I NEED/DESERVE a bigger house, newer car, etc…

We’ve all heard it or thought it: “I deserve this [fill in the blank].” While this thought can quickly lead to credit card debt or at the very least habits that stop us from building our savings, where did it come from? Why is this mindset so pervasive? Does indulging in what we see ourselves entitled to bring us happiness?

More than anyone else, we’ve heard the words “you should get that, you deserve it,” or “get a new one, you guys have worked hard” coming from our parents. And that’s a mindset that they’ve lived with. Both our parents are still working in their 60s, just getting done with their mortgages and not sure if the money is there to support retirement.

More than anyone else, we’ve heard the words “you should get that, you deserve it,” or “get a new one, you guys have worked hard” coming from our parents.

On the plus side, they don’t have massive credit card debt and they grew up and went to college in the ‘70s and ‘80s when tuition didn’t cost more than multiple years worth of your entire salary and lead to sometimes decades worth of student loan payments.

Here’s the deal: boomers often feel entitled (and their parents who grew up in the Depression might have been happy to give that mindset to their children). And that system actually worked out fairly decently when they were younger. But they’ve raised us, the millennials. They’ve told us where our priorities should lie:

  • College and graduate school (only lots of our boomer parents couldn’t pay for tuition so we were saddled with debt for increasing tuition and professions where the salary hasn’t kept up with the tuition to get there)
  • Mortgages for that nice house with more rooms than we even go in
  • Newer cars/clothes/appliances/furniture (again, we deserve it, right?)
  • Gym memberships, coffee shop visits, eating out, hobbies

This mindset and pressure from our parents leads us to where many millennials get trapped: credit card debt. And it’s so crushing that we just wallow in it and hardly see a way out.

…credit card debt. And it’s so crushing that we just wallow in it and hardly see a way out.

Specifically, our parents think we’re crazy for living in a <900 sq ft house with our three kids, constantly letting us know we’ll need a bigger house soon (only making us want to prove to them our mindset by staying in this house even longer!). They can’t understand why we don’t go out and buy new clothes for ourselves or new kitchen appliances that seem nice (every expense, no matter how small, has to be carefully weighed for us—because those small ones add up fast!).

Ultimately, we’re breaking out of the entitlement mindset because we hate seeing our parents chained to their jobs, still struggling to pay the mortgage and stay out of debt, lacking emergency funds, and more. We see our friends of our age trapped in the mindset and unable to break free.

We’re going to say no to a lot of things, even simple things like going shopping for new clothes (hello, thrift stores!), because we don’t want money being spent on stuff. It’s not just about saving money, we can also learn to enjoy life apart from things. We realized we didn’t need to care about what other people think when we realized almost everyone with those fancy cars and big houses is still living paycheck to paycheck to make payments for those fancy things they can’t actually call their own.

The cost of entitlement is affecting generations of people.

We can only take responsibility for our own decisions. Some enjoy buying what they “deserve” along the way and pay the cost by worrying about debt and retirement into their 60s and 70s. Or, like more and more people inspired by FIRE, regardless of generation, we can say no to lots of purchases in order to live free of debt in the *not too distant future* (at least we’re trying!).

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