I really want that!

Ever said this to yourself or someone else? I know I have. When I look back on the times I’ve said this, in many cases, the things that I wanted were frivolous or material. After doing a lot of soul searching and research, I’ve realized that it’s human nature to want things. But at the same time, you can counteract that yearning for things you don’t necessarily need to survive. Let’s take a look at a few of my past examples:

WANT: “I want to go on vacation to St. Lucia.” | NEED: “I want to take a vacation but I can’t afford to travel so I’m going to do a stay-cation.”

WANT: “I want to go shopping for a new handbag.” | NEED: “I want to go shopping for a new handbag, but I need to pay my electric bill so I’ll just add the one I want to my wishlist.”

WANT: “I want to go out to eat every Friday.” | NEED: “I want to go out to eat but I don’t need to sped the extra money so I’ll just cook at home.”

Do you see where this is going? Your wants may look different than mine and your needs may look different, but the principle is the same – you need to decide if you need that want in order to survive. Before I give you my 3 tips to help you make the decision, here are the definitions to help you understand:

Want | /wänt,wônt/ | have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.

Need | /nēd/ | require (something) because it is essential or very important.

A want is something is you desire to have or do, it’s a bucket list item. A need is something you require in order to live each day in a healthy way. And only you can decide what the difference is between your wants and your needs. If you’re struggling, here is some advice to help you decide.

TIP # 1: Ask yourself if the thing you want will keep a roof over your head, keep the electricity on, set the right temperature in your home, clothe my body appropriately or feed your body. If you answer is no to these questions, then the thing you want might be something that you want, but don’t need right now. Your needs should always come first and that involves your shelter, utilities, clothing and food. Just one caveat about the clothing, you don’t need a new dress just because you see it on the hanger, it fits perfectly and you may wear it someday, somewhere. Clothing needs to keep you warm (or cool) and help you show off your personality. But it does not need to be extravagant.

TIP # 2: When you’re going shopping, make a list of your needs.  This list could be your grocery list, your gift list or any other list you have in your head. First and foremost, get it out of your head and on paper. When your grocery shopping, put on the list the food items you’ll need for meals that week. If you’re shopping off your gift list, only put down the items you’ll need to get for the birthday party that’s coming up or the Christmas gifts you know you need to get for your closest friends and family. Doing this will help you avoid the inkling to add those wants to your cart as you walk around the store. Or even more tempting, shop online. 

TIP # 3: Remember your why. I saved this for last because it is probably THE MOST important one. Your why is what drives you in life. It’s what fuels you to keep going every single day. If your why is to take a trip around the world, you know you need to save for it so you’ll have to say no to some things in order to reach that goal. If your why is to be able to dance at your son’s wedding, then you know you need to eat healthy and move your body every day for 20-30 minutes. Only you can determine your why. If you don’t know what it is right now, I challenge you to sit by yourself, write a bunch in your journal and think about the things that make you happy because it will help you find it.

After reading this, do you have a better idea of your wants? What about your needs? Starting today, take into consideration these tips every time you have a decision to make. These tips will help you make smart decisions and allow you to live your life in a content, but happy way.

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