Debate

wants vs needsWhen I was in grade school, I distinctly remember learning about wants and needs. Needs were “food, clothing, and shelter” my teacher told me, and wants were things like toys and new ballet skirts.

Maybe we’re all taught this somewhere along the way, but it seems that for many of us, these lines get blurred as we get older.

There have been many times I convinced myself that my wants were actually needs. I’ve realized that only in retrospect though, so here’s a look at some of my wants that I camouflaged as needs back in the day.

I’m curious if you’ve had the same problem?

1. A Nice Computer

Since I do my job primarily from a computer, I wanted a nice computer. I definitely tricked myself by counting this as a need though, especially because I can write it off as a business expense. The thing is, my computer is super nice, and I definitely didn’t need the type of computer that I currently have. There are many people who could do my job on a computer with way fewer bells and whistles. That said, my laptop was one of the very first big purchases I saved up for all in cash, and I worked hard for it. Yet, at the end of the day it’s still a want.

2. A Graduate Education

Going to graduate school was something I wanted to do, and when I graduated with my master’s degree, it came with a hefty price tag. Like many millenials, I convinced myself that going to graduate school was something I needed to do to get a better job, especially because the job market seemed like a desolate wasteland when I graduated from college.  I’m glad I went, and it did help me get a great job a few years later, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t a need. It was a want, and there have been many times I wish I would have waited a little longer before going.

3. Seeing the World

I love traveling, and it’s a big part of the reason I have lived in a different country for the past two years. I want to see more of the world. In fact, I hope to see as much of it as possible before I die. However, when I was in college, I thought I needed to study abroad. It was an experience I wanted to have but I also told myself that I needed it on my resume and needed to do something like that to feel like I had the ultimate college experience. I was lucky to get some funding to go, but I still traveled on my own at the end, which was costly. I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything, but I do realize now it was just a want – not a need.

As evidenced, there have been a few times in the past where I’ve tried to cloud some of my wants as needs, but the older (and wiser) I get, the more those lines become more clearly defined. It’s a daily challenge that all of us have to face, especially when getting our finances and budgets on track, but it’s not an impossible one.

Do you have trouble discerning wants from needs?


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