Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wants vs needs

Let me start off by saying that our family is fortunate for so many reasons. Jamey and I have always had a lot of good luck, a strong support system and pretty good heads on our shoulders. We also are in professions that luckily haven't been affected to much by the poor economy. Several years ago we made some bad financial decisions. We bought a really pretty, shiny, brand new sports car for one. It also had a lovely, very high car payment attached to the pretty little thing. It sure was fun to drive though! But practical....NO NO NO it wasn't. We also moved and started spending more money than we should on eating out at expensive places and buying stuff we just didn't need. As a result of our bad decisions for the first time in our lives we ended up with balances on our credit cards and very little savings. That was a little over 6 years ago.

Enter common sense and good team work and Jamey and I sold our pretty little sports car, bought something much more practical and made a plan to get rid of our credit card balances and restore our savings. We were lucky we just had a momentary lapse in financial good sense. We cut up all the credit cards, save one that is locked away "for emergencies only." Thus far it has been used very little in the last 6 years. We count ourselves extremely fortunate that this has been the case. We put ourselves on a budget and we have for the most part always stuck to it. I learned to use coupons and started price comparing. We do our research before we make a purchase and shop around for the best deal. We budget to save for retirement, our daughter's college education and a house when Jamey's retires. I am proud to say that today we are completely debt free. Do we drive brand new cars? No we don't. I have a 2001 model and Jamey has a 2006. Do we have super fancy furniture? No we don't, but we are saving to upgrade it a piece at a time. (But with small kids at home, upgrades are somewhat on hold due to the child destruction factor!)

One of the ways we decide what we buy is pretty simple...Do we want it? or Do we need it? That's been a big factor in the last few months. I WANT a new vehicle. I'll admit that I WANT a minivan (yes I want one!!). I just get excited thinking about all that space, built in DVD players and doors that open when I push a button...oh how wonderful would that be? The last couple of weeks with threats of military pay being postponed due to budgeting arguments in Congress we have really started to rethink our wants and needs. Me wanting a new, larger car is a want. My current vehicle, while not huge is perfectly sound mechanically and only has 100,000 miles on it. It will also continue to be in great mechanical shape for another couple of years while we continue to save for my dream minivan. So for now my want is pushed to the back burner and I'll just continue to remind myself as I stare enviously at my friends DVD players and push button doors that I don't have a car payment and that I don't NEED a new car (but I sure do want one!!!).

I can say that I'm pretty proud of us. I'm proud of the fact that Jamey and I work well as a team. We still spend more than we have too I'm sure. But we do seem to be on the same page, and never fight about money. Big purchases are always discussed with one another and we always make plans and save for the things that we want. We learned the hard way that we didn't like being in debt and we hated worrying about what to do when our cars broke down and we didn't have the money to fix them. While we can't plan for every disaster that strikes us financially we feel a lot more prepared for them than we were several years ago, and that makes us rest easier at night.


Jennifer said...

Great post. We need a little more want vs. need debate in my life.