Let's look at the intersection of two major ideas: Taiichi Ohno's view of work and waste (as described by Sebastian Marshall, whose phrasing is pretty helpful for this purpose), and PT Barnum's budgeting principles in his book The Art of Money Getting.

Sebastian Marshall says all activity in a workplace is either Value-producing work, Non-value producing work, or waste. So, making the donut for a customer, complying with regulations, and waiting for the donut to be done, respectively, for example. Obviously, you want to have a pretty expansive view of waste, and minimize it.

PT Barnum recommended that people begin their budgeting by looking at how they actually spend money, and sort expenses into three categories: necessaries, comforts, and luxuries. To translate into more modern usage, needs, wants, and luxuries (some things never change). Even more than a century ago, he said many people find the luxuries being double, triple, or even 10x the first two categories. I think people have grown to demand more and more comfort, and so perhaps this is not true, but I also observe that living off $1000/mo can be very comfortable in many cities across the world, including most major cities in America. So the numbers still seem very reasonable. If you cannot find comfort in your heart with basic shelter, healthy food, and an internet connection, perhaps the problem is not with Mr. Barnum's advice.

My contention is that these two systems mirror each other in a fascinating way. Necessaries, as Barnum would call them, are (to my mind) clearly value-producing. You wish to survive. Indeed, this is (nominally) the primary motivator for most work, but given people's general incompetence at budgeting I am skeptical.

Comforts (or, wants) are perhaps best analogized to non-value producing work. This isn't a category you zero out, but one you're mindful of, and there is no point in considering it in a fundamentally different category as needs or value-producing work (in fact, both Barnum and Taiichi Ohno recommend a two-part view instead of a three part view for practical uses). Wants and needs aren't so different, really.

And, like, I don't want to blow your mind, but obviously luxuries are a waste. I have yet to find an example where I'd even wish to indulge – the occassional indulgent brunch, when I feel like spending the money, serves much more as a want/comfort, than it does a luxury. I've never been comfortable with opulence, and I'm fairly certain it can be safely ignored.

I think this cuts to the heart of these endeavors, and their relationship to money: the purpose of business is to be useful to customers. All else should be eliminated. The purpose of personal finance is to fuel your existence, and allow you comforts, however your soul speaks to you. Money, therefore, should probably be imagined as either being fuel for survival and comfort, or merely sacrificed to the absurdities of luxury – just as business should view money as fuel to serve their customers, unless sacrificed to pure waste.

If a rich person spends money on luxuries, you may envy them, or resent them. But I think those are miscalibrated, making the same mistake in two different ways. We should pity them, same as a business who wastes money on trivialities. And after we pity them, we should remember their example, to remind us to do better.