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How To Differentiate Between Needs And Wants? (With Examples)

April 21, 2023

Confused between what you need and what you want? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Our article breaks down the differences and offers simple, easy-to-follow steps to help you make better choices.

It will be easier for you to prioritize your spending and manage your budget if you know the difference between needs and wants. While needs are necessary for a comfortable life, wants are more often unnecessary expenses.

Though it should be simple in theory, it can be challenging to distinguish between needs and wants in daily life. You can create a budget that you can stick to. You can be better prepared by being aware of the differences. It might also prevent you from making pointless purchases with your credit card, which might damage your credit.

Here, we offer guidance on how to distinguish between needs and wants.

Financial planning becomes a piece of cake once you get into the habit of distinguishing between the two.

Definition of wants and needs 


Needs - A need is essentially something you require to live comfortably. Although subjective, let's talk about the fundamental need for shelter to give you a little context. You must have a roof over your head, but it need not be an extravagant mansion for you to be content. You must eat to survive, but you do not necessarily need to eat expensive food. The essentials are needs. 

Wants - Talking about wants, which are more extravagant or luxurious. Wants are unnecessary costs that you can avoid. Even though you may desire more expensive clothing or a luxury car, all you require is appropriate clothing and dependable transportation. Over time, the desires/ wants may wane, but you'll know when a need not met affects your life. 

What is the difference between wants and needs? With examples 

The distinction between needs and wants when budgeting seems to be pretty simple.

Needs are things you must have to lead a balanced life, whereas wants are things you would prefer to have but could live without. 

But to understand how your wants and needs fit into your budget, examples of wants and needs can be very helpful. To help you distinguish between needs and wants, see the lists below.

Needs example: Basic food, shelter, utilities, services, clothing, etc. 

Wants example: A car (if there is public transportation), high-speed internet if you do not work or study from home, additional and expensive clothing or shoes,

restaurants, takeout, and bars, high-end furniture, televisions, and home decor.

How do you personalize your wants and needs? 


One main difference between a need and a want is that the nonfulfillment of a need can lead to an adverse outcome on your health or safety. Not having a want can lead to temporary discomfort, but this is not as harmful of an outcome as when you don’t have a need.

When buying something concerning the money you are making or have, ask yourself, is this important? would you be able to lead a healthy and safe life even after investing in it?  If the answer is yes then only go for it.


When it comes to emergencies, even the necessities have to take a backseat. The safer and smarter way is to keep a fund beside all the wants and needs for emergencies. 


Needs seldom ever alter or diverge over time. However, desires may be fads or trends. See if this purchase will make you happy, healthy, or otherwise content for a long time, or if it's just things you desire because it's fashionable.

Mindful budgeting of needs and wants 

Ideally, you would adhere to your budget exactly each month, never going over. The 50/30/20 budget comes into play here. 

The 50/30/20 budget offers suggestions to help you come up up with a spending plan that works for you. Budget categories are split up into 50% necessities, 30% desires, and 20% financial objectives. You can pay for both what you want and need owing to this.

  • Be precise with your budget categories. 

Budgeting is no exception to the rule that it's preferable to be particular than vague. Being as detailed as you can help you create a budget that meets your requirements as well as your wants. 

Here are a few instances of being more particular: 

  1. "Groceries" rather than "food," as eating out is a desire 
  2. Luxury expenditure subcategories, such as dining out and entertainment 

You can budget for each category more correctly the more exact you can be. This makes it easier for you to keep track of your spending and helps you get ready for all of the many costs you'll encounter on a weekly or monthly basis.

  • Use your credit card with caution. 

Impulsive purchases sometimes happen. So as long as you're budgeting and taking steps to control your spending, don't feel bad about occasionally treating yourself to something you desire but don't need. Be careful not to use your credit card for everything you want, though, whether you're in the mall or out to dinner. Overusing a credit card might have negative long-term effects. This may entail a decline in your credit score, in which case you'll need to work diligently to recover your credit.

Final Words

When it comes to smart budgeting, saving and investment can save you big time. Jar is a daily savings app to automate your digital gold investments where you can start saving & investing in Gold for just Rs.10. This can be super helpful when it comes to budgeting according to your wants and needs. 


  1. What distinguishes financial need from financial want? 

Food, rent or a mortgage, utilities, and other costs are a few to take into account. This area of your budget accounts for any travel expenses, insurance coverage, and any work-related apparel and equipment. A desire is everything you can live without pleasantly and is not necessary for survival.

  1. What significance do needs and wants have? 

Wants are not necessary, only needs are. 

Our needs must be met since they are necessary for living a normal existence. Purchasing products and services are how we do this. We may use our need for food, water, and shelter as an example.