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ICFE eNEWS #17-25 - June 29, 2017

Determining Wants From Needs: Five Need-Producing Attitudes

By Jim Garnett, a/k/a Ask Mr.G, a member of the ICFE's Board of Educational Advisors

Not long ago I attended a ceremony in which a high school girl was honored for her entrepreneurial successes. When asked how she could achieve such remarkable things at her age, she replied, "I learned very early on to know the difference between my wants and my needs."

She had learned at an early age what many fail to learn in an entire lifetime! Failure to grasp that truth has led many down a path where true satisfaction is never found.

Since most of our actions are prompted by our attitudes, could I suggest that it is the adoption of certain attitudes that tend to make it so difficult to distinguish our wants from our needs.

It would do us well to identify these attitudes and be sure that they do not find a "nesting place" in our thinking. Below is a partial list of "need-producing attitudes" to be avoided.

1. It is a need because I deserve to have it. This seems to be the philosophy of today's entitlement society, and once we bite into that apple, most everything we "want" is magically transformed into a need.

"You work hard and deserve to have a boat that will help you relax!"
"You have given to others all your life, and you deserve to buy that vacation home in Arizona."
"You have never had a new car before. Don't you think you deserve one?"

Telling people who want something that they deserve to have it "sets the hook," and the fish are ready to be reeled in. It seems to me that the more we adopt this "I deserve it," the less we appreciate it when we get it.

2. It is a need because others have it. Sam's neighbor could hardly wait to show him his new riding mower. It was 4-wheel drive, zero-turn, 5-speed, 37 inch cut, bagger, blade attachment, blower attachment, and do 17mph on a straight-away!

The next time Sam looked at his three-year-old, self-propelled, start-on-the-first-pull mower, he immediately reasoned, "I need a new mower like my neighbor has."

It is certainly ok to buy things that are improvements over what we presently have, but when they are bought just because someone else has a better one than us, we need to be careful of calling it a need. "What the Jones' have" is never a good standard in determining what we need.

3. It is a need because it is a good bargain. This attitude can be especially prevalent in those who like to negotiate deals. Admittedly, I am one of those! If we are not careful, we can fill up our garages with items we will never use but bought because they were good bargains.

Even those who become too focused on couponing can find themselves in the same predicament with 14 bottles of 67-ounce ketchup, 32 cans of creamed corn, and 11 boxes of Raisin Bran in their pantries for just the two of them to enjoy.

While writing this article, I received an email offer from Verizon to buy a new IPhone 7. This $650 phone can be purchased interest-free and paid for over 24 months. I am tempted to reason, "I am a savvy shopper. I do not like to pay interest. This phone is interest-free. I can afford a $27 per month payment. Therefore, I need to upgrade to this new phone!"

The only problem in that thinking is that "I don't need it!"

When we end up buying things just because they are "good bargains," hasn't it become more about "playing the game" than it is meeting our needs?

4. It is a need because I have access to get it. Think about the couple who has been completely satisfied living in their split-level home for the last six years. It is plenty big for their family of four. But within a month of winning the state lottery, they "realize" their house is way too small and way too old, so they plan to sell it and get a bigger and better one.

5. It is a need because I am accustomed to having it. When we saw a number of old classic cars on the highway the other day, I commented to my wife, "You know, none of those cars had air conditioning originally, but they all do now. The owners saw it as an absolute need in their restoration."

I thought of the 1954 Ford, the 1957 Chevy (wish I had it now!), the 1962 Volkswagen Bug, and the 1966 Chevy Bel Aire I had owned in my early years. None of them had air conditioning, and further more, I did not miss it! How did we carry on conversations with the car windows down? How could we listen to the radio? How did we keep our hair (I had it then) combed? I do not know, but we never gave it a thought!

We had never had it and were not accustomed to it in our cars or in our homes, so, we never thought of it as a need. But now we would not think of buying a car or a home without air conditioning. It is an absolute need because we have grown accustomed to it.

Our brains will work overtime to supply subtle reasons that will transform our wants into needs. Just remember that every "good sounding" reason is not necessarily a "good, sound reason." It might be our subconscious attitude supplying a "reason" to have what we want to have. That can result in us meeting our "wants" by turning them into "needs."

Ask Mr. G
Jim Garnett, The Debt Doctor
AskMrG Consulting, LLC
2216 SW 35th Street
Ankeny, IA 50023

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Sent by:

Paul S. Richard
President - Executive Director
Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE)

About the ICFE:

The Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) was founded in 1982 by the late Loren Dunton (creator of the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and founder of the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO.) The ICFE is dedicated to helping consumers of all ages to improve their spending practices, increase savings and use credit more wisely.

The ICFE is an award winning, nonprofit, consumer education organization that has helped millions of people through its financial continuing education courses programs and resources. In addition to eight Certification courses covering identity theft, credit files, credit repair and credit scoring, among others, it also publishes the Do-It-Yourself Credit File correction Guide, which is updated annually. The ICFE has distributed over one million Credit/Debit Card Warning Labels and Credit/Debit Card Sleeves world wide.

The ICFE is a partner with the national Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy and the California Jump$tart chapter. The ICFE staff is also active with San Diego Saves and Military Saves, both offshoots of America Saves.

The ICFE is also an on-line help for consumers who spend too much. ICFE's spending help was featured in PARADE Magazine in the Intelligence Report section. The money helps and tips are from the ICFE's Money Instruction Book, our course in personal finance.

The ICFE helps consumers and students with mending spending, learning about the proper use of credit, budget and expense guidelines, how to set up and implement a spending-plan and also how to access financial education courses and how to teach children about money. Other ICFE services include: Ask Mr. G library, a free eNews service, and an online resource center for students, parents and educators, plus financial education learning tools in the ICFE Book Store.

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