Best Needs and Wants Examples (Free Worksheet For Budgeting 2023)
In life, we tend to confuse our needs and wants. And to make it even trickier, these lines can blur depending on where you live, your age, and your particular life situation. (Plus, society does a great job of making us think we “need” a lot of things that we don’t.)
This article breaks down needs and wants with examples to help you. And don’t miss the needs vs wants worksheet at the end to do your own inventory on your life or business!
*Use a budgeting system in this article to make room for needs AND wants!
What is a need?
A need is a fundamental necessity for living. Do you need this thing to survive?
You might be surprised by how little of the things we buy have to do with our survival.
In black-and-white budgeting this comes down to:
- Basic shelter (Rent or Mortgage): protection from weather, injury, and illness
- Food that fuels your body and mind
- Utilities so that you may function, be clean, and safe
- Basic clothing/shoes that protect you from the elements and serve in your job
- Transportation that gets you from A to B
- Healthcare and medication so that you may recover when sick
- A basic phone (or another form of communication) to be able to call others in an emergency
Once your basic needs are taken care of you start to think about a bigger house, nicer clothes, and a cooler car. These are examples of needs that turn into wants.
What is a want?
Wants are the things that you desire. You like this thing and it may indeed make your life better. However, it is still something you could live without if you had to.
what are some examples of wants
Things like jewelry, vacations, video games, eating out, music, tv, and movie subscriptions are great examples.
Wants are not bad. Treating ourselves and our families well is one of the things that make life beautiful and fun. But knowing exactly what a want is will help you decide which wants are worth your time and money.
When the Lines Blur between the Two
The lines can blur often between needs and wants. For example, a basic need is transportation. This could be achieved by a used car. But it could also be achieved by:
- Riding a bike
- Carpooling with others
- Riding a bus
In some locations (like big cities) a car is really a want. If you live far from others, it’s more of a need.
And even if a car fulfills your need most of the time, you can still save money by using other forms of transportation to cut costs. This is why needs and wants are so specific to each individual.
The same goes for your home (or office space) below:
And of course, food works this way too. You can garden, choose where you shop, etc. to get the food your body needs.
Examples of Personal Needs and Wants
List of wants and needs for Your Health
In order for a human to live a healthy life, you need adequate sleep, regular movement, good nutrition, and a regular supply of water. In this section, we will also talk about the need for connection because it’s a fundamental need (Love & Belonging) on Maslow’s hierarchy.
Here are a few purchase examples you might make to fulfill the needs above:
If you live in a place that is cold year round and hardly sees daylight, then this may very well be a necessity for a healthy life. If you live in sunny Southern California, it’s definitely a want.
A new mattress
This is a need if your old mattress is affecting your ability to sleep at night. However, a top-of-the-line sleep number bed is a want.
Healthy and organic food
Food that has vitamins and minerals is a need that helps your body function. However, organic food is a want because you are choosing a higher quality version.
Dinner Table Talk Vs Outings
Feeling connected with others is a need that doesn’t have to cost money. It can happen while you are sitting in your home or around the dinner table. But if you live alone, it may be more important to fulfill this need through “wants” like bar visits and outings.
More Examples of Needs And Wants
Here are more examples to get you thinking about the difference between needs and wants:
family needs and wants examples
An especially tricky part of budgeting is when you factor in your kids. We tend to want to do anything and everything for our offspring. But for kids, here are some examples of the differences between needs and wants.
Education is a need. Fancy and competitive extracurricular activities are a want.
A home with enough bedrooms for your kids to sleep well is a need. A home with a bathroom for each child, an office, and a guest bedroom is a want.
Having clean and decent clothes for your kids is a need. Putting them in those cute Nike kicks is a want. (Even if it is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!)
Budget needs vs wants
The most popular budgeting method allots 50% of your spending to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings. Above, you see an example of how needs and wants might fit into this budget.
And grab the free 50 30 20 budgeting template here >>
Find more budgets with free templates here:
- 60 30 10 budget rule: this one is great if you want to save aggressively.
- 60 20 20 budget rule: use this template if you have a higher needs category.
- 70 20 10 budgeting method: debt payment is built into this template.
Try a Zero Based Approach
Do you need to trim your budget? Erase your budget entirely for a moment and start completely from ground zero.
1. First, you only add back those things in your budget that are absolutely crucial to your survival and well-being. You would be in serious trouble if you didn’t have them. These are your needs.
2. Next, add back those things that are not critical but you rely on heavily to be happy, healthy, and productive. (These are often those blurred lines between wants and needs. You will fit them in either category depending on what it is.)
Are there needs that you can fulfill using less money? Like in the car and home examples above?
3. Finally, look at what is left. These are purely wants and they are the items that can be deleted from your budget if you would like to save more or when money gets tight.
*Also, when you look at your wants, factor in the upkeep required to keep that item!
Related: Free Zero Based Budget Examples & Template
Are Debt And Savings Wants or Needs?
You should treat your debt and savings as needs. They are non-negotiable because they save your future self from financial hardship. They allow you to be a happy, dignified, and healthy person in the future.
Needs And Wants Worksheet
Now do your own needs vs wants inventory! Grab the needs vs wants worksheet here and sort out your budget.
“I think one of the things you need to realize, is that the things that you think you need in life are not, the things you, as a person need, they are the things that other people tell you that you need.”― Cave Man, Modern Human’s Handbook