Understanding The “Buyerarchy” Of Needs In Spending

Every once in a while, I stumble across this wonderful little picture from Canadian artist Sarah Lazarovic entitled “The Buyerarchy of Needs”

The idea behind the picture is that whenever you need something, you should start at the bottom tier of the pyramid and work your way upward, only resorting to buying when the lower levels don’t fulfill that need.

It wasn’t until I ran across it again the other day that I realized how incredibly well it lines up with how I acquire things that I need and want. I approach almost all of my purchases via the “buyerarchy,” not so much as a conscious thing, but just as a general approach to spending money.

Let’s walk through that a little bit.

First, I try to use what I already have on hand.

Whatever need or want that I think I have, I’ll first turn to what I have on hand. I’ll identify what exactly it is that I want to achieve or do, then try to see what I have on hand that will get me to that destination.

For example, if I want to read a book, I’ll usually first look through my book collection to see if there’s something that tickles my fancy. I do the same for any kind of media that I already have — movies, board games, and so on.

If I’m making food and I don’t have the exact ingredient I need, I’ll see if there’s a substitute I can use. I usually make pizza dough with yeast, but if I’m out of yeast, I use my backup pizza dough recipe that uses baking powder.

This often involves using things for purposes that they weren’t originally intended for. For example, if I need to clean out the sink and don’t have the stuff I usually use to clean the sink on hand, I’ll usually use my “default” cleaning agent, liquid castile soap. I find that it is an extremely good idea to have a few very wide purpose general use items around the house that can work in a pinch — things like a crescent wrench and a screwdriver set and some castile soap. They just handle lots of problems that there might be a good specific solution for, but the general solution works almost as well.

Sometimes I’ll have a desire for an “upgrade” for something I have on hand already. If that happens, I ask myself whether or not that upgrade is truly useful to me in any way. Usually, the upgrade only gives me a very minor feature, one that I don’t actually need or even want. I’m just bedazzled by the “upgrade.”

This filters out a lot of things that I might buy. I’d say this step alone takes care…

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