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Jerry Citarella: An important reminder of needs, wants

Posted: August 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.

You’ll probably read this week’s column and think to yourself — “I know, I know.” We all know many things, but are we using that knowledge effectively? If this strikes a chord, be sure to take action and don’t just say, “I know.” We live in a world of temptation, greed, competition and jealousy. It’s rough out there, but with a qualified adviser, you can more successfully plan your financial future. Do it for you, or do it for your family. But do it.

The biggest roadblock to financial success is our desire to have more than we really need, and in the shortest time possible. Distorted perceptions created by the media and pressure from society cause us to become envious of our friends and neighbors and tempt us to compete in what becomes a never ending battle of bigger, better and more. That gets us nowhere, except frustrated. We’re always chasing something, never satisfied with what we have.

This vicious cycle must stop. It’s time to truly understand the difference between a “need” and a “want.” I say it again: need / want.

A need is something we require for survival or sustenance, such as food, water, housing, clothing and maybe a car.

A want could be something we may desire, but don’t absolutely need like a boat, an expensive watch or an elaborate vacation. Obviously, these examples can be easily distinguished as wants, but it’s not always as apparent. In many cases we can easily confuse our wants with our needs.

Please let me explain.

While we may need a car for transportation, we don’t necessarily need a luxury car or a custom car. We need a place to live, but who really needs thousands of square feet with insanely expensive upgrades and an elaborate pool?

What about water? That’s a good one. Remember when it was OK to drink a “free” glass of water from the faucet? These days, between designer water and a cup of fancy coffee, we could easily spend $10 or more per day. Eating out, buying expensive running shoes (when you don’t even run), having the purses, glasses, watches and other items with fancy logos on them . . . I could go on and on but you get the picture.

I’m not saying you should live as if you have nothing and save every dime. Just think before you spend. Will imported tile floors really improve the quality of your life? Do you really need to purchase that RV you’re going to use two weeks out of the year?

It’s possible to enjoy life without being out of control. Know your priorities.

I meet with scores of people from different backgrounds, and I hear all of the time, “I could die tomorrow. I don’t want to worry about the future at the expense of my life now.”

That’s one of the worst examples of self-serving reasoning I’ve ever heard. Statistically, you are not going to die young. Statistically, you’re going to make it to retirement age. Statistically, you will not be able to depend on anyone else to take care of you.

I always give you the truth and I’m not going to sell you short now just because what I have to say may be difficult to hear.  

The truth is — you need to find balance.

It’s absolutely OK to want more. It’s commendable to strive for more, but while you’re advancing, try to be happy where you are in life.

It’s amazing - if you’re working toward a worthwhile goal, it’s much easier to be happy where you are. Material things become less important because you know you’re secure and safe. And operating that way means knowing that someday you’ll be able to stop working and not have to worry. That’s the ultimate feeling, but you have to make it a priority. This has to be something you believe in and you can’t care what other people think, do, or have. This is your future and your responsibility. You can do this.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, (661) 255-9555, ext. 11.  He is also the author of The Truth Helps Series of financial planning books. Mr. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to:  Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.  Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group Inc.


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