November 18, 2017

Financial Update – Needs vs. Wants



Last week, we celebrated the one year anniversary of our God Watch – a time of watching and waiting expectantly. One year of transition, one year of unemployment, one year of unknowns, and one year later…we have grown, changed, cried, persevered and rejoiced.

Through it all, He has remained faithful to meet every need. Yes, every need.

Needs vs. wants – it’s a touchy topic and highly debated. Most of us have never truly “wanted” for anything in life, yet living in a society where an entitlement mentality has been nurtured,  it leaves us with a skewed definition of true need.

As I sprinkle in personal finance issues during the next few months, the centrality of this issue lies with the important foundation of being truly honest in naming our needs vs. wants.

The wonderful conclusion is that there is room for both – after we’ve tackled… budgets, debt and the elusive “entitlement” temptation. Our family’s God Watch story isn’t quite finished yet (is anyone’s), but it sure does have an exciting journey that I want to share.

So what about you?

Have you done much thinking or planning about your budget yet this year?

Do you need to begin?

(posted at WFMW)


  1. Maureen says:

    Not until recently have I thought of needs vs wants. I used to think that I needed everything but now know that I need very little but want way too much. I have had many people go through divorce, death, loss of job. These things have made me realize that I need to be financially secure for myself and my two daughters. I am still married and I work so I look at my income and realize it shouldn’t be spent so freely. So thank you Jen for reminding us of this.


  2. Thanks for addressing this subject. I think many of us get caught up in the area of ‘wants’ without thinking. To really stop and think….’do I need this?’ makes a huge difference for me. I am working on cutting out many wants. God provides all our needs, in His timing. I will be following along to see what others have to say.


  3. Thanks so much for the post today, and referencing back to your Sept. one. My husband has been “unemployed now for about 6 months” and yes, we are surviving going through our EF too. I don’t like it one bit, but I know God is going to provide and see us through. It helps to hear someone elses story and how they pulled through it too. We don’t have any debt, and a low mortgage, our budget is bare bones for now…yeah, it’s no fun, but we are making it. God is deepening our message for those we help financially. Thanks so much for the encouragement.


  4. I have shaved our budget to $30/ week for our family of 4 (2 little ones) incl food,cleaning and HBA products. We have also divided up bonuses to put in savings/church/clothing/fun. I also started blogging my deals to hold myself accountable to the new budget. It is a challenge but it makes me often ask myslef “DO I NEED THIS” before I buy whatever it may be.


  5. My family had to learn this lesson the hard way with my husbands 15 month job loss in 2008-2009. We are in the middle of taking a Dave Ramsey class at our church and I have to say it has changed our lives.
    Looking back I can see God plan for us it was hard but we are so glad we went through it as we have grown so much.


  6. Isabella says:

    Yes, we have thought about needs vs. wants a lot this past year. It has been a time of testing and trials, truly a “fiery ordeal” for us, but we are not supposed to be surprised by these, I know. My husband was also out of work, and a job did not open for us. We went through every penny of our savings and kept afloat for two years. What small income we managed to earn was not enough for all our bills. We were in a terrible housing market (California) and could not sell that house no matter what we tried. We lost it and $200,000 in equity. After years of sacrificial giving, extreme thriftiness, breast cancer, putting four children through college etc., we were faced with this. It has been crushing to say the least! Yes, I know needs vs. wants very well now! In spite of this, I know that God is a God of redemption and restoration. We are in a valley, but we still see His provision and have reasons to rejoice. I know that these are the times that God brings in our lives to grow our faith and complete dependence on Him. I hope that everyone who is in this kind of place will not lose hope! We have an awesome God.


    Jens Reply:

    @Isabella, Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly with us. We have a dear friend who is in the same position with their house (in CA) – it’s been on the market for six months and nothing. Your story is still being written, and I know the Author has an amazing ending, even though these middle chapters are taking their twists and turns. Thanks again.


  7. Beginning back at the beginning after the loss of everything that we had built in our 30 years of marriage, while raising six children, has made us all learn the difference between “wants” and “needs”. My children can tell you how many times that they have heard those words. Our walk with the Lord has changed as we learned first hand to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”. As hard as it has been I am seeing fruit from the journey. God is faithful.

    This is my first time to your blog and I look forward to reading and being encouraged


  8. Still have a long way to go in this area. If it were only needs that controlled us…


  9. Totally thinking and budget and God watching. We’re doing Dave Ramsey for at least the third time. This time is going to be the charm. We are GOING to get out of debt. We are going to change our financial future. Thanks for your encouragement via your story.


  10. Hi Jen~ I’ve often wondered how your husband’s job search has been, and have prayed for you.

    My husband has been without work since July, and our house has been on the market since September. We still don’t know what the Lord has for us, but we know that He is faith-full! He has provided for us and taught our family many things through this time of waiting upon Him. We are living on savings and like you, we’re being more frugal than we ever thought we could be.

    One day, all of us… you, the ladies above, us, and all of us who are learning the difference between needs and wants…will look back and see that this was a good place in our lives.

    Thanks for continuing to encourage us in our frugality!

    Jennifer Walker


  11. I try to talk abouts needs vs. wants all the time around here. I want to make sure my children can tell the difference before they set out on their own.

    I can relate to many of the comments, and I feel like God is helping us on a daily basis…our daily bread, right?



  12. The needs vs. wants thing has always been in practice for me to some extent, but never like it has been over the past almost 2 years. We made a change in our family situation (I quit my job to be home with the kids and my stay at home husband went back to work after 8 years). It meant a dramatic decrease in income but we haven’t regretted it one bit. We are happier and more in-tune as a family to God’s provision. Our needs are met, that is for certain. The wants are evaluated much more carefully. I even declined a girls night/ fundraiser last week because although I wanted to go, I didn’t need to go. It feels good to finally be getting it right.


  13. Thanks so much for your post! My husband and I have been dealing with debt since we got married almost 5 years ago. It seemed like we would try to pay it down and get ahead just to get swept back under the cloud of debt again. I began couponing last year as a Stay At Home Mom to help and become more aggressive. We noticed in December we needed to do something else so I took a small part time job to assist in paying down our debt. My husband works in full time ministry and has a part time job with Starbucks on our college campus. When I work he either watches the boys or we have some college students who have volunteered their services. Through much prayer, the Lord’s grace and provision and our work we are paying it down. Also, we have had to clarify our budget and financial goals and become more self controlled in our spending. I am so thankful for the Lord’s grace in our lives, His discipline and faithfulness to us! Thank you for your post and everyone’s comments. I am encouraged by the faith of you all. I am learning as we go!


  14. I spent a year in West Africa (living with my grandparents who are missionaries there) and it was life changing – you ate the same breakfast every day because that was the only (affordable) option, you wore the same basic clothes day in and day out. Rotting grapefruits were turned into balls. What we would consider garbage and instantly throw out without thought were valued treasures and turned into toys.

    Over there some of their “wants” were what we here would consider “needs”.
    It’s been 6 years since my time there and I desperately want to go back as the impact of the simple, satisfied lifestyle is fading quicker than I want.


  15. At the beginning of the year, my husband and I sat down and wrote out short term and long term financial goals. I feel like I have a lot more motivation to be frugal and wise with our money when there are concrete aspirations.

    To try to keep myself from going out and buying everything I want. I’ve started to keep a wish list. I only buy items on the list if there’s extra money in the budget. It helps me to fight immediate gratification. I also sometimes realize that I don’t “need” something as bad as I thought I did when it sits on the list a while.


  16. We’ve been married nearly 17 years, and have an 11 year old daughter. In October, my husband found out that his job would be terminated this spring. The Lord blessed us with 6 months to prepare. My husband worked as much overtime as he could, and we cut out the extras. We restructured our debt so that we can pay it off quicker. I became a coupon/sales maniac.

    He has 2 months left to work, and will return to college in the fall. Life will be very different, but the Lord has done a great work in showing us the difference in needs & wants. As strange as it may sound (and isn’t it just like God?!), we’ll be leaving this job in a better financial position than we would’ve been in we’d stayed!


  17. My heart and prayers to all that are in a God Watch situation.
    We too experienced a year of unemployment. We live in Michigan and
    my husband is in engineering/ upper management in the automotive
    industry — need I say more?
    Although we were very fortunate to have a cushion to live off that year,
    we also learned the true meaning of needs vs. wants. We cut out out
    $2000 per month of spending and learned to live on very little — with 3 teenage childrens. I finally learned to pray thanksgiving everyday that we
    were unemployeed — and continue to this day. It is one thank to say that
    you thank God for what he provides when we are flush, but it is powerful
    to truly pray thanksgiving when there is no end insight.
    After I finally and sincerely gave our situation up to God my husband had
    two job offers within a month. The perfect job actually found him online and he has been employeed for 4 months now.
    Keep your faith.


  18. Thanks so much for this post. Our family has also gone through some MAJOR changes in the past year – funny thing is that we’re actually in a better position financially now… but moving 1500 miles away from all family and friends definitely was a major eye opener in many ways. We sold the house we’d lived in for 13 years – and boy oh boy was it filled with stuff that we “needed.” Still fighting the urge to “have it all” but am daily being reminded that I’d rather spend time with my family and cultivating friendship rather than cleaning and organizing STUFF. And what a joy it is to be able to bless others by sharing out of the abundance that the Lord has blessed us with at this season in our life (even if it’s just burgers grilled on the back patio…)


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