ICFE eNEWS #17-25 - June 29, 2017
Determining Wants From Needs: Five Need-Producing Attitudes
By Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr.G, a member of the ICFE's Board of Educational Advisors
Not long ago I attended a ceremony in which a high school
girl was honored for her entrepreneurial successes. When asked
how she could achieve such remarkable things at her age, she
replied, "I learned very early on to know the difference between
my wants and my needs."
She had learned at an early age
what many fail to learn in an entire lifetime! Failure to grasp
that truth has led many down a path where true satisfaction is
Since most of our actions are prompted by
our attitudes, could I suggest that it is the adoption of
certain attitudes that tend to make it so difficult to
distinguish our wants from our needs.
It would do us well
to identify these attitudes and be sure that they do not find a
"nesting place" in our thinking. Below is a partial list of
"need-producing attitudes" to be avoided.
1. It is a need
because I deserve to have it. This seems to be the philosophy of
today's entitlement society, and once we bite into that apple,
most everything we "want" is magically transformed into a need.
"You work hard and deserve to have a boat that will help you
"You have given to others all your life, and you
deserve to buy that vacation home in Arizona."
never had a new car before. Don't you think you deserve one?"
Telling people who want something that they deserve to have
it "sets the hook," and the fish are ready to be reeled in. It
seems to me that the more we adopt this "I deserve it," the less
we appreciate it when we get it.
2. It is a need because
others have it. Sam's neighbor could hardly wait to show him his
new riding mower. It was 4-wheel drive, zero-turn, 5-speed, 37
inch cut, bagger, blade attachment, blower attachment, and do
17mph on a straight-away!
The next time Sam looked at his
three-year-old, self-propelled, start-on-the-first-pull mower,
he immediately reasoned, "I need a new mower like my neighbor
It is certainly ok to buy things that are
improvements over what we presently have, but when they are
bought just because someone else has a better one than us, we
need to be careful of calling it a need. "What the Jones' have"
is never a good standard in determining what we need.
It is a need because it is a good bargain. This attitude can be
especially prevalent in those who like to negotiate deals.
Admittedly, I am one of those! If we are not careful, we can
fill up our garages with items we will never use but bought
because they were good bargains.
Even those who become
too focused on couponing can find themselves in the same
predicament with 14 bottles of 67-ounce ketchup, 32 cans of
creamed corn, and 11 boxes of Raisin Bran in their pantries for
just the two of them to enjoy.
While writing this
article, I received an email offer from Verizon to buy a new
IPhone 7. This $650 phone can be purchased interest-free and
paid for over 24 months. I am tempted to reason, "I am a savvy
shopper. I do not like to pay interest. This phone is
interest-free. I can afford a $27 per month payment. Therefore,
I need to upgrade to this new phone!"
The only problem in
that thinking is that "I don't need it!"
When we end up
buying things just because they are "good bargains," hasn't it
become more about "playing the game" than it is meeting our
4. It is a need because I have access to get it.
Think about the couple who has been completely satisfied living
in their split-level home for the last six years. It is plenty
big for their family of four. But within a month of winning the
state lottery, they "realize" their house is way too small and
way too old, so they plan to sell it and get a bigger and better
5. It is a need because I am accustomed to having
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. The owners
saw it as an absolute need in their restoration."
thought of the 1954 Ford, the 1957 Chevy (wish I had it now!),
the 1962 Volkswagen Bug, and the 1966 Chevy Bel Aire I had owned
in my early years. None of them had air conditioning, and
further more, I did not miss it! How did we carry on
conversations with the car windows down? How could we listen to
the radio? How did we keep our hair (I had it then) combed? I do
not know, but we never gave it a thought!
We had never
had it and were not accustomed to it in our cars or in our
homes, so, we never thought of it as a need. But now we would
not think of buying a car or a home without air conditioning. It
is an absolute need because we have grown accustomed to it.
Our brains will work overtime to supply subtle reasons that
will transform our wants into needs. Just remember that every
"good sounding" reason is not necessarily a "good, sound
reason." It might be our subconscious attitude supplying a
"reason" to have what we want to have. That can result in us
meeting our "wants" by turning them into "needs."
© Jim Garnett, The Debt Doctor
AskMrG Consulting, LLC
2216 SW 35th Street
Ankeny, IA 50023