2. Purchasing Decisions
a. Fulfilling your needs (continued)
You probably noticed that if the reason for an expense changed, so did the type of need you are fulfilling. For example, if you were buying groceries “so you could create a gourmet meal”, then that would move the need being satisfied up into the self-actualizing level. Likewise, if you were eating out “so you can feel better after a bad day,” you are satisfying esteem and ego rather than a physiological need.
This is a common reason that people think that their “wants” are “needs.” Let’s look again at eating out so you can feel better after a bad day. You need to eat, but you don’t need to eat out and it is unlikely that eating out will solve whatever problem caused your bad day. Perhaps the best way to satisfy that need is to call a friend or talk to a family member about your day.
There’s certainly value in treating yourself to something nice or something you enjoy from time to time. However, the important thing is to recognize that you are doing that AND making educated spending decisions.
For example, you need to feel loved and like you belong when you are with family. There are costly ways and inexpensive ways to do this. Helping your sister out with child care while she goes to work and having a nutritious, low-cost meal ready for her when she gets home satisfies this need as much as spending more than you can afford on a gift you want to give her. While we may want expensive gifts, what we may need is some tender loving care from our family.
One way to sort through this for yourself may be this: What am I feeling or thinking right now? What do these feelings or thoughts tell me that I want? Underneath that want, what need am I trying to satisfy? Is there a financially healthier way to satisfy that need?