Quite simply, the economic definition of a need is something needed to survive. In economics, the idea of survival is real, meaning someone would die without their needs being met. This includes things like food, water, and shelter.
A want, in economics, is one step up in the order from needs and is simply something that people desire to have, that they may, or may not, be able to obtain. Again, with those two simple definitions, it doesn’t seem like there should be much to talk about, but there is. Economics deals with how we allocate scarce resources, and those scarce resources may be needed to meet someone people’s needs and other people’s wants. So, we do need to talk about wants and needs.
Once you become better at differentiating between wants and needs, you’ll probably see that you’ve been able to fulfill more of your wants over the years than you realized. And that can be a major turning point. When you find things that you want to buy or do that you currently can’t afford, it becomes all too easy to focus on those things to the point of overlooking all the many possessions that you do have. Don’t trick yourself into feeling deprived when you aren’t.