Wants & Needs and What You Can Thoil

I meet people every week who can’t tell the difference between a Need and a Want.  Needs are the things we must have to keep body and soul together. We need a roof over our heads, we need food in our bellies, we need to be loved. Wants are the things we really like. While we need a roof, we want a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house on a nice lot, with parking, schools close by and not too much traffic. And while we need food, we want the pasta with asparagus, asiago cheese, leeks and a touch of pernod.

The people who confuse needs with wants, claim that they “need” a vacation, a full-out cable package and a cell phone; they simply can’t imagine their lives without all the extras we’ve come to know and love. But honestly, folks, since none of these things stand between you and a grave, they aren’t needs, plain and simple, no matter how often you say it. 

‘Course, never getting any of the good stuff is a bummer.  Wants are fine. It’s not a matter of only satisfying your needs and leaving all your wants to wilt from a lack of attention. I’m all for satisfying wants. It’s a matter of making sure all the Must-Haves are dealt with first, and then looking to your Wannas.

But what if you’ve satisfied all your needs, and you have a whack of money in the bank. Off you go shopping with your friends. You look at a lovely new coat. Very fashionable. Great colour on you. But you’ve got three coats in the cupboard at home, and you’re unconvinced that another will make your life better. You just can’t thoil it.

Thoil? Thoil? What the heck is thoil? Gail, have your flipped your fingers around?

Hey, it’s a relatively new word to me too. Thoil is a Yorkshire word that I recently discovered and fills a hole in our language of Needs and Wants. It means “to be able to afford something, but to be unable to justify the expense.” 

While you may have taken care of all your needs, and have the money sitting in the bank to buy that new coat, if you can’t justify the expense, you might say, “I just can’t thoil it.” You can afford it, you just can’t justify spending the money. Sure, you’d love to have it, but what you may have to give up isn’t worth it.

People sometimes think that folks who don’t easily part with their money are tightwads, misers, cheapskates. Whole cultures have been labeled as “cheap” because they don’t easily toss their money around. So what is it exactly that goes through a people’s head when they weigh up “spending money” against “having money?” How do some people come to “spend” so quickly, while other’s agonize over every cent they must part with? And how do people who choose to share a life together cope with their different definitions of Needs and Wants, when only one person experiences the idea of Thoil?

I like a nice pair of shoes as much as the next girl… well maybe not quite as much, since I’m not prepared to spend $250 on any pair of shoes, no matter how beautiful. I can’t thoil it. And while I love beautiful bedding and will drop a bundle on high thread-count sheets, two sets are all I can thoil. Yes, I have the money to buy more, but I can’t justify spending more because I already have what I want and keeping the money in the bank brings me more satisfaction than having yet another set of sheets in the cupboard.

The next time you go shopping and get the itch to spend, as you weigh your desire against the comfort of having money in the bank at the ready, just in case, think about your needs and your wants. And then think about if you can thoil that new whatever. It’s an extra step that can help you decide if the Impulse Monkey is riding your back, or if you’re buying from a “good” place. 

27 Responses to “Wants & Needs and What You Can Thoil”

  1. avatar Elizabeth Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Right now I’m driving a 12-year old car but I’m contemplating buy a NEW car (SUV actually)..but I cannot justify the cost. No, I don’t want any other car but this particular model SUV. Nothing is wrong with my current car…it’s just old and before it starts costing me money, I thought I’d gift it to my niece (she’s learning to drive now).

    There’s a battle brewing within but I know the answer.

    My “thoil” is usually on bigger priced items … since I’m not much of a shopper, the little things don’t get me as much.

  2. The devil has my soul, ’cause I can always thoil new shoes!!

  3. I DEFINITELY get the I wants often. Since living on cash, it really has caused me to think more about my purchases. “Do I REALLY need this?” pops into my head practically anytime I’m shopping now. I guess I was thoiling without even knowing it!

  4. I like the line asking whether we’d rather have more money in the bank or more sheets in the closet. That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it? Some people lean one way and others the other way. A good way for me to discuss this with people who get that look in their eyes that I’m ‘cheap’ because I sometimes say no. Thanks!

  5. That’s a funny word. I used to say that I couldn’t afford something, and a lot of people did think of us as cheap or poor. So for a while I have just said that I can’t justify the cost of something, or even gone so far as to say that something’s not important enough to me.

  6. avatar Frugal Graduate Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

    So true, so true! I think I would add a note that sometimes we buy stuff that may not be what we really want because it is cheaper and we want to have one of X versus the right X.

    For example, we really, really want a bedroom set – nothing too fancy but a headboard and 2 nice nightstands. We COULD go and buy something right now but we can’t thoil it in part because we rather have the pieces we would love and be of really good quality vs something to make do. The money is technically right there, but right now there are other things are priority and we rather make more extra money so that we can get what we really want, what we are ready to thoil the expense.

  7. avatar psychsarah Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I love that word ! (I’m admittedly a bit of a word geek). Thanks for sharing it-it does capture a different sentiment. I’m going to share it with DH, as often he says, “well we have the money”, but I just don’t want to part with it for that particular item.

  8. This is a wonderful post, Gail; you are such a great, engaging writer.
    Thoil is my new favourite word!

  9. I’m considering thoiling 260$ for a very nice, comfortable pair of shoes.

    Some might suggest I’m crazy.

    Maybe. But for the past 8 years (yes, since 2001) I’ve been using during the spring-summer-fall-work-playground the exact same pair of shoes that cost a fortune at that time. I bought them for our trip to France (yes, I thoiled on that trip), a very comfy sturdy pair good for the cobblestones. I have to get another pair now because they started to erode and are making me walk crooked.

    [ Thoiled. T-h-o-i-l-e-d. Thoiled. ]

  10. I am one of the agonizers. While I’ve never used the term, “thoil” has clearly been part of my subconscious for many many years.

    I learned something new today.


  11. Heehee, that’s such a cute word! I splurge on things that are really important to me, but tend to walk away when it comes to something that is hard to justify. I think there needs to be some combination of practicality and whim when you’re shopping to fulfill your wants.

  12. I’m all about the Thoil-age!! This article hits home for me, because I’m one of those folks with savings but have a hard time parting with it. I probably justify NOT getting things way too often. And no, it’s not fun – for those looking from the other side of the hole.

    Gail, would love to see more articles that connect to your “tightwad” readers. I understand the blog’s mission statement is to help those in deep holes, but what about us on the other side of the spectrum that are are unbalanced towards the other extreme? While telling someone with savings to go spend seems easy, it’s no easier than for a spender to start saving.

  13. I used to waste money on buying tons of stuff I liked, but didn’t need (my tastes are very consistent and I tended to buy lots of similar stuff). Now it’s gotten to the point where all the closets are full, and I think to myself when pondering an object, “Where am I going to put it, and don’t I already have 5 just like it at home?” I am getting a lot better at saying nope, can’t thoil it. I think I will always be a spendthrift at heart, but I’m getting better at shopping my closet and saying no, I don’t need another X.

  14. I love this word! I have often tried to find a word to use for this exact thing with my husband. I have a hard time going out and buying something right away. I love to research the heck out of it, and check to make sure I am getting the absolute best price for whatever it is, and making sure we really need it. So, a lot of times, my hubby will see something and say, “Well, we have the money, why not?” Where as I then will come back with, “Why do we need it?” Now I have a word for it! There have been plenty of times we have gone out to get whatever, because we supposedly needed it, and after thinking more about it, and researching more about it, come home empty handed. Thoiled again! LOL!

    BTW, I’m really looking forward to seeing Gail in Sudbury on June 14 where she is a guest speaker at the Northern Women’s Lifestyle Expo. I hope to actually meet you, Gail, and hope you have a chance to say hi. It is my day to myself – and I can’t wait!

  15. When it comes to your kids you want them to have more then you…
    Now I have motivation. I need to consider my thoils for them.

    They are my bad habbits… but I should be a better example.

  16. Excellent word!

    I have a tough one right now….

    My son that knocked out his front tooth the other day… is costing us a whole lot of money right now, and the hole just seems to be getting bigger and bigger! Emergency dental surgery ($500) was a NEED, there is no question of that, but now there is a specialist involved wanting to do some root surgery too!

    I hate to say it, but it is rapidly heading out of the need spectrum into the want. He NEEDS to have a healthy mouth, we WANT him to keep his tooth.

    The procedure he is getting will be painful and expensive but will increase the chance of him keeping the reinserted tooth, from maybe 10% to a 20%, and it will have to be followed up by more surgeries and IF it takes, the tooth will always be weak and unhealthy.

    So my husband and I have an extremely tough decision. Is it worth depleting our emergency fund on the slight chance he may keep his front tooth? Or should we save that money up for when he is grown to get a proper, permanent prosthetic tooth?

    Is this a thoil? We CAN afford to try, but is is worth it? I feel like throwing up from this decision.

  17. avatar EchoLake Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    This blog so speaks to me. For years, my husband and I have been calling ourselves – cheap, frugal, penny pinchers – you name it. We knew we were just choosing carefully what we spent money on – but we know it may not have appeared that way to others – with an older sister saying just buy a big screen TV and a dad saying buy a bigger better boat “you can afford it”. We couldn’t and can’t thoil such things.

    I had tears in my eyes reading this blog – someone gets us – really really gets us – thanks Gail.

  18. avatar EchoLake Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    *pol: how old is your son? How important is his teeth in regards to his self image? Will it hurt him emotionally and mentally not to have the tooth? Is he proud that he has a “war wound”? Ask him his stance on the whole thing – does he care if he waits till he is grown, does he want the pain involved? Involve him in the decision – it’s his smile and his life – the whole family needs to be in on the decision – there is more too weight then just the financial issue. (hope this wasn’t too preachy sounding)

  19. Thank you Echolake, that is what we were planning to do. (not too preachy at all)

  20. I have been learning to practice “thoiling” this month, and it has been surprisingly pleasant. I’ve always paid my credit card balance in full at the end of each month, but I decided to try cash/debit only starting in the middle of April, with a weekly limit for my “me” spending. Except for one thing that I had to use my credit card for (we live in the UK right now, and I made a donation to my cousin’s fundraising for Heart and Stroke in Hamilton), and then paid it off directly, I spent nothing on the card. It’s been wonderful – today I got my bill with a big fat 0 balance on it. But I think it is a good idea to consistently use it and pay it off each month – just as long as I deduct the amount immediately from my “me” money.

    I’m doing virtual jars in my own account for clothes/shoes and gifts, and together my husband and I have started planned spending categories for vacations, car maintenance, and our upcoming move. The emergency fund and RRSPs are growing slowly, too. We’ve never been short of money, or in debt, but we’ve never really managed our finances. It feels so good to be taking control of things. Thank goodness we are not yet 30, so we have lots of time for our newly developing good habits to pay off.

    Thanks Gail for all your sensible advice!

  21. avatar Michelle Says:
    May 28, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    *pol. It’s likely the root will be dead from such force, but I am like you. I would want to keep my kids teeth intact if I could because they’re with them for life. If he was 20, then it’s his decision, but at 12, I think I’d do my very best.
    One of my co-worker’s sons lost his tooth skateboarding last year, got it put back in, and it’s been fine ever since.
    Every story’s different, but I was highly self-conscious as a teenager with a broken tooth from a trip when I was 6 (knocked the other tooth out, but broke this adult tooth in the gum).
    I dunno…then again, I wasn’t a cool boy either. 🙂 Good luck!

  22. Erran, I completely agree with you. I am one of those pple who is unbalanced the other way…..have the money, and cant bring myself to part with it.

    Gail, if you could possibly write something about us (so-called) cheap-skates who choose not to spend their money….lol. That would be very interesting…. 🙂

  23. avatar Suzanne Says:
    June 1, 2009 at 12:59 am

    ‘pol* – my oldest son did something similar when he was a teenager, put his front teeth through his friend’s knee playing park football!! It took four times the adult meds just to freeze and xray his teeth, then he had a plaster cast put on the front and back of his four top front teeth. that’s how badly he damaged the roots, etc. Long story short, he did end up with one ‘flipper’ tooth, but could have had to get a bridge for four! If you son only has a 10% potential increase in success, I would almost save that money for the future dental appliance that will be necessary. I am surprised that the dentists aren’t suggesting removing the teeth right now!?! Tough decision, painful mouth for the child. Kevin got to eat soup and milkshakes through a straw for over a month, but sure got the attention when school started up again!!!

  24. […] but you’ll choose not to because you simply don’t see it as a priority. You can’t thoil it and you shouldn’t have to worry about being seen as cheap or stingy because you choose not to […]

  25. How does one pronounce this word? Does it rhyme with oil?

  26. […] Chai for example. I have been gifted some David’s and Teavana tea but I just can’t thoil buying for myself when Tetley will do. Drinking regular tea is better for my […]

  27. 833814 54558A thoughtful insight and concepts I will use on my weblog. You?ve naturally spent a great deal of time on this. Thank you! 262311

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