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Teaching Your Kids (And Yourself) The Difference Between Wants And Needs

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the things in life that you want and the things that you actually need. You may want that fancy sweater you saw at the store, but you already have clothes and there are cheaper options, so you don’t need it. You need food to survive, but do you need shrimp and lobster?


Don’t feel bad if you’re suddenly thinking about all the money you have wasted on things you didn’t need, most people are guilty of this sometime or another in their life. If you want to start learning to be more of a “needs” person than someone who is always wasting money on “wants”, here are some tips to help you (and they can help you teach your children to know better as well).

Needs That Are Essential To Life

A roof over your head, heat, water, and electricity are all things that are essential to life currently. While there are plenty of homeless people surviving on the streets that have none of these things, they would if they could. Owning your own house is part of the dream most people have, but even renting can sometimes be a luxury. When winter comes shelter is even more important.

What you don’t need when it comes to these essential things, like heat and water, is a hot tub (that is definitely a want) or a mansion of a house. You need food to eat in order to survive, but you don’t need fancy food and you don’t need food to eat out at restaurants or purchase fast food. In fact, you save more cooking at home with fresh ingredients, and it’s better for your health.

Needs That Are Borderline

This again touches base on your home needs, your food needs, and your clothing needs. For some people, your clothing needs may require something more expensive than you’d normally buy, depending on your job. If you work for a clothing retailer they may require you only wear in season items that they sell.

We enjoy entertainment, and this can fall in the gray area of whether it’s something you need or want. Entertainment helps inspire, it fills empty spaces, and it can be educational. This means that investing in cable TV or something like Netflix can be worth the expense to your budget. However, you don’t need to have cable, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, as one is enough. So it could be a better idea to see which service you and your family would use the most, as well as factor in the pricing of said service and make an informed decision that benefits entertainment and budget. You may even want to read these cable tv statistics if you’re wanting to choose cable over internet streaming services.

This Is Simply A “Want”

Wants include things like toys for adults, collectible items, a closet full of shoes, or a fancy sports car. You don’t need these things to live or to get from one place to another. Anything that is considered a “collection” is a want. No one needs twenty tea sets.

By cutting out collecting in your family you can save a lot of money, and cut down on the amount of clutter that comes into your home. There’s nothing wrong with saving a ticket stub from your first movie date, but do you need every stub from every movie you’ve seen since you were a teen, even if it doesn’t take up much space? Probably not.