When I ask people why they buy stuff, they tell me it’s because they need it, whatever it is. That’s not always true. In fact, that’s hardly ever true. Truth is, many people don’t need most of the stuff they buy. They want it.
It’s easy to confuse needs with wants. You work hard and deserve nice things, right? Whether you’re thinking about buying a big-ticket item (we need a vacation) or smaller impulse purchases (I need a double tall latte with Venetian chocolate), your sense of entitlement can muddy the waters when it comes to what you want and what you really need.
Where do you suppose our sense of entitlement comes from?
Every winter Clara’s family went on vacation to a warmer clime. In the summer she went to camp for a month. And each new school year started with a fresh wardrobe and all the school supplies she could imagine. Is anyone surprised that Clara thinks she’s entitled to the same life as an adult?
Sad part is that Clara just doesn’t have the income to support that charmed life. And she has no idea why she can’t have everything she wants when she wants it. Once handed a pile of credit, Clara just used her resources to meet her expectations without a single thought to how she’d ever pay back that money.
While we like to castigate the younger generation for their rampant sense of entitlement, it’s not just a problem of youth and immaturity. Look at the words that have arisen to describe our sense of entitlement: words like “consumerism” and “shopaholics” and “affluenza” and “selfish capitalism” and “consumercide” and the counter “sustainable living.”
It seems we have become so addicted to having that we are not longer able to distinguish between needs and wants. Our parents had more kids but lived in houses far smaller than we’re willing to settle for today. Once only the rich and famous could afford granite counters and marble floors. Now we want a room for every child, plus a living room, family room, media room, and kids’ playroom. Unfortunately, as our expectations have gone up, our ability to pay for them has been seriously challenged.
If you had to pick one day of the week on which you will buy nothing, how hard would that be for you? How much planning would it take? How entitled are you to have everything you want when you want it?