More For Your Money - University of Illinois Extension

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Values and Goals

Needs vs. Wants

Now, that you know what’s important to you, think about all of the ways you spend your money.  Are these things necessary or “extra” things?

Each of us has some common things that we require or need to live.  These items are called needs.  Examples of basic needs include food, water, shelter.  Our needs may be different at different times in our life, such as when we retire, lose a job, get a divorce, or get sick and can’t work. 

Besides basic needs, you have other things that you use and buy.  These “extras” make our lives more enjoyable and comfortable.  They often are things you’d love to have but could do without if you don’t have the money to buy them.  These items are called wants.  Some examples are eating out, having a manicure, a new bicycle, a CD player, designer clothes, or going to movies. 

Also, one person’s wants may be another person’s needs.  For example, one person may need a cell phone to feel safe when traveling, whereas, for another person it is a want.