Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We get what we deserve

After a long day at work, I like to go home and relax, put my feet up, watch some TV. Maybe pop open a beer and order some take-out. I've worked hard all day so I deserve it.

Wait a second, what was that? I deserve it? Why, exactly, do I deserve it? Because I did what everybody else does and went to work to earn my living. It's not like I'm breaking rocks or anything - I work at a desk job. Sure, there are days where I work my butt off and I tend to go easy on myself those nights. But on the average day, I still have energy to do something useful once I get home, be it work on our finances or throw in a load of laundry (while maybe watching a little TV).

I used to have an attitude like that toward sending. I deserved a vacation because I haven't been away in a while. I deserved new sandals (in every color) because my old one were a little worn out. I deserved a new bikini because I was going on my honeymoon. I deserved a hundred useless items because I was getting married.

Did I actually deserve any of these things? Probably not. I wanted them. There's nothing wrong with wanting a new pair of shoes or tiny starfish to tie to your wedding invitations. But my sense of entitlement led me to spending money I didn't have. I allowed myself to operate under the illusion that, despite the fact this was going on a credit card, it was justifiable. This contributed quite a bit to the credit card debt we're now working to get rid of. Not everything was frivolous spending and a great chunk of the debt went to legitimate expenditures. But there's definitely some that came from a sense of entitlement.

To break this habit, I used a bit of budgeting. Every month my husband and I each get $100 to spend however we want. We take our fun money out of the ATM and use it as we please. Once it's gone, it's gone. So now I can buy anything I want, whether I deserve it or not - as long as I keep it under $100/month.

In the end, I think I deserve to be in debt and I deserve to learn as much as I can throughout the struggle out of debt. I deserve to appreciate the differences between wants and needs and plan for future expenditures in advance. I deserve to have to suffer a little and feel some pain for all the mistakes in the past. But most of all, I deserve to come out ahead and emerge from all of this stronger, smarter and wealthier than before - because I am trying so hard to fix it.

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