Apr 10, 2013

What we deserve

Edit: This was originally posted on this blog in 2009. I've crossed out the part that is no longer true... but hey! I haven't given up. We've got a new plan, and these thoughts on what we deserve still apply, now more than ever.

My family is on track to be completely out of credit card debt by December. I've had high credit card debt (over $10,000) for a long time now- ever since a previous temporary job that was low-paying and in a location where I knew no one.

We all have different reasons for going into debt. But the way out is the same for each of us: re-evaluating our relationship with stuff.

I was raised with the following values regarding stuff: 1. buy the best quality of everything so it will last, and 2. buy what you want when you want it, because you deserve it. I think number 1 is valid when making purchases, but number 2 simply has to go, for at least 2 reasons.

First, "what you want" is hard to quantify, because in many cases what you want is actually what has been sold to you. Someone told you that you want it, and if you watch television, they have told you over and over and over again. Do you really want it, or did the advertisers convince you it would make your life better? How many things do we buy that get used only a couple of times and then just take up space?

Second, why do we "deserve it?" This is where our major mind-shift needs to happen. We deserve freedom, access to healthcare, safety. We do not deserve plastic doodads or one more pair of jeans made by baby hands (or underpaid adult hands) in China (or anywhere else for that matter). We've done nothing to deserve that. I think if we can save money above and beyond our expenses, we deserve to spend that on whatever we like. But if not, we don't deserve anything.

How much stuff do we really need? Why would we possibly want more? Again, I blame the advertisers. And I'm just not going to let them tell me what I "want" anymore.

How did you make the shift to stop buying so much? What do you struggle with?


  1. Thinking about baby hands making stuff was, seriously, a big help for me to stop buying stuff I didn't need. I would stand there in Target or wherever, holding the shirt, and visualize someone making that shirt and getting paid next to nothing for it. Could that person have bought the shirt I was holding? If not, why should I? Could I buy this shirt and get back into my car with the labor bumperstickers on it and be OK with that? The more I thought about it, the more I couldn't. It was very helpful.

  2. Also, woot for the debt elimination. That's a huge step.

  3. It's hard though. I'm a huge sucker for advertising- and not just Apple products. That guy with the British accent who makes the vacuum cleaner that doesn't lose suction? I don't know why, but, if I had the cash, I would buy one of anything he sells. I don't know what it is. I know I don't need it, but they're soooo good at making me want it. Thanks for helping me think about this stuff!