Do you really need that?

Often when I purchase something one of the first things that goes through my mind is whether the item I am buying is a necessity or just a luxury. It’s important to do so because it allows me to decide how much I’m willing to spend on something, which makes it easier to decide whether I’m making a wise purchase. But what’s the difference between a need and a want? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, and sometimes it’s up for interpretation.

It’s pretty self-explanatory that a need is something that you cannot live without. Needs include food, water, shelter, etc. or really anything that could be considered a necessity to make it through daily life. Needs can be expensive or inexpensive, but they cannot be passed up. You will simply encounter the purchase of a need at least once in your life, and probably hundreds, maybe thousands of times.

Wants are luxury items that you don’t necessarily need in order to survive. Think of it this way, if you can live without it, it’s a want. This might include a TV, a Spotify subscription, or anything of the like

These two types of goods can cross over however:

Sometimes something that seems like a need could also be a want, and other times a want could also be a need. One of these examples could be a cell phone. Cell phones are quite possibly one of the most crucial things in our lives. In a way, cell phones can be a necessity to perform daily tasks. They allow us to communicate with each other, set up meetings, surf the web, and much more. However, even though they’re crucial to making it through the day, there’s a good chance you could live without one.

In my opinion, I would put cell phones into the need category. With the increasing effects of globalization on our society, cell phones are becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives. I think the determining factor on what is a need and what is a want is what you do with the good. If you’re purchasing a cell phone to play phone games, it’s definitely a want. If you’re purchasing a cell phone so that you can make money with it by trading stocks, setting up meetings with clients, etc., I would consider it a need.

In another way of thinking, I believe that something like a cell phone could be considered a need to an extent, and a want after taking into consideration everything else but its basic functions. If you think about an iPhone, it performs calls, sends text messages and emails, and works as a calendar. But beyond these and a few other crucial features, iPhones really don’t do much else that we would require to survive.

This sort of thing is completely up for interpretation. While some might strictly consider needs only the basic necessities to survive, others like myself may be more lenient on that definition. What do you think?

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