What are Needs & Wants?

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The basic purpose of shoes is to protect your feet. As long as they serve this purpose, you could wear any pair of shoes regardless of the shape, color or material, right? Yet shoes are also a fashion statement. When you pick a specific style or brand you show your taste as well as the desire to belong to a group that wears the same style or brand. 

The difference in longing to get something that keeps you warm, safe or nourished, and something that is fashionable, luxurious, or new, is the difference between Needs and Wants. 

Needs are things we can’t do without — like a home, food, water, and clothing. Wants are everything we don’t actually need but that would be nice to have — like fancy shoes, an iPad, or many toys. There’s nothing wrong with wanting things, but it’s important to appreciate the difference, as so many people in the world go without basic needs, let alone wants. 

One good thing about wants: they keep our economy going. Every time someone buys something, someone else gets paid for selling it. That, in turn, gives them money to buy their own things. This cycle of buying and spending creates a strong economy.

It is important to know what your true needs are — and to know that you can do without getting all of your wants. There are many reasons to ask yourself, “Do I really need this pair of sneakers? Or new toy? Or new phone?” Even if you have the money, consider the impact it might have on the environment, or the conditions under which it was made. 

Wants are not just material things. You may want to win an award, score a goal in a game, or be liked by a particular person. You can work to achieve those wants, just as you work to earn money to buy material things. They are still wants!

Needs are satisfied at some point. When you are warm, safe, well fed, and able to go to school every day, your needs have been met. Wants, on the other hand, can be endless--unlike needs, for most people their wants are almost never fully met! 

By Constanze Niedermaier (Whyzz writer)
The article first appeared in the book "33 things to explain the world to kids".

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