Wants Vs. Needs: A Review
Last month I solemnly swore to categorize each of my June expenditures as either a want or a need. Here we are on the 11th of the following month. Oops. Commencing analysis. The point of this was to stack my wants against my needs in a quantitative kind of way. Am I spending too much on my wants? Could that money be put to better use else where? It also spurred earth shattering questions such as…
Beloved Atlas Garden Gloves. Want or Need? Seriously. This question, and the like, occupied more mental cycles than they probably should have. But ask yourself, are those $5 gloves strictly necessary? Once upon a time, I would’ve said no. Because I wouldn’t have used them. Or used them once for a big project. Now though? I use them every single day. For Lady wrangling and dirt digging. Sure my hands can get dirty, but those gloves make it a whole lot easier to accomplish one or two garden tasks before running out to work in the morning. When your existing pair have hole in multiple fingers, new gloves = need.
This is just an example of the mental gymnastics required to identify each of my purchases. Miser Mom may be on to something when she suggested perhaps this isn’t the right question. True and thought provoking. Regardless, its the one I asked. And I made a pie chart, which feels like an accomplishment in and of itself.
Granted it’s not a very fancy pie chart. Still.
Noteworthy things about this pie:
There were 112 transactions total. I excluded Savings as its own category, because it’s not technically money leaving. As well as a couple of odd transactions where we were reimbursed for the expense, there by not spending any money. Originally, I was going to do a break down just on quantity of transactions. That looks like this.
I made the pie chart dammit. I’m going to use it. Turns out, two pies are better than one anyway. I already knew that.
Between the two I can see that while there were more ‘want’ transactions than ‘need’ transactions in quantity, total spent on wants was less than total spent on needs. That makes me happy. This means I made more frequent, but less expensive ‘want’ purchases. Again, happy with that. Small amounts of money spent regularly keeps feelings of deprivation at bay, while still managing to be less than the needs.
A word on those categories.
Needs included Mortgage, Utilities, Insurance, Groceries (super subjective!), Gas, Pet Food (including Chickens), Medical Expenses (dogs and people), a very necessary item of clothing, garden supplies (those gloves), gifts for people not living at this house, and one court fee.
Wants are always much more fun of course. Wants consisted of Internet, Cell Phone, Entertainment, Dining, Gym Membership, a house project, money set aside for my birthday, crap (yes, its a category), miscellaneous, and most of the cash withdrawn.
There were a couple questionable transactions. One of our pet food purchases included a definitely want-worthy item. Some of that cash may have gone to grocery necessities. Internet? Cell Phone? It’s arguable. In general, if the transactions was primarily want or majority need, thus it was categorized.
Obviously, I chickened out on providing actual dollars spent. Sorry. I’ve a strict one big reveal per week limit. Honestly, I’m just pleased as punch that my needs account for more of my spending than my wants. It does indicate a limit on my disposable income, sure. Needs represent more than 50% of our spending. If those are truly ‘needs’, that’s a high water mark under which our income can not dip. But, it’s those two categories combined that keep me married to Corporate Servitude. If I throw in a third…
Things looks better. 17%, in and of itself, is a respectable number to stash away. That means I could be 17% poorer and not change my spending. 17% is a pretty hefty pay cut. It’s not the sixty or so I took once before, but its significant. That assumes of course, that I wouldn’t change my spending (I would) and that I wouldn’t continue to save (also would). Either way it’s money not in my cash flow. It’s money paving the way for our future, whatever that future may be.
My original question was “Are my wants to the detriment of my over arching goals?“. Answer: Right now, probably not. Not according to this snapshot. Not in my opinion. I could certainly do better. Most of us could. 31% or 43% wants is nothing to dismiss. This month with anotherbirthday and Urban Craft Uprising under my belt, the picture might not even be that rosy. But with all my talk of spending, I’m still saving a significant amount. I’m still taking care of my needs. I’m still using my disposable income in a conscientious way. A little reassurance on that front is worth the trouble of asking some ridiculous questions about garden gloves.
And you? What % of your spending do your wants make up? Care to guess? Or have you done the math? How do you categorize a want or a need?