We all know that there is a difference between needs and wants, but there seems to be a difference in opinion on where that line is drawn. For example, food is a need. But I could technically live off of something as simple as rice and water, so at what point do you consider it “splurging”?
My Definition of Needs
My definition of a “need” is heavily dosed with realism. For me, I need food, shelter, utilities, transportation, access to the internet, and a computer. Here is my realism:
- I don’t need as much food as I eat. And I don’t need to spend as much as I do on food.
- I don’t need a McMansion for shelter. I need a safe place to sleep and work. The big house part is definitely a “want”.
- I do think that electricity (and gas if applicable) and running water at home are needs. I know that not everyone has that, but I think that is my line.
- I don’t need my own car, but you would have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead fingers before I try to rely solely on public transportation or bicycling in my part of Houston. The nearest bus stop is a mile away minimum, and it takes more than an hour to go 20 miles. And with weather that changes from minute to minute, I would consider bicycling a hobby, not a dependable form of transport.
- I don’t need home internet and my own computer since I could use public spots like the library, but I think depending on that access would actually cost me money overall in deals, so I can actually pass off the home internet and inexpensive (but dependable) laptop as a need without knowing I am cheating.
My Definition of Wants
If it doesn’t fall into a basic need category that I described above, I consider it a “want”. I’ll admit that 80-90% of my monthly budget is probably spent on wants:
- Large house (could survive in our nearly paid off house just fine)
- Prepared food (could live off of a much cheaper and well-rounded diet)
- Maintenance costs for my car (don’t technically need my car)
- Home costs (bigger house means bigger bills)
- My cell phone (believe it or not, I still see this as a splurge…a very useful splurge, but not a need)
- Services like a housekeeper or lawn guy (love them though)
I started writing this post because I feel like people are lying to themselves all of the time. I can’t count the number of times that I or the people around me have complained about costs that are definitely optional. I mean, think about it…have you complained recently about how much something costs?
Money Beagle was venting about airline fees last week and came to the conclusion that he would just try not to fly. I thought that made sense and went on with my day. Then it occurred to me that every time I whine about money, I really need to slap myself upside the head. I have chosen to spend on nearly everything I have ever complained about.
Let’s just look at the stuff that I complained about recently that I can remember off of the top of my head:
- The upgrade price to granite for our new master bathroom counter. What I should have said, “Hey Crystal, either love your new countertop and suck it up that it cost more or shut the heck up.”
- The $300-$400 I will be spending on new struts for my car within the next few months. What I should be thinking, “You want the freedom of driving, so stop whining that a 7 year old car could possibly need a little TLC, you big baby.”
- How much grocery costs have risen. “Well yeah, crap is more expensive. Maybe concentrate more on the veggies in season and less of the Fig Newtons and frozen pizzas!”
- The $150 vet bill on Ms. Doxie because she is getting old and her system’s bacteria were all out of whack and was making her have poopy problems. “You want the companionship, you want the soft cutie to pet, so yeah, you have to spend money to make sure she doesn’t keep crapping on your floors!”
- The $50,000 in closing costs on the new house. “You bought a $260,000 house that you don’t need…DUH!”
My General View
Given all of the “Here’s Your Sign” jokes that I probably could make about myself every day (you may have to Google that reference), I’m generally a peppy, confident lady. I have my dumba$$, whiny moments like we all do, but I think it’s natural. We all need to vent. The key is to avoid tricking yourself into thinking that you truly have anything worth whining about on your plate. Evaluate your life and honestly figure out how many of your issues are self-created versus the ones that are truly out of your control. I don’t care that I whine to myself, but I better dang well remember how freaking awesome my life is or I will have to kick my own butt.
In short, I am writing this to remind myself that I am generally super thankful right now. I’m thankful for my friends and family that are actually all healthy-ish right now. I am thankful we even have $50,000 to use on a new, awesome house. I am thankful that there is anybody actually reading this right now. And I am thankful that I was lucky enough to be born exactly where and when I was…I know I have opportunities that not everyone has.
Okay, so that was a rambly post, but there you go. What do you consider needs and wants? What would you like to tell your whiny self today?