“I Need” vs. “I Want”
Financial freedom meets learning the difference between your wants and needs.
What is a luxury? What is a necessity? If you’re going to succeed with money, you’ll have to learn to distinguish your wants and needs.
For too much of my life, I spent too much of my money on things I enjoyed without stopping to ask myself if I really needed them. When I started studying what the Bible says about money, though, I learned that my wants and needs were not the same thing.
I spent too much of my money on things I enjoyed without stopping to ask myself if I really needed them.
It’s easy to get confused about what we need in life. Ask 20 people what they need, and you’ll get 20 different answers. Some will be pragmatic: food, shelter, clothing. Others will give you more philosophical answers: we need love, challenges or satisfaction.
Listen to the things that people say in everyday conversation and you’ll hear some outlandish needs: “I really need a Starbucks right now.” “I need to go someplace warm.” “I need a new smartphone.” Maybe you have said some of these things yourself. I know I have.
You should enjoy luxuries with what’s left over after you have met your family’s needs, tithed, given and saved for the future.
A New Perspective on Wants and Needs
We often take the luxurious lifestyle of our modern, prosperous age for granted. Visit the Third World, though, and you realize that many things we enjoy aren’t essential to life. We like them. We want them. They make our lives easier and more prosperous. But we don’t need them to survive or even to have healthy, happy families.
If you’re going to spend the money God gives you according to His master plan, you need to take a careful inventory of your wants and needs. All too often, western Christians fail to give generously because so much of their income goes to meeting the “needs” of their families. But are they all really needs?
Think about it: Do you need to eat out three times a week? Do you need a new Macbook Pro every few years? Does your family need a late-model SUV, or could you get where you need to go in an eight-year-old station wagon that you paid cash for?
When managing your money, you have to acknowledge that these are all luxuries that belong in the last priority of your financial strategy. You should enjoy luxuries with what’s left over after you have met your family’s needs, tithed, given and saved for the future.
The Dangers of Luxury
When we confuse our wants and needs, we withhold resources from the Kingdom and create dangerous habits that can lead to real financial trouble. Proverbs 21:17 warns us about this:
Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never become rich.
Luxury items are expensive, and if they become regular, habitual aspects of our lives, they can spiral out of control. A nice dinner out every now in then can be a great treat; continually dining at gourmet restaurants will put you in the poorhouse. I enjoy nice food, but all I really need is a simple, healthy, home-cooked meal.
All too often, we squander the resources God has given us by spending them on luxuries instead of necessities. Let’s commit to changing that together. We can start by thinking about the things we really need.