When it comes to how you spend money, you basically have two ways you look at it. Is it a want? Or is it a need? Ever since my husband and I worked ourselves out from more than $35,000 in debt, we ask ourselves this all of the time.
This is extremely important when it comes to looking at your budget. Your needs include (not a full list):
- A place to live, be it rent or a mortgage
- Food to eat (not including dinners out)
- Utilities (gas, electric, phone)
- Health and personal care products
- Clothes (just enough – not name brand, over the top wardrobes)
We also always look over our wants as well. These can include:
- Dining Out
- More clothes (name brand)
- Newer electronics or gadgets
- Larger home
- Newer vehicle
We always make sure our budget covers our needs first and foremost. Our budget rarely changes as we have worked hard to tweak it to make it work for us.
Do we have wants in our own budget? Of course we do! In our own budget we include a category called skill.spending – for random things we want to do with the kids. This includes dinners out with the kids. We even allow for a bit more for our clothes to get a few nicer things (all on sale of course). And although we have vehicles which are paid in full, we try to save for a newer one, which we know we will need eventually.
MY OWN STRUGGLE
This can be a struggle, to determine if you really need something or if it is a want. I can completely relate. We own a 2005 Honda Odyssey. It is completely paid for and so there is very little cost associated with owning it.
We just pay our insurance premiums and save monthly to cover the annual taxes. Each month, we set a little back for maintenance such as oil changes, and tires. There is money there should we end up having a large expense. Thankfully, we’ve only had one issue with our vehicle in the ten years we’ve owned it.
The mini van runs perfectly fine. In fact, it drives like it did the day we purchased it. It is clean. I mean, really clean. I keep it vacuumed and we don’t allow drinks or much food inside. The only time we might is when we do a road trip (and then, we are careful about what we allow the kids to bring along with them). I keep it maintained with oil changes and tire rotations. Everything works. There is nothing wrong with my van.
However, I find myself struggling as I have my eye on a different vehicle. It is actually one of my dream cars – a Buick Enclave. I just love them and I really, really want one. We don’t want a brand new one, just one that is used will be perfect for us. We have even considered test driving one.
NOT CAVING TO MY WANT
Why haven’t we gone ahead and done that? Simple. I have determined that a new vehicle is an absolute want and not a need.
My van, which is now 12 years old has less than 110,000 miles on it. There is nothing wrong with it. It is so convenient with 3 kids getting in and out of it as the doors slide open with the touch of a button. Again, there is nothing wrong with my van. I do not need a new car – I want a new car.
This does not mean we can’t afford one. We have no debts and could pay for it between trade in and our budgeted savings. However, we won’t. Not yet, at least. There is no need for me to get a new vehicle at a cost of more than $25,000 when I do not need to. No need at all.
WHY IS THIS A WANT
I had to really ask myself why I wanted this van. I determined that I was just bored with mine. I wanted the thrill of a new vehicle. I wanted the excitement you get with something new. That was all great, but the ultimate question was this: “Will this new car make me happy?” I answered that quickly with a “no.” Not happy in the long term. I will pay more in insurance premiums. I will pay more in taxes. My savings will need to be built back up again. The new will wear off after a short time and I’ll be right back where I am again. Back here with less money in the bank. Back here wondering if something better is out there.
So, after much soul searching and thinking, I’ve decided not to get a vehicle right now. I know that there will be at time when I need to do it, and I will get one at that time. I know at that time, it will have moved more from the want to a need and then, it will be the right time.
HOW DO YOU DO THIS
Take a good look at your budget. If there is plenty of room, then you might be able to make the want work. But, is it really something you are willing to pay for? Is the value there and is it really worth it?
Only you can answer these questions. After a lot of thinking you might consider that want just that – a want. It may be that you don’t really need it as badly as you think.