The Need Hidden in the Want

Photo by Cyril Saulnier on Unsplash

Two days ago I had a set of adjustable dumbbells in my cart. They were $30 and I was ready to jump on the purchase…especially when the cart said in big red letters, “Order now, only 2 left in stock!”

The Walmart marketing geniuses had me.

My mind told me I needed these dumbbells, and they would vanish forever if I didn’t order them now.

Luckily the shopping ban has taught me to pause longer before purchases. It has taught me to ask tough questions like, “Is this a need or a want?” Also, I had not saved for these dumbbells or planned on purchasing them.

So as my finger hovered over the “Place Order” button, I realized these dumbbells were a want instead of a need. I chose not to buy them.

I had the best of intentions, because there really was a need hidden in those dumbbells. But it was not the physical dumbbells. The need was, “I need to get stronger.”

Sometimes our needs get hidden or misplaced in a product.

I need organizational bins actually means I need to get organized and I want bins to do it.

The dumbbells do not magically make me stronger just as organizational bins do not magically organize my stuff.

How to Separate the Need and Want

Here are the questions and answers I asked myself about the dumbbells to get at the heart of my need:

  1. What outcome do I want this product to provide? I want to get stronger without joining a gym and have the flexibility to lift weights at home.
  2. Have I tried all other options or used other items? No, I have not tried all other options. There are plenty weight-bearing exercises I can do before needing actual weights, and I can find heavy objects at home to lift in the meantime.
  3. Do I have space for this item? Yes.
  4. Can anyone else in the household benefit from this item? Yes, my husband could use them. But I also have visions of my two kids dropping the weights on their toes…ouch.
  5. Will this product dramatically improve my life? No. I did not have them last week and I survived.

I want all the items I purchase to bring great joy and have a high impact on my life.

Each time I say “no” to a want, I make room for a future need that will improve my life and bring joy.

“No” to dumbbells means “Yes” to a tank of gas to go camping.

Stronger triceps can wait.


(This post also appeared on No Sidebar)


  1. I really liked this article. Those are very good questions to ask before making a purchase.

    The other day I received an email about a rare sale for some skin care products. I added them to my cart and almost checked out but asked myself how I thought I would feel once the products arrived. I would not like that I spent money on something I do not need at this time and would have no idea where to store them. That helped me decide to not make the purchase.

    I need to remember there will always be future sales and when I do need that type of product in the future I may decide to purchase a different brand. I did not lose out. It was a victory.


    • Michele,

      Thank you for sharing. That is definitely a victory!!! The disappearing sales can create a sense of “missing out,” but you were smart to envision your future feelings!

      Liked by 1 person

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