Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Needs and Wants

Thomas Lucey


The learner distiguishes between psychological needs and wants to control spending.


The student understands a variety of factors to consider when making wise consumer decisions (for example, cost, performance, reliability).


- Copies of the Needs/Wants chart attachment, three for each student (see Asssociated File)
- Easel and Pad of paper for note taking/pen
- Assessment checklist (see Assessment)


- Prepare enough copies of the Needs/Wants Chart for the class (see Associated File)
- Arrange the seats for optimal student moment during the exercise.
-Set up easel
-Download and print one copy of the Extension Problems Key from associated file (Optional) (see extensions)


1. Inform the students “Money is a tool for people to acquire what they need and want.
Needs are things that required to survive, such as food and housing. Wants are things
which make life more comfortable, but are not necessary. People make spending choices
because they cannot have everything they want. If money were only spent on wants,
there would not be enough leftover to for basic needs. Financial problems often occur
when too much money is spent on Wants. Many people have difficulty learning the
differences between Needs and Wants. Today you will distinguish between Needs and
Wants so that you may better control your spending.”

2. Tell students to make a list of 10 items that they spent money on this month

3. Divide students into groups of two.

4. Instruct the students to categorize their items between “Needs” and “Wants” using the
Needs/Wants chart (see Associated File.)

5. Students should give their purchase lists to their partners and the partners classify the lists.

6. Students review their lists and observe which purchases are identified as needs on both

7.Instruct students to return to their seats; in the whole class setting, randomly select
students to disclose their common “Needs” from the pair exercises. Record student comments from discussion on the easel pad.

8. Encourage the class to suggest ideas for acquiring these “Needs” for less money.

9.If the “Need” is amended in step 8, compare the Need before and after the adjustment.

10. If the “Need” has been changed, ask the students if the item was really a “Need.-

11. Instruct the students to reclassify their original purchases between Needs and Wants.

12.Instruct the students to write a composition about how their interpretation of the items as
“Needs” and “Wants” may have changed. (See Assessment)


Assessment checklist:

---Participated in group by listing 10 items.
---Participated in group by assessing partner's list
---participated in group by sharing ideas about acquiring needs with less money.

Composition Assessment Checklist:

___Demonstrated understanding of the difference between needs and wants
___Indicated needs should come before wants
___Knows the two basic needs for everyone-food, shelter
___Knows needs can be particular to an individual beyond the 2 basic needs


Support Problems :
(The key for these problems can be found in the Associated file.)

I.C. Debt spends $160 a month and has decided that 30% of these expenses are Needs.
How much is spent on Wants? I.C. has a goal to reduce Wants by 50%. The Wants should
be reduced by what dollar amount?

You spend $30 a month on your Needs and $60 a month on your Wants. What fraction of
the total is spent on your Wants? Imagine your total spending has not changed, but you
spent only $20 on your Needs. What percent was spent on your Wants?

You have $150 to spend this month, and have a goal to spend only 20% on your Wants.
How much do you plan on spending? What if your goal is 15%? What about 10%?

Support Activities:

Have the students write down what they think would be five Needs and five Wants of
someone the same age from a different part of the community. Would this list be different
from those of class activity? Why or why not?

Have the class record how they spend their time on average days. How much time is spent
on each activity? Compare how the activities reflect upon their Needs and Wants. What
patterns exist?

Web Links

Web supplement for Needs and Wants
The Jumpstart Coalition

Attached Files

A Needs/Wants Worksheet and Extensions Problems Key.     File Extension: pdf

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