Knowing the Difference Between Need and Want: Free Needs and Wants List

Knowing the difference between need and want is so hard!  That is because it is super hard to differentiate what is a need and what is a want.  I am always re-evaluating what the needs and wants list are for me and my family. To know what the difference is you have to look at basic needs for your family and go on from there.

Know the difference between need and want using this needs and wants list is a perfect Budgeting printable. This needs vs wants budget worksheet has info on what is the difference between needs and wants. Knowing what is needs and wants can help you to focus your budget.

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about budgeting. As we got to talking I began explaining to her how I had helped people set up their budgets so they can pay off debt and live a more financially stable life. It is super helpful to start with a needs and wants list to help you to focus on what is most important first and then go into the wants that you want to budget for.

Knowing the difference between need and want

To know the difference between needs and wants, you need to first know what a need is.  Needs are basic necessities to live.  This may slightly vary from person to person, but you can put a basic list together that should apply to everyone.  This will give you a start to work from.

Needs list

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Water
  • Power
  • Clothing
  • Transportation

This is all that is needed to live.  The transportation depends on your different needs whether that is a bike, a bus or a car.

Wants could include just about everything, but some of the wants that you will see on most peoples list include the following.

Wants list

  • Internet
  • Phone
  • gas for a car
  • a car
  • Date nights
  • Kid Sports
  • Life insurance

Each of these could be important in your personal budget.  The wants list is one that changes often and is different based on your values and family situation.

Creating a needs and wants list

I had always used a paper and pen for my needs and wants worksheet but it was hard to explain how it would go without a visual. I decided it was time to make some printables so others can see better how to get their needs and wants to be organized.

I made a couple worksheets so you can organize your needs and wants.  Remember the needs or only things like food, shelter, heat, clothing.  other items like the internet, telephones are not needs, they are wants (even though some wants are things we can’t imagine life without) so be sure to put them in the right category.  I also included on the needs worksheet a spot for other monthly bills you may have that need to be paid off.  Those are not absolute must be paid each month, but if you have the money these items go before your wants in your budgeting.


Hope you enjoy them and let me know in the comments if you print them and if you have any other forms you would like me to make!

Free budgeting printables: a needs and wants list

Wants and Needs Budgeting Worksheet


If you are looking for some help knowing the difference between need and want and making your own needs and wants list, I have made a printable list you can use.  It includes the basic needs and wants of most families and gives you spots to personalize it for you.

Printable Needs and Wants list

Focusing on your needs and wants and understanding the difference between need and want will help you set up a better budget and will help you to prioritize your money into what is most important.  If you need to know the first steps of budgeting check out How to Start a Budget.

calculator on a printed out budget with a pen on top. Text overlayed that says "How to Make a Monthly Budget: a beginners guide"

How to Start A Monthly Budget


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