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Want or need

Are your purchases equally divided between what you need and impulse buying?

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  1. These days, it's probably 95% needs, and 5% wants. This last week I bought a frozen pizza on a whim because I felt like having it for lunch. But that's the extent of my wants purchases, at least when it comes to grocery stores.

    If only I could be as disciplined with clothes and shoes *sigh*.

    1. I can honestly say my impulse buying is nil to non-existent. Make as list, stick with it. Aggravates some people.

      1 Reply
      1. re: njmarshall55

        I can't see why that would aggravate anyone. If anything, I think that impulse buying would be most annoying.

      2. I'm really good on making my list and planning my meals from what's on sale, and sticking to it. I will say that I might spend 5% of my monthly purchases on stuff I really shouldn't do... like the bag of "Magic Chilli" snack mix at Great Wall the other day. ;))

        1. Anyone keep a mad money stash? My impulse buys fall in that category.

          I don't think of this as entirely impulse buying since I squirrel away cash specifically for some (new to me) food item bound to cross my path. When I come across something that sounds really interesting my "need radar" goes up and it's highly likely I'm buying.

          2 Replies
          1. re: HillJ

            I will agree--I mandate that if I am going to buy something I don't need then I have to use cash for that item. It is my hope that by seeing the cash 'go,' then I commit to really wanting it. Usually I am more likely to make an impulse buy on Friday night when I feel like "I am so glad I SURVIVED another week." Or if my "clients" really, really, really drove me nuts--but I have gotten better at not letting work-agitation affect my choices.

            Also, I agree with HillJ: often if something is "new" or a limited flavor.. I want to try it. I just love trying new foods, products, flavors, etc.

            1. re: GraceW

              Yes, I think of these purchases as a pick-me-up. Something special like a black licorice I've never tried or a specialty shop known for xyz...for me new food products are like a new CD or a new pair of earrings ie: I have plenty...but these new ones...they are sparkling in my direction....I must.go.inspect...and I often do.

          2. I would go higher and say 99%

            0-1 impulse buys per trip to the store. I like a list. If I have no list, the whole thing feels like one big impulse but. Terribly stressful.

            1. I agree with Melpy. I go in with a list but allow myself some creative leeway...within strict parameters.

              If I go in planning to buy a pork shoulder but roasting chickens are on sale for a great price, I might switch up. Or if I want asparagus but it's way too "woody", I'll get broccoli. Etc.

              The "impulses" are more substitutions if they fit my needs for how we eat, quality, and price.

              1. I'd say 90/10 in favor of needs.

                1. Today I bought a whole red snapper. Yesterday I was reading Fish, by James Peterson.

                  Need? It's only one of me. But I do need to eat. And cold snapper will be perfectly nice tomorrow with some kind of sauce that will include chilis, curry, anchois, relish, mustard, and mayo.

                  It was a splurge. But I'll enjoy it.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Jay F

                    Damn, now I "need" a whole red snapper.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      It was good last night. I don't know if I'm going to like it cold tonight. I made a curry-chili-cornichon-mayo to eat it with. If it's not good cold, I'll go back to filets. Or make sides of salmon, which I love cold.

                      Fish, IYM, is a need.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        Fish is a need for me as well. It is my primary source of protein--in addition to quinoa.

                        The sauce you made with the snapper sounds delicious. I wonder if wasabi mayo would also go well.

                        1. re: globocity

                          Fish and meat in general take up most of my way-too-high food budget. Who needs clothes right? Last night was a whole snapper I spotted in the store and couldn't resist.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            I cant remember the time I bought myself any new clothes . . . .

                          2. re: globocity

                            If you like wasabi, I think wasabi mayo would be wonderful with snapper.

                            I've recently become diabetic, so I googled quinoa. It looks like something I should eat. Is it good with Bolognese (or other tomato sauce)?

                            1. re: Jay F

                              I highly recommend you try quinoa! I've never tried it with red sauce...not sure how that'd taste. It has a slightly nutty taste that goes best sautéed with vegetables or as a side to fish dishes. I gather you're a good cook so you'll do we'll in finding the right way to prepare it. Good luck!

                    2. I"m 50/50 at best. I can "justify" in my head that some of my impulse buys are needs . . . but I don't use a list to shop - except for staples that I am out of (e.g. salt, pepper, pasta, eggs).

                      Since I usually shop for "ingredients" rather than anything else, I buy what moves me a lot, so I guess those are impulses . . . maybe I'm even higher on impulses - though without them I'd have nothing to eat . . . . now I'm just rambling, not sure but definitely a "free form shopper".

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: thimes

                        As a 'free form shopper' do you ever forget items you need?

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          All the time. I try to keep a list on my phone now but sometimes forget to look at it in the store. Which is strange since in my work life I'm very list driven.

                          1. re: thimes

                            How interesting! The grocery store is the only place in life where I am list driven. I should be better organized.

                        2. re: thimes

                          I also shop for "ingredients" and so if something looks good but I have no real plan for it I tend to grab it which I'm trying to stop doing, especially with cheese!

                        3. Sometimes when I go to the store, 90% of the tab is from impulse buys.

                          1. That's kind of a tricky question. Obviously, we all need to eat. But do we *need* to eat the things we do?

                            I shop from a list probably 90+% of the time (big change from 5 years ago or more where I always went shopping without a list and blew tons of money that way). But the things that make it onto my list aren't truly needs--the categories (i.e., grains, proteins, produce, etc.) are needs, but the specific choices are wants. For example, $10/lb cheese vs. cheap store brand cheese, or organic free-range chickens and eggs vs budget chicken and eggs, etc.

                            So, I find it hard to quantify my purchases between wants & needs. How's that for a non-answer? Glad this isn't chemicalkinetics doing a survey! ;)

                            1. "need is a relative thing these days
                              it borders on desire
                              our high tech world is full of bright shiny things
                              we think that we really require"

                              Jimmy Buffett
                              From "tonight I just need my guitar"

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                You said it much better than I could, PotatoHouse. When I read the title, my first thought was "hmmmm, need = just enough to stay alive. Want = everything else". I've just returned from a grocery trip. $125 later, nothing in my basket qualifies as actual "need" unless we count whole wheat bread and kale as life necessities. I did find several things that were not on my list but were such stellar buys that I could not leave them in the store. Organic avocadoes were 2 for $1, lamb shanks were a (relative) bargain and corned beef was about 1/4 the price of ground beef. Do I "need" organic avocadoes? Absolutely not, but I will never pass up something that we enjoy and is on sale. Since I am the family cook, what I buy - list or not - will be used in some way and I tailor our meals around what looks best. My lists are to replace staples or frequently used items. EX: today, I thought, as I trundled the cart, "maybe I ought to look for a pork shoulder for the weekend". When I reached the butcher counter, I was stunned to find a normally affordable cut of meat to be priced at $4.99 pp. Adios, pork shoulder. Red bell peppers were not on my list either but at 77 cents each for thick-walled beauties, I bought a half dozen and mentally composed meals involving chilled bell pepper soup and another with these babies stuffed with ricotta & ? Stay tuned.

                                1. re: Sherri

                                  sherrie, i would not characterize your shopping as impulse buying, i would characterize it as "playing the market" to get the best price/quality/quantity ratios.

                                  i've only been able to do that effectively AFTER i've walked into a store and evaluated the quality of the various items.

                                  gotta admit that most of my purchases come from the produce aisle.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    Love the label "playing the market". That makes my shopping 50/25/25 rather than 50/50.

                              2. rarely impulse buy.
                                often go out to restaurants, but this is not impulse, this is how i choose to live my life.
                                as i've stated here in the past:
                                "i will never see paris, but i WILL eat out at least once a day"
                                "even toast tastes better in a restaurant"
                                the reason i have a roommate is to help support my restaurant habit.

                                really, the only time i will impulse buy if i see something in a category that i was already in the market for and the price:value ratio was FAR better than the rest of the prospects.
                                (i.e. i'm shopping for a car for my daughter now. if i can find a really well-priced NEW 2012 model, i would go for that impulsively even though the price may be above what i had originally budgeted for the purchase. my rationale would be that the new car warranty justified the additional expense. truly, i will probably end up with a 2010 used car for her after all is said and done)

                                1. It depends on where I am shopping. I don't shop at a regular chain type grocery store very often , maybe once a month. I just shop there for some perishable or regularly used items like cottage cheese, butter, tonic water, etc. Costco for certain items.

                                  I shop at specialty stores for 90 percent of my food. I have a rough idea for what dishes I feel like making for the month so I look for those needed items when I shop. Otherwise, I see what looks good.

                                  If my Asian market has great looking baby bok choy or my favorite Hispanic market has beautiful ribs, or I stop by the seafood market, etc. I wouldn't say that was really impulse buying though. Maybe I would call it local, seasonal shopping.

                                  1. For supermarket shopping, I make a list and generally stick to it. It's the only way that makes financial sense. I will take advantage of offers of things I would normally buy, but may not be on that weeks list.

                                    On the other hand, let me loose in the monthly farmers market and it's pretty much all impulse -although there are sellers we regularly buy from, and others that we never do.

                                      1. Does it count when your whole list is made up of Wants? I make my list from things that sound good to me at the time. Usually things we've had before, or I know to be at a certain store. We're only the 2 of us and eat pretty much what we want and like. And of course, needs, to fill out the recipes of wants.

                                        1. Just because it's on my list doesn't mean I "need" it. What does need mean? To me it means it's a staple of a meal. Then there's upsells, like fresh pasta vs dried (although for some things dried works better, fresh is more expensive). There's the amount and expense of the cheese I buy. However I can justify buying real parmesan to stretch a meal of broccoli and dried pasta into something fabulous.
                                          I generally make a list of shelf stable things we like to have in the house and then look at the fruits and veg that looks good and in season. The worst is shopping hungry.
                                          With the way we are busy and our young child's pickiness, I generally consider our shopping successful if it doesn't go to waste. Also for health reasons we try not to eat too much meat, and for money reasons we dont eat that much fresh fish.

                                          1. I lean towards frugal and being a WOHM meal planning is essential to my mental health so I always shop with list and rarely stray from it other than then to make budgetary adjustments. For example I may have planned for chicken enchilada but beef was on sale so bought that and made fajitas instead. Or the cost of meat was way too high all around so I skipped it all together and made black bean and cheese burritos. All have the same common ingredients so it’s easy to switch out.

                                            I do leave room in my budget for impulse purchases which are often season related. I cannot resist Vineyard or Nantucket bay scallops so when they are first in I will indulge. Same with things like ramps, fiddleheads, the first local tomatoes and corn. When these first come in I might throw my list out and build a meal around any of them. Been known to have a “corn orgy” when our local farmstand pick their first ears. Steam up dozens of ears and that’s dinner a lot with lots of butter and salt.

                                            I also allow for the gone-is-the-cooking-mojo and given into our craving for takeout Chinese and pizza.

                                            So on an average year I am probably 90% need and 10% want. But there probably days and even weeks were it is the complete opposite.

                                            1. I generally stick to the shopping list. If something catches my eye in the grocery store and it's not a $100 prime rib, I might buy it, I might not. I am pretty good at resisting most impulse purchases.

                                                1. I have reached harmonious equilibrium.

                                                  My wants are my needs, and vice versa.

                                                  1. are you referring to food only, or to food & equipment? 'cos I have a bit of a dish fetish, myself. Managing by reminding myself that we have no more space for new dishes :)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                                      and i have no more room for giant-size glasses, mugs, or BIG salad bowls.. . .. .

                                                    2. If I shop alone, it's 100% by the list made before shopping (but the list may leave some choices open, e.g. pick a veg to go with the roast chicken)

                                                      If the kids or wife accompany me, then it's 70% need 30% their impulses

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                        Isn't there any time when you feel like treating yourself to something you love but don't ordinarily buy because no one else in the family eats it?

                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                          I know this wasn't directed at me but meal time around here is not about pleasing everyone else all of the time. When I make a meal I try have at least 80-90% of it "tried and true" so everyone has something they like.

                                                          I love brussel sprouts and just because they don't doesn't mean we don't eat them. I hate scrapple but we have it at least once a month 'cause my husband loves it. Ad we have american-style chinese occasionally because my son loves crab ragoons.

                                                          For things my husband and son both truly despise? I save that for when I am alone or dining out.

                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                            Can they skip over what they don't like or must they eat it?

                                                      2. About 90/10 need want unless I'm hungry. Then reverse that. I am still buying the same stuff on the need side... Or as the Trader Joe's check out person asked me once, "You're hungry, right?"

                                                        1. Regarding food, I've long since made the decision that my wants are my needs, and don't worry about it :)

                                                          On everything else, probably 70/30 need/want, as long as you're talking impulse buys and not planned "wants" like major trips.