I just concluded teaching a class to 1st graders for Junior Achievement. Adorable. One of our classes was about needs and wants. We played a game where I’d hold up a picture of something and they had to tell me if it was a need or a want. They did pretty well on the game, with the exception of the picture of the puppy; they mostly determined the puppy to be a need. I don’t know that they were wrong.
The little darlings learned that even grown ups have a hard time telling the difference between a need and a want. I even run a support group to help people budget for their needs and wants.
It’s curious to me that people are always trying to reduce how much they spend on food (coupons, sales, gardening) and yet food is the one thing we truly do need. Interesting. Maybe people try to spend less on what they need so they can buy more of what they want.
As Dr. David Krueger writes in his New Money Story® Mentor Training manual,
“you can never get enough of what you don’t need.”
If you’re married, it’s even more challenging to get a handle on needs and wants, because each person will have their opinions on what each of those look like, and some “wants” can easily masquerade as “needs,” such is the case with black shoes.
Husbands, don’t try to rationalize with your wives on black shoes.
Just keep telling her how beautiful she is.
Like I wrote in my post Want Your Wife To Shop (Spend) Less?, women are typically more socially aware and therefore require apparel for every occasion, climate and activity. I estimate we women “need” (not for foot protection, but for social circumstances) at least five pairs of black shoes:
1. Low-heeled pumps for work
2. High heeled pumps for going out/cocktails/formals
3. Flat Sandals
4. Strappy sandals with a heel
This does not count boots (rain, snow, hiking or other activity wear), wear-and-tear, or the fact that some shoes are so uncomfortable we may think they’re trying to kills us and should be brought up on charges.
Likewise we wives may wonder why our husbands are so concerned about the state of our lawns. We don’t “need” to have a great looking lawn, but we “need” to demonstrate that we have the resources (time and money) to have a great lawn and that we can control our environment.
Neither of these areas of spending (shoes, lawn care) represent a true “need” as in food, clothing or shelter. So spouses must present arguments to each other in order to demonstrate why we need them.
Social needs are needs. It’s the argument I’m trying to help couples avoid.
To quote Dr. Krueger again, “Conflicting thoughts and feelings are like having your feet on the gas and the break pedals simultaneously.” This conflict prevents progress and causes frustration and discouragement.
The process of financial planning helps clients identify what they need and what they value. Determining this takes some work and introspection but once you know who you are and what you want, where you are going and why you want to get “there,” we can create a financial plan and/or policy that will include the steps you need to take to achieve your goals in ways that will be in alignment with your needs and values (and, therefore, more likely to get done). This reduces the arguments significantly.
Couples who go through the financial planning process together understand and respect each other more than those who don’t, and they’re much more equipped to set and achieve mutual goals, (which seldom include “more black shoes”).
Photos (aside from the dog) courtesy of ClipArt.