330 Days ’til 40: Wants Versus NEEDS

28 Mar

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Today I am happy to write about the topic of wants versus needs.  I think this is a critical subject to address as so many of us, MOST of us, confuse these two realities on a regular basis.  I believe that many families would find themselves in a much better economic position if they could differentiate between these two realities.  Yet, the advertising executives today know it is a necessity for the consumer to confuse these concepts in order for them to profit.  Businesses profit from our lack of understanding.

A NEED is something that you must have, something that is essential for you to live your life.  Needs include:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Warmth
  • Love
  • Transportation (could be walking)
  • Access to affordable healthcare

A want is something, as stated by Gandhi, comes from greed, as opposed to something that is a fundamental need.  Wants include:

  • Gourmet food
  • A large home
  • New, name-brand label clothing
  • Love from an individual who looks like they walked off the cover of GQ or Vogue
  • An expensive, shiny, new car

As I have stated in other posts, both of my daughters are adopted.  Both of them come from third world countries.  Travelling to these countries to bring my girls home gave me a very deep perspective on this issue. In both of their cases, their birth families were living in tin shacks, often with only two changes of clothing to their name, that they would wear one week at a time, including to sleep in.  Visiting countries with these conditions brought me face to face with my own selfishness, with my own consumerism, with my own false beliefs about what I really need versus what I want.

What people need and what they want may be very different. ~ Elbert Hubbard

During those trips I realized that I do need shelter, but technically I could live with my children in a one room shack and we would be able to live and survive.  I love having a slightly larger home (though four of us are living in under 1,000 square feet)…. but I do not NEED a larger home, I need a roof and four walls – anything more than that is icing on the cake.  I also realize that while I need shoes and clothing, I do not need to fixate on my love for Uggs and Birkenstocks, or want to wear only certain brand-name jeans.  I need to cover my body and my feet.  I am afforded the luxury of being able to choose brand name I love, but I choose them out of greed and want, not because I cannot live without them.

When I look at many countries in our world today, particularly the USA, I see that so many of the individuals around me think they need things that they do not.  They do not need the latest iPhone or Kindle or Dell Laptop.  They do not need a new car or a larger home or seasons passes to Disneyland.  They do not  need perfectly manicured nails, dyed hair, or professionally waxed eyebrows.  What people do need is to have the skills and ability to acknowledge that their wants are NOT needs.  I am always saddened when families who struggle to put food on the table and pay off debt are mixing up their priorities.  I have known of many women who were struggling to pay bills, but had perfectly manicured nails at the time.

It is all about priorities and having the strength and courage to fight the societal (advertisers) messages and resist the urge to convince yourself that your wants are needs – you THINK you need a new iPhone, but your phone really does function fine.  This strength is a big asset to those who are able to transcend the worlds materialistic messages.

It is okay to want nice things, just not at the expense of taking care of your family and its basic needs.

If more Americans could grasp this concept, they would be well on their way out of debt and into more financial freedom.  This would be a very good thing.  In the words of The Rolling Stones:

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need. ~ The Rolling Stones

Today, 330 days ’til 40, I will strive to always keep in mind the differences between my wants and my needs.  I will seek to question my motives with purchases – do I NEED what I am buying, or do I merely WANT it?  It is okay if I purchase something I want, and my awareness of the purchase and why will afford me to the opportunity to keep a better handle on the balance between my wants and needs.  I hope for you that you will find the balance too.



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120 responses to “330 Days ’til 40: Wants Versus NEEDS

  1. deanjbaker

    March 28, 2012 at 00:04

    great topic

  2. jensine

    March 28, 2012 at 00:07

    I know what you mean …w ant and needing get so confused, but then in a materialistic society the want becomes a need because the outer appearance is so much more valued than the actual person. So sad but once you realise this I do believe that life becomes better, you can enjoy so much more and live much fuller

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:17

      Ahh, another very important point, that wants become needs when we get focused on outer appearances, rather than the inner character. Yes, when we can free ourselves of this life does become better. 🙂

  3. bellissimom

    March 28, 2012 at 00:11

    Love the Gandhi quote!

  4. Dorothy

    March 28, 2012 at 00:12

    Thank you for this post. A wonderful reminder and an excellent lesson worth repeating. I have lived through similar circumstances many years back when going through extreme financial hardships. I can recall telling myself it would not matter if I lost it all yet still had the four walls and roof over my head I would be blessed. It taught me there are very few things in life that we need and when we do receive those things whole-heartedly our wants are not so important anymore.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:16

      Thank you, Dorothy! Your personal experiences are something that so many could learn from. When you go through a challenge like you did, you really learn what is most important and, while very painful, is one of the most powerful learning experiences one can have. Thank you so much for posting this comment!

  5. junglemonkee

    March 28, 2012 at 00:16

    The sad thing about consumer culture is that commercials tell us that we’ll be happy if we buy a shiny new thing. Self esteem is in the self, not on the shelf. The best way to feel wonderful is to reach out to the people in your community and do something to make the place you live more livable. Thanks for making the internet more livable! 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:15

      I LOVE your quote that self esteem is in the self, not on the shelf! I agree with you so much! I also like your comment about reaching out as a way to feel wonderful – you are so very correct – I feel so good inside when I have the opportunity to reach out to others.

  6. genevieve

    March 28, 2012 at 00:25

    What a fantastic post – I think you have nailed the essence of finding true happiness here – being content with what we need as opposed to being consumed by all the things that we want. I blame the media a bit for this obsession with consumerism, we are bombarded constantly with images and ideas of things that we supposedly ‘need’ – but there is always something bigger, better, shinier and prettier and for a lot of people it feeds an endless cycle of trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. Which is exactly what all these big corporations want, I guess – people to keep on buying their stuff. Your comments about how impacted you were on seeing the living conditions of third-world countries really resonated with me as well – I’ve travelled through India, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam and seeing the way that some people live in those countries was quite an eye-opener for me (particularly coming from the ‘lucky country’ of Australia). But what made the biggest impact on me was that they were probably the happiest people I’ve ever met. Some of them had nothing. Literally nothing. But they found so much joy in the simple things that it was infectious and I remember coming home and thinking that I would try to be more like that in my own life. Thank you for such a great reminder!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:14

      Thank you, Genevieve! Yes, the media plays a great role in our obsessions (which I guess is their job)…. I wonder if we need to cut down on consumption of media in order to help curb our wants turning into needs….. hmmmm…..Yes, yes, you bring up such an important point about seeing people with less material possessions who seem happy – in fact, ARE happier and are happier than many of the people I know who have tons of things…. it just goes to show that the things we think will bring us happiness are not necessarily what really will.

  7. rabidmongoose

    March 28, 2012 at 00:26

    OK, as usualy I love where your heart is at. Allow me to throw something out there and challenge you: Who gets to define how much is “too much”? Was Gandhi qualified to define what was a “need” and what was “greed”? Who gets to define where that line is?

    More importantly, why do people feel the need to define what “greed” is in those around them? In my opinion what you are proposing is simply a different system of control beyond the one which currently exists (as defined by consumerism and ‘greed’).

    By the way, I’m not disagreeing with you. As a follower of Jesus Christ I also struggle with my own greed. I have a notecard with the following verse sitting on my desk at work: Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'”

    At its root greed is like all other addictions: It tries to fill a void that it was never intended to fill.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:11

      Ahh, these are indeed the types of questions that could employ philosophers for years! It is so hard to answer that question…. does the child in an orphanage in Uganda get to answer it, or a person in a New York Park Avenue penthouse? Certainly the answers would be very different, though each unique to that person based on the experience of that person! Great post as it challenges us to think in between the black and white, where there is much gray. 🙂

  8. viveka

    March 28, 2012 at 00:26

    So true .. so true. This with all the gadgets that we suddenly need to be US. Ipad’s – that are being changed every year – all the smart phones that goes out of fashion after 6 months, what happen with phones that just ring and send text messages. This need .. and need – SUBSTITUTE for something else. Love maybe – friends ??? I love my gadgets too – and I would be lost without my PC for sure. Love my PC – can live without my netbook if I have too, but I will drive mum crazy when I visit her *laughter – You’re so right here, but we are all happy in our own believes.
    Like your quote Rolling Stones – not a big fan of them, but I like that song and the words are really worth listen to. Good healthcare should be available to everybody, even if we pay a small amount for it over here in Sweden, everybody can receive it.
    Excellent post again!
    Have a good Wednesday.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:10

      Yes, your comment is so true and I agree with you! I also think you bring up a good point that we often will substitute “things” with what we really want or need… like love. Great comment!!!! 🙂

  9. ibbob500

    March 28, 2012 at 00:32

    I’m really enjoying your posts….

  10. addicttoaddict

    March 28, 2012 at 00:34

    Thanks for the reminder that we don’t NEED all the things we think we need.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:00

      You are welcome – I need this reminder too, so it was a selfish post in that respect.

  11. appletonavenue

    March 28, 2012 at 00:38

    Love your take on life. The older I get, the more I minimize. My family is quite anti consumerism. I think we spent less than $500 last Christmas I describe myself as simple, and I started simplifying when I was 45 and younger associate asked my age. As I said that number out loud I realized I was only 5 years from 50 and I went through a huge and sometimes painful transformation. I read a lot of Buddhist books.

    I turned 51 this year and while I still gripe about age and such, I know my life today is a lot better than it was. Looking inside yourself is the best gift to give yourself and your family.

    I’ll be keeping up with you and see how you’re handling your transition to consume less.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:09

      Thank you. Isn’t being able to minimize so freeing??? (I wish I was better at it!) Thank you for visiting and sharing your insights – I hope you visit again. 🙂

  12. Stuart Otway-Smith

    March 28, 2012 at 00:49

    Hi again, waves* you really are a wonderful and heartfelt human, although the video I am posting here may seem non related it does show one how to balance their emotions and seemed a perfect fit for anyone that may be reading this trying to understand them selves more.

    It was not made by me I found it on a blog here on WordPress (

    Balanced Emotions

    Namaste, may you be truly happy.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 08:07

      Thank you so much, Stuart! And thanks for sharing the beautiful video. 🙂

  13. Marianne

    March 28, 2012 at 00:58

    Great message in your post, :)!

  14. writerwannabe763

    March 28, 2012 at 01:15

    Advertisers do a very good job at ‘suggesting’…’making’..people believe that they do need the product they are selling. I marvel every time a new iphone or notebook comes out, there is a line up of people who often have been waiting hours for the store to open. It is as though they believe they must be the first ones to have them as surely they must be better than the one they have now!
    It is not limited to younger people but I find that they are the ones usually lined up. I ask myself…where on earth do they all get the money to buy these electronic gadgets??

    But then as you said it gets back to priorities…for them that’s where theirs’ lay I guess!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:57

      Yes, most definitely – it is the advertisers job to make us confuse our wants with needs. Yes, I find it sickening how many people line up the day after Thanksgiving to buy tons of holiday gifts… and then line up again the day after Christmas to get more sales items…. most of which they do not need. I see my nieces and nephews with rooms full of toys, so many of them they do not get around to playing with because there are just too many……. good question about where they get the money to purchase these things….. most do not have it and place this on credit cards and increase their debt. I also happen to be a firm believer in not spending money you do not have – if you cannot pay of the credit card bill at the end of the month, then you probably should not make the purchase (obviously, health care and a few other random things are exceptions – iPhones are not!) 🙂

  15. babysocks2008

    March 28, 2012 at 01:29

    well said! I am going to follow you and consider ‘want vs. need’ when I am at the store. I often get caught up with materialism as well…this is a good way to try to combat it!

  16. Waldo "Wally" Tomosky

    March 28, 2012 at 01:31

    Another great post. This also holds true for work (jobs). I once knew a young man who was promoted into management. The man above him was a tyrant. The young man could not handle his boss and yet he could not bear to give up his new management position. The result. Alchoholism due to being trapped. It must be the same way with people who can not afford what they want, yet purchase it anyway. Trapped!
    There goes Waldo, off on a tangent again.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:54

      Very true, Wally, this is a great point. Sometimes we think we NEED a certain job that we actually want and the job becomes a bit of a nightmare (been there myself)….. such a poignant comment and one I had not thought about when originally writing this post. Thank you! 🙂

  17. paranoid4life

    March 28, 2012 at 01:51

    I totally agree with your post. I tend to focus on what I want rather then what I need. I think it’s awesome that you adopted your daughters from other countries. It must have been a real life changing experience going to get them. Antway…peace and kindness, Gary

  18. buckwheatsrisk

    March 28, 2012 at 01:54

    fortunately for me, i have to be encouraged by people to every so often get something, just because I want it. i am to practical and…well…frugal

    We have also come through a time where we lost everything do to the economy and we are just beginning to get on our feet…so we definitely know the difference between wants and needs…you make such a good point!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:52

      Wow, you have really had to experience this – like so very many Americans. I think the people in your life do bring up a good point, it is okay to sometimes give ourselves what we want…. we just need to understand what we are doing (that it is a want, not a need) – it is healthy to have that balance and I am glad they encourage you to treat yourself every once in a while.

      • buckwheatsrisk

        March 28, 2012 at 18:59

        so true!

  19. terry1954

    March 28, 2012 at 01:58

    i find myself asking myself that a lot,,,,,do i want it??? or do i need it?? usually is ends up being a want

  20. aboutproximity

    March 28, 2012 at 02:29

    Thank you, a great reminder. If we live within our means, we often have more to give and more to contribute. I think stress compounds with the accumulation of possessions. Simplicity is refreshing!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:50

      Yes, yes! Stress does seem to compound with the accumulation of possessions, what a great point! I was much less stressed when I was a starving college student than I am today.

  21. Brad Pierce

    March 28, 2012 at 02:37

    The last thing I need is the first thing I want.

    The distinction between want and need goes much deeper than just the desire for material things. It could be that the essence of “following your passion” is remembering what you need and forgetting what you want.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:49

      Wow, Brad, I love the first sentence of your comment – so very, very true!!! Actually, I LOVE your entire comment – so poignant and true. 🙂

  22. irishsignora

    March 28, 2012 at 02:55

    We go through this with our kids on a near-daily basis, and also with other family members. Our needs are actually pretty simple, but we field a lot of criticism because we’ve chosen to live pretty simply — no big trips to Disneyland, no sleepaway camp, no video game consoles or cell phones for our children. When we do spend money on a luxury, it is almost never (with the exception of birthday presents) something that only brings pleasure to one person — it’s usually books we can read together, musical instruments we can teach the children to play, stuff like that. I’ve often wondered at how much misery people cause themselves (and I’ve done it, too) by declaring luxury goods as necessities.

    Thanks for the post . . . at least now I know I’m not the only person who’s ever had that discussion with herself.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:49

      Thank you so much for sharing an example from your life of how you struggle with these questions – I do the same! I think it is so healthy to be able to ask ourselves these questions.

  23. kahyehm

    March 28, 2012 at 03:10

    sometimes, people like you are better psychologist than a psychologist… are you a psychologist?

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:47

      … and how would you feel if I were a psychologist??? 🙂 !!! Thanks for the compliment!

      • kahyehm

        March 28, 2012 at 11:19

        i would be so happy i’m acquainted with a Psychologist 🙂 I’m a BS Psych grad 🙂

  24. allthingsboys

    March 28, 2012 at 03:20

    Wow! Very awesome blog–good to hear these things. Thanks!

  25. artblablablablog

    March 28, 2012 at 04:18

    I do believe everything we “need” comes from within, God. However, I have a black belt in shopping!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:45

      That made me laugh so hard!!! ;|) I am afraid I must confess, that I too seem to have a black belt in shopping!!! (Great visual!) 🙂

  26. Words From the Moon

    March 28, 2012 at 04:19

    Thanks for another great post to really get us thinking about all those more than likely unnecessary material items. It made me think of a saying I have taped on my mirror: We take delight in things; we take delight in being loosed from things. Between these two delights, we must dance our lives.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:44

      Thank you so much, Words From the Moon. 🙂 I LOVE the saying you have on your mirror – THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this!

  27. ourboler

    March 28, 2012 at 05:14

    Great post. I agree we “need” everything to be happy, these vary needs distract us from our ideal lives.

    I have yet to met someone who has gone to a third world country to help and not been personally impacted at how much the people there had to teach them about life.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:43

      Yes, you are so correct… focusing on these “needs” does distract us from living our lives to the fullest.

  28. eagoodlifeVon

    March 28, 2012 at 07:12

    Adoptees also need to know their story, who they are, where they came from and who their people are.They need their real names, real birth certificates and their rights as citizens as others have.They need also not to be subject to the adoption industry, it’s myths and lies.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 07:38

      Yes, such an important point! As a parent of two adopted children myself, I haev worked very hard to give them all of the things you mention (what I can, that is) and talk to them about supporting their search for more info when they are old enough to do so.

  29. Amy

    March 28, 2012 at 08:25

    I wholeheartedly agree that “What people do need is to have the skills and ability to acknowledge that their wants are NOT needs.” I often worry how kids can learn when their parents prioritize their own wants at the expense of taking care the family basic needs.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 12:21

      Oh yes, I say this so very often! It seems my cats are often treated better than the children around me.

  30. kyllingsara

    March 28, 2012 at 08:27

    Hey, wait a second!

    I need a million dollars or kittens.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 12:14

      Your comment made me laugh! Thank you! 🙂

  31. The Quiet Borderline

    March 28, 2012 at 10:43

    Here here. Well said.

    I’ve seen my own mother have these hopes and dreams in her mind about how her ‘perfect’ life would be. Then she ran off with a new man, he had the red sports car, a cottage in the countryside and all that she had ever dreamed of. That lasted for a few years and she split up with him. She’s always chasing something else in life that is unattainable in the end.

    It’s been a life lesson to watch her doing what she’s done.

    The Quiet Borderline

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 12:25

      Thanks so much, and you bring up yet another good point… sometimes people will chase the material possessions of others because they think that will make them happy. They get into relationships for the material perks and then are not happy in the relationships. I am sure you have learned a lot by watching. I too have found that I learned much from watching my parents mistakes and vowing not to repeat them in my own life.

  32. Anonymous

    March 28, 2012 at 11:21

    Thanks so much for this post. I used to work with a youth led organization in London and I always felt myself getting really angry when kids from “poorer” neighbourhoods complained that they did not have enough and that the government did not care about them. I come from Nigeria so I have been able to experience different levels of wanting, needing, and having. I think this gives me perspective on the things are necessary for me to live a happy and fulfilled life.

    When those kids from “poorer” neighbourhoods complained, I always thought to myself that they were being ridiculous. Granted their families did not have the nicest cars, lived in less nice apartments BUT they still homes, they still had food, they had access to free transportation all around London, access to free and good education, access to free and good healthcare, access to free land good libraries(with WIFI and water fountains!!!), access to free leisure facilities and on top of that, they got an allowance for staying in education over the age of 16. If they decided to go on to university, they got automatic access to a student loan which you did not have to start paying back until you were earning a certain level of income.

    I felt that they complained because they set themselves up against the standards of others instead of seeing the good in what they had and taking advantage of it!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 12:11

      You are welcome, and thank you so much for sharing with the readers your example. You have really experienced and lived the difference, which so many people have not. Those “poorer” students thought they were lacking based on their frame of reference and who they were comparing to… had they compared themselves to third world children they would perhaps have realized how rich they really were….. Thanks for your wonderful comment! 🙂

  33. Spider42

    March 28, 2012 at 12:30

    Great post and I completely agree with you on this point.
    I’ll admit, I don’t think we need to deprive ourselves because any extreme is just foolish, counter-productive and a backward step culturally and in many ways.
    However, the idiotically fast-paced consumer hungering is spiraling out of all control and reason – this applies to electronics (phones, tv, computers, etc) and personal transportation (cars, bikes) more than any other thing and these are the items that are made out of non-renewable minerals and chemicals and ore that is just getting tossed away or rusted to scrap or thrown in irrecoverable garbage.
    I would be okay with it if people were at least willing to dispose well – like making sure the vast majority of this kind of garbage was being disposed of only to recycling disposal that would recover the chips and extremely valuable components and the like and then would take the basic metal/plastic remains and melt them down to be reused for something else.
    That at least makes sense and would make it bearable. As it is now, its an embarrassment to all humanity how wasteful we have become and how unappreciative of goods. Its why I hold Chinese products no ill-will, they make them to last about as long as the average user will use it before tossing it for the next big thing anyway, if they keep it that long at all.
    Idiocy… sheer idiocy.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 13:03

      Yes, exactly! It isn’t even the need to deprive ourselves, as you mention – it is what to do about our society that has gone out of control – how do we manage and balance that??? If only we could answer the questions, we would be rich!! 🙂

      • Spider42

        March 29, 2012 at 10:21

        and more importantly, for once almost everyone would be genuinely content.

  34. Victoria Oldham

    March 28, 2012 at 13:34

    What a perfectly written blog topic.

    I think travel really helps with the idea of wants/needs and makes you uber aware of how much we, as Westerners, really have. I’ve been through the back roads of Cyprus and looked in cave houses in Spain, and when you see them living without plumbing, without electricity, let alone a Kindle or Ipod, it really makes you aware.

    And there’s definite beauty in simplicity.

  35. saymber

    March 28, 2012 at 15:13

    OK 400 you are spooking me out lol. This is a topic I’ve written/thought and talked about for years! Balance in all things, moderation in all things. Having the mental health issues that I do, OCD being a big one, my husband and I try very hard to keep our lives as simple as possible. Having too much “stuff” is just overwhelming for me because a big part of my OCD is cleaning! With us currently on a fixed income, that helps ALOT because with every purchase outside of the needs, we have weigh the “do we need it or just want it” question a lot to ensure we have enough for food, shelter, electricity etc. Americans are quite spoiled as you well illustrate with your example out of your own life and daughters. We play in water when a large portion of the world doesn’t have enough to drink, we go to all you can eat buffets when just one course would feed more than one child and we stuff our garages full of crap we just dispose of in landfills later. Very wasteful. Life is so much simpler without a lot of “stuff”! Great website to check out: The Story of Stuff.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:50

      Thanks, Saymber!!! I love the website, thanks for the tip! 😉

  36. sunfishyoga

    March 28, 2012 at 15:27

    Thank you, it helps to get our priorities right! Have you read ‘The Original Affluent Society’ by Marshall Sahlins? It’s an essay in a book called ‘Stone Age Economics’ about how hunter gatherers were more affluent in that their identified needs were few, and easily met with plenty of leisure time…thought of it as soon as I read your post!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:49

      Yeah!!! I have not read it, but I love being pointed towards good reading material!

  37. Mari

    March 28, 2012 at 16:08

    Excellent post! I love that you listed access to affordable healthcare as a need instead of a want even though to most it feels like a luxury to have because it is one of the basic needs that so many others in America are lacking.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:49

      Thanks! Yes, I really worry about the lack of affordable healthcare for Americans….

  38. readytochangenow

    March 28, 2012 at 16:17

    Great reminder – he who need the least is the richest – think of what we could do if we only bought our needs. Where we could go, what we would see.

    Thank you.

  39. 2 Girls Getting Married

    March 28, 2012 at 17:07


    I didn’t always have the ability to choose between needs and wants, needs always took priority. Now that I can have my wants met, it’s amazing how fast they can become my “needs” if I let them. I did gymnastics for years and let’s just say the balance beam was never my best event…somehow I think that event transferred to the inability (sometimes) to find balance in my current life.

    Thanks so much for sharing this topic!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:48

      Thanks! I laughed when you compared life balance to gymnastics, I love the parallel! You are so correct, if we are not fully aware of all that we do, we can easily have our wants become our needs without even noticing it!

  40. diddly

    March 28, 2012 at 18:40

    If you treat a want like a need , that is a problem, which I think you explain in this post. But if you treat a want like a want, and just go for what you want without feeling needy or desperate about it, it is quite a sane way to live, and fun. Nothing wrong with wanting .

  41. whoopscareless

    March 28, 2012 at 18:50

    “do I NEED what I am buying, or do I merely WANT it?”

    This is something I trained myself to think when I found myself in a difficult financial situation a while ago. It’s really nice now to be able to turn that around into a more mindful approach, acknowledging (for example) that no, I do not need more yarn to make myself more cardigans; I want it, and you know what? That’s ok, as long as I can still pay the rent.

    So thanks! Great post. Very thought-provoking. 😀

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:45

      Ah, a very good example of showing how to put these principles to use with balance. Thanks so much!!! 😉

  42. sensoryadventures

    March 28, 2012 at 20:16

    Great post! The confusion of want vs. need is easy to see in schools. Kids whose families are struggling to survive are coming to school in name brand clothes and shoes with the latest in cell phones or talking about their new game systems. It is so easy in today’s atmosphere of consumerism to forget what is really important and what you really need to survive. Thanks for reminding us all!

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:40

      Wow, what a very good (and sad) point!

  43. craftythriftydecoratingwifemom

    March 28, 2012 at 20:29

    Obviously I’m not alone in appreciating your post! You are a mere child, not even 40 compared to me at almost 57. You show much insight, wisdom and I think it would be wonderful to sit and talk in a coffee shop or somewhere. I’m glad you liked my post. I’ll be keeping up with your posts, very interesting reading. If I thought she’d read it, I’d send it to my daughter, we’ve had this argument forever it seems. :-).

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:38

      Thank you so much!!! 🙂 I wish I could get a whole group of us bloggers together for coffee!

  44. antarabesque

    March 28, 2012 at 20:29

    So true. Case in point. We do not have a land line. I and my husband require a cell phone for our ‘work’ so a home phone seemed just an added expense and luxury we didn’t NEED. My phone I can therefore use as I please, as we pay for it. His phone is paid for my his employer, so he has been slapped on the wrist for personal calls. So earlier this week he got another phone and discovered that the contract on my phone is almost up and did I WANT a new one.

    But you can get a blackberry for only $5 a month more.
    Look at all the stuff it does.
    Free calls to ten people.
    No, I only NEED (loosely used here) the five I have now.
    You’ve had that phone for three years!
    And I still have the phone from before that, I’m sure it still works, I should donate it to a women’s shelter….
    I don’t understand why you don’t WANT a new phone.
    Because I don’t NEED one.

    It drives me crazy. Lucky for him, after 14 years I am still in love with him and he with me. I can overlook this minor ‘imperfection.’ He is the love I NEED.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:37

      This is a perfect example!!! Thank you so much for sharing it with the readers and with me! 🙂

  45. Gideon

    March 28, 2012 at 21:19

    Great post. As someone who grew up in Africa and lived and worked among the poorest of the poor, I’ve learned so many lessons about the real difference between wants and necessities. But as a student of life – like you – looking at this issue now I can see that behind most of our wanting what we don’t need and buying it with money we don’t have, are certain positive intentions or motivations. The vehicle (buying) might not be positive or helpful longterm, but what we’re trying to accomplish/achieve/meet (need) is. Personally I’ve discovered in my own life that the times I really wanted something – and actually bought it – the real intention was not greed or blindness about the fact that I just wanted it, but on some level I believed that I’d be less of a person if i didn’t have it and more valued if I did. What I mean is, we all love the look people give us if we can say we got the lastest PS3 first, or we rip out the old iPad when someone else is still fiddling around with their Andriod phone (I have one and love it btw – just saying). Reality is that ‘greed’ is simply a vehicle we’ve discovered that worksas a way of meeting one of our greatest needs namely being valued and feeling enough. Many of us try and find our worth in what we have. Problem with that is, we constantly need more because old stuff just don’t meet that need so great. So we need more and newer. Until we find meaning and self-worth inside ourselves we will always look for an artificial fix on the outside. And sales people know this – sell the desire by emphasising their pain if they don’t get it, and offering your product as the answer that will result in pleasure. Funny thing is most of us still fall for it – they reckon of all DVD or Audio programs bought, only about 2-5% of people actually use it. It’s not greed. Just the deep belief that this next best thing will somehow make me the person I believe society values and respects. What we perceive as greed as actually just a manifistation of the real illness in society – people feeling worthless and meaningless. To be more, I need more. Just my five-cents worth. Good post mate.

    • 400daystil40

      March 28, 2012 at 22:33

      Thanks, Gideon! I do agree with you, that sometimes we buy things just to keep up with others and to make sure that we can feel confident that we are as good as and as worthy as those around us. How freeing it would be to be able to reject that reality!

      • Gideon

        March 28, 2012 at 23:46

        Freeing indeed mate, freeing indeed!

  46. Gilraen

    March 28, 2012 at 21:35

    Realising that most of my perceived needs actually are wants gave me a lot of peace a few years back. I learned the very hard way that I could live on very little and still be very happy.
    Oh I do enjoy my luxuries gadgets and all, but I know they do not define me and I know they are wants only. As long as I am alive, fed and with my loved one I know I am going to be OK.

  47. momentumofjoy

    March 28, 2012 at 22:28

    Because I think you are awesome times two, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Please go to to check out why I think you are amazing and what you need to do if you accept it. Love and light always! MoJo

  48. fluffyphoton

    March 29, 2012 at 08:25

    Great post and well delivered. Been there, done that and I thank life for putting up the trial to cut the number of strings attached. It sure was difficult over the years, and still is but well worth it. It’s really good to feel some freedom from “WANT” and happy with just the “NEED” 🙂 The most important thing is one has to agree to take the path, and it’s steep at the beginning. Filling up with Love (e.g. self-esteem for starters) helps a lot (^o^)

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 08:53

      Yes, you are so very very correct. It can be so hard to handle this at first, but so very freeing in the end!

  49. sued51

    March 29, 2012 at 14:39

    Great post. I (and I’m sure many others) have had to learn this lesson the hard way due to the recession. A terrific book on this topic is Your Money or Your LIfe. It was written years ago but still applicable and it addresses this issue very well.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 23:03

      Thank you for pointing me to the book! Yes, so many of us have HAD to learn this lesson…. which, of course, makes the lessons both painful and freeing simultaneously.

  50. vanevolence

    March 29, 2012 at 16:32

    I was just thinking about contentment this morning before I read you blog! My mother gave me a booklet with sermons from various preachers in the 16th through 19th centuries after I had my first baby, I was 21. I am so glad that I read it and understood it at such a young age. Learning lessons of contentment have, I think, helped my marriage as well as help me keep a clear perspective of what I need and what my family needs. We certainly can afford to have nicer things and a bigger house, but I think the small house helps to keep us close to each other not just literally but in spirit as well. Thank you for another great post!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 16:42

      Thank you for your great comment! We have taken a similar approach with our family, we could probably afford a larger place, but prefer to live in a smaller home that is well within our means… however modest it may be. 🙂

  51. bluepanelgirl

    March 29, 2012 at 20:09

    Really puts things in perspective. Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  52. strugglingwithbipolar

    March 29, 2012 at 20:15

    I saw that you liked one of my posts and decided to check out your blog. I must say that your experiences in the adoptions of your daughters as humbled me. Sometimes, I fail to recognize how lucky I am to live in a place like the US where I have a large apartment, the food that I choose (instead of whatever is available) and the option to wear what I like. I am going to share this out on my Facebook page for my blog as I feel the message is wonderful and important.

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 22:54

      Thank you so much for your encouraging and uplifting comment! And what a compliment that you want to share it with others!!! 🙂 I hope you stop by again.

  53. Katherine Toms

    March 29, 2012 at 22:11

    Wow. In recent years I have really taken the idea of “living simply” to heart, but this post made me realize that some of my ‘needs’ are probably not as important as I think they are, if I really look at the big picture.

    To me the issue is really about entitlement. Depending on who you are and what you’re accustomed to, your ideas about what’s a luxury and what’s a need will vary a lot. I guess there will always be someone in the world better or worse of than us, and it’s easier to judge others than take a hard look at ourselves. Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog – I love the concept!

    • 400daystil40

      March 29, 2012 at 22:43

      Great point, and yes, our society (particularly the slightly younger generations) seem to have a HUGE sense of entitlement. As an employer, I will sometimes struggle with employees who are young and there sense of entitlement. It is such a frustrating force to deal with!

  54. Nicole

    April 25, 2012 at 22:30

    I get that!

    I find as we experience more abundance it is hard to keep it all in check. We were living in a 1200sq ft house spread over two floors with us 6 and 2 cats and a dog! We moved a year ago and it is about 1000sqft up and 1000sqft down with the downstairs being very kids friendly. I love being able to spread out instead of up the walls – thank goodness for a carpenter husband our other home had lots of shelves.

    My big want that I realize is not a need is a dishwasher. I know most people have a dishwasher and more than once I have heard friends complain when the dishwasher is not operable. But occasionally I do the dishes and feel grateful for the time where I slow down and wash those dishes.

    So many of our modern conveniences just put more rush into our day……………I think.

    • 400daystil40

      April 26, 2012 at 00:34

      Such great points! Funny, with my long work day a dishwasher got put on our list of NEEDS… but if I were to be really honest, I suppose it would need to be demoted to a want!

      • Nicole

        April 26, 2012 at 00:36

        Its a close to NEED! But not a need NEED!!

        • 400daystil40

          April 26, 2012 at 00:49

          I know 😦

          • Nicole

            April 26, 2012 at 17:28

            lol !!! You should also feel okay about your wants…..something to also write about:))

  55. Kathy

    April 26, 2012 at 01:09

    It is so important to discern a “want” versus a “need”. It’s not always so easy to release our wants. Thank you for visiting Simply Here.

    • 400daystil40

      April 26, 2012 at 22:51

      Very true, I can often struggle to release my wants!

  56. ahmedfraih

    August 25, 2013 at 21:51

    Well, I’m so reminded of your blog today, and when I saw the title, it truly caught all my attention. I’ve tried to say the same things about wants and needs but i’m not as talented as you are, I could come u with the same title before seeing yours but the way of explaining things is way different between me and you. Anyway, I actually agree with that, most of our so-called needs are mere wants, I even used to misunderstand the difference between the two words. If we can live with only our needs, then we’ll get all our wants simply because needs mean satisfaction and contentment. while trying to fulfill the wants before the needs is truly a mess, it’s based on greed and selfishness as you said.. I don’t know what to say more, you mentioned everything! Thanks for the great article, it’s literally awesome


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