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The bumpy road to financial independence. . . .


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is it a Need or a Want?

One of my more difficult issues in living more frugally is deciding between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’. I can rationalize any purchase by telling myself that I NEED it (whether “it” is a new pair of boots, a new coat, a new dining room table, or any other item). This is what I’ve done for the past twenty years or so, which explains the steady increase in credit card debt over the years.

Most recently, I stopped in at Radio Shack to look into a new cell phone, one that will work with Virgin Mobile, the service I intend to use after my Verizon contract is finished in May. Once I switch to the Virgin Mobile plan, my monthly bill should be less than $10 a month, compared to over $40 a month for a phone I used rarely, if at all.

Why did I go to Radio Shack NOW, to look at phones, rather than waiting until I actually need the phone (three months from today)? Well, they have this cool white phone that was a holiday special. They had two (TWO!) left in the store, priced at $49. Radio Shack was not expecting any more shipments of the white phone. I immediately starting considering how I would scrape up $49 right NOW so I could buy the cooler white phone before they ran out! My heart started beating faster, and I felt that credit-card itch in my fingers----if I just put it on credit now, then I’ll pay it off next month, and. . . . . you see where this is going, I’m sure.

Did I buy it? NO! I actually talked myself out of it, one of the first times I’ve been successful at this! I asked myself specifically: is this a need, or a want? Do I NEED the white phone, and do I NEED it now? The answer was no, on both counts! I saved myself $49 dollars---maybe in May, when I really do need a new phone, I’ll buy the one for $14.99 and forget all about the ‘coolness’ factor.

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