Saving up can be an extremely frustrating process – especially if you have no idea where the hell your money disappears to each month! The sad thing is that even with a budget in place, it’s still possible to fail miserably when it comes to saving.
When this happens, it’s usually because of one critical budgeting issue – distinguishing wants from needs.
A Simple Issue That Leads to Huge Financial Problems
If you’ve read our article, 3 Incredibly Important Strategies That’ll Help Your Paycheck Last the Entire Month, you know that there are many ways to free up more income to put into savings.
Problem solved right?
The money just stays in your savings and continues to grow and grow.
In theory, that should happen.
However, the reality is that too many people dip into their savings accounts (actually, drain is a more appropriate word) to buy items that can be classified as “wants” instead of “needs.”
That PS4, Canon SLR, LV bag, or that 50” Full HD Smart TV you feel the “need” to buy IS NOT something you really need.
It’s a want.
That’s why it’s so tough for some people to save up – because they never really took the time differentiate between what constitutes a want and a need.
It may sound like a silly problem, but unless you set boundaries for your spending, you’re more likely to justify the purchase of anything you desire as a “need.”
Before You Touch Your Savings, You Need to Ask Yourself Some Very Important Questions
Old spending habits are a bit Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees – they’re very hard to kill and have a habit of haunting us well into the future.
Listen, I know it can be tough to resist purchasing something you really want. It’s a classic angel vs. devil situation where you’re going back and forth in your head whether to buy an item or not – even though the only cash you have to pay for it is in your savings.
Maybe you’re just asking the wrong questions when trying to justify whether to purchase the item or not. If that’s the case, I suggest you ask these instead the next time you have the internal debate over buying something you really shouldn’t:
- Is there a way I can get a cheaper, second-hand version of this?
- Will this item still be here next month when I have the funds to buy it?
- Is this product going to bring me any real lasting value, or will I stop using it after a few months?
- Do I already own something comparable to this product that I can continue using?
- If tragedy strikes and I have to sell this item for extra cash, will I get my money’s worth?
These are just a few questions that can help you decide whether that purchase you’re eyeballing can wait.
Hopefully, these questions will dissuade you from dipping into your savings, but if you need a little more mental assistance in that department, you should definitely read our article on a Weird But Effective Way to Stop Yourself from Overspending.
On a personal note, do you want to know what I think is an even more effective way of staying on course with your savings? Go shopping with your most trusted friend or significant other. That’s what I do.
I know I can always count on my fiancée to remind me (ad infinitum) to save my money instead of buying rubbish.
What works for you when it comes to settling the issue of wants vs. needs? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!
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