Needs versus wants – what’s the difference?

Needs versus wants – what’s the difference?

Catherine loves clothes. She recently saw the dress she’s been dreaming of for months. Sadly, it’s sooo expensive. With her limited budget, Catherine needed to figure out if the dress was a want or a need.

“I’ve always loved fashion. The problem is that I don’t always have the money to buy all the gorgeous items I want. I meant need. Or did I? It’s tough to figure out the difference!”

When you think about the things that we need they are often based on what makes us healthy (like food) and safe (like a home). Think about what you may need during your period or soap and toothpaste; these all help us be healthy. Even things like school uniform are an important item to prioritise.

“When I think about these needs I realise I know the benefits of all these things will last a lot longer than a dress; they will help me not only day to day but into my future too,” says Catherine. “They can help me prepare to meet any challenges I may face… but… the dress is still on my mind! So what does that mean? I’ve realised that I will always have wants, but I have to put my needs first and also plan for the future. Planning for the future and the things I may need - and want - means making a savings plan!”

Catherine sat down and worked out a savings plan using these 4 steps:

1. Think about the future: money in and money out

Now Catherine understood about her needs, she identified a few items that she would prioritise to buy with her earnings from babysitting. If she wanted to buy more than this (like the dress!), Catherine needed to make plans to make more money. She decided on baking snacks to take to school and sell during lunch. This would increase her income meaning she would be able to save.

2. Save regularly (even if it’s just a little)

Now Catherine understood exactly what her income would be each month from her jobs and she had worked out the costs of all her essential items, she knew exactly what would be left over to save. Some months she didn’t have time to bake or spend as much time at the cornershop, but, no matter how small, she made sure she kept some money aside to save regularly.

3. Save in a safe place

Because Catherine doesn’t have a bank account, she wanted to make sure she kept her money safe. She needed somewhere secure, not easy to find and maybe with a trustworthy person she could rely on. In the end, Catherine asked her aunt to keep her savings safe. This also made sure it wasn’t tempting for her to spend the money!

4. Deal with setbacks in saving

Setbacks are common, so Catherine tried to account for any unforeseen possibilities like getting sick and not being able to babysit. She knew not to be disheartened as though sometimes it is hard to achieve our goals, if we stick to our plan it will help.

“Guess what? In four months I’d saved enough money to go get that dress! And I’ve also been able to advise my friends on saving. I’m so proud of myself for sticking to my savings plan!”

If you would like more tips on saving or maybe setting up your own business, read the article 'Saving can help you achieve your dreams' below.