“I Deserve It” Mentality: Dealing With this Harmful Money Mindset

Updated: September 10, 2022

My friends often say it. Sometimes, I read it on social media as a status. And at other times, I overhear it from unsuspecting strangers seated among friends at an adjacent table in a coffee shop.

“It’s been a long day, I deserve to go out and drink tonight!”

“It was a stressful week, I deserve some pampering at the spa this weekend!”

“I closed a deal with a client today, so I deserve to shop and buy new shoes!”

It’s a fairly common mindset to believe we deserve some kind of reward for working hard. And don’t get me wrong, because I believe it too… that you do deserve a reward.

However, what I often see is that people will reward themselves at the expense of their budget, which causes more harm than good to themselves, particularly on their personal finance.

Be practical, not reckless.

A reward system is good. It keeps motivation up. Giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well then is something that I actually recommend.

However, you need to be practical and not reckless with how you spend for that reward. Likewise, it’s better to set what your reward will be beforehand, rather than deciding spontaneously.

For example, I know that this week would be stressful for me as I have multiple events and important meetings scheduled.

Thus, I’ve decided to relax and binge-watch a TV series on Saturday. I’ll buy my favorite snacks and just hang out at home and not think about anything else — I deserve that break!

And by setting up this reward, which I know I’d enjoy, I’ve potentially avoided other more expensive options — like doing some impulsive shopping or going on an unplanned out-of-town trip.

Yes, those might sound like better rewards. But they’re not practical if you’re trying to watch your budget. Plus, I’d like to reserve those as rewards for bigger goals, and not simply after surviving a busy week.

Rewarding yourself with what you truly deserve.

When you did a good job, you deserve to reward yourself. Because you work hard, you deserve to pat yourself on the back.

And ideally, you should reward yourself with something that you need and want; rather than those that you just want.

A freelance writer friend buys a book whenever she finishes a project. She loves mystery novels, so it’s a great reward for herself. And at the same time, you could say it’s a need because reading helps in improving her craft.

Remember that it’s only you who can decide the reward that you deserve. However, make sure that you’re not feeding an unhealthy habit. For example, if you have a drinking problem, then going to a bar is never a good idea.

On another note, avoid buying something simply because you want to keep up with others. Just because everyone else has it, doesn’t mean you deserve to have one too.

A friend bought a DSLR camera because all his officemates have one. He used it regularly for about a few months, then eventually stopped because he’s not really into photography. He later admits regretting that purchase.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself. But make sure that it’s a well-though reward that falls within your budget. And sometimes, there are more affordable choices to celebrate your hard work that feels as good.

Remember that if you can’t afford it, then you probably don’t really deserve it (yet). Perhaps one day, if you can properly save up for it.

You deserve this one…

Finally, beyond thinking that you deserve a bit of instant gratification now and then. It’s important to realize that you also deserve to be debt-free; you deserve to retire in comfort; you deserve to achieve your life goals.

And thus perhaps, every now and then too, when you feel the need to reward yourself, then maybe you could help yourself attain the financial freedom that you deserve.

What to read next: Learn about the Peak-End Rule and how to apply it to stay motivated in following a budget.

One comment

  1. YES, guilty as charged. May I share my reason. My beautiful bride has a figure like a model. I often tell her I will NEVER eyeball the girls on the runway when I can look at you Honey. True story: not long ago my wife was walking off the campus of the school where our kids attended. A guard stopped her and asked something to the effect “where do you think you going young lady? ” The guard thought she was student, not a parent. He was so embarrassed when another guard who knew my wife told the first guard that is Mrs. XXXX. Apparently my wife looks almost as young as the kids less than half her age when wearing her “skinny jeans.”

    My wife is very skillful at finding true bargains on-line and at a few ukay ukay stores she learned about. My guilty pleasure is filling her closets with high quality branded and designer clothing. Many times the items are only a few hundred Pesos. We did spend P4000+ a few times and just the other day my wife, with my encouragement and prodding, won an online auction for a new, genuine Prada dress for about P5500. Now, this particular Prada would cost around $1,900.00USD (approx P99,339 at todays exchange rate) in retails stores. I think NO dress is worth that but I do believe she still got a bargain. Is this spending excessive? Even I will agree, probably so. My rationale is my wife filled her closets with classic clothing and she looks GREAT. It gives me true pleasure to take her out well dressed as she is. These are items that really never go out of style and will likely be with her for life.

    Now, ALL of our bills are paid, we have zero debt and business is great so we do not suffer. We have regularly increased our charitable giving so this is NOT just about us and showing off, we still try our best to show love and compassion for others. There you, this is how I reward myself by seeing my wife happy with her collection.

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