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Wants vs. Needs

How to Distinguish Between the Two


Visualize Saving!
Lasse Kristensen/Moment Open/Getty Images

Need- something you have to have
Want -something you would like to have

The difference between a need and a want is pretty simple -- until you set yourself loose in a store. Double chocolate chip ice cream? It's a food, so mark it as a need. That designer t-shirt that fits you perfectly? Well, you need more shirts, so why shouldn’t it count too?

Tally up the damage caused by a few justifications like these, and suddenly you've spent far more than you intended.

What's the solution?

A better understanding of what a need really is.


In actuality, you only need four things to survive:

  • A roof over your head
  • Enough food and water to maintain your health
  • Basic health care and hygiene products
  • Clothing (just what you need to remain comfortable and appropriately dressed)

Everything that goes beyond this – a big house, name-brand clothes, fancy foods and drinks, a new car – is a want.

Does that mean that you should only buy the things that you need? Not at all. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. Treat yourself to some wants along the way, but do so when you can afford to, and enjoy those wants as the extras that they are.

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