Needs vs Wants: What’s the Difference?

So often we will say “I need…”.  But do we really need that item?  Need is defined as a requirement, necessary duty, or obligation whereas want is defined as to wish, crave, demand, or desire.  So how do we tell if something is a need or a want?  And how do we handle decision making when it comes to needs versus wants?

1 Timothy 6:8 tells us “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  Throughout Scripture we see where we are promised food and raiment/clothes…but there are many other items including a house/shelter that we consider “needs” that are not promised by Scripture.  I know that will rock many people’s boats.  The concept that house is not classified as a necessity by Scripture is quite shocking!  But if we think about it, we only need to have food and clothes to survive.  We can survive in a tent or a cave if we need to.

needs vs wantsSo with that mindset as our foundation, we need to make as a top priority providing food and clothing for our family.  And that means meeting our needs of food and clothing not having everything in the store or a closetful of clothing.  Then after that we can add in our wants starting with our most needed wants.  I would encourage you to make a list of top priorities, so that you know where to place the most emphasis. Here’s my list for an example – food, clothes, helping with household expenses (since I live at home), medical needs, savings, gifts, and eating out.  Each person’s list will be a bit different, but this will give you an idea to get started.

The next and final piece is to be willing to trust the Father’s provision of our needs and understand that He will not always fulfill all of our wants.  Sometimes He wants to grow our trust in Him…sometimes He needs to teach us a lesson…sometimes it is just a “wait”.  But in reality, it all boils down to contentment.  Am I willing to be content with where I am in life?  Am I willing to be content with what I have in life?  If I am content, then I am able to experience joy and thereby be a much better and more willing instrument in my Father’s hands.  So I will close with this challenge, each time this week you are tempted to “need” or “want” something, ask yourself if it is a need versus want?  And choose to be content in all things!

About Jocelin Boutet

Jocelin Boutet is a homeschool graduate who grew up learning finances from a young age and now passionately has her own ministry – Standing in YHVH’s Hand Ministries – with a mission of training believers how to be stronger in their walk with the Messiah and free of the world in lifestyle, finances, and relationships. As well as being a Financial Coach and Trainer, previously serving with Crown Financial Ministries, and Certificate in Biblical Studies, her personal practical experience as well as involvement on a daily basis in Christian finances gives her a unique perspective. She has been blessed to speak regularly in person as well as on the radio on God’s View on Money.

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  • Tanya

    Want vs. need vs. contentment can be such a struggle! This is a great post to get us all thinking about the differences between wants and needs, and to always strive for contentment!

  • Jane

    You are really informing us an interesting idea about wants vs. needs. I have to admit that I don’t care what might people say about this but now I’m a bit concerned what does it means for everyone. I preferrably go for needs because that’s are necessities.

  • Barbara Thayer

    Well said! I definitely have been trying to convey this to our twenty three year old son who seems to think his wants are just important as his needs. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article! I shall forward it on to him to read! Blessings!