Middle Class Money

A mostly stay-at-home mom and her husband battle to defeat the debt monster in the face of daily money-hungry dragons.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Need versus want

This is one of the all important spending reduction questions. Is this a NEED or a WANT? My father very eloquently explained this concept to my husband one day while they were blowing up rafts for my parents' pool. Here's how this went down:
Dad: Why does she (my mom) have to buy all this useless #$%#? She buys these rafts, becuase she thinks we need them. Why do we need 10 rafts, no one even swims here anymore? I'm going to show you the difference between a need and a want. This raft here (long rectangle lounger) is a want, not a need! We have 2 of them already!

DH: nods head

Dad: For example, what is this thing (holds up triangle shaped raft)? I mean, no one could even float on this it is so small. "We needed it," that is what she'd say. I'd say this is a want, not a need at all.

DH: nods head, then looks at box that triangle shaped raft came in. Actually, this box says that that raft is not a raft at all, but a floating beer holder.

Dad: IT'S A NEED!!!
And that, is the difference between a want and a need in my family. If it has something to do with alcohol, it is a need. Just kidding. But, this does illustrate a good point. What one partner thinks is a need, the other thinks is a want. And this is where you get into trouble without the communication that all the relationship people are always talking about. WANT and NEED is probably the cause of 90% of those money fights you hear are the main cause of conflict in a relationship. "I needed to get my hair highlighted" and "I need to golf 4 times this week".

So how do you handle needs and wants in your relationship? My DH and I have come up with an allowance system. Each pay (he is paid semi-monthly), we get $50 to ourselves. We can spend it on anything we WANT or NEED. Going out to lunch, gym membership (though half of my membership is paid for through our "etc" fund because my husband has a free gym at work and doesn't have this expense). This doesn't count meals we eat out together, just meals we eat with friends or co-workers. The good side of this is that no one can complain about how you spend your allowance. The bad side is, it is hard to buy your wife those surprise diamond earrings that she NEEDS when you only have $50 a week.

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