Master Want Versus Need

A little while back while doing laundry in my basement I looked up to see water coming between the wooden planks of my kitchen floor. After scrambling upstairs and shutting off the dishwasher, I grumbled about the mess and realized I have a leak to fix. Turns out the leak was too complicated to find and over my head in DIY capability.  So I ignored it. That was 2009.

 In life, there are needs and wants. These are simple concepts, and apply to everyone. All humans need water, food, and some level of social companionship. Although that hermit guy in NH who didn’t speak to anyone in 27 years proves the third need there is not 100% necessary, but he’s weird.

Hermit Guy From NH.
#GetYourAbeLincolnOn #AreThoseHospitalScrubs?

After those three, there are other strong needs such as shelter or clothing (which are absolute needs in certain climate zones of the world), but you can theoretically live and continue to breathe without them. After that, the list of needs gets thin real quick. Like, real quick. If you’ve ever traveled to any super-destitute 3rd world countries (not Costa Rica – think Afghanistan), then you’ve seen that people can easily live and be happy with those basic needs and not much more.

“I Want A Hamburger, No A Cheeseburger….”


Then there are wants, which is pretty much everything else. I want a cheeseburger all the time too, but cardiac surgeons already have too much business. Most of the shit all of us will accumulate in our entire lives are wants, and are totally unnecessary for life. That doesn’t make them bad, that just makes them what they are, which is wants.

I decided that for me a dishwasher is a want. Carefully drawing a deliberate line between the need/want spectrum, a line that is very different than the average 1st world person, has been a key factor in my road to FI.

A person in Afghanistan might want a dishwasher, but I can guarantee you that most of those folks don’t think to themselves “I need a dishwasher”. Then again most do not even have dishes, so the problem is nipped in the bud…. but you get the picture. When I tell friends or colleagues that I don’t have a working dishwasher, they look at me like I’ve got snakes coming out of my eyes.

The “I don’t have a dishwasher” reaction 
#YouEffingFreak #IDoHaveAPhoneThatTalksToSpaceTho

It’s as if they believe that after you’re born an “accessory pack” comes out with things that everyone “has to have”.  A dishwasher of course being one of them. 

I don’t judge or begrudge them for having a dishwasher, and I certainly hope they don’t judge me for not. I’ve never had a problem being the abby-normal one, and sometimes I even enjoy the reactions. But if I’ve learned one thing from my travels around the world and my personal journey to FI, if you can get the upper hand in the want/need game, then you will get to FI faster. The “upper hand” will surely mean different things for each of us, but find the upper hand in your life and hold to it.

4 Responses

  1. This is a lot of what MMM teaches as well: he’s big on stoicism and not desiring a ton of frivolous stuff. To a large degree he’s right – folks who have less ‘stuff’ than the typical American are just as happy if not more on a whole. The sooner you can internalize that and truly be happy with what you’ve got, the better off you’ll be 🙂

  2. Accidental Fire says:

    I love stoicism, I just finished this book and recommend. There’s lots of angles and practices to stoicism, but I find I’m best at the delayed gratification aspect.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Lindsay says:

    #Stoicism is sexy!

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