Lindy of Minting Nickels (one of my absolute favourite blogs) wrote a thoughtful post about entitlement:
Weren’t we ENTITLED to live like newlywed young professional grown up parents-to-be? All of our married friends from back home were doing it. Wasn’t it supposed to be our season of life too?
I remember one day piling into the warm Starbucks [.....] and feeling…guilty.
Because I knew we couldn’t afford that coffee. [......] And our growing credit card balances were showing it.
It’s hard to explain the feeling, but it hurt deep in my gut to not be able to afford those little things. It didn’t go with my vision of how life should have been at this time in our lives. So I ignored the feeling, and spent anyways. I was living off of what I felt I was entitled to, whether we had the budget to back it up or not.
I think it’s that same feeling that crops up and spurs me to rebellion whenever “common financial wisdom” says I need to give up coffee, or dinners out, or ice cream, or the little things in life.
It was a very interesting post for me because I think I felt like that when I was younger, in college and not in debt.
I felt like since I was a college student, I had to enjoy my years right?
Everyone says: Enjoy college, real life is worse.
So I did.
I didn’t live like a real college student on cheap meals, I ate normal meals, stayed in normal-sized apartments alone (no roommates) and shopped every other week.
In retrospect, I’m lucky to have not have graduated with $100,000 in debt, and that I had an internal control telling me not to get too crazy.
I didn’t hold a credit card balance, but I didn’t put as much of my income towards my tuition as I could have, or saved as much from my jobs by watching my spending as I should have.
I felt like I deserved to enjoy these golden years before I was to be stuck in some dingy grey office, saddled with debt (student, mortgage or car) and working to pay for everything.
In the back of my mind, I knew I’d have to pay off those loans, but it didn’t seem to bother me for some reason.
I felt like debt was a way of life.
Since getting out of debt, I have realized:
1. Treats are not part of regular life and routine
For some, coffee is their be-all and end-all. They cannot function without it, I get it. But I could function just fine without my Starbucks chai latte.
It was just a daily treat, but the funny thing about treating yourself is that if it becomes a regular habit, it stops being a treat. You need another treat (a pedicure or whatever) to up the treat ante next time.
By not treating myself all the time and by keeping my regular routine comfortable but not lavish, I appreciate those rare treats even more.
2. Debt is not a way of life
You don’t need to be in debt. I wish I knew this very common piece of wisdom, but it just felt like everyone was in debt. As Lindy said, everyone was doing it. So I followed the herd.
Now I avoid debt. Any kind of debt gives me the heebie jeebies.
Now that I’ve accepted that my way of living is perfect for me, and may not be what people consider lavish, let alone comfortable, I am less inclined to care than when I was in college.
The funniest thing is I find working life to be a lot more fun and comfortable than when I was a college student.
I don’t miss my college days at all. I don’t see them as having been anything but a stage I had to go through to get to my life now where I feel a lot more stimulated mentally and excited that I am actually doing something rather than pretending to play a role in class of the consultant who has to make those decisions.
I spend my money the way I want to spend it. I don’t regret those “I deserves” any longer, because I’ve re-categorized them as luxuries or treats.