Understand needs versus wants and financial priorities

Life’s Financial Journeys

Heading Off to College
Getting Out on Your Own
Blending Two Lives
Having a Child
Emptying the Nest
Entering Retirement
Death of a Life Partner
Military Life

There are many expenses that occur when you put together your new household. The key is to prioritize what is really important, i.e. things that are vital to your well-being versus things at are “nice to have,” but are not a necessity.

“Must have” items include savings, groceries, utilities, clothing and rent. “Nice to have” items include entertainment and dining out. Note that even within the list of necessities, there is discretion between items you need versus items you want.

For everything you purchase, ask yourself “Is this something that is absolutely necessary, or, is it something I could do without, though I’d really like it?” Answer yourself honestly. It is fine to spend money on things you want, but only after you have fulfilled your needs.

The following resources may assist you in distinguishing between needs and wants:

Understanding wants versus needs

Being smart about how you spend your money

A concise look at wants versus needs

One person’s practical look at wants versus needs

Heading Off To College Tasks

1. Managing your own money
2. Finding a place to live
3. Setting up your own banking account
4. Getting your first job
5. Using credit wisely while in school

Managing your own money Subtasks

1. Understand needs versus wants and financial priorities
2. Create a budget
3. Protect your money


NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation
8700 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Suite 700N
Chicago, IL 60631
(847) 483–5400 ext. 106