Over the last year or so, I have begun to get more structure in my life in one very important place – my personal finances/budget. It’s not to say that I was completely hopeless (they did let me buy a house afterall), but there was room for improvement.
One of the major things I needed to work on was pointless/discretionary spending – you know the cups of coffee, meals out, CDs, random impulse buys, etc – that you could either a) take care of cheaper by making/cooking/doing youself b) could wait to buy when it was on sale c) didn’t really need at all. This does take some discipline and planning ahead, i.e. actually grocery shopping, comparing prices at various places, and took me a while to get used to. One major thing that needed to change was my mindset – learning to better distinguish between the needs and the wants.
I was shopping the other day with a friend and caught my self saying “I need ____.” It is a pretty common phrase for most people, but for some reason, on this day, I stopped and corrected the statement to “I want ____.” It’s interesting to see how changing one word changes your preception of something. No, I didn’t need a new iPhone case. No, I didn’t need a new pair of jeans. Things like bills, food, and *gasp* saving were more important in the long run.
I was oddly proud of myself for this. Seems like a small thing, but to me shows how much I’ve worked on viewing things in a different way. I was taking time to think and plan and have patience – things that historically have not been a strong suit of mine.
Moral of the story – most of the things we think we need are actually wants. Taking the time to realize that helps you make better decisions and prepares you for the future.