The Difference Between Want and Need

Do you know the difference between want and need? If you don’t, let me explain.

Buying something you want is something you don’t absolutely need, but you buy it anyway. An example would be from the previous post. Do you absolutely need a new car when you already have one that is running perfectly fine?

And how long does the satisfaction of the new car last you? A few months or a year? Once that satisfaction is gone, you begin to complaining about how expensive the car payment is, how expensive the gas is, and the maintenance required to keep me running smoothly.

Buying something you need is something you life cannot function without having it. An example of this would be if you only own one handgun as a police officer and it breaks. If your department does not issue you your own handgun (and I know of departments that do not issue handgun to their officers), it is a need to buy another firearm to protect yourself while doing the job.

As first responders we work very hard to serve the community we work for. After a grueling week or months of hard work and dealing with all the stress of the job, there is nothing more than you want to do than to buy a new toy to play with. But have you thought about the long term financial consequences of buying that new toy, especially an expensive toy?

There is nothing wrong with buying something you want. There are plenty of things I want in this life, like the STI handgun or a Tesla.

But you have to be smart with your money and make sure you can afford your want while living below your means. And when I say living below your means, I mean without any overtime because overtime can be take from us at any time.

The unit I work for allowed me to easily “max out” (96 hours a month of overtime) on overtime without having to ask anyone to give up their overtime.

During this pandemic for my department, there has not been a lot of overtime available. Now I’m hearing about some people struggling to pay bills because they thought the overtime would never dry up. And considering the fact there was overtime constantly available for the last seven years, it appeared that way.

But all good things come to an end and that is what some people do not realize.


Be smart with your money when you buy something you want. Invest first and let the money you receive from those investments pay for your car, truck, or whatever you want. Do not rely on overtime because one day you’ll be selling the things on the briefing room board at a discount because you can no longer afford it.

Please feel free to comment and agree or disagree with me.

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