Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Differentiating between Needs and Wants

One of the most important aspects of getting your budget under control is determining the difference between your needs and your wants. You’ve read in previous posts about how stores do their best to get you to buy stuff based on product placement, and how producers spend millions of dollars per year trying to convince you that you need their product, when in fact, you really don’t. What do you really need, though? Aside from food, clothing, and shelter, what’s out there to help us survive and thrive these days? You might be surprised by how little you really do need, and by cutting out expenses for things you don’t need, you can really save hundreds of dollars per month that can be used for things like vacations, paying off debt, and saving up for big expenses like buying a home or a car.

There are really two ways to go when you starting cutting out your wants and replacing them with just your needs. You can go the conservative route, wherein you’re cutting out just the extraneous wants like eating out and designer clothes- obvious things like that. You can also go the wild route, and cut right down to the bone. This can include your cable bill, phone bill, gym membership, and even your morning coffee. There are cheaper ways of doing all these things that won’t leave you feeling like your great-great grandmother peeling potatoes with only a candle for company, and you’ll save at least $300 per month, if not considerably more.

For starters, it’s a fallacy that we feel the need to have smartphones in our lives. Cell phones themselves aren’t necessary, and if you need that feeling of safety because there simply aren’t any more pay phones to be found, then a prepaid cell phone can give you that measure of security without hitting you up for a monthly bill over $200. 

Gym memberships are obvious. They’re great for motivation, but most professional trainers, doctors, and physical therapists agree that simple body-weight exercises, performed daily, do your heart and your waistline just as much good, if not more good, and cost you nothing.

Cable might be tough at first, but you can count on a time in the not-so distant future when the very idea of paying a cable company will seem quaint. If you’ve got high-speed internet that you don’t have to carry cable along with (companies love to bundle services these days) then all your favorite programs can be had for far, far less than traditional cable with all the wasted programming time. Dump cable, and you’ll find your family engaging in real dinner conversation again.

Coffee is just one of a hundred little extras that seem to get us through our day. Rather than going the expensive route, though, try brewing your own coffee. It’s actually more convenient than coffee shops, since coffee makers can be programmed to have your coffee ready as soon as you get up in the morning. (Just skip the Keurig machines. They’re almost as expensive as coffee shops, and the cup waste is insane.

Using these tips can help really pare down your budget every month, and will certainly leave you wondering in time how you could possibly have thought of any of those things you indulged in every day as “needs.” From now on, they’ll only be “wants.”

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