Music Mondays – Out of Touch

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Out of Touch with Your Financial Reality?

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Best Buy and the subject line read “You deserve it!” I literally laughed out loud reading this thinking that Best Buy has no idea what I deserve and no right to convince me that I deserve something, especially from their store. However, once I stopped laughing, I wondered how many people got the same email and didn’t laugh, but agreed with Best Buy that they deserve it.

I used to be one of those people who felt like I deserved “stuff,” and I realize now that it was just because I was out of touch with my financial reality. I spent most of my 20s and the beginning of my 30s out of touch with my financial reality and said a number of things, like “I deserve it!” that only proved just how out of touch I was. In case you are wondering if you’re out of touch, here are some things that someone who is out of touch with his or her financial reality might say:

Sayings that Prove You’re Out of Touch with Your Financial Reality

1) “I deserve it!”

I rationalized a number of purchases in my life by saying that I deserved them, and it’s an easy rationalization to make; however, why do you really deserve something? For me, I assumed that I deserved something because I worked hard and as a result of working hard, I deserved a reward.

The reality is that I worked hard, but that’s part of life. We all should have a strong work ethic and try to make as much money as possible. However, just because we work hard to make money, doesn’t mean that we should make it easy to spend money and saying you deserve things makes it easy to spend your money.

Many of us think we deserve things because we see the equation like this:

Work Hard + Make Money = I Deserve to Spend It

What we really need to think is:

Work Hard + Make Money = I Deserve Financial Security

Instead of things, what we all deserve is the ability to live a fulfilling and enriched life without having to worry about money, and the more we spend under the guise of deserving, the less fulfilling our lives. The only time you can really declare that you deserve something is if you saved for it in advance and incorporated the purchase as part of your overall financial life goals.

2) “I need it!”

I used to be guilty of this all the time, and I see this rationalization as a big problem for many of my clients. When we go through my client’s spending together I hear a lot of “Well, I needed to get my hair done.” “I needed a new suit.” “I needed a new computer.” “I needed a new screen door.”

In some instances, these may have been real needs; however, in reality most of them fall under the category of wants instead of needs, and it’s really easy to get the two confused, especially when you’re out of touch.

What I suggest for my clients is to stop before making a financial move like buying something you think you need and wait a few weeks or months. During that time, reflect on how much you really need that purchase. Has the absence of the purchase made your life more difficult to live? In most cases, if you just wait for time to pass, you will realize that what you thought you needed was really not that important for your day-to-day living.

The fact is, we really only need something when it’s life or death. Most everything else is a want, and if it’s a want, there is probably a solution for how to live without it or how to get it for less.

3) “I‘ll pay for it later!”

The ultimate in out of touch thinking is saying that you will pay for something later. I am a big proponent of credit card usage, especially when you get rewards from the cards that you’re using; however, I’m not a fan of using them when you don’t have the cash to pay for something.

I have a number of clients who get into credit card problems because they assume they will pay for something later. The problem is that usually some other financial need will pop up and their credit debts continue to grow higher and become more difficult to pay off.

If you don’t have the money in your bank account to pay for the purchase, you should avoid buying it, and a good best practice to avoid mounting credit card balances is to use credit cards for purchases, but then pay off the balances more frequently. I know some people will argue that they should keep money in their bank accounts and earn interest, but you aren’t earning much of anything in your bank account now and you run the risk of paying more in credit card fees if you can’t keep up with your charges.

Have you ever said any of these things? Are you out of touch with your financial reality or know someone who is?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

32 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a tough reality. At my work, they always stress that effort will not yield higher ratings, only positive results will get you higher ratings. That can be a tough thing to swallow, especially if you feel like you’ve worked yourself very hard.

  2. I can SO identify here – the “I deserve it” one was HUGE for me. And I’ll never forget the time I was taking a loan app for a guy – he wanted several grand for new furniture. The underwriters denied him b/c he was in debt up to his ears and behind on some stuff. When I shared the news with him, he was SO angry. He said “What am I supposed to do now? I have this brand new house and I NEED new furniture for it! I just can’t keep the same old furniture I have!” It was one of those “I’m not quite sure how to answer that, sir.” moments. But then again, I’m quite sure I’ve been there myself. 🙂

    • Wow!!! It’s times like that where it’s hard to bite your tongue instead of saying “Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten the new house if you couldn’t afford the new furniture.” Amazing what people think they deserve without regard for their finances.

  3. I LMAO when I see the “you deserve it” in big letters on a mailer or across my computer screen. Those marketers know what they are doing. I have probably fallen prey to most of them at one point. My biggest one still is discerning between a want and a need, especially when it comes to business expenses. I have found that if I just wait something out more, I can get creative and work around whatever issue it is I’m facing.

    • I think the want and need issue is a problem with most of us from time to time. It’s easy to rationalize that we need things simply because we don’t have them. I do the same exercise myself where I stop myself from making a purchase to try to determine if there is a real need or not.

  4. All 3 of the following listed definitely reminds me of “Treat Yo’ Self” (from Parks & Rec)! It’s hard to break out of this vicious cycle when most of life the following aspects surround us. There are several examples of this I can think of. Just graduated from college? You deserve a new car! Want to start a new hobby? You need new clothes to do so! All of your friends are going on that trip? Pay for it later! It’s challenging to get in-touch with your personal finances when so many hold the out of touch thought process.

  5. I just roll my eyes when I see the “I deserve it” being used. We’ve all been guilty of giving into the idea that we deserve something – like Natalie pointed out it has to do with that sense of entitlement.

  6. I need it is always the hardest for me. I know that I don’t need, need it, but I need it to maintain my lifestyle. Like I “need” a professional haircut right now because my latest DIY attempt went more awry than normal. Of course, I also have no plans to go out in the next few weeks, so its okay for me to wait until next week when we create a new budget.

    • Oh no on your DIY haircut!!! That is one area that I have been scared to jump into so instead of saying I need a haircut as frequently as I think I do, I have been waiting longer in between cuts so that I have less in a year to bring down my overall budget. So far, no one has complained about my hair.

  7. Haha oh man I MIGHT have used this logic just yesterday 😉 I was trying to decide whether to play in a poker tournament at the Golden Nugget and honestly use the “I deserve it” mentality to justify playing. In reality I think I”m good enough of a player to win over time (at least historically I am up, but looking towards the future i this case) so it’s not a money-losing endeavor long-term. But I typically think of all the work I did for YAM and side hustles, etc. and think “I deserve to play!” So I myself may be a bit out of touch with reality when it comes to poker 😉

  8. The “I deserve it” mentality is so prevalent these days and it’s unfortunate how many people don’t realize what they deserve is what you said – financial security. We all do deserve a good life, which is not buying things to fulfill an emotional need. I do deserve a good life which means making smart choices with my money, including when I get to indulge a want or when I should instead hug my daughters.

    • So true!! Things never add value, they just take up space. I am thankful for my son, because like you, I can always give him a hug to give me perspective on what I really need and focus on the life that I deserve that isn’t focused on stuff accumulation.

  9. I used to use every one of those, especially “I deserve it.” It’s very easy to talk yourself into buying something if you don’t have great control over emotions. I still struggle with that sometimes, so my best trick is to avoid temptation altogether and stay out of stores unless I have a specific purpose and can get in and out quickly.

  10. I’ve been guilty of “I deserve this” thinking. I think a lot of us are and marketers play to that. Unfortunately, you can “deserve” everything in the world, but if you are in debt and/or not saving, you have a problem!

    • Yes, the brilliant marketers out there will have us all believe that we deserve everything because they don’t have to worry about the damage they create. It’s our job to focus on and remember what we deserve and it’s more than just things.

  11. I used to say this phrase “I deserved it” like always after getting my pay check so I ended up carrying lots of shopping bags and found myself kind broke or with limited budget in the end. But, I learned from it and now practice delayed gratification, which is really challenging.

  12. I don’t think I’ve ever said any of these. My mom was pretty against this kind of attitude. That said, I’m sometimes guilty of indulging others because I feel like *they* deserve it. I’m working on it.

    Even when I spend money on wants, I try to remember they’re not strictly necessary. Often, it’s more out of begrudging acceptance of a different kind of necessity. Like how much convenience food we buy due to physical/mental limitations caused by health conditions. I hate it, but it’s just how things are.

  13. Haha…I’ve said every single one of these at some point. The one that got me into trouble the most was “I’ll pay for it later.” That saying coupled with the fact I was using a credit card at the time really sent me over the edge.

  14. I think we’re good now. Not so much when I was a broke (because I spent every last dime on booze or food or video games) college student. Now we’re a “we’ll save for it” or “is it in the budget” kind of family, and it’s so much less stressful with just a small amount of effort up front!

  15. I know many who are out-of-touch and always use those sayings. I work hard and deserve it is very common. Since buying something often gives that immediate high and “financial security” is more abstract and longer term goal…it’s hard to stay focused I guess. But you have to keep your eyes on the prize, and buying something often only gives you a temporary high. And so true about “need”…it seems many don’t have an understanding between the difference of “want” and need.”

  16. I think the “I deserve it” comes most into play when I’m on vacation and I’m wanting to take a vacation from frugality (and from being in touch with my financial situation). Which is fine if it’s still within the budget, but not so fine if it blows the budget out of the water. Those marketing narratives are dangerous, especially when we start internalizing them.

  17. Love this perspective. I’m so not a fan of the “treat yourself” culture we seem to find ourselves in. I agree with you–it seems like every retailer tries to convince us that we “deserve” to buy ourselves their stuff. So not true! I think that’s a really dangerous mentality too as it can just lead down and endless spiral of consumption. At what point do we stop treating ourselves once we’ve started? Plus, I think there are so many other ways to reward ourselves other than by buying things.

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