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Kill Entitlement Spending

by Shawanda Greene

I can’t think of any other words, when stringed together, make my skin crawl more than “I deserve it.” Maybe because in my haste to judge people who liberally spew such garbage, I fail to identify the contributions they’ve made that entitle them to experiences and material possessions they can’t afford.

It’s not that I expect people to sacrifice themselves for the goodness of mankind. It’s just that “I deserve it” is usually followed by a weak argument: “I work hard.” Don’t we all? (Not really.) Let’s say you actually do work hard. If you haven’t worked hard enough to come up with the cash to pay for what you want, then I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “You don’t deserve it.”

You may wonder why I even care. How does someone’s irresponsible spending habits affect me? Besides being annoyed, it’s frustrating to see people hurting financially and emotionally because they bought into the notion that they have a birthright to a cell phone, a car, and (dare I even say it) a home.

What I find most interesting about using the defense of working hard to justify purchases that are beyond your means, is that doing so could very well require you to work hard for the rest of your life.

Do you deserve to work for the rest of your life whether you’re mentally or physically capable of doing so?

Should a loved one feel obligated to provide for you because of the selfish decisions you made throughout your life?

What about strangers? The U.S. government isn’t in the business of making money. They’re in the business of taking it – mostly from people who actually work hard. Do those individuals deserve to supplement your lifestyle?

Although I really want our elected officials to get their act together and develop a solution to the expensive cost of health care as well as provide an option to the millions of Americans who are uninsured/underinsured, I don’t believe health care is a right.

It’s that sense of entitlement that can get you into trouble. I don’t know what it’s like to live in other countries, but from what I can tell, the United States ain’t so bad – even if I do criticize our government at times. Being appreciative of all that you have takes some of the sting out of not having the things you think you deserve.

I can’t say that I’ve always felt this way. When I think of the people throughout the world who don’t even have access to food, water, shelter, and electricity, it’s hard to feel entitled to anything less important than that.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg Marshall August 2, 2009 at 10:36 PM

Very interesting insight something that I have definitely thought about as far as I deserve it mentality. Sometimes that can really get you into trouble but I like it do you enjoy Dave Ramsey?

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Shawanda Greene August 4, 2009 at 12:25 AM

Thanks for stopping by, Greg.

“Enjoy Dave Ramsey” is an understatement. I love Dave Ramsey. He opened my mind to an entirely new way of viewing debt. I found his show through iTunes in mid-January 2008. It took a while for me to subscribe to the idea of paying off my student loan debt. The interest rate was only 1.625%. But a friend, and fellow Dave Ramsey listener, put the pressure on me to stay gazelle intense, and pay it off. I’m better off financially for having done so.

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Carla August 3, 2009 at 3:42 AM

I think the “I deserve it” attitude is a side effect of advertising and marketing. It kind of reminds me of the old McDonald’s slogan “you deserve a break today” or something like that. Yes, you deserve to fill your body with probably the most unhealthy food in the world.

Instead of deserving to spend a relaxing evening at home, going for a walk or spend the afternoon with friends, you deserve to spend money or something you don’t need and probably don’t REALLY want.

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Shawanda Greene August 4, 2009 at 12:42 AM

You’re absolutely right about how marketing affects us. I don’t know if you saw that Cadillac commercial with the red head lady from Grey’s Anatomy. I used to see the Cadillac and think look how shiny and fast. I want one.

What the heck am I going to do with a gas guzzling Cadillac?

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Ashley August 3, 2009 at 1:38 PM

I completely agree. People do not think about the fact that what they are entitling themselves to is debt and financial instability. There are plenty of people in other parts of the world that work extremely hard every day and still are not granted the basic necessities of survival.

Entitlement spending is emotional for most and requires a deeper look into what makes them feel entitled and what benefit they gain from their purchases. In most cases, the benefit is superficial.

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Shawanda Greene August 4, 2009 at 12:36 AM

I’m glad you bring up the emotions involved in entitlement spending. When you really think about it, the act of owning an item you can’t afford isn’t 1% as enjoyable as the act of buying it.

I actually think this also applies to crap that we buy out of impulse, even when it fits comfortably within our means.

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Cooke N. Mazder August 12, 2009 at 2:07 PM

I have struggled to talk family members off the edge of entitlement spending to no avail. For years, they have justified spending on the fact that they deserve to spend some of their money on themselves. “I can’t work everyday to pay bills” is a common rationale. I often want to say, your paycheck will continue to go straight to bills if you sacrifice the light bill money to spend 2 days on the coast in a ritzy hotel getting a massage. While I am not perfect, I make an honest effort to avoid entitlement spending. Although I must admit, “I worked 12 hour shift so I deserve sushi at my favorite spot” is usually my downfall.

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