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Need and Want

This article contains information on how you can differentiate between Needs and Wants.

Need and Want
Are you finding it difficult to set your priorities right in terms of choices and decision making? Differentiating between what you need and want is a great start.

Once upon a time, in a small town around the coast, there lived a young boy named Tom. He was an adventurous champ, always eager to explore the world around him. He loved nothing more than to run along the sandy beaches, collect seashells, and watch the waves crash onto the shore.

One day, Tom was walking along the beach when he saw a beautiful sailboat anchored in the bay. The boat was sleek and shiny, with billowing white sails that caught the wind. Tom was immediately drawn to the boat, and he longed to have one just like it.

As he watched the sailboat, Tom began to daydream and fantasize about all the places he could go and all the adventures he could have if he owned one. He imagined himself sailing to far-off lands, exploring hidden coves, and discovering treasures beyond his wildest dreams.

But as Tom was lost in his daydream, he suddenly felt his stomach rumble. He then realized that he had forgotten to eat breakfast that morning, and he was feeling very hungry. He looked around, but there was no food to be found on the beach.

Tom’s hunger reminded him of his basic needs, the things that he required for survival and well-being. He needed food, water, and shelter, and he knew that these things were more important than his desire for a sailboat.

With a sigh, Tom turned away from the sailboat and headed back to his home. As he walked, he realized that there were many other things he wanted in life: toys, games, and gadgets but they were all just wants. What he really needed were the basics, the things that would keep him healthy, happy, and safe.

This story highlights the difference between needs and wants, and the importance of recognizing our basic needs before indulging in our desires. It reminds us that while our wants may bring us temporary pleasure or satisfaction, our needs are the foundation of our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

It is important to understand that there is a thin line between Needs and Wants. However, the two concepts are central to human behavior and decision-making. While both terms refer to something that a person desires or requires, they are distinct from each other.

Understanding the difference between needs and wants is crucial in making effective decisions and prioritizing our resources.

Needs [2] can be defined as the basic requirements for human survival and well-being. These are the things that we must have to maintain our physical, emotional, and psychological health. Needs include things like food, water, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Without meeting our basic needs, it is difficult to function effectively in the world, and our health and well-being can suffer.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [1] is a well-known framework that categorizes human needs into five levels, with the most basic needs at the bottom and the more complex needs at the top. The five levels are:

  • physiological needs, 
  • safety needs, 
  • love and belonging needs, 
  • esteem needs,
  • self-actualization needs. 

Hierarchy of needs

This hierarchy suggests that we must meet our basic needs before we can move on to higher levels of personal growth and fulfillment.

Wants [2], on the other hand, are desires or aspirations that go beyond our basic needs. They are things that we would like to have, but that are not essential for our survival or well-being. Wants may include things like luxury goods, entertainment, travel, or status symbols. While wants can be enjoyable and enhance our lives, they are not necessary for our survival or overall health.

It’s important to recognize that wants can sometimes be confused with needs, particularly in modern culture, where advertising and marketing often create a desire for products or services that are not essential for our well-being. Understanding the difference between needs and wants can help us make better choices about how we allocate our resources, time, and energy.

In some cases, our wants can conflict with our needs, particularly when we prioritize our wants over our basic needs. For example, if we spend all our money on luxury goods and entertainment, we may not have enough resources to pay for our rent, utilities, or food. Similarly, if we prioritize our wants over our physical or emotional health, we may suffer in the long run.

Wants are not bad especially if you have enough resources to cater for it. They are pleasant and often can help you accomplish important goals, having fun, or staying healthy. But they are not necessary to your survival or well-being.

Key Difference Between Need and Want

The Key difference between wants and Needs includes but not restricted to the following:

1. Needs are necessities or essentials for survival, while wants are not essentials but desires.

2. Needs do not change overtime but wants do. In other words, wants can be likened to cravings.

3. Needs are the same for every individual but all individuals do not have the same want or desire.


Needs and Wants are fundamental concepts that help us understand human behavior and decision-making. While a need is something that is necessary for survival or for basic well-being, such as food, water, and shelter, a want, on the other hand, is something that a person desires but is not necessary for survival or well-being.

By understanding the difference between these two concepts, we can make better choices about how we allocate our resources and prioritize our goals for a more fulfilling life.

Anytime you struggle to differentiate between the two words, ask yourself “Can I survive without this?” If the answer is “Yes” then that’s a Want.


[1] Cherry, Kendra. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Verywell Mind, 20 Apr. 2017, https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760.

[2] Nasrudin, Ahmad. “What Are Needs and Wants? Definition and Explanation.” Penpoin, 31 Mar. 2020, https://penpoin.com/needs-and-wants/.

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