Best Needs and Wants Examples that Can Change Your Life

Needs and wants examples in life, marketing, and business

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!

budgeting wants and needs examples with pictures pin

*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 what we buy has to do with 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 met, 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.

glasses, coffee, notebook

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 make life beautiful and fun. But knowing exactly what a want is will help you decide which are worth your time and money.

When the Lines Blur between the Two

list of budget needs and wants examples in life

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:

  • Walking
  • 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:

differences in needs and wants

And of course, food works this way too. You can garden, choose where you shop, etc. to get the food your body needs.

Top Examples of Personal Needs and Wants

List of wants and needs for Your Health

needs vs wants and desires. basic budgeting needs

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 on Maslow’s hierarchy.

Here are a few purchase examples you might make to fulfill the needs above:

Gym membership

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 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.

woman sleeping

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 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.

family needs and wants examples

list of needs and wants examples for life with pictures

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 examples of the key differences.

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

family wants and needs examples and ideas for kids too

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 >>

50 30 20 budget template worksheet pdf and example

Find more budgets with free templates:

Try a Zero Based Approach

Do you need to trim your budget? Erase your budget for a moment and start completely from ground zero.

Examples of needs vs wants: how to know the difference with zero based budgeting

1. First, you only add back those things in your budget that are 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 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?

jars of money

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.

Free Needs Vs Wants Worksheet

Now do your own needs vs wants inventory! Grab the needs vs wants worksheet here and sort out your budget.

needs vs wants worksheet free pdf

“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

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