Needs vs Wants

This post has been a long time coming. I always start it, but then don’t know where to go from there. If you’ve been following for any length of time, you know that we live a debt-free lifestyle, based on Dave Ramsey’s teachings. And we’re currently on baby step 3–saving our 3-6 month emergency fund–while awaiting the birth of our second-born.

We haven’t done too much this summer since we’ve been really trying to save our emergency fund before baby number 2 arrives, but we did drive to South Carolina to see family for Memorial Day weekend, spent some afternoons by the community pool, and entertained some family in our home. We also taught our second Financial Peace class at our church, which we just wrapped up at the end of July. I’m 9 months pregnant and pretty content to be home with my family, but as I scroll through my social media news feeds, I can certainly understand why someone would feel differently.

This summer I’ve watched friends, family, and even strangers, travel all over; purchase new vehicles and homes; and decorate, plan, & organize all the things. And there’s nothing wrong with these, as long as we save, pay cash/debit for them, and aren’t sacrificing our needs for them. So, lets talk about what our needs are. Dave Ramsey calls them the 4 walls:

  1. Housing (Rent/Mortgage)
  2. Utilities (Water, electric, gas, phone, etc.)
  3. Transportation (taxes, car insurance, gas, oil)
  4. Food (groceries)

The 4 walls are especially helpful when we’re struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, or have a loss of job; we always take care of our household first. These are the items we budget for before we spend money on anything else. There are the occasional exceptions, such as school uniforms and/or supplies, or an outfit for a job interview; but these aren’t going to occur very often.

Now, what are some things that are not considered necessities?

  • Eating out
  • Cable
  • The latest cell phone
  • Coffee from a coffeehouse
  • Vacations
  • New clothes/accessories
  • High-end makeup
  • New vehicles
  • Tickets (movies, theater, sports, concerts)
  • New home decor/furniture
  • Extracurricular activities for the kiddos

We could obviously go on and on. But these are all extras and if we’re in a real financial bind, they can, and should, be cut from the budget. It doesn’t have to be for always; just until we have more breathing room in our budget.

Additional income, an emergency fund, and a plan in place can make a world of difference. If you don’t have a plan in place, you’ll always be flying by the seat of your pants, wondering where all your hard-earned money went, and why you can never get ahead. If you want to know more about our plan, check out my other posts on finances, budgeting, and dumping debt.

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