Truly Understanding the Difference Between a Want and a Need

July 4, 2023

In our quest for financial wellness, we are often confronted with a myriad of choices that can either make or break our budget. One area that seems deceptively simple, yet can cause significant confusion, is the differentiation between our wants and our needs. This conundrum, at its core, plays a significant role in our financial health and is a key to successful budgeting. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of truly understanding the difference between a want and a need.

The Psychology Behind Wants and Needs

The first step in understanding the difference between wants and needs is appreciating the psychological aspects that influence our purchasing habits. This is especially relevant in studying the spending habits of millennials who are now a significant part of the consumer market.

• Millennials, like all consumers, make purchasing decisions based on a combination of wants and needs. • The immediate gratification that results from fulfilling a want is often a strong motivator, influencing impulse buying. • Conversely, needs are typically related to basic survival or essential lifestyle components and thus hold a different weight in decision making.

Defining Wants and Needs

To start the process of distinguishing between wants and needs, we must first define these terms.

• A need is something you must have for survival or to maintain a basic standard of living. These include food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and transportation. • A want, on the other hand, is something you would like to have, but it's not essential for your survival or maintaining a basic standard of living. Examples include luxury items, vacations, high-end electronics, and dining out.

Creating A Need-Based Budget

Once we've defined wants and needs, the next step is to create a budget that prioritizes needs over wants. Here's how:

• Begin by listing all your monthly expenditures. Include everything, from the rent or mortgage to the occasional cup of coffee at a café. • Next, categorize each expense as a want or a need. Be honest with yourself; it's easy to label something as a need when it's really a want. • After that, assign a dollar amount to each need and total them up. This will become the core of your monthly budget. • The remaining funds can then be allocated towards your wants.

This strategy helps maintain financial health and assists in avoiding unnecessary expenses.

Facing The Challenge Head-On

Understanding the difference between wants and needs can be daunting, but it's a crucial step towards better financial health. When confronted with this task:

• Remind yourself of your financial goals and how distinguishing between wants and needs can help achieve them. • Remember, it's okay to have wants. The key is to manage them within your financial means. • Make it a habit to evaluate your purchases. Regularly questioning whether an item is a want or a need can help develop smarter spending habits.

To sum up, truly understanding the difference between a want and a need is a fundamental financial literacy skill. It's a powerful tool that can lead to better budgeting and help us maintain control over our financial destinies. It might be a challenge to distinguish between the two at first, but with a little practice, you'll soon be a pro at discerning the necessary from the nice-to-have. After all, your financial wellness is worth it!


I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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