Do you REALLY need it or just want it?

November 27, 2009

How often when we buy something, do we say: “I really needed a new (insert whatever in here!)”? Some of the time we really do.

However, some of us, especially those with overspending, compulsive shopping or shopping addiction issues, just use that statement to justify our purchase, even to ourselves. The problem is, that often we simply cannot differentiate between a genuine need, and the want or desire to have something. Even if that need has just occurred to us!

The other night on the reality show, “Save our Home”, a woman bought a pair of gold sandals and said that she really needed new gold sandals. The show host opened her wardrobe and, you guessed it, she had many pairs of gold shoes and sandals. Now, she may well have truly believed that she “needed” them, and maybe, just maybe, there really was something about those particular gold sandals, which meant she really did need them. However, the fact that there were several other pairs of similar shoes in her wardrobe, together with the fact that she and her husband were trying to save their home, leads me to believe that she may well have an issue with overshopping and overspending, and just wanted new sandals.

A dictionary definition of need is:- ..”require (something) because it is essential or very important” Some examples are:-

  • food – we all need at least basic food and water.
  • If you earn your living by writing on line and your computer breaks, you need to get it repaired and, at some time, you will need an new one.
  • Unless you favour natural living, you need basic clothing and footwear. If your winters are severe, you need warm clothing and heating for your home.

On the other hand from the same dictionary want is defined as:- “to have the desire to possess or do” So to use some of the examples above:-

  • whilst we need basic food and water, we would like or want to eat out at good restaurants, or to buy fancy cheeses, cakes or biscuits.
  • If our computer breaks it needs to be repaired, and, provided that it can be, even though you may want a new one, you don’t need a new one. The fact that Apple have just bought out a bigger, faster, shinier model cannot be justified as a need, when yours is still performing well.
  • You need clothing but generally you only want designer or labelled clothing not need them. In the case of the woman above, she may have needed ( and I personally believe that was debatable) new shoes but did she really need another pair of gold ones?
  • You do need rest and recreation, but does it need to be an a 5 star hotel in Fiji? We’d all like it to be, or want it to be, I know!

Now, I’m not wanting to be a great big spoil sport here, and treats and special occasions provide great joy but not, if they are at the expense of your financial security and valued relationships.This is what can happen happen for compulsive shoppers and overspenders.

I encourage my clients to have a list of their wants and needs and as they stop incurring debt and begin to clear the money fog, they start working through that list – including the wants. However, the wants list should only be begun once all the basic needs have been met.

I hope that this post stirs up some discussion and I look forward to your comments.


3 Responses to “Do you REALLY need it or just want it?”

  1. effetrinerm Says:

    I am often searching for brandnew articles in the WWW about this topic. Thankz.

  2. jillporter Says:

    You’re welcome. Let me know if you need any more information.

  3. […] may have an earlier post of mine “Do you REALLY need it or just want it?”, which tackles this issue in more depth. […]

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