It’s crazy how fast a want can turn into a need.
I noticed this once when I saw an ad for a new iPhone. I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s cool, but I already have one.” And then, within what felt like a matter of days, that new iPhone showed up on my desk, and I was totally blown away by how it got there.
The important question to ask is: Do I really need that?
Of course, the answer to that question is inherently wrapped up in other bigger questions. What if happiness is not about getting more but about wanting less? What if you can never really get enough of something you don’t need?
Look, we all know that the shiny new toy we just had to have often ends up in the garage sale pile or donated to charity.
This is part of what makes personal finance so complex—there's no definitive list of the 100 things every family must have. These decisions end up being incredibly personal, and the only way to know the difference between a want and a need is to get clear on your own values.
The best way I’ve come across to do that is to simply put some space between yourself and the impulse to buy, and use that space to reflect. You can always go back and buy it tomorrow if you still need to.
And if you don’t need to?
You may just find that after coming to that realization, you don’t want to anymore, either.