More For Your Money - University of Illinois Extension

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.


This activity can be filled out and printed, or it can be completed online to save your answers.

Here’s a list of items.  Decide whether they are wants or needs.  Some things to think about as you make your choices – Do you really need it?  Can you live without it?  Few incomes are big enough to cover all of your wants, so choices must be made. 

Magazine Subscription
CD Player
Satellite Dish
Concert Tickets
Cell Phone
Designer Clothes
Child Care
TV Set
Convenience Foods
Eating Out
College/School Expenses
Church Offering
Big Screen TV
House Payment/Rent

Your Needs and Wants

This activity can be printed and completed by hand, or it can be completed online.

What are your needs? (Click in white box to edit)

Which of the items from your needs list are the most important?  These are the items that you would pay for or buy each month and are based on your values – what’s important to you and your family!

What are your wants? (Click in white box to edit)