Wants and Needs; telling the difference and making the right choice

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From the title, it is obvious what this article is about; the meaning of wants and needs are often mistaken and misunderstood by many. In general, we use the words “want and “needs” interchangeably when it comes to obtaining or possessing something.

When it comes to spending on things you want and need, knowing the difference is key to making the right decisions. Also, you may usually consider them to mean the same thing in certain instances. These two terms, however, are somewhat different in all ramifications, and we will help you tell the difference between the two through this article.

The difference

Before we go into differentiating these terms, we must know what they mean. Therefore, let’s begin with the basic definitions of the terms; a quick Google search of the word “wants” reveals that wants refers to having the desire to possess or do something you wish for. This implies that want is things we can do and live without.

On the other hand, a quick Google search of the word “Needs” reveals that it refers to things we are required to have because it is essential and necessary, rather than just desired. Things like; foods, shelter, money, mental and physical health, are needs we cannot live without and not having them would be detrimental to our existence.

Making the right choice

This being said, it is clear that the difference between these two terms depends on how “essential” the subject is, and having this knowledge is vital to making the right choice. When it comes to choosing between needs and wants, it is crucial that you not only consider your immediate comfort but also think about future importance.

If you don’t put into consideration which is most important, you might end up making thoughtless decisions all the time. However, even though you would have to make the final decision on what’s best for you at the end of the day, here are some things you should know about choosing between needs and wants.

How you meet a need can determine a good or bad choice

Many people would argue that using resources to meet your needs is a smart way to invest them. However, it is unwise to be sloppy in the way you satisfy your need. Note that the way you fulfil your needs will reverse your financial success. We all need to eat, for example.

But we don’t all have to eat an expensive meal with wine at a luxurious restaurant every night. It’s not just enough to ask yourself if you need to purchase something before you’re buying it, It is also essential to go a step further by making sure that you are accountable for how you use your resources to satisfy that need.

Understand that your needs might be wants for others

When it comes to making decisions, it would be wise not to compare your choices with that of others. This is because the needs of others may be your wants or the other way round.

For instance, you may need to purchase a bigger apartment as your family grows. You need enough space for you and your kids to be more comfortable. On the other hand, someone else may purchase a bigger house just to show off and impress people.

Not like they weren’t comfortable where they were before, their actions maybe because they want to do better than their competitor. Therefore it is essential to make choices base on priority rather than being influenced by the choices of someone else.

Recognizing and avoiding emotional traps is essential for the best choices

Although you may have at the back of your mind to prioritize needs as opposed to wants, when you find yourself sticking to a budget, you may find this challenging to keep to this notion of putting your needs before wants. Yes, you know you have important obligations to handle, such as paying school tuition and clearing your electricity bills. Still, you find yourself spending your money on travel, so you can fulfil your desire of taking a vacation.

For most people, this happens because they let their actions be based on emotions, and if this also applies to you, you may have found yourself purchasing things based on how they make you feel. But how true is this? The emotional trap is even more evident in a post made by Psychology today, and the article reveals that people tend to choose a famous brand name over their identical but generic counterpart due to emotions.


Come to think of it, many of the items we purchase are accessible as generics and other brands with the same ingredients and at reduced rates. However, customers still prefer popular brands, and you may ask why? This is because Big brands with nationwide adverts can create with their customer an emotional connection.

Knowing that if customers were only led to decide based on characteristics, functionality and additional details of the commodity, there would be no emotional ties to manipulate customer preference and behaviour, and fewer chances of having a lifelong buyer.

Emotions are so powerful they can trick you into mistaking your needs for wants. Haven known this, it would be wise not to place your preference on your emotions, but instead, place them on what is most important.


Choosing between what you want versus what you need can be a very tricky situation. However, it is advisable to consider meeting your needs first before pursuing what you want. And when you have to meet these needs, try not to be careless with how you meet them because such actions may cause you to suffer detrimental effects in the future. If you feel it is taking too much time for you to draw the line, stay positive, and keep trying.

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