What You Need vs What You Want

What we want Vs What we need

A buddy told me a few years ago that he required an SUV to transport his boat from his driveway to the dock. He waited till his older car had reached the end of its useful life. He even spent time researching the greatest SUV within his price range.
The car salesman persuaded him to have a test drive in a Lincoln Navigator at the showroom. He knew he needed an SUV, but he began to yearn for the Navigator, which was more expensive.

Then, something happened, he began saying he needed a Navigator.

Our mind begins to blur the line between needs and wants. It’s easy to choose between needing food to eat versus wanting the latest electronic gadget. Which would you choose? It gets harder to discern the difference when it’s something you truly need like a car to get to work but wanting the sports car.

The major difference between needs and wants is simple. Needs are things you have to have. Wants are things you would like to have.

Difference Between Needs and Wants

Knowing the difference between needs and wants will help you prioritize purchases that make financial sense. You’ll begin to realize what are necessities in your life and what are luxuries. If you’re struggling financially or have other goals in mind, it may be good to meet the need and postpone the luxury later. However, if you need a watch and your finances are in order, then buying a Movado instead of a Fossil is okay.

Some needs are more straightforward to understand. You’ll need a house for shelter, clothes to wear, and food to survive — these are the basic necessities of life. They’re absolutely necessary. You may argue that the rest isn’t necessary, but this is when the lines begin to blur. The truth is that we make many of our shopping decisions based on emotion rather than logic.

Read also: Lifestyle Inflation: A Two-Headed Monster

Basically, the best rule of thumb is to make sure that your needs are covered and your preferences are only met if it’s affordable. It all boils down to that 6 letter word no one really likes to hear – BUDGET. If you’ve budgeted for your preferred brands for the things you need, then by all means go for it. If you are still working on reducing debt or saving money, find the fiscally responsible alternatives to the things you need.

I remember wanting an iPad when they first came out. I would sit around coffee houses watching people scrolling through their tablets and I began to desire them. I began convincing myself how easier my life would be if I had an iPad. I trained my mind to think I needed an iPad although my life had been fine without one for years. Being me, I decided to hold off on purchasing the item and instead began saving for it.  Well guess what happened after I saved enough money to buy one? I used the iPad only a few times. A few months later, I ended up selling the iPad on Craigslist taking a $100 lost.

It’s OK to buy things you want but make sure…dare I say it again…you’ve budgeted for it.

3 Questions to Determine Needs vs. Wants

  1. Ask yourself, “Do I need it?”
  2. Ask yourself again, “Do I need it now?”
  3. Then ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t have it?”

Replace “it” with the item you’re thinking of purchasing. Asking yourself these three questions will help you determine what’s needed versus what’s wanted. I used to ask myself, “Can I afford it?” This question somehow caused my ego to say yes all the time and got me into a lot of trouble. I always found a way to afford a “want” through credit.

Read also: Can Money Actually Buy You Happiness?

Appreciate What You Have

In a society where it seems like you always need more, appreciating what you have is difficult. The majority of them are preoccupied with what they lack: material possessions, interpersonal relationships, even ideal beauty. We expect great things and are fascinated by miracles, but we often overlook the fact that our lives already provide us with little gifts that others would desire. I believe that counting all the things that are lacking is more important than relishing what life has to offer.

Imagine that you buy a new Iphone that you have wanted for a long time, or you change your car for a bigger and better one, or you move from your house to a bigger and more comfortable one, or you take a trip to a dream place… We are continually like pretending those things and when we finally have them in our possession, we enjoy them for a short period of time and then we get used to them and we no longer value them as much as at the beginning, since we normalize them.

Be grateful for the food you eat

We frequently consume meals while distracted, starting with morning and continuing through lunch and dinner. This could be due to the fact that we have our phone or laptop in front of us, for example, because we have lunch at work or get a quick bun from the bakery that we then devour on the tram on our way to work.

We’re so tired after dinner that we just sit in front of the TV with our dishes and watch our favorite shows. As a result, it might happen incredibly quickly that we don’t even realize we’re eating. However, when you realize how many people do not take food for granted and how many people are hungry throughout the world, it is far easier to intentionally appreciate and be grateful for your meals than it is to eat them quickly while checking your phone.

Stop praising things that are not important

It astounds me how many people whine about trivial things. They make a great issue about standing in line at the bank or become enraged if they miss the bus. To be honest, you probably forget to appreciate what you have since you are preoccupied with unimportant matters.

They appear to be more serious than they are the more you think about them. Devoting so much time and effort to them diverts your attention away from the things that truly matter. It is easier to live when you change your perspective.
Of course, no one enjoys missing the bus and being late for work, but there is always a silver lining. The difference is how prepared you are to see the positive rather than the negative side of the situation.

Travel to poor countries

When you visit to a poorer country, you soon recognize how many things you take for granted back home are not available there. One of the most satisfying experiences I believe you can have is broadening your eyes and witnessing what fantastic things individuals in other countries can do without any supporting elements or modern technology.

Consider what it would be like if you grew up in this environment. In a place where there is no power, hot water, computers, or internet. Cell phones are regarded as miracles in places where communications are still delivered on foot.
They are, for the most part, something to “bridge the time” for us. Just thinking about the absence of all those things and people around you is mostly enough to make you appreciate you more, at least for a moment.


My work covers a few topics: personal sustainability practices, eco-friendly technologies and the link between personal action and global consequences. You can expect to learn actionable and practical information to help you become more sustainable – often with the side benefit of being healthier, saving money and having fun

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