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Have you ever thought about wants and needs? I mean REALLY considered the difference between the two? credit cardYou NEED air to breathe, food, water, a roof over your head, and probably a job. You WANT the latest Apple gadget that just came out…or a new car… or…. you get the idea. “I think the key is to know the difference between what we want and what we need. There are a few things we can do to help us along the way,” notes Frank Daversa, author of Spirituality in the 21st Centuryhttp://www.frankdaversa.com.

Daversa offers numerous tips, and as frugal as my wife and I are, I’ll throw in a few thoughts of my own, too.

Spend your money wisely; don’t be fooled by the “newest thing.” “We live in a free country, which means we are free to buy many things we may not actually need. If we don’t have enough money, we can put it on a credit card. …When the urge hits you, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

My two-cents worth: Many financial experts recommend the 24-hour rule. Give yourself 24 hours before buying it, and a LOT of people will change their mind and not purchase the item, whatever it is.  Also, consider needs versus wants. Do I NEED the item to do my job better? Does your current smartphone (for instance) adequately perform the functions you need it to? I still have a flip phone, so I obviously don’t have a problem with this one! For more impulsive purchasers, consider the 24-hour rule.

Ask yourself if the purchased item will be good or necessary. If you’re uncertain about an item’s necessity, ask yourself if the purchase would be worthwhile or meaningful to things that matter: health, family, etc. If you’re still unsure, then always remember that moderation is a safe bet—we don’t need to have everything! You may not know if the thing will be good or necessary, but if you don’t buy it then you’ll have more money for something else, such as a deserving charity.

card2My two-cents worth: I really like that last part; how much of the money we ALL fritter away could go for a worthy charity instead? Let’s say your church is having a big fundraiser for a new fellowship wing… They’re looking for, hopefully, $500… Your automatic response is to say you don’t have it because you want to get a new laptop. Maybe some simple maintenance would speed up your current computer enough to get you by for a while, and you could actually afford $500 for your church – or maybe even $250 and keep the other half toward your laptop. As soon as you earn the remainder ($250), you can still get your laptop, you just have to wait a few months… PLUS your church comes out ahead. Is that so bad?

Think about all of your resources. Money doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We sacrifice time and energy in our jobs to afford life. Rather than buying a [certain] thing, you could invest the money you earned while away from your family to afford a family vacation, for example, or your child’s college tuition. Rather than buying some product, you may spend your time considering better investments.

My two-cents worth: My current job offers a simple IRA…nothing big, but it all helps toward retirement. I was always amazed that I was the only employee that took advantage of it. Everyone else was more interested in having that extra $50.00 or whatever it was exactly, in their pocket. Think of what X amount of money could do for you tomorrow, not just today.

Appreciate the value of older goods. Antique furniture is a good example of the value that older items possess. Antiques possess a distinctive style and sense of history, qualities that are harder to find in more modern furniture. Just because a product is older does not mean it lacks value. Get the most out of your product’s natural lifespan, and appreciate the intrinsic value it possesses beyond its material worth. That is not to say one should never purchase goods for pleasure; all it means is such purchases should be made in moderation.

My two-cents worth: I love our digital camera; it’s easy to use, and it takes good pictures. We’ve had it since 2006, but if it works great, so what if what if we rely on that for our pictures and not a newer smartphone or tablet? No smartphone isn’t necessarily a dumb thing! It all comes back to asking yourself: Do I WANT it? Or do I NEED it? Is it always fun being frugal? No… but it is a freeing feeling financially, and that to me makes passing up on “stuff” worth it.