NEEDS VS. WANTS: 4 Important Tips for Mindful Spending

The needs vs. wants debate is a daily struggle. We know! In fact, we recently blogged about the subject and wanted to continue the discussion with some simple pointers to help you better negotiate your own spending dilemmas. To recap, mindful spending means prioritizing your wants so that your budget can help you move in the right direction.

Wants will wheedle and weave themselves into your spending habits. They are tricky things indeed: not only can they vary from person to person, but they often disguise themselves as things we think we need. This is why you need to arm yourself with some simple strategies to help your budget stay on track.

Here are four ways to strengthen your spending defense mechanisms:

  1. Be realistic with your yourself

It’s very difficult to limit spending to your most basic needs. There are many reasons why the “No-Spend Weekend” or “No-Spend Month” only span short amounts of time. A “No-Spend Year” would feel like a punishment to most people, and not a rewarding experiment that can unleash creative ways for rethinking your budget and spending patterns.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is being too strict with your budget. If your budget is too rigid, you’ll most likely not stick to it. If having a coffee or going out for dinner with a friend is important to you, make it part of your monthly expenses. But keep it reasonable. Stick to your spending plan and make sure your splurges are affordable.

  1. Find the thrill in being frugal and thrifty

Many people love the “thrill of the purchase” because they are not asking themselves, “Do I really need this?” before reaching for their credit card. Indeed, the self-inquiry normally comes after the purchase. “Why did I buy this?” Along with feelings of guilt and regret.

However, it is totally possible, with a change in perspective, to find a better, longer lasting thrill in being “cheap and cheerful”. For some people, frugality and thriftiness must be learned. A great way to start cultivating that spirit is to read about it, for free, through blogs. Educate yourself. There is a great big community of thrifty people out there who love to impart their wisdom. Make it a new interest of yours. Here are a few that we really like:

Halfbanked.com by Desirae Odjick is a very witty and informative blog for young people who aren’t financial experts, but who want to manage their money well and “still have a life”.

AndThenWeSaved.com by Anna Newell Jones is a great “secret-spilling” blog by a woman who transformed her reckless spending habits into debt-free living.

  1. Defer your pleasure purchases

Put things back and take some time to think about it. We often fall in love with particular items in the store. Sales people come over and deploy all sorts of strategies to help us make impulse decisions. “I’m going to shop around a bit. Thanks for showing me this. I might come back for it later” can be a polite way to get out of moments of shopping doubt. Never buy things that you aren’t fully committed to. If you are still thinking about something in a week’s time, maybe it’s meant to be! After a week or so, you may also have made the little sacrifices needed to afford it.

  1. Keep the online shopping to a minimum

In order to keep wants in check, be conscious of the society we live in. We are constantly bombarded with online marketing strategies that are designed to prey on our tendency to confuse needs vs. wants. This is especially the case when we are in front of our phones.

Read this great post on Squawkfox.com about FOMO (fear of missing out), social media and impulse shopping.

Yes, online shopping can be dangerous. In two or three clicks you can be buying a brand new pair of shoes that may not even look that great in person. What happens if you have to pay for shipping to return them? You might just end up with something that never leaves your closet. Shopping apps? Deadly. Make your purchases an event that you have to plan for. And save for these things to avoid putting them on credit.

Does your budget struggle with the #NeedsVsWants dilemma? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook. See what others have to say during Financial Literacy Month 2018 #FLM2018 #MindfulSpending