Every time I am check out from a store (online or physical), I look through what I have bought and ask if I am satisfying my needs or my wants. Yes sis, there’s a major difference. You don’t actually need everything you want but I’m sure you already know this. 🙂
As we get older and life evolves, our needs become more than the usual food, clothing and shelter. For example, if you have to work from home due to covid-19, a stable internet connection is a need. If are long/short-sighted, corrective glasses to help you see properly is a need.
Years ago, I read in a book that to be financially disciplined, we should split our budget into paying for our needs, saving/investing a good chunk and then buying the things we want. #Sigh. One of my favorite quotes on this topic is “want what you need.” This is not to say that our wants are not important, they are, the only problem is as humans we never stop wanting. We get something today and, in a day or two, we want something else.
I guess what I am trying to answer for myself and my readers is: How do we stay financially responsible when there are so many things screaming for our credit cards? Here are a few ways I am answering that.
If you want to be financially responsible, a monthly budget is vital. You can make your budget the old way with a pen and paper. Or use one of the many budgeting apps available. My trick to budgeting is to allocate money for my needs such as rent, food, internet etc. Then I take out my savings and whatever is left can go into fulfilling my wants, like buying an artwork for my wall.
One of my friends saves her money in an account without an ATM card or a mobile app. That way if she is tempted to buy something, the stress of going to the bank to queue stops her. Some people save with money funds or invest in businesses.
When going to the market/store, make a list and focus on it. If anything catches your eyes, ask yourself if not buying it will affect your life in the next week or two. If the answer is no, drop it and focus. I do the same with online shopping. In fact, I leave things in my shopping cart for 24 hours then go back to it with fresh eyes. Trust me there is always something that can leave the cart.
Resist Instant Gratification
This one is hard because why should you not buy that lovely dress, shoes or ice cream when you’ve been working hard? There is a place for rewarding your hard work, but instant gratification is not the way. That you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it.