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When Wants Become Needs

Goals for this lesson:
1. To explain two ways wants can become needs 
2. To identify one time when a want became a need 

Needs are what you must have. Needs are essential. Wants are what you would like to have. 
Wants are nice to have. But sometimes wants can become needs.

How Wants Become Needs

Wants can become needs. Two ways this can happen are:

1. Through commercials or ads, and
2. Convincing yourself a want is a need.

Advertising Sells

Turning wants into needs is one basic reason we have ads. Ads introduces us to a new product by giving us information. We are told how great it is and how much we need it. We are not told just once but over and over and over again.

After you hear an ad so many times, you start to believe, "Yes, I need that." So something starts out as a new product. Then ads create a desire for you to have that brand new item and it becomes a want.

Some products then make the next jump in our minds ­ to become a need or something we cannot do without. Ads make us believe we must have something which just a few days or a few weeks before we had not heard of.

Do It Yourself

You can also do the same thing to yourself. For example, you want that new CD by your favorite artist. It would be so great to get it. You'd feel so special having it. And you deserve it because you've done without so much, you work so hard, you give up so much for your kids, everyone else has it ­ of course you should have it and not do without. You need it. See how easy it is to turn a "want" for that new CD into a "need." Before you realize what has happened, you have bought that new CD even though there may be other things you need more like groceries or diapers for the baby.

Think of one time when you turned a want into a need.

1. What did you want so much that it became a need? _______________________________________

2. Did you go ahead and get it? _______________________________________________________

3. If not, what stopped you? _________________________________________________________

4. If you did go ahead and get it, how did you feel later? ____________________________________

5. Was that special want/need really as rewarding as you had thought? _________________________

6. Did you enjoy it? __________ Why or why not? _______________________________________

7. What would you do differently next time?_____________________________________________

All of us have certain things for which we have a weakness. It might be the latest makeup or 
hair styling product or accessory, or toys for your child or a lottery ticket every week. It's 
o.k. to treat ourselves once in awhile, but recognize these "soft spots" are really wants and 
not needs before we go shopping. That will save us money when we're in the store. 

What items do you easily buy because you have convinced yourself they are needs when they really are wants?



For more information about needs and wants, see What Do I Need? What Do I Want? and Super-wants: Are They Really Dreams?

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