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September 2019

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Understanding needs, wants and more cool stuff

Greg Mattacola | Articles

Read Time: 2:00 min

Financial Needs

Understanding Needs

I was out to dinner with friends recently and one was touting himself as “financially responsible”. The evidence cited in support of his proposition was that he was taking great pains to research his impending purchases of a drone and a new vehicle to make sure he was getting the very best deals.

For the sake of dinnertime peace, I didn’t push him too hard on his assertions but was he right? Is undergoing painstaking research before a big purchase evidence of financial responsibility? The answer is, yes, perhaps, but maybe not.Hardly definitive but I am still an attorney, don’t forget.

The asserted evidence – the research – skips a crucial, foundational step.That being – if the item you are purchasing is a complete “want” luxury while ignoring more crucial “needs” – then the amount of research spent on that purchase is fairly irrelevant in terms of financial responsibility.

Let’s look at the drone purchase. Drones are cool for sure. They bring us back to the remote control airplanes/helicopters of our youth, but with way better performance and high end photography/video. Yet, when perusing the cost, these flying toys run anywhere from $500 to many thousands. Let’s call it a $1500 purchase for argument’s sake which is by no means the top end of the scale.

Now, if this purchase was researched exhaustedly and the very best deal was obtained but was bought at the expense of reducing debt or performing a needed home repair or increasing retirement savings – was this financially responsible? I’d say no.

However, if you’re at the point in life where the kids are educated and grown, the house is paid for, retirement is set and expendable income is through the roof – and you then researched and purchased this modest “want” – would that be financially responsible?


The lesson is simple but one we all need reminding of from time to time.We live in the age of more readily accessible cool stuff than ever before. The demands for our dollar are endless. Before launching into the research on the very best 4K UHD TV to buy – maybe ask yourself – does your existing TV work just fine already? Are there more pressing needs? Is your emergency fund fully flush? Credit cards paid off? Will the roof need to be replaced soon? Maybe the TV can wait.

Don’t take this as advocating for a monastic lifestyle. Living isn’t living without some fun, adventure and enjoyment. Sometimes this even warrants a toy or two along the way. But this must be done in balance with your means or you will pay the proverbial piper sooner or later. And I’ve never much cared for his tune. Let’s keep him silent, shall we? Live well, live with love. Until next time.

Original content provided by Gregory Mattacola, Esq., Financial Advisor at Strategic Financial Services. Content is provided for educational purposes only and should not be used as the basis upon which to make investment or financial decisions.

About Strategic

Founded in 1979, Strategic is a leading investment and wealth management firm managing and advising on client assets of over $1.8 billion.