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As students, one of the most common mistakes we make is miscategorizing ‘wants’ as ‘needs’ and vice versa, then we end up in the tight ropes of financial mismanagement. Some students are just so accustomed to it that they find it really hard to know their needs from their wants.

While wants may not be bad, it is crucial to be a mindful spender and find a way of balancing wants and needs as a student in the face of limited resources.

These few steps will guide you on how to be a mindful spender who knows how to balance wants and needs. Hang on and let me lead you through.

Understanding Wants Vs. Needs

Before we delve into mindful spending, let’s differentiate ‘wants’ from ‘needs’. Wants can be defined as things we desire to have but they are not vital to our survival, meaning we can survive without them. On the other hand, needs are basic requirements necessary for our day-to-day living, meaning we can’t do life without our needs.

Thus, as students, our needs may include food, housing, books and learning materials, and transportation to and from school while our wants could be new clothes, a new mobile phone, a TV, a trip to the countryside, and many more.

How To Develop A Mindful Spending Mindset

This is easier done than said through practical and conscious effort. You can develop a mindful spending mindset through the following practices:

  • Identifying your financial goals: Draw a clear line between what you need to achieve financially and what you want. Do you need to save money to fund your dream education abroad, if yes, put that in the needs bucket and start saving toward it
  • Track Your Expenses: Keep a record of where your money goes. This will help you identify areas where you make mends and cut back if necessary.
  • Prioritize Your Needs Over Your Wants: Before you spend on that thing, ask if it is that necessary that you can’t live without it.
  • Practice Delay Gratification: This is the act of giving yourself time to think before making purchases. With this, you will be able to differentiate momentary desires from long-term satisfaction.
  • Always Weigh Alternatives And Consider Value For Money: Explore different options and compare prices before making a purchase. Look for discounts or sales or even used goods that meet your need without compromising value.

Strategies For Balancing Wants And Needs as a Student

Being able to find the right balance between your needs and wants requires conscious effort. But with the following practical strategies, you can find that balance with ease:

  • Set Spending Limits: Set a monthly spending limit for your wants or non-essential expenses and strictly stick to it. This will help you stop overspending.
  • Explore Cost-Saving Options: Cost savings options for students include: buying used books from old colleagues, having a roommate, and cooking home meals instead of eating out.
  • Identify and Differentiate between essential and non-essential expenses. This will help you in prioritizing your spending budget and ensuring that your needs are met before your wants.
  • Prioritize Experience Over Material Things: Invest in experiences that bring long-lasting memories than acquiring material things. These experiences bring more fulfillment than temporary satisfaction of material goods.

Overcoming Challenges While Balancing Wants and Needs as a Student

Trying to be a mindful spender on campus is really hard, most of us have experienced it. You go out of your lane just to do things for clout or peer pressure [ your colleagues are doing the same ], or make non-essential expenses to feel belonged.

But with the right strategies, one can overcome these challenges in terms of financial management with needs and wants.

  • Overcome Peer Pressure and Social Expectation: Be confident in your financial choices and talk about them to only people who respect your choices or are practicing mindful spending habits with you.
  • Impulse Buying and Emotional Spending: As stated earlier, give yourself time to have a second thought before you make a purchase. Relax and evaluate the long-term impact and see if it aligns with your financial goals.
  • Dealing with Limited Income: When hit with this challenge as a student, the options are: you cut down on spending, or find an extra source of income by finding part-time jobs or hunting for scholarships.


In conclusion, practicing mindful spending as a student is crucial for maintaining financial stability and working towards long-term goals.

By understanding the distinction between wants and needs, developing a mindful spending mindset, creating a budget, and employing strategies to balance desires and necessities, students can navigate the challenges of student life successfully.

Mindful spending empowers students to make informed decisions, avoid unnecessary debt, and prioritize experiences over material possessions.

Embracing mindful spending as a student can lead to financial well-being and personal growth, shaping a brighter financial future.

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