It’s easy to fall into the “I deserve it” mentality with our finances. After a long week of work, it’s tempting to rationalize splurging on an expensive meal, new clothes, or the latest gadget.
But this mindset can seriously damage our financial health if we’re not careful. Let’s delve into what this mentality is, why it’s harmful, and how to combat it.
What is the “I Deserve It” Mentality?
The “I Deserve It” mentality is the belief that after enduring a challenging situation or achieving a particular milestone, one deserves a reward, often in the form of a purchase. It can manifest in thoughts like:
- “I had a tough week at work; I deserve a shopping spree.”
- “I completed a major project; I deserve a luxury vacation.”
While rewarding oneself is not inherently bad, the problem arises when these rewards are not budgeted for and lead to impulsive spending.
Overspending and Debt
The most immediate consequence is overspending. If you consistently spend outside of your means because you feel you “deserve” it, you can quickly accumulate debt.
Delayed Gratification Is Key
When we give in to instant gratification from “I deserve it” purchases, we lose sight of delayed gratification which is vital for reaching financial goals.
Those pricier impulse purchases provide a quick thrill but often leave us feeling unsatisfied shortly after.
Resisting urges and saving for bigger goals like retirement, a house, or college tuition instead leads to genuine long-term fulfillment.
Every dollar spent on an unplanned reward is a dollar not saved for future goals, be it retirement, buying a home, or building an emergency fund.
It Can Become a Habit
When we routinely rationalize purchases under the guise of “deserving” them, it establishes an entitlement pattern that becomes harder and harder to break.
We start to feel we “need” certain luxuries or upgrades just because we work hard. The habit can spiral as we continue trying to reward ourselves.
This mentality can make it easy to justify unnecessary expenses, leading to a cycle of spending without true purpose.
It Ignores Trade-Offs
When we only think about what we feel we’ve earned, we ignore what we might be sacrificing in the process. Going into debt for the latest phone or splurging on an indulgent vacation may give us gratification now. But it comes at the cost of important financial trade-offs like saving for emergencies, retirement, or other goals.
Combatting the “I Deserve It” Mentality
Budget for Rewards: If you like to treat yourself occasionally, that’s okay! Just make sure you have a line in your budget for it. This way, you can enjoy your reward without any financial guilt.
Reflect on Needs vs. Wants: Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you genuinely need or if it’s an impulsive want. Delaying a purchase by even a day can provide clarity.
Find Non-Monetary Rewards: Not all rewards have to cost money. Maybe your reward is a day off, a long bath, or an afternoon reading a book. Find joy in simple, cost-free pleasures.
Stay Accountable: Share your financial goals with a trusted friend or family member. They can help you stay on track and think twice before indulging.
Practice Gratitude: Instead of focusing on what you believe you deserve to have, focus on what you already have. Practicing gratitude can shift your mindset from one of lack to one of abundance.
While it’s natural to want to reward ourselves for our hard work and achievements, it’s essential to do so in a way that doesn’t jeopardize our financial health. By being mindful of our spending triggers and making intentional choices, we can enjoy the present while also preparing for a prosperous future.