System of Want vice Need

Time could prove you right about the subcategories. Maybe they are all together the wrong approach. Or maybe they are a stepping stone. My long term goal is to identify the pattern of post-purchase emotions you talk about, and use that data to inform future purchases.

But currently having a single bucket for all wants is creating friction and unease. In the single bucket, the chapstick I want to sooth my cracked and bleeding lips is equally on par with a new book. Mentally moving the chapstick to a different category of want makes me feel free within a framework, instead of constrained by the framework. If that freedom turns out to be false excitement, then I can iterate as necessary.


Buy the chapstick, you ridiculous and adorable monster.


I hear you on this. For this type of differentiation, I like buckets to have time/max caps, in addition to subcategories (things that you eliminate bleeding vs. things you read). Since I’m prone to maximizer style analysis paralysis - finding the best shoes that make my feet not bleed, finding the best chapstick to sooth cracked and bleeding lips - I like the idea of setting caps about how long I’ll spend making a decision (or not).

For example - no more than 1 hour exploring a $10 or less purchase in the category of “how about less bleeding.” You can set hard caps in the categories or you can consider soft caps based on avg. use/life expectancy of purchase. I would lose the chapstick within 5 uses or let it take an unplanned trip through the laundry; meanwhile, my $75 trail shoes get daily wear for a year or 3000 miles of walking before I chuck them.

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Do you want me to konmari a lightly used chaps tick and mail it to you?

The cheap chapstick is a necessity. The $25 Sephora one is a luxury good, and the $5 one is only for adults who don’t lose them before they disappear


Buy a two-pack of chapstick so you only have this particular angst half as often. It will cut the cost per tube anyway. But get the damn chapstick.

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I bought the chapstick, okay! I bought chapstick and a giant pump-action bottle of lotion. There will be at least 90% less bleeding.


Lotion eliminates periods?
Good to know.


I’ve been brooding upon this topic some more.

For the last year, I’ve been existing with only one pair of uniform pants. Them things is like cockroaches - they ain’t never gonna destruct. But they do fade, and two days ago my now greyish-blue pants got paint on them. Yesterday I finally gave in, and spend the massively resentful hundred bucks to get two new pairs.

Dinner yesterday was $40 in sushi. It was delicious, but it made me feel bloated and sad about my everything.

Objectively speaking, those pants will bring me at least a year of not being naked, and the sushi was a mistake I regret. Instead, I hate the pants, and shrug off the restaurant meal because sushi makes me happy.

This kind of irrationality drives me insane. It’s also never, ever going to fully resolve. Humans are simply incapable of being rational about money. In fact, I just read a book that detailed, with science, that humans are incapable of being rational about money. So maybe it’s actually the endless flailing for the perfect system of spending that’s making my eye twitch like that.


I deeply resent boring adult purchases and am fine with frivolous ones. It makes no sense, as the frivolous ones are the ones that should be easier to cut.
Human brains are dumb.


I resemble this statement.

  • $25 Pack of toilet paper that will last 6 months? UGH CAN WE SAVE $5?!
  • $110 Glittery Space Unitard “for work”? OHHH LET’S GO.

Yes!! I can survive, even thrive, without restaurant meals. I would not survive long without brakes on my car. Yet I HAAAAATE spending $$ on car maintenance and adore going to restaurants.

Yes! Yes!!

Confession time: we just spent $$ on a new refrigerator. It was required and necessary and it made me so so upset. ALSO, I just spend the same exact amount of money on jewelry for myself for my birthday with Pebbles birth stone in it. Jewelry is usually not my thing but this one I really wanted and it’s very shiny and meaningful and entirely frivolous. It made me happy to spend it. Wtf.


Uggh I just talked myself out of some frivolous jewelry for Mother’s Day with Bobbin & my birth stone in it. I told H not to get it now. Buuuuut idk. I still kinda want it?

Well you know I’m not going to be a good influence…

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I am hitting the Want Need conundrum, myself.
Desire: $100 fitbit
Need: Nope

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I need to be doing other stuff, so let me get my behavior science nerd hat out on MONEY. Human brains are NOT dumb. We just don’t like our learning histories and conflicting emotions.

Household toilet paper provides fleeting enjoyment (maybe at best ZERO enjoyment & only acts to stave off problems/discomfort from ACK NO MORE TP). Glittery space unitards last FOREVAH!!!

Money is a conditioned reinforcer. We aren’t genetically programmed to need money or have a relationship to it. This is unlike primary reinforcers - things like water, food, warmth, or even social interaction. Money acquires meaning to us because it gets paired with something else. As I titled my other forum journal, “Money can be exchanged for good and services.” Money = we get a thing we like (yay!).

You can build an association with the conditioned reinforcer that makes it as strong and powerful as the primary ones. Sweet! Except now you’re all MY PRECIOUS…so it’s easy to forget that you can’t eat money.

Taking it further, our relationship with money is SOOOO complex. The way you experience money as reinforcing is different when it’s all YAY! Good thing happened and that gave us Money which then leads to Good thing we got from Money! vs. Bad thing happened that gave us Money that leads to Relief from BAD SHIT happening. (Coincidentally, toilet paper operates the same way).

That’s part of why I got money + I spent it on YUMMY FOOD or SHINY can feel easy or good (to some people) and I got money + Now my brakes work so my car won’t crash or my YUMMY FOOD hasn’t spoiled without refrigeration does not.

Our brains start to explode when good things AND bad things get mixed together: sometimes a thing leads to GOOD results and sometimes it leads to BAD results OR when you have to deal with BAD thing to get a GOOD thing, our relationship with getting the GOOD thing gets “poisoned.” Our brains get conflicted. Do want? Do not want? That’s what money is.


I have warm and food. Buy sparkles! Sparkles are more useful than money because they are Pretty and money is just numbers. Also adopt more cats. Am I doing this right?


For me it is:

Want: $200 new Garmin
Need: Nope. I have an older, crappier one that it a bit flaky but not dead yet.

But I’d probably be an Olympian if I just had wireless data uploads, wrist-based heart rate, and multi sport features, so idk.

Obviously kidding. Mostly.

My birthday is in two months so it is going on my amazon wish list. Either someone will buy it for me, the urge will pass, or I’ll have wanted it for 2 months straight and feel better about spending the money.


Hi!! I’ve downloaded the spreadsheet and am wondering about how you calculate the want value and then the last column also. I’ve done a version of this that is just a list but further analyzing seems right up my ally :joy: Thanks!!!