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Needs vs. Wants (vs. Ponies?)

When it comes to personal finances, you may have heard the term “needs vs. wants” thrown around.  What we need and what we want can be two very different things. But what is a want, and what is a need? It’s a very subjective question.  For people on a budget (or those who are working on debt management), the hard part is determining what they can and cannot do without. There may be certain luxuries that you can eliminate to save money.

Prevent credit card debt by not overspending on wants.

Prevent credit card debt by not overspending on wants.

We all have our basic needs: food, water, shelter, and clothing.  There are other important things that we may also need: car, computer, cell phone, etc.  There are also things that we want, but may not necessarily need: cable TV, magazine subscriptions, fancy clothes and shoes, the latest gadgets, and all types of other things. Maybe a pony or a hovercraft.

For people on a budget, the hard part is determining what they can do without.  What is a want, and what is a need?  This question is very subjective, as everyone’s financial and personal situation is different.  One person may need a car, while another has access to public transportation.  You may want to ride a pony to work, but pony food is expensive, and where would you park? Think it through.  You could ride a bike and just make pony noises. Moving on.

Some people need to have a cell phone and be reachable at all times, while others could get by with a lesser cell phone plan, or even just a land line.  I don’t think messenger pigeons are going to make a comeback, so there goes that plan.

To determine your own needs and wants, just take a look at your life and decide what you could do without.  If your goal is to save money, maybe it’s time to let go of some of your wants and try getting by with only your needs.  Do you need all those cable channels? You could cancel your premium cable service, or cut out cable altogether.  Do you need to surf the internet on your cell phone?  Save money by changing your cell phone plan and using it less.  You might find that you don’t need it at all.  Do you need $100 shoes?  You may be able make do with less expensive shoes that still look and feel good. And are you still thinking about the pony? Let it go. Completely ridiculous.

Again, these are subjective and personal decisions that should only be made after careful consideration. The goal is to save money by cutting luxuries and wants out of your budget, not to deprive yourself of things that you need.  You may even find yourself accomplishing more and living a more fulfilling life when you remove some unnecessary distractions.

What could you do without?

PS: No ponies were harmed in the making of this blog post.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 



Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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