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Real Stories

Needs vs. Wants

Materials Needed: "T chart"

The facilitator should begin this activity by asking the following questions:

  1. One of the experts, Michelle Singletary, says, "Anytime you go shopping… you should ask yourself, is this a need or a want?" Is this how you decide when to spend money? Why or why not?
  2. What is the difference between a need and a want?

The facilitator should distribute a copy of the T chart to each participant and have them label one column "Wants" and one column "Needs."

Next, the facilitator should provide a list of items someone might want or need such as: rent, car or other modes of transportation, coffee, milk, cable, paper towels, cell phone, bottled water, etc.

Divide the room into two sections, one side being "wants" and the other "needs." Read off the list of items again and have the students move to the "needs" or "wants" side of the room and explain their choices.

Facilitator Tip: Having the participants physically move helps make the point how fluid our choices really are and how everyone sees them differently. What may be a "want" for one person might be a "need" for another, depending on personal situations.

Each participant should then list his/her current needs and wants in the appropriate T chart columns.

Discussion should follow with participants sharing information.

The facilitator should conclude this activity with the following:
Use the following quote, "And, the same thing happens on a smaller scale to everybody, not just artists," and ask participants to write out or discuss their reactions to the statement.