Needs and Wants, getting REAL about Money

more.gifLet’s face it: Most people spend way too much money on things they don’t really need. The more money we make, the more we tend to spend. This endless cycle of materialism has led many people to confuse the word “need” with the word “want.” As in, “we need a big-screen TV for our new home theatre.” Or, “I need a new pair of shoes to go with my new outfit.”

If you want to achieve your vocational passion, where every day you jump out of bed and can’t wait to go to work, then you need to re-order your priorities. Stay away from the purely material.

The pursuit of material success often is the root cause of burnout at midlife.
In fact, a recent study found that people primarily motivated by the love of their work grow dissatisfied as they begin to make more money.

The first step to breaking free from the materialism trap is to understand the difference between “need” and “want.”

We need food, clothing, shelter, reliable transportation, education, enrichment, and the technology necessary to do our work. Also, we need the occasional small indulgence to treat our children and ourselves.

We do not need 500 cable TV channels, brand new luxury cars, 5,000-square-foot homes in exclusive neighborhoods, lavish ski vacations, and smart phones that do everything but think for us.


There is nothing wrong with wanting these things. But understand that these things do not make us happy, in and of them. And, they are often links in the chains that bind us to jobs we despise.

Often, those who make a leap to vocational passion end up making more money over the long term. But in the short term, income usually declines. It may even go away for a period of time. Typically, the first two years of a career change – in particular, one motivated purely by vocational passion – are financially difficult. Major lifestyle and attitude adjustments are critical to making the money last while you pursue your dream.

The amazing thing is that once you learn to live on less, it becomes a habit. The peace of mind that comes from relying less on materialism to define success usually leads to a greater and deeper happiness.

Now we understand that pursuing vocational passion requires a major adjustment in our attitude toward money and material comfort. The next step is getting down to the details.

The trick is to look at all expenses, both big and small. Leave no stone unturned. No savings is too small, and no category of spending should be free from scrutiny.

Consider these options to cut down your burn rate. Some will seem dramatic. But if you have decided that your only chance at happiness is to pursue a vocational dream, small measures won’t cut it.

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3 Responses

  1. Really well-written post Robin! that is the kind of topics that gets my attention right away! Confusing needs and wants is something we all do to a certain level, and it can be hard to differentiate the 2…
    Keep up the good work, it’s always a pleasure to visit your blog! 🙂

  2. zakman says:

    I’d think there’s also a ‘death trap’ or the proverbial ‘vicious circle’ in play here.

    I achieve some success, and as Robin points out, my ‘wants’ become my ‘needs’, and I fall into that attraction for the materialistic.

    And when my so-called ‘wants’ fail to make me happy, I go into my auto mode, and buy more stuff, thinking that will make me happy.

    I’m not happy with 500 TV channels. I’ll be happy if I had 510.

  3. Althea says:

    I like your article and it’s so true. The following information was taken from the book “The Insider’s Guide To Saving Money” by Michael Ellenbogen. “Cutting back does not necessarily mean giving something up all together, but rather finding a less expensive way to do it. Let us say, for example, that each morning you stop by your favorite coffee shop and buy a cafe latté. It costs $3.00, or $15.00 per week. Another option is that you could stop by a local convenience store and buy your coffee for $1.00. You would save $10.00 per week or $520.00 per year. Not bad for a minor adjustment. If you took the $10.00 savings each week and invested it at a 5 percent return, after 20 years you would have over $17,600.00. Not bad for altering one buying habit. Most people have more than one cup of coffee a day. Just think of those savings. You could even make your own coffee at work, which would save you even more.”

    This book was a real eye opener, on the amount of money I have been wasting on cigarettes and so many other things. The savings added up quickly. I will be saving over $86,000.00, over 20 years because I stopped smoking 1 ½ packs per day.

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