Toilets are supposed to flush. That’s pretty much it.

by Nick on December 10, 2013


The need versus want debate has never been more evident than since we moved into our 55-year-old house, which was last owned by an 85-year-old woman who owned it for 50 years and raised six kids in it.

Suffice it to say that she wasn’t really concerned with having all of the latest trends over the last 30 years or so.

Enter us.

The kitchen is tired.

It has green linoleum floors in the kitchen that are probably older than me.

Yes, that’s an actual picture of our kitchen floor.

The bathrooms are old.

Very old.

But they all “do” what they’re supposed to do.

The kitchen cooks, cleans, stores and controls food temperatures.

The toilets “receive our waste” just fine.

The tubs work.

The showers spray water.

But they’re ugly by today’s standards.

Almost so ugly that they’re cute.

You know… like pugs.

In other words, the house doesn’t “need” anything. But there are several things we “want.”

The confusion between those two concepts makes companies BILLIONS, if not TRILLIONS, of dollars per year.

Just take several fancy folks I call “friends.” Don’t worry, they all know what I’m about to write because it’s what I actually “said.” Several times.

Fancy McButterpants: “Wow, your house is so pretty! All you need to do is the kitchen and the baths and then you’re done. How great is that?!?!?!”

Seriously?!?! I know it’s ugly but I “need” to do the kitchen and baths?!?! And yes… they mean “need.” Like they wouldn’t move in until it were completely done over.

The good news is that I’ve heard things like this so many times over the years, that I’ve almost perfected the response:

Me: “I know. It was crazy. I went through the kitchen and the sink only sprayed hot and cold water! The dishwasher only washed my dishes! The stove and oven only cooked food! And the fridge only kept my food cold! I have to rip it all out and start over! I can’t believe the woman who owned it before me and raised six kids here wasn’t arrested for child abuse. (turning concerned) Actually, maybe that’s why she was selling the house! Maybe they took her kids away and she didn’t need such a big place anymore! Oh my, I need to do something about that before they take my kids away! And don’t get me started on the bathroom! Can you believe I have to actually squeeze the poop out of my own butt?!?!?! I gotta look into the hose system. I hear that’s the new thing these days. Toilets are so 2012!”


There are needs and there are wants. As long as you keep confusing the two, you’re going to have 99 problems and your bank account will be one.

But if you master the difference between needs and wants, you’ll realize that you likely have all you need.

And all of your “we need” conversations are really about “how many wants” you can afford.

That’s a pretty awesome position to be in, if you ask me.

And a big percentage of us are in that position. You just need the right perspective.

Then you can move slower, and wiser.

And “Old You” will thank you.

Because “Old You” will have “money.”

To buy “food.”

Even if it means “Young You” had to poop into a blue toilet for a couple of years.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Camilla December 10, 2013 at 9:35 am

Well said! I’d rather have money in the bank than a fancy new toilet. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it is my philosophy. When I had my first house I needed everything right there and then. Update, new carpet, this and that, and the money was flying out the door. Back then I was dumb enough to put things on a credit card. Today, I’m much wiser, smarter and richer on all accounts. And who knows, blue could be the new color for 2014!


Nick December 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Ouch! Well glad you wised up! I’ll be rooting blue to make a comeback! Until then… I’ll be “sittin’ not-so-pretty” but with a few extra bucks in the bank. 🙂


Tammy December 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Awesome!! Good job choosing the needs over the wants. Maybe later you can make those rooms into a do-it-yourself project. My cousin and I worked on the carpet in the kitchen and bathroom of her new property (yes…green carpet and very pink walls in the kitchen) ourselves.


Nick December 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Thanks Tammy! Wow… green carpet and pink walls in the kitchen?!?! That takes a lot of self-discipline to let sit for a while… Love the DIY response though!


Sandy December 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

You have NO idea. It was Pepto Bismol pink and green shag carpet. It took one layer of primer and three layers of paint to cover that nasty pink.


Nick December 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Ha! I hope you took lots of before and after shots!


Moneycone December 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm

“A fool and his money are soon parted”.
Fool: One who can’t separate needs from wants!


Nick December 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

So true!


MakintheBacon December 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Our floor has a similar pattern as yours, except the colours are yellow and brown. Our house is also kind of ugly by today’s standards. I’ve gotten used to it and my bf says it’s functional. We would eventually like to do a kitchen reno. Perhaps I should save a square of our linoleum floor ,frame it and hang it on the wall of the new kitchen.


Nick December 11, 2013 at 6:20 am

Ha! I had the same idea about framing the linoleum floor… so far I get the thumbs down from my wife though!

Raise a glass to ugly kitchen floors though!


Jon @ MoneySmartGuides December 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Advertisers have done an awesome job at making us confuse needs and wants. Because so many people are confused by them, their statements and actions reinforce this misunderstanding. So now we have advertisers and our friends and families pushing us to need things we only want.


Nick December 11, 2013 at 6:22 am

They sure have, Jon. It’s coming from every direction!


Justin @ RootofGood December 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I bet our houses are similar. Mine is 41 years old. I think all the fixtures and appliances are original (or close to it). The only thing to break so far was the 41 year old oven (described in the linked article below my comment). It broke, they don’t make parts to fix it, so I’m getting a new one.

People tend to have a hard time identifying what things do and why they are valuable to us. Cars: transportation device to get you medium to long distances; can be used to haul large numbers of people and/or cargo. I’ve heard more than once “Wow your car is so old, why don’t you replace it”. Zero mechanical problems. It’s only 13 years old. It’s very efficient at traveling between places and hauling our family and our junk.

I’m glad to see you have successfully identified what things like sinks and toilets and tubs do. This ability will get you far in life.


Nick December 11, 2013 at 6:28 am

Thanks Justin! I totally agree with you. Ha! Don’t get me started on cars…. It’s amazing how many people will need to work an extra year or two (or 10) in their sixties or later because they chose to drive too much car and upgrade too often when they were in their 20s or 30s. Good thing leasing a new kitchen every 2 years isn’t an option, right? Or did I just invent a new “thing”?


Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans December 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm

This is awesome! Companies have us completely fooled when it comes to the needs vs. wants battle.


Nick December 14, 2013 at 6:47 am

Thanks Lisa! They sure have… As a business guy I love that they’re so good at their job. But as a consumer it drives me nuts!


Taz Bright December 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Humorous, well-written and accurate! Americans are great at mixing up their wants and needs and we’ve got to grow mature enough to recognize then admit the difference.
Great job!!


Nick December 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks, Taz!


save. spend. splurge. December 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

This is an awesome post, both funny and.. well true 🙂


Nick December 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Thanks! 🙂


Christy King December 26, 2013 at 10:04 am

This is one of my rants when I watch House Hunters: the kitchen HAS to be completely redone. The appliances are white. The counters are Corian. I CAN’T LIVE WITH these counters.

Who knew your kitchen won’t work if the appliances aren’t stainless steel and the counters granite? Guess no one told my kitchen.


Nick December 26, 2013 at 11:17 am

Haha! Don’t get me started on House Hunters!


Robin Young December 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Nick, We live in a home that was built in 1905 – and are only the third owner/ occupants. The first couple was VP of a brick company and this little brick cottage was left to his wife after he died and she died in this house. The second couple -an artist and a writer had their first child born in this house. We have lived here 30 years and did a kitchen remodel 5 years ago. Finally got the gas stove I wanted after all electric was here before. And a Bosch dishwasher plus counter space which was very limited before. Photos are on our website. The bathroom, remodeled this Nov. – we did save and frame a square of the original linoleum. We had the feet on the old cast iron claw foot bath tub re-colored. As for the toilet, I wanted a bio-bidet – which I wish I had when I was menstruating – the seat is warm and I am now spoiled. My husband loves it too.


Nick December 27, 2013 at 9:09 am

Great stuff, Robin! Way to wait. We’re planning on saving and framing a square of our linoleum when we get around to remodeling, too! I bet it serves as a great reminder of your discipline.


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