ICFE eNEWS #15-25 - August 12th 2015
VS Needs: 5 False Beliefs"
By Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr.G, a member of the ICFE's Board
of Educational Advisors
I recently heard a teenager asked
how she had become a successful entrepreneur at such a young
age. She replied, "I learned when I was very young the
difference between wants and needs." What a discerning
philosophy for a teenager! A philosophy that eludes many adults
today, and might be the reason so many of us have a pattern of
Have you ever given this subject
any thought? Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for
so many people to distinguish between a "want" and a "need?
I do not claim to have all the answers, but I think an
answer to the problem lies in a very subtle false belief system.
False beliefs are so hard to identify because they "feel right"
at the time. But, as you know, good sounding reasons are not
always good sound reasons.
Consider these five false
beliefs and see if you don't agree that they contribute to the
problem of distinguishing between wants and needs.
1: "If I can get it, I need it." Let's suppose on your daily
walk, you found two $100 bills caught in a bush by your path. As
you celebrate your good fortune, you begin to construct a mental
list of things you "need" to buy with that $200. Isn't it funny
that five minutes before you found the money in the bush,
everything on your list of needs were just "wants." Why? What
made the difference? How did those "wants" become transformed
The transformation took place the moment we
realized we were able to actually get the things we had been
wanting. Once we have access to get what we want, we tend to
call it a need.
Belief 2: "If I deserve it, I need it."
Similarly, once we convince ourselves that we "deserve" to have
something, the want often magically transforms into a need. We
tell ourselves, "You work hard, and you deserve to play hard!
This boat will help you relax on the weekend and get your mind
off the stress of your work."
Or "Our shampoo is a bit
more expensive, but you deserve the very best for your hair! You
are worth it!" Or "You have earned the right to eat out at a
nice restaurant once in a while. You are just as deserving as
your neighbors, and they are always eating out at nice
restaurants." Or "You have given to others all your life, and
now it is time to give to yourself! You deserve to have a
timeshare in a warm climate."
On-and-on it goes, the
constant bombardment of people with products telling us how much
we deserve to have what they are selling. And with our present
society of people who think they are entitled to have what
everyone else has, the "hook" is set and the fish is reeled in.
Be careful. This "I deserve" thinking is very subtle, and it
is certainly one of the main reasons why so many of our wants
appear as needs.
Belief 3: "If it makes me more important
in the eyes of others, I need it." This is especially dangerous
for parents who are buying for their kids. The kids have a
certain brand they want based on the "cool factor" among their
peers. We all fall prey to this thinking to some degree, because
we all want to be liked and accepted. But this thinking can lead
us to purchase things far beyond our ability to purchase.
One suggestion to parents might be to allow the child to
contribute to the more expensive items. A personal investment by
the child has a way of helping the child to identify whether it
is a want or a need.
Belief 4: "If I am accustomed to
having it, I need it." When we saw a number of old classic cars
on the highway the other day, I commented to my wife, "You know,
none of those cars had air conditioning originally, but they all
do now. It was seen as a need in their restoration."
I thought of the 1954 Ford, the 1957 Chevy (wish I had it now!),
the 1962 Volkswagen Bug, and the 1966 Chevy BelAire I had owned
in my early years. None of them had air conditioning, and
further more, I did not miss it! I had never had it, was not
accustomed to it in my cars or in my home, so it was not a need.
How did we carry on conversations with the car windows down? How
could we hear the radio? How did we keep our hair (I had it
then) combed? I do not know, but we never gave it a thought! But
now we would not think of buying a car without air conditioning.
It is an absolute need! We have grown accustomed to it, and when
that happens, wants become needs.
My point is not that we
ought to have only the bare necessities of life, but that it is
extremely difficult to be honest with ourselves when assessing
needs from wants.
Belief 5: If it is a good bargain, I
need it." Let me use the custom of couponing as an example.
Couponing is a good thing, but it can become a hindrance if we
allow the coupons to determine what we "need" to purchase. For
instance, if I have a coupon that will save me $.10 on a bottle
of ketchup, that does not necessarily mean I need to purchase a
bottle of ketchup, especially if I have nine bottles of ketchup
in the pantry already.
Another example would be going to
garage sales. We can end up buying all kinds of things that we
do not need just because we successfully negotiated the price
down. It can become more about "the game" than the need.
Bargain hunting is good however it is done, but be careful - it
can transform wants into needs. This is not a big deal if we are
talking about ketchup or a $5 golf bag, but if we are talking
about bargains on big-ticket items, we can easily spend more
than we can afford.
If we are honest with ourselves, most
of us use one or more of these beliefs to give ourselves
permission to buy what we "want" under the guise of calling it a
"need" Supplying some of our wants is fine, but if you begin to
view most of your wants as needs, one or more of these five
false beliefs are responsible.
© Jim Garnett,
The Debt Doctor
AskMrG Consulting, LLC
2216 SW 35th Street
Ankeny, IA 50023