It can be difficult to compartmentalize things into what we need versus what we want. Sometimes our wants feel like needs, and often the two even overlap. It is important that we get a good, clear grasp on this concept if we are to be responsible with our resources. Here are a few thoughts in regards to separating the two, and being comfortable with your decisions.
Be Honest with Yourself
A first and important step when deciding on the difference between a need and a want, is to be honest with yourself. Force yourself to keep coming back to this principle as you work through decisions. No matter how much you might be tempted to make excuses for particular things in your life, ask yourself at each and every step of the way whether you are truly being honest.
What Do You Absolutely Need in Order to Survive?
Deciding between needs and wants is basically asking yourself the question, “What do I need in order to survive?” If you can justify something in your life based on the fact that you would not have life, or quality of life without it, then that is a pretty good start.
Once you have moved past the “absolute must-haves” then move onto the items and activities that enrich your life in an important way but aren’t considered a necessity. Prioritize these things from the most important to least important, as this makes it easier to cut out the excess as needed. If times are tough, you can start by cutting out the least important activities, items and habits.
What Truly Enriches Your Life, and How?
Once you decide on necessities, you will come to the point of making decisions based on which wants are more important than others. For example, you might only need food, clothing and shelter as far as physical needs go. But what if your child is taking music lessons and planning to pursue this in college, then what? Music lessons are enriching his or her life and contributing towards future goals. This could be considered an important “want” even though your child doesn’t need it in order to survive physically.
What Would You Take with You in a Fire?
This is a great question to ask yourself in many situations. Whether you are differentiating between needs and wants because money is short, or because you found it necessary to downsize and have limited room in your home and need to declutter, this question will give you the answers that provide you with all the information you need. If something is valuable enough to you personally, then it is worth holding on to and keeping in your life.
Make a Budget
Making a budget is beneficial for so many reasons. One of these reasons is that once you know exactly how much you have to spend, it is easier to prioritize. Make a list of all your incoming and outgoing money flow. Along with your list of prioritized activities and items, you will now have a way to eliminate unnecessary spending.
This is a simple list of ways to prioritize your needs as opposed to what you really just enjoy in life. Although it is nice to spoil yourself every now and then, when times are tough it calls for some structure and good, solid reasoning. With this knowledge in hand, you will be able to make changes and fall into a life that requires just enough of your time, energy and money.