Needs vs. Wants: Having money to throw around…

Recently, Lauren at Feministe, one of the oldest feminist blogs, mentioned Queercents in her weekend roundup. She writes:
SINCE I’M BROKE and the economy has been tanking I’ve been perusing a lot of economics blogs. One of my new favorites is Queer Cents, a blog that talks money management with a focus on and around the queer community. Pros: posts on topics such as how to buy dresses when you look like a man, ways to avoid medical bankruptcy, and how to write letters to fix your credit report. Cons: many of the writers assume you have money to throw around in the first place. Still, great advice and worthy of the blogroll.
First, we blow big queer kisses to her for linking to us. The subscribers to our RSS feed jumped because of it. Apparently, feminists like their Google Reader. Mwah! Second, let’s talk about what she doesn’t like and how we can fix that. (Hint: this is a nice opportunity for our readers to weigh in with their thoughts about how we can make Queercents better!) “Cons: many of the writers assume you have money to throw around in the first place.”

I think this brings up a really interesting point. I recently listened to a free podcast from iTunes U (downloads from iTunes U are my favorite things to listen to on my morning run). It was a lecture at Griffith University by Cathy McGuane called Money: It is not what you make, but how you manage it that counts. Her topic was the typical women & money pitch, but she said something that I thought was really interesting:

Perceived needs change with income.
I got to thinking about it and yes, my perceived needs are different than Elizabeth’s or Melissa’s needs. Elizabeth is in college and Melissa is in her first job and budgeting for student loan payments. Another example: Paula and I are both Gen X, our experiences are very different at the moment – she made the jump last year from a corporate job to business owner. I’m still schlepping for a paycheck and have a kid on the way. Or consider Roland. He appears loaded! And after trying retirement for about two minutes, he went back to work for what sounds like something to do and not to necessarily make money.

We are different ages and income levels, but we all have money to “throw around” because we’re living within our means. Or at least trying to wind up with more money at the end of the month than we had at the beginning. And not less.

Achieving this objective comes in various forms – depending on the perceived needs of the contributing writer. So while, John and Aundi, might be taking a break from their careers to go back to school, their needs are completely different than the needs of Jennifer and Ashley. Queercents has a bunch of unique writers… all with distinct money voices.

That said, Trent at The Simple Dollar has a fantastic post about needs vs. wants because even our perception of needs sometimes could use a refresh. In a nutshell:

What do I actually need in life?

I need a roof over my head.

I need food and water.

I need clothing.
I need a means to earn a living to pay for the needs.
My wife needs a means to earn a living.

I need basic hygiene and health, as does my family.
I need to protect my family against my demise.

Everything else is a want.
It’s worth clicking over to get the skinny on each of his points. After dividing all his spending into needs and wants; his conclusion:
When I did this, I realized that the majority of our spending was on things that were merely things I wanted. Looking at those wants with a more critical eye - eliminating some and putting a bit more focus on the things most important to me - led me to making some cuts in my spending that I might have otherwise just assumed as a given. That’s made a big change in my spending choices - and has put some cash right back in my pocket.
And at Queercents, we all earn different amounts in our jobs or entrepreneurial pursuits but hopefully, our posts reflect that having money to “throw around” – whatever that amount might be – is really based on spending less than you make.

Photo credit: stock.xchng.