How To Save Money #20: Distinguish Between Need and Greed

I play MMOs—massive, multi-player online games. Often in an MMO, you adventure together with other people who are also playing. And an essential part of adventuring is getting loot—items, clothing, accessories, weapons, and so on. In most games, everyone in your adventure party gets to say whether they need the item that drops, or whether they would just like it (this is called greed). You put in your decision and the game decides who wins it.

Your finances can be managed in this way. When purchasing something, distinguish between what you need and what you want. You may want a mansion and caviar and $600 jeans, but what you need is shelter and food and clothing.

For shelter, depending on your budget, you may want to own your own home, but it isn’t affordable right now. You may only be able to afford to rent an apartment or maybe even just a room somewhere. (Though you can still save toward the goal of owning your own home; these “ways to save money” tips might be helpful for that.)

For food, are you dining out a lot or buying prepackaged foods? To save money, you can make your own meals most of the time. An added benefit of making your own meals is that you get more food for the dollar (if you shop wisely), and you can eat more healthful foods. If you can’t cook, well, that’s another matter, but you could start learning. Just take it one step at a time; try something easy; add a new recipe or two to your repertoire each week. Maybe try a few that make a large quantity of food, which you can then take to work as lunches or freeze some of for later. Very quickly you will have a core set of recipes that you enjoy making and eating.

Along those lines, set yourself a lunch budget and stick to it. Mine is $25 a week ($5 a day), which means if I spend $10 one day dining out, I need to bring something from home the next day. I like to see if I can get through an entire week without buying lunch. (Have an overall food budget as well.)

What about those $600 jeans? Does you really need them? Does anyone really need them? Of course not. You can most likely find something just as comfortable and perhaps of better quality somewhere else. You can even go shopping at thrift stores for clothing. If you haven’t checked out a thrift store recently, you might be surprised at the quality of clothing there. Think about it—the clothing at those thrift stores comes from donations, and quite often people donate good-quality, even never-used clothing. I’ve seen brand-name suits, like Pierre Cardin; silk blouses; and one time a dozen brand-new wool women’s coats donated by a local merchant. Another time, I found a gorgeous hand-tailored ivory silk woman’s suit, which fit my daughter perfectly. While you’re there, you might be able to pick up some other household items that you need at a fraction of their retail value. If it hurts your pride to shop at a thrift store, you don’t have to tell people where you got that great designer suit; just say “thank you” when you get compliments.

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