Every parent has heard their child whine, “I want ….” By the time the child is a pre-teen, the chant turns into “But, I need it!” By the time he or she becomes a teenager, the demand becomes “You don’t understand–everyone has one!”
Many of us continue this behavior into adulthood. We have trouble distinguishing between our “wants” and our “needs.” This oversight can affect our relationships, career success, financial stability, and even our finances.
“Needs” are those items we cannot live without – food, shelter, clothing, utilities, insurance and other necessities.”Wants” are things we would like to have (electronics, jewelry, toys, cell phones, movies, cosmetics, computers, cars, furniture, etc.), but could definitely live without. At the very least, we could certainly wait until our budget was in better shape.
One sure way to drain your budget is to shop with too little forethought. It’s equally dangerous to make purchases based on too much emotion. In either case, you risk letting your “wants” take charge of your wallet.
To avoid falling into the “I gotta have it” trap, take some time to think while you shop. Ask yourself, am I deciding to purchase this product because:
- I saw an enticing advertisement.
- I need to boost my spirits.
- I am angry with someone or something.
- I am trying to impress someone or change his or her feelings towards me.
- I want to “be the first” in my family, neighborhood or office, to own this.
- My spouse, child or other significant person will be disappointed if I don’t.
- My relative, friend, co-worker or other influential person has one.
- I love the “brand name.”
- I want to replace something that is still in good working order.
- I want to take advantage of a sale, not because I need the item.
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you are probably getting ready to indulge a “want.” You are veering toward making an unnecessary, emotional purchase.
If that is the case, and you plan to persist with the purchase, consider these questions.
- Can I afford this purchase right now?
- How am I going to pay for this purchase? If I have to charge it or take out a loan, will I be able to afford the monthly payment?
- Is this the right time to buy it (i.e., should I wait until the sale price fits within my budget)?
- Is there a less expensive version or can I buy it used?
- Can I get this cheaper at another retailer?
- How many hours of work would it take me to pay for this item?
We all buy on impulse now and then. It is only human. The important thing is to keep those impulses in check when your financial situation is less than ideal. If you don’t, you could end up depleting your bank account or assuming too much debt.
If you’re finding it difficult to curb or control your “wants,” seek the assistance of a certified consumer credit counselor. Our counselors can evaluate your financial situation and work with you to develop smart spending and saving strategies. Call us at 800.750.2227 to make an appointment for a free credit counseling session or get started now online.