First, Happy, Happy New Year.  I hope that 2017 exceeds all of your hopes and expectations.

In the last column we began our discussion about what things you need to do in order to avoid buying unnecessary things, a question that I frequently get from high school and college students. Just to be clear and honest, I get it from adults also.

We have discussed how you must understand that it is not about how much money you have. It is about how effectively you manage the money that you do have, so you must commit to being your own personal money manager. That means you have to gain some knowledge and increase your Financial IQ about personal finances, and understand the importance of learning and practicing “good money habits.”

We also briefly discussed that an important part of avoiding buying and doing unnecessary things is to commit to avoiding debt as much as possible. It is much harder to buy unnecessary things when you don’t actually have the money for them, and you refuse to go into debt for them. Last, we discussed that you have to have clear financial goals at all times of your life, which will change as your life circumstances change, so that you can work towards achieving them, and you can evaluate all of your spending in terms of whether it  is in line with those goals.

We looked at some goals, like having saving for emergencies, anticipated expenses, and retiring with dignity, as ones that need to be on everyone’s list. Beyond that there are an infinite number of goals, like to educate your children; buy a home, new home or vacation home; buy a new car, etc.

One goal, of course, can be to have fun and enjoy life. This is not a draconian exercise. However, the key is to do that, and to meet all of your financial goals, while also living within your means.

I know that up to now, this has been a review, but it is really is so important if you want to live within your means and not get into buying and doing unnecessary things that can drive you into unaffordable debt.

A fifth thing that you will have to do is to have a BUDGET. That is how you implement your financial plan, with the goals and objectives you worked so hard thinking about, putting together, and committing to. Every month a determined amount of your income must first be set aside to achieve those important goals — a new car, retirement, savings for emergencies, etc. It is that “pay yourself first” quote that we have all heard and read.

Once you have paid yourself first, your budget will provide for the things that you actually “need.” These are your bottom-line (food, clothing, shelter, transportation and communication) needs. This is where the “rub” can come in our hyper consumer society, where we have blurred the lines between needs and wants, wishes, luxuries and conveniences. That being said, the key is that if you don’t have enough money for what you think are “needs,” and you are committed to avoiding debt, you need to take a hard and realistic look at what you have listed as needs. You will need to make some adjustments, so that your budget can balance. That can mean eliminating some of those needs that you have now analyzed and realized are not true needs; cutting some of the amounts allocated to those needs; increasing your income; or putting off some of those non- essential financial goals.

That is the only way I know of to make your budget balance, but please don’t put off those important financial goals in order to BUY OR DO UNNECESSARY THINGS. This is the moment of truth. It is where the rubber meets the road, and you have to be really honest with yourself. Do you really need that?

I met a family over the holidays, and we were discussing this article. They told me that they have a daughter whose family nickname is “Ineeda,” because, for her, everything seems to be a need.

If you don’t want to be an Ineeda, consider the five things that we have discussed in these two articles; don’t buy into all of those advertisers telling you every day what you need to be, do and have; and stop trying to keep up with others who have more money than you do, or are willing to go into debt to live above their means.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program.