Man, it’s hard being a human. Since our brains and bodies seem to have no idea at all that we’re not all running around on the Serengeti plain eating berries and avoiding lions, we have an issue with impulse control.
We want all the stuff.
And we want it now. And all of our friends have stuff too, and it’s stuff that we want and we must have it too, but more of it and better. But this mindset is literally destroying your finances, because unless you can control your spending, you’re never going to run out of things that you want. All it takes is one bad week at work, or a birthday, and the wallet comes out and your mantra becomes but I deserve this.
Stop destroying your finances.
So, we work our bums off, make money, and then spend it. We’ve worked hard. We’re tired, burnt out, probably hungry (I certainly am). These past few years we’re constantly being reminded that we shouldn’t reward ourselves with food, so why not go into Selfridges and drop £1,000 on a new bag? Sarah from next door has one and it changed her life. I DESERVE THIS. Besides, remember that one time I put £500 in my ISA? That was good wasn’t it? Well done me.
Here’s what’s wrong with that mindset:
Unless you earn a lot of money and save it carefully (in which case, TELL US YOUR SECRETS), telling yourself ‘I deserve this’ is holding you back. That money needs to go towards debt payoff or your retirement fund or towards your mortgage/house deposit – if you’ve got that stuff in the bag, by all means spend your cash on crap, btw.
After a fortnight or so, your new purchase high will have worn off, and you’ll probably have buyer’s remorse, which sucks.
It can ruin your budget
Drawing up a decent budget is a pain. We all want to be wild and free and don’t want to have sort out our money. But you need a budget – and you should aim for one that doesn’t leave you with any spare cash hanging around. Assign each and every penny a home. If you then go and, in the immortal words of Tom Haverford, ‘treat yo’ self’ your budget will be ruined, and you probably won’t stick to it and will vow to start budgeting properly next month. And so the cycle continues.
Ignore your peers
Not completely obviously, but peer pressure is the worst, and it doesn’t go away once you’re out of high school, it just becomes more expensive to keep up with. Whenever I see friends on Facebook jetting off somewhere exotic, I try to feel excited for them and then get on with achieving my own goals. My friends took three months off work to travel to New Zealand a while ago, and I was pretty envious. Then I discovered that they were still paying off the loan they took out to pay for it, years later. When I asked them why they took out the loan rather than saving up, they told me that they felt they deserved a break. Nah, mate, just hang fire and save up the money.
Don’t think that I find it easy to ignore my friend’s exotic holidays – I’d love to swan off somewhere sunny, but that’s not my priority. I WANT TO BUY A HOUSE (and may need to buy a car, since ours seems to be on her last legs after 157,000 miles).
UPDATE: the check engine light on the car is no longer lit up, so there’s a CHANCE she’ll pass her MOT (fingers/toes crossed).
But how do I break free of this mindset?
Basically, you need to stop the mentality of deserving…well, anything. If you’ve had a hard day at work, have an extra long bath, or a friend round for dinner. Don’t give your credit card to a shop assistant and let her run riot with it. Keep in control. As I said previously, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. It’s your life you’re living. Look at Kanye – all that stuff and he still claims that he’s broke. You don’t know what going on in other people’s lives, so don’t assume their’s better than yours just because they have a £2,000 coat.
Every time you want to buy something, imagine being debt-free, or being financially free, and hang on to that thought. Think of the last thing you bought that you got because you felt that you deserved it. Was it as good as you thought it would be? Or would you rather have the cash it cost? (There is a right answer, and it’s that you’d rather have the cash 😉 unless it was like a fridge or something).
So what do I deserve?
Ok, this is a tricky one. If you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, you deserve a night in front of the telly and a glass of wine (or water, depending on big the debt is).
If I’m totally honest, though, I always assume I don’t deserve anything. I just think the phrase itself is creepy and self-congratulatory and gross. There are kids in Africa starving to death – they don’t deserve that. No one deserves anything, except maybe a swift kick in the shin.
However, if you worked hard and are tired and need perking up, treat yourself to a duvet day. Or something else small, cheap but significant to you. Something that you feel you earned. Trust me, though, you don’t deserve a brand new car, or an exotic holiday or a pair of Jimmy Choos. That’s just stuff you want. Sure, once you’ve got a handle on your financial situation, go ahead and pop those things into your budget, but for now, just say no.