Confession: I used to be entitled. (Hey, you can’t get help if you don’t admit you have a problem, right?)
I wouldn’t say I consciously thought to myself that people or the world owed me anything. And I definitely didn’t call it entitlement. It was more subtle than that. More like…
I’ve had a rough day, I deserve a latte.
Excuse me, why are you cutting me off? I’m GOING SOMEWHERE!! [Is road rage a product of entitlement? I don’t know, but I kinda think so. Yeah, I went there.]
I can be late if I want to. Who cares?
I had a bad week, I just need a new cute outfit to make me feel better.
I just birthed a child, okay, just give me a break!!!!
I have 2 kids, I deserve to own a home.
I know, I know. You’ve never thought any of that. But I did. There, I admitted it.
The Lord has worked on entitlement and selfishness in me a lot over the past few years. Something about getting married reveals all the dirt. I never thought of myself as a selfish person. Then, I got married and found myself often thinking “WHY CAN’T YOU SEE IT MY WAY!?!?!!??!” Then, I thought I had totally gotten over my selfishness, only to have a baby and find myself thinking, “WHY ARE YOU IN MY WAY, CHILD??????” (It’s a process, people.) I wouldn’t say I’ve arrived, because true “arrival” at getting over my entitlement will only come on the other side of eternity.
But, entitlement and selfishness, along with all of our “sin nature” habits, to use a church-y term, can be chiseled away (perhaps somewhat painfully) as we learn to put others first.
To be more you-before-me.
To walk in the Spirit.
To be more like Jesus.
So here I am, 5 years in to my entitlement-chiseling and I have this “ah-ha” moment. You know, where the lightbulb goes on and all of the sudden, something new makes sense.
My level of entitlement is directly related to us getting out of debt. Stay with me, now. If I believe that I am entitled to certain things or certain lifestyle habits, it will be harder to get out of debt (or make progress towards any financial goals).
If you don’t have any debt (good for you, keep it that way)… then your amount of or sense entitlement is directly related to how you manage money.
Think it over for a minute & let it sink in.
This clicked for me pretty recently. I realized I had an entitlement-purchasing habit. It was a habit that had been happening and I wasn’t even aware of it. Here’s how it works: If I feel entitled to get new clothes as often as I want, I will buy new clothes as often as I want. Regardless of what it takes to get them (spending money I should be paying down debt with, or spending money on credit cards, or whatever).
Maybe clothes isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s……. fancy lattes. curtains. or decorative pillows. [Oh wait, those are all my things. Sigh. But you must have things too right?] Tech gadgets, exercise apparel, books, cars. Those items, in and of themselves, are neutral. I’m not saying never buy a latte or a pillow. BUT, if you get that I-can’t-help-myself-I-just-need-to-buy-it feeling before, during, or after spending money, I wonder if it can be traced back to a sense of entitlement, a sense of “I deserve this.”
If I believe that I am entitled to do what I want and spend what I want and say what I want, then I will spend money like that.
As we lay aside our sense of entitlement, our sense that we deserve something just because and examine the real thoughts and motives and intentions inside, then we can start to make better choices with money.
For me it’s like this – we have a lot of student loan debt. We (my better, less entitled, half and I) have agreed that paying down those loans is a priority because it’s debt. Not good debt. Not justifiable debt. Just plain debt. We owe someone money and we would like to NOT owe them that money as soon as possible. We took on the debt intending to pay it back asap and the pay-back-asap phase is where we are now. We are not in the shopping +fancy lattes + vacations phase. So, laying down my sense of entitlement frees me up to pay back the loan without bitterly resenting the fact that I can’t buy new shoes. I don’t “deserve” the new shoes. I might want them, but I’m not entitled to them… We took on the debt. We owe the money back.
I feel like our culture just screams “YOU NEED THIS NOW!!!!!” at everybody. And it’s such a lie. It’s okay, you can wait. I’m so tired of being screamed at. Quiet down. Turn off the noise. I don’t need that now. I can live without. I can save up. I can be debt free and I can pay cash. I don’t need your 0% APR offer to drive a car and I don’t need your store’s credit card to buy that shirt. In fact I have very few material needs. Food, shelter, clothes.
I honestly cannot believe how much we say ‘no’ to right now. And how many times a week I still think to myself… “ooo I need that…. oh wait, no. I want it. Ok, it’s not a need. Nope. The answer is no. Walk away.”
Whether or not you’re in debt, choosing not to be entitled will help you be a better money-manager. Budgeting will be easier. Impulsive spending will be a thing of the past. The decision-making power will be in your hands rather than feeling a slave to your every passing want.
It’s just stuff. Learn to wait. Learn to plan for spending. Break the cycle. Say no to entitlement and yes to feeling truly free.