Ultimately, one of the most profound issues in healing our relationship to money is being willing to enter into a conversation about needs vs. wants. This subject can be deceptively simple. However, many people are not clear about what they need vs. what they want. So the end result is that they spend a lot on their wants and neglect their needs. And some people neglect both sides, assuming it’s not possible to get their needs OR their wants met.
My mentor Karen McCall writes that when we spend money on our wants before our needs, it is like we are putting up pretty wallpaper in a room that has faulty wiring sticking out. Wow. I keep thinking about that image. Here are some examples:
• We buy lots of plants at the plant sale instead of having the front porch fixed
• We spend money on fancy clothes, but we neglect our teeth.
• We spend money on the new master bathroom, but we neglect our retirement funding.
Did you notice the word “neglect?” What are you neglecting? What are you ignoring that makes you feel depleted or deprived? Deprivation is the opposite of fulfillment, and I want you to feel fulfilled. And when you meet your true needs first, you feel fulfilled. Though you have to know what your needs are, in order to be able to meet them.
Here is what I recommend—Grab a piece of paper and down the very middle of it, start creating a list of needs and wants. Just start writing. Don’t worry if it’s a need or a want. Just dump.
To help you brainstorm, think about these four areas: stuff, services, experiences and feelings.
Stuff—what stuff do I need or want? Boots, a new couch, a better computer, more jewelry, a nicer dining room table, a house
Services—what services do I need or want? I want monthly professional hair coloring, monthly house cleaning, dental work, replace the cracked windshield on my car.
Experiences—what experiences do I need or want? I want more travel. I want more mountain climbing. I want to go to a musical this fall.
Feelings– What feelings do I need or want to have? I want to feel more secure (that might mean more savings), I want to feel more attractive (throw the tummy tuck on the list) I want to feel more confident (there’s the tooth whitening or attractive wool blazer)
And for a final doozy, answer this question: What am I tired of putting up with? I’m tired of that broken porch railing.
Now simply sit with your list and start moving the items to the left or right. Label the left NEED and label the right WANT. For each item, simply ask yourself, “Do I need this or do I want this?” Is this necessary or would this be nice? Will I feel more fulfilled/’right with the world’ with this?
Keep this list with you. Your goal is to attend to your needs first, before your wants. Get creative if you have to. You can do this. When you meet your needs first, you experience a deeper sense of satisfaction than the momentary fulfillment of wants.