Basic needs vs unlimited wants

Needs vs Wants – Always a fascinating comparison(you tell me)

Needs vs Wants is my favorite and the most controversial topic of all times, as I observe and experience how consumers justify prioritizing wants over basic needs and so, we will explore these two variables concepts. I can vouch, almost, always, gets consumers into serious financial trouble. Take my hand and let us leap forward to learn and understand the difference.

“Bare necessities of life, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and stress. I mean a bare necessities, your Mother’s nature’s recipes that brings the bare necessities of Life” – Phil Harris, Bruce Reitherman.

What is the difference between Needs and Wants

Needs refers to basic necessities for our own survival and we cannot live without, such as the air that we breathe, such as food, shelter(housing), simple clothes(not bling, bling) education and proper basic cleanliness & hygiene(as they usually say cleanliness is next to Godliness). Once all these basic needs are met, we are fulfilled no matter what our situation or whatever is going on in our lives.

On the other hand, Wants are usually unplanned, uninvited guest, driven by selfishness, instant impulses, instant gratification, greed; competition, comparison with others and being less concerned or being defiant or being out of touch with your current situation; so in essence, living other people’s dreams on their own terms(as they dictate to you what you MUST have or not have, even if your current situation does not allow) and again looking at it from a different angle, wants have to do with “future desires” eg. desire to own an expensive Standard Utility Vehicle(SUV) that cannot be met just YET, but can be reached(achieved) later with proper planning and working earnestly towards reaching those financial goals; it is the accumulation of “stuff” or things that we really do not need; can be avoided and can live without for NOW or sometimes NEVER.

Delay is not denial 

The main reason(there could many reasons) why we confuse the two concepts, is that we lack self-control, proper planning, patience, flawed decision-making process & review. We live in an instant microwaveable life where everything MUST happen NOW on our own timetable – instant gratification; if it does not happen NOW, we lose our marbles and our minds, and we force it to happen by ALL MEANS POSSIBLE.  In the process, we do not care who gets hurt on the way, while we get whatever we want at all cost, as long as we get it, that’s all that matters. Usually, those things or “stuff” cause so much distress, misery, pain & in the end, we are neither happy nor enjoy the purchase and we regret the decision of having undertaken the flawed path to start off with. We go through the process again and again and never learning the lesson.

 Financial decision & attitude is a choice, not a feeling

Self Control is a choice, not a feeling, let us use an example to illustrate this, you know that when we eat too much of our favorite food or drink of any kind; it leads to discomfort(tummy ache or headaches or sleeplessness or restlessness) because we have over-indulged (have taken in excess of what  our bodies could handle). No, we still continue to binge because we want to impress, or defy, or ignore, or not caring of the consequences and in amazement we wonder, what had really happened and wanting to blame everyone else around and not point at Self, but not asking the right questions either, such as what got me here, or how did I end up here, or why am I here(review) is the most blatant ignorant behaviour that ever existed.

We avoid the answer like plague, because we do not want to hear the appropriate answer that will help solve the problem; still, we continue down the same downward spiral path of defiance, ignorance, as if nothing wrong has happened, as it is obvious that there has not been any thinking or thought applied before taking on the decision. Once the indulgence has started and the cycle continues we reach a point of no return, disappointment, blame game, rage, anger, stress, depression and even suicidal thoughts come into play. We take on the helpless victim mentality posture and do not take any early action instead we wish, hope & pray that the problem will go away and unfortunately it never does, instead it gets worse and digs deeper, nothing will change until we face and deal with it, openly & honestly.

This has to do everything with our behavior & attitude(respect, value and how we treat ourselves, as money is an extension of self) that we work so hard for, but can hardly keep & manage any of it. Remember money has vibrational energy, if you grumble, complain about the lack of it – it disappears from your hands; but when you develop different thinking, belief, and behavior towards money, the outcome is short of amazing. The money was asked an interesting question, “How can I make sure I can have you around me forever and money answered, “If you take care of me Today, I will take care of you Tomorrow”. Isn’t that profound?

The real painful lesson here is this

Just like the fastest man, Hussein Bolt, when he runs his race on a track & field; he never looks on his Left nor his Right nor behind him; Like his name, he bolts just like a horse, focussed FORWARD, truth be told, he is not competing or comparing himself with his fellow athletes; he is competing with Himself(his personal best time). So, if we can start to use the teaching in this example, we will see the changes in our lives. The best part is that, there is always help(coach, mentor, guide) out there – ready and willing to assist; however the challenge is PRIDE that has taken over and is holding us back, like a slow poison, killing and destroying the fiber of our families from moving forward to reach our financial & life goals.

The worst and sometimes uncomfortable and bitter pill to swallow, is to face the “demon” head-on, openly, honestly and with the intention to be truthful and not cover up(sugar coat); to find a permanent lasting solution where we must live within our means for NOW, so it becomes a Way of Life(Lifestyle) and live the life that we were meant to live peacefully, joyfully, and enjoying the journey to a fulfilling destination.

How do we change this?

If we want to effect a different result. It starts with CHOICES we make, and not feeling(emotions), here we talk about the reality of the situation at hand and not what we hope to see, or imagine. Let me make an example to clarify the point, if I earn R5000,00 per month; I cannot compete or compare myself with an esteemed educated colleague who earns R50,000.00 ($3210)per month, because our paths, i.e. age, education, position levels, needs, wants, lifestyle(achievements) are not the same and they will NEVER be the same(just like the fingers of your hand); so in essence we are saying Hold ON for a moment and apply your mind and run your own RACE(stick to your path). Frankly, I do not know how my esteemed friend earned that R50 000,00 and what activities & decisions he conducted and undertaken to earn that kind of money and I am definitely sure he will never reveal his secret weapon to either you or me.


Disclaimer: I am not at all, saying you will never achieve the status of our educated friend who earns a high income of R50, 000.00. With vigor, focus, armed with a good plan and clear SMART goals & vision for your life, I believe You CAN. You see, if you look at the word LIFE and you remove the letter “F”, what are you left with “LIE” and that is exactly what you experience, a lie to yourself, you lose all  that “FREEDOM” your family and loved ones would have enjoyed; because you are so obsessed & are running someone else’s race, and not yours; that bring & invites all sorts of unintended consequences, so stick to your path, with your financial game plan and in time you will reach your goals. As they say, “Rome was never built in one day” as well as the pyramids of Giza in Egypt took over 20 years to complete. It takes one step at a time and it takes a great deal of time for insane wealth to be accumulated & realized. I can definitely confirm that it is not an overnight success.


Please let us engage in this controversial emotional subject and I am well aware that it will evoke serious tension & emotions, but the truth must be told, kindly leave your comment, share your story or a question below.

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Author and coach Zinzi Mdedetyana hails from South Africa. She is dedicated to inspiring and educating consumers about personal finance management and self improvement. She loves to speak and interact with readers so don't hesitate to comment or contact her.


  1. Clo


    Hi Zinzi,
    This is a great article and it really opened my eyes to how you have to differentiate wants and needs when it comes to money. I used to be person who would spend money as soon as I earned it.. this article is very helpful especially the part where you explain that if you ‘take care’ of money it will ‘take care’ of you.
    Thanks again,

    • admin


      Hey Clo, Thank you for passing by, and I’m glad that you have learnt a great lesson, it oftens makes me wonder how consumers in general justify the want, so that they can go ahead and give themselves permission to spend the very little money that they have. Best of luck.

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