Friday, April 24, 2009

Change The Attitude

Saving Money Tip #125 - Change The Attitude. It seems that many of us have come to expect things in life that we had when we were younger or that others seem to have today. If we have this attitude, then we think we can buy whatever we want, take whatever trips we are used to going on, and drive any type of car we think we need. But changing this “entitlement” attitude will go a long way to putting more money in our pockets. Just because we had things in the past, does not mean we deserve to have them now or in the future. As times change or circumstances change we have to change our spending habits, too.

I have seen some people who have an attitude that they deserve certain things because they work very hard. “I deserve this new car because I kill myself every day at the office.” I know other people who think because everyone else is going on a trip to DisneyWorld means that they need to be going, too, even if they do not have the money or if the husband has recently lost his job. And I have friends who insist that they cannot lower their standard of living because it is beneath them. If they grew up in a big, modern home, then they are entitled to a big, modern home now, regardless of the circumstances.

Where did people get this attitude? And can they change it? I think so. I think most of us just need to realize that we don’t deserve anything just because we had it before, because we work hard, because we want it, or because everyone else has it. Our attitude needs to become, “this is what I can afford, so this is what I will buy.” Period. What others are doing, what we used to do, what we want, and how hard we work is inconsequential. Trust me when I say that having an attitude of buying only what you can afford will go a long way in having money saved up so you can do or have those other things you used to think you deserved.

I’m not saying that everyone has this entitlement attitude, but I think enough people do that they were going into debt buying things they couldn’t afford, helping to lead to the current credit crisis. If you think you are guilty of thinking you deserve more, can you change your attitude?

In Real Life (IRL) - Growing up, I lived in a brand new 4-bedroom 2,500 square foot colonial home in suburban Philadelphia. Relative to the rest of the town I lived in, it was on the nicer, larger side. My parents were about 33 or 34 years old when they bought the house. They paid $42,000 for it at a time when my dad’s salary was probably about three-quarters of that. When my husband and I went to buy our first home, I was also 33. However, times had changed. Real estate had gone up quite a bit, and we were looking in the Washington, DC area, which is a bit pricier than Philadelphia. We ended up buying a 3-bedroom 50-year old 1,800 square foot ranch house – a far cry from the home I grew up in. And it cost more than twice as much as my husband and I were making combined.

My sister kept telling me, “I can’t believe you are buying such a small house.” But it really didn’t bother me that much. I actually liked the idea of a cozy, older home. But more importantly, I did not have an entitlement attitude, that I deserved a big 4-bedroom colonial because that is what I grew up in. This is the way things are now. Real estate is more expensive relative to our incomes. And DC is more expensive than Philadelphia. And of course, most importantly, this is what we could afford. Period.

I have a fair amount of money saved in the bank. I am pretty comfortable with our financial position even with the economic crisis around me. It’s not because I come from a fabulously wealthy family or because I have or ever had a superpower job. The truth is, I do not and did not ever have an attitude that I deserved anything. I buy only what I can afford, without overextending myself and so that a portion of our income always goes into savings as well. I do not have an attitude of entitlement. And because of this I am satisfied with where I am and with what I have. If others changed their attitudes, they could improve their financial positions and I think this would lead them to being happier, too. For other frugal tips, check out Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.


Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Good for you! More people should think like this.


Herbalife Las Vegas said...

great thinking

Thomas Watson said...

Great advice. This excessive materialism had become the American Way and we need to change