Enjoyment or Entitlement? The questions I’ve struggled with lately.

posted by Andrea | 08/29/2014

enjoyment or entitlement

Over the past two years, I’ve had somewhat of an internal struggle when it comes to buying anything extra special, doing something extra nice, or splurging on anything that isn’t a necessity.

On one hand, I feel that we can ENJOY a small splurge every once in a while.

But on the other hand, I know that one small splurge can lead to two splurges, bigger splurges, and splurging more often. Then, before we know it, we feel ENTITLED to something we might not be able to afford.

For example:

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that we are spending THREE times as much on groceries, partially because I’m no longer willing to cart 2 small children around multiple different stores just to save a few bucks.

On one hand, I feel that after scrimping and saving on groceries for the first 6 years of our marriage, I should be allowed to have a more “generous” grocery budget now that my life is busier. I should be able to spend more money on groceries as a “reward” for the convenience it offers me.

But on the other hand, I feel like it really wouldn’t be that much work to head to a few different stores so we could save a little extra money each week. After all, I know MANY people with small children who go to 3 or 4 different stores every week because they honestly can’t afford to spend more on groceries.

So… can I rightfully enjoy my single grocery trip even though I’m spending more? Or am I simply wasting our money because I feel entitled to an easier life now that I have two little kids?

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Another recent example: 

Last week, I shared that I met with a local personal stylist to help me consolidate my wardrobe. She’s helping me wear what looks great on me and purge my closet of anything I don’t love, anything that doesn’t fit, and anything that doesn’t flatter me. It’s been a fantastic process so far and nothing I would have ever thought I would do.

(Yes, don’t worry, I’ll be sharing lots of pictures soon. I’m waiting for an online clothing order to arrive and then I can “model” my clothes for that post!)

One one hand, I feel like I’m finally doing something for me after years of spending almost nothing on my wardrobe (honestly, there were a couple years where I didn’t spend a dime on clothing).

But on the other hand, I know that stylish and flattering clothing is not a necessity — and aside from a few items that are too small post baby boy, everything in my closet does fit and I could make it work.

So… should I enjoy this super fun experience and everything I’m learning about what I should and shouldn’t be wearing? Or will this experience cause me to feel entitled to always wear the latest trends and stylish clothing even if our budget can’t afford it?

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And one final example:

When Dave and I were first married, we didn’t have cable, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t have a land-line, we had one very old desktop computer, and we had flip phones (yes, flip phones!)  We did not feel deprived. We were both working full-time outside the house (with internet and fast computers) and had a huge antenna on our roof that actually got us a few channels.

Fast-forward 8 years and we now have basic cable, Netflix, high-speed internet, a very nice desktop computer, 2 laptops, an iPad, and… iPhones.

One one hand, many of these purchases are because of my new way of earning a living from home. We have the most basic cable and internet packages offered in our area and we did get our phones free as they are older models.

But on the other hand, I think back to how simple and unplugged our lives were 8 years ago… and I wonder if we have too much. I know it would be almost impossible for us to go back to no TV, no internet, and no smartphones.

So… should I enjoy the fact that we can afford to purchase these items and that I’ve been able to help support our family while staying at home with our children? Or have we bought into a certain popular lifestyle that we now feel completely entitled too?

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Yes, Dave and I have always been extremely frugal and very conscious of our cash flow. We have no debt outside our (very low-interest) mortgage — and we’re paying that off as fast as we can.

However, when I volunteered as a budget mentor for a local non-profit organization (for almost 3 years), I worked with people who used to live like Dave and I do right now. They lived a modest lifestyle within their means. They didn’t do crazy splurges or spend recklessly, they used coupons and gift cards, and they didn’t buy what they couldn’t afford.

But at some point in their lives, they simply started spending more and more — sometimes out of need, and sometimes because they felt entitled to a certain style of life.

All of a sudden, they were in debt and didn’t know how to get out. They had become accustomed to a lifestyle they could no longer afford, and they had no desire to revert to their more frugal days.

And THAT is where I’m afraid of going!

On one hand, I work really hard and at some point, I feel like I should be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

But on the other hand, I know how little we actually need and how much excess most Americans (including myself) feel entitled too.

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According to this recent survey, Americans have over $872 BILLION in credit card debt alone (approximately $15,800 per household).

I’m sure I don’t need to convince you that a major factor in credit card debt is desire (a.k.a. entitlement).The desire to achieve a certain status, to have a certain look, to live a certain way, to enjoy a certain type of life.

It’s also common knowledge that debt is a leading cause of divorce, suicide, and general unhappiness.

So when does enjoyment turn into entitlement, which can then lead to debt and unhappiness… and basically spoil everything?

I honestly don’t know!

I don’t have the answers, but these are all questions I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years.

I don’t think there is ONE right answer for these questions. We all have to answer it differently based on our own lives — but I DO think it’s something we should all think about from time to time.

My goal is (and always has been) to live simply while still enjoying things like grocery splurges, new clothes, smartphones, and our dream house. However, I know there is a point when enjoying those things can turn into feelings of entitlement.

I’m not sure when or where that line is drawn — but I certainly hope I don’t cross it. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too…

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55 comments

  1. Susan M

    09/24/2014

    I LOVE this post, and the comments. Not sure how I missed this when it first posted, but so glad I happened across it!

    I struggle with the same questions. All of them.

    I was raised by very frugal parents who never shorted us on fun, but always encouraged us to be creative with our fun times, and to look for fun ways to enjoy ourselves. We took many trips to state parks and attractions appropriate for a day trip. I’d help my mom pack an ice chest, make sandwiches, bag up potato chips. Having soda and potato chips was a big treat for us, too, since they were junk food and not something we regularly had in the house! Many times, we’d be up and traveling before dawn, still drowsy, listening to my folks murmuring in the front seat, watching the sun come up in all her glory–GREAT memories of fun times! And we had NO idea we were taking frugal vacations!

    My dad took me to open my first passbook savings account when I was 8, and I managed that little book to death. When interest statements came in, I’d sit at dad’s desk, where he did all his budget stuff, and fill in my numbers, check my math on his big old calculator, and figure out how much I wanted to deposit next trip. Sometimes I had birthday money, but usually it was what I could scrape up from my $2 a week allowance! LOL

    Anyway–I loved my growing up years, and am ever so thankful for my parents teaching me about the credit trap, and compound interest, and reasonable frugality. In my adult life, I am much less frugal than my parents were when I was growing up, but I’m still not extravagant. Not in my mind, anyway.

    When I started having kids, I knew I wanted to stay home, so we rearranged our budget around one income and made it work. I have always been really good at grocery budgeting, cooking from scratch, and happily finding a use for fruit and produce overages gifted to us by friends and family, but in recent years, I have found I’m tired. Tired of thinking about cooking, tired of planning what to cook, etc. Not every day, but just to have a break, you know?

    So we started to go out to eat once a week, and it was such a relief. What a treat! Almost like *I* got a day off, and all moms know, that ever really happens. LOL

    And then it was twice a week. And then I stopped blinking an eye when it was three times a week!

    So in thinking it over, I decided that my very, very frugal grocery budget was contributing to me overspending on dining out. I had pared back the grocery budget so much that, as my husband liked to say, there was no food in our house, only ingredients with which to MAKE food. And that was the problem–I liked dining out, but didn’t LOVE it. I just wanted a break from thinking about and cooking some meals. Adding $30 a week to my grocery budget seemed extravagant on paper, but compared to what we were spending eating out, it’s basically nothing. We could spend that on one trip to McDonalds with 5 of us–and we weren’t going to McDonalds (see my shamed face?) so we spent much more.

    But now I can buy things that are easy to deal with when I don’t want to think about dinner. A frozen lasagna, ready-to-bake deli pizza, frozen pan of chicken enchiladas. Whatever. Rethinking the problem touched on a couple of things–it gives me the breaks I need now and then, it cut our dining out spending to almost nothing (we go out maybe once a month now, often not even that), and it taught me that balance is key! Being thrifty is great, and I don’t know that I’d be happy any other way. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop agonizing and thinking about every dollar I put into savings versus paying off the mortgage. But I CAN get too focused and lose sight of some small changes that would make a huge impact on our happiness and stress levels.

    So I’m trying to do better at that! I still have a flip phone, though. 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I laughed about your flip phone comment 🙂

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the post and that you’ve noticed the change in your own life and took action to increase your grocery budget!

    [Reply]

  2. Kathy

    09/12/2014

    Having this very short time to devote to Nora and Simon, is a one time chance, no do overs. Nora will start school;then you and Simon will be off wheeling and dealing. As a grandmother, I have the opportunity to care for my grandchildren. I loved my job, but I will never have this chance to truly enjoy these babies again. (My babies are in their 30’s!) I was blessed to have this time–

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your thoughts Kathy!

    [Reply]

  3. Raquel

    09/05/2014

    This is a great post. I think one of the major areas I failed and ended up in debt was I didn’t make any choices. I had cable, tivo, internet, landlines, cute clothes, iphones etc. I had it all and never restricted myself. Now we are paying off our debt and cut our cable and our landlines. We watch TV online and we buy some programs from Itunes. This allows us to be intentional about what we watch. We have made choices about what is most important and we put money towards those things and we take money away from other areas and we are living on what we make. So to sum up I think you are great because you are making choices about your money and thinking about it. If you were not thinking about it and making choices, then you would have a problem.

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  4. Alicia

    09/02/2014

    Andrea, I love all your posts! They’re always so thought provoking, and even just reading through the comments is inspiring! I think, as with everything in life, moderation is key- including splurging vs. saving.

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  5. Marisa

    08/31/2014

    Over & over on this site, you keep coming back to, “Everything in moderation.” I think that’s generally healthy and applies here.

    For me, it’s in the category of addictions. Addiction to coffee. Addiction to alcohol. Addiction to work. Addiction to facebook. Addiction to computer games. Addiction to… whatever it is that a person uses as a substitute for what is right and appropriate and healthy.

    Coffee has a lovely taste and I enjoy the pleasant pick-me-up. But when I feel I NEED a cup of coffee, I know it’s time to skip it because it means I’m starting to use it as more than just a pleasant refreshment.

    Saving money & living frugally is good and worthwhile, but when I find myself doing it in order to feel safe and secure, or strong and in control — instead of just using resources wisely — I know that it’s time to loosen my grip on the dollars and remind myself that being frugal doesn’t guarantee safety or security or prove that I’m stronger or better than anyone else.

    Enjoying financial ease and spending money on little luxuries is a blessing, but when I begin to think that I will be a different person (unhappy, forlorn, bereft, deprived) if I don’t have/do XYZ, or a different person (beautiful, satisfied, happy, popular, successful) if I do–then I know it’s moving into unhealthy territory and I’m substituting this thing or action in place of something else my soul really needs.

    All this means that I need to know myself thoroughly and be brutally honest with myself. It means it’s a constant balance, that it’s not something which is decided once and then done. It also means that my decisions are going to look very different from someone else’s and that–beyond outrageous situations–it’s going to be difficult to tell from the outside whether another’s persons choices are healthy or unhealthy.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love this Marisa! Such a great way to think about ALL the various ways we spend our time and money… and yes, I’m big on “everything in moderation!”

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  6. Katherine

    08/31/2014

    I have been thinking about some of these things lately too. We started the Dave Ramsey plan a few weeks ago to pay off a bit of credit card debt and a lot of student loan debt, so we have been looking at all of our spending and bills and stuff that we own and reassessing everything. And there are definitely areas where we have gotten lax and have spent more than we needed to, and things we’ve gotten accustomed to.

    My example for myself is always coffee. I’ve never been a Starbucks-every-day person, but realizing that we’ve spent hundreds of dollars there so far this year was a wake up call. So I’ve been working on still enjoying my coffee, but at home, and experimenting with different iced coffee and frappuccino recipes has actually been fun (and a lot cheaper)! And because it’s not a routine stop any more, I’m really looking forward to going there for a free drink on my birthday next week.

    Sometimes just taking a step back and looking at what has become the new normal can help you shift things back to a place you’re happy with them. Just the fact that you’re thinking about these things means you’re probably on the right track.

    [Reply]

    Marisa Reply:

    Katherine–just read your comment after mine posted. funny that we both used coffee as an example! It’s so easy to let a little thing like that add up over time. Kudos for choosing a healthy and “sustainable” way to enjoy it!

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  7. Laurel

    08/31/2014

    We lived like you used to for the first 10 years of our marriage. No kids for those years, each of us taught school and then taught numerous private music lessons after school. We socked away so much money, lived frugally paid cash for our second house, have always paid cash for our cars and put ourselves through grad school paying cash. We then went on to have four kids and I stayed home with them because I could afford to thanks to that frugal lifestyle and putting away so much money. Let me tell you as our kids are now 23, 21, 18 and 15. Kids are expensive no matter how frugal your lifestyle!!! We still do not have smart phones and see no reason for them. I see so many people constantly on their phones, flipping through pages while ignoring the real people they are sitting in the room with that I don’t even want to go there. I can say this though. Our kids are savers. Our daughter got an incredibly great job with a tech company (earning almost twice what my husband teacher of 30 plus years makes) and is saving and investing so much. We are very proud of her because she could afford to live an extravagant lifestyle. So, I guess I’ve really veered off of the topic but, I understand your conflicting thoughts. I always felt like it was better to error on the side of the frugal lifestyle than on the entitled lifestyle because we all work really hard and to say I deserve it because I work so hard can lead down a slippery slope.

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  8. Teresa

    08/31/2014

    Andrea–do not be too hard on yourself. You are such a wonderful person–you have a fabulous conscious and work to help others–you can “treat” yourself to items/things you enjoy. I love your tips, comments and helpfulness (and read DAILY). Just by writing this post, you are showing the world you are not entitled to anything. Hug yourself. Deep breaths. Keep pondering but also don’t beat yourself up 🙂 <3 Teresa

    [Reply]

  9. Monique

    08/30/2014

    Great food for thought on an issue I have been working on myself!
    My boyfriend and I sold our house 3 months ago after years of turning over every penny to make ends meet. Our income had changed dramatically and we simply couldnt’t live the way we used to. I made a game out of living frugally and shopping for as little money as possible while we tried to sell the the house. Cloths were only bought on a need-to basis and holidays were non-existent.
    Did I have a problem with my new lifestyle? Most of the time I did fine and found joy in making things work kn very little money.
    During the same period I suffered a burnout and was diagnosed with both epilepsy and depression. I managed to climb out of the black hole and the meds controlled the epilepsy.

    Now that we have moved into a much cheaper rental and are finally able to move on with our lives I find myself spending more and more money.
    A part of me wants to keep up the frugal life to save money and pay off our remaining debts. But another part wants to go out to dinner for a change and have my hair done. And buy a nice dress and curtains that are not on sale for new house.

    I had the hair done. And I have my nails done once a month. Do I feel guilty? No, because that small expense has given me back my lost confidence and makes me feel good about the woman in the mirror. I feel attractive again and my relationship flourishes with it. Could I do without it? Probably.
    Do I feel entitled? No. But I enjoy finally looking this good again and I also do feel I owe it to myself and my boyfriend to take care of myself.

    Then the clothes followed. And the pillows. And the rug. Did I overspend?. You bettcha.
    For me and him both. Just because I could.
    Did I feel entitled? Sure did. Guilty. Yup.

    My point is, deep down we very well know the difference between entitlement and enjoyment.
    Ask yourself a simple question. Do I NEED this or do I WANT this. The key is being honest with ourselves.
    Every. Single. Time.

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  10. Karlyn Nance

    08/30/2014

    Great food for thought! Here is the perspective of a 69 year old grandmother, who has wrestled with issues such as these for many years. My current thinking (and it may change because, yes, God is still growing me) comes from 1 Timothy 6: 17-19: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” So, in a nutshell, as long as I am giving back to God, being generous in sharing with others, and not putting my hope in riches, then I am fine with enjoying those things that God richly provides.
    As an aside, on a different but somewhat related topic, I try to do the same with possessions. As long as I have space for them, like them, or may need it some day, I’m fine with keeping it. When space runs out, or becomes too crowded for easily finding things, it’s time to trash, donate, or sell.

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  11. Debbie W.

    08/30/2014

    My thoughts on this subject are two-fold. First of all, I think the current amount you mentioned spending on groceries is totally reasonable and even frugal. My oldest children were the ages that yours are now 10 years ago, and I remember having a budget of $80 per week at the store, and $100 per month at Sam’s Club. And I found it very difficult to stay within that! Several times we would get to the last week of the month and just try to scrounge through our fridge and cupboards to come up with something for us to eat because we were at the end of our money (“more month at the end of the money” as one of my friends says.) That was 10 years ago, and you are right, prices have gone way up. I don’t think a person has to be “the most frugal person in the world” to count as being a wise steward of their money.

    My second thought is that energy is a resource too, just like money and time. You have made such a good point in the past about the fact that we each use the time that we have for the things we value most. No one has time enough to do every little thing there is to do in the world, because it is a limited resource; we have to prioritize and make choices.

    And I think the same thing goes for energy. We all have limited amounts of it, and some activities (like shopping with children – believe me, I know!) use a lot of energy. It is fine, in my opinion for a person to go with their children to several different stores if that is what they need to do. But they may have less energy later for other things (and that’s OK). But with all the different things that I’ve read from your blog that you are juggling, I just wouldn’t think adding those extra trips would be the best thing. Right now you are simply spending some money to save some energy that is better used in other places. It’s a trade-off. And in my opinion, when it comes to time, money, and energy resources it always is.

    [Reply]

  12. Megan

    08/29/2014

    Another very thought provoking post! My friends and I have talked about this many times.

    The ladies that discuss this most are all single women in our 30s with very strong professional careers. We work hard, but we’re not working 80 hour weeks regularly. We have lives.

    At the same time, a few have a passion they’d rather be pursuing if it weren’t for the major pay cut it would require. I don’t personally have a passion that I’m burning to pursue but I do sometimes wonder how life would be different if I scaled back so that I didn’t need to work this kind of a job if I didn’t want to anymore.

    We talk about the fact that we’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle. We’re afraid to give it up and then find out that the passion we wanted to pursue doesn’t fulfill us the way we thought it would. It’s a very scary thing that almost every woman I know (single and married) has thought about a lot.

    No answers here, just know that you’re not at alone in the dilemma.

    [Reply]

  13. Joan

    08/29/2014

    This is a question that I have struggled with as well. My husband and I are in a unique position, where we live overseas with free housing/utilities and both make a very good salary. We don’t have any debt and have been able to save at least 3/4 of what we have made in the 4 years we have been here. However, with no bills or debt we have also been able to enjoy many luxuries that didn’t used to be a regular part of our lives… we eat out weekly, travel 6-7 times per year to other countries, and spend money on things like language classes. In our minds all of these expenses have been worth it because we are in a once in a lifetime situation and want to see and experience as much as possible while we are here.

    We are getting ready to have our first child and transition back to living in the US. We have had to reevaluate our budget and the way we live/spend. I think half the battle is recognizing that our lifestyle is possible because of our circumstances and readjusting our expectations for life with children and in the US! That being said, while we have saved a lot of money, I’m glad we also spent quite a bit traveling and experiencing life. The experiences we have had are irreplaceable, while we can always earn/save more money in the future.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — sounds like you have had the opportunity to do tons of cool stuff! I’m sure it will be a bit of “shock” once you’re back to a more normal budget (not to mention having kids thrown into the mix!) but you’re right, you can’t put a price on those experiences! so cool!

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  14. Amy O

    08/29/2014

    Andrea – You are enjoying your life and still living well within your means. I think you strike a good balance and one that I find very relatable. I save money as much as I can, but we have iPhones and cable television. Could we live without this items? Of course – but they make life more fun! As long as you are living within your means, this is what money is for!

    [Reply]

  15. Brenda

    08/29/2014

    Your blog posts have been so insightful that every time I see one in my mail box, I open immediately! I am amazed at your wisdom at your young age. I am old enough to be your Mother. Haha. I have to think that God has a hold of that sweet heart of yours. :-). Keep sharing, sister.

    Brenda Daam

    [Reply]

  16. Jen

    08/29/2014

    I might have a little different perspective but I think it’s something you should consider. I come from a family much like yours was growing up-my dad had an excellent job but NEVER spent any money. We always had what we needed and MORE. We had a lovely home. We went to private school. He put four kids through college without any debt. He gave generously and often-always anonymously. He spent hours each week going over his finances and investments, etc. My parents, literally, have more money than they know what to do with.

    My father retired in September 2012. Two months later he fell down the stairs and never recovered. He died in April 2013. He was 70 years old. He and my mom were never able to enjoy ALL that money had had accumulated. They rarely vacationed. They have a lovely home with nice furniture but now my mom is alone with all that lovely furniture. She called me crying last week after a meeting with their financial advisor. Although my dad did everything right as far as future financial planning, my mom feels a terrible burden having to manage and make decisions about “so much money.” And she’s very sad because my dad worked so hard and worried so much about money that he will never be able to spend. My parents had a strong, loving, godly marriage but I think, in a way, my dad deprived my mom of GOOD (not always necessary but still GOOD) things for many years in the interest of saving money. Sadly, I think it was area of pride for my dad to be able to save money and be known as “tight”. (And, in our “Dave Ramsey” generation, I think that pride/arrogance that often goes along with being debt free is becoming even more prevalent.)

    All this to say: find the balance. Take vacations. Get cable TV if you want it, for goodness sake! Go out to eat once in a while. Enjoy the fruits of all your hard work! God has blessed you with good financial minds and the ability to be wise and prudent with your money. Enjoy that! I don’t know how to tell you to achieve that balance but I would encourage you to try!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Jen, so sorry to hear about your dad… and honestly, this is probably one of my favorite comments ever!

    I completely agree with everything you said, but I guess I just couldn’t figure out how to put it into words exactly like you did (so mater-of-fact!) This is something Dave and I have actually talked about too, basically the fact that I’ve mostly been taught to “save save save” and because of this, I feel guilting spending on something that isn’t 100% necessary (which, let’s face it, is almost everything these days).

    I’m glad to have been raised in a very frugal family, but Dave’s perspective has been so good for me too. He’s much more willing to spend and splurge every once in a while — and I’m FINALLY starting to catch on that “spending” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “bad” or “reckless”.

    Also, we don’t really do anything with Dave Ramsey — but I agree that being debt-free is becoming a bragging right for many. My intentions are not to ‘brag’ but rather to hopefully show that we’re not spending recklessly or making horrible financial decisions and getting into debt to live a certain lifestyle. Also, even though we “only” have a mortgage it is still a source of stress for me at times — which is our main motivation to pay it off as soon as possible.

    Thanks so much for sharing — you’re right “balance” is key (for everything in life, not just finances).

    [Reply]

    Megan Reply:

    This describes my grandfather to a T. He is 93 now and only in the past few years has he started “splurging”, though most people would laugh at what he considers a splurge (going out to dinner without a coupon – how lavish!)

    He still has a physical aversion to paying retail for anything. He and my grandmother never went on vacation or bought anything new/nice. He always “knew a guy” or “got one for free.” If they fixed something up in the house, it was the lowest quality materials b/c they were cheapest.

    We had a nice house (I grew up living with them) and I never wanted for anything but it also created this constant sense that I was going to end up destitute if I didn’t pinch every penny. It comes from spending most of his formative years during the Great Depression, I know. And I’m grateful that I was taught to be fiscally responsible and conservative.

    But once I left home I had to learn a different balance. I work hard, but for what? I don’t want to have to wait until I retire to enjoy life. Like Jen says, you just never know what’s going to happen.

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  17. Kristen

    08/29/2014

    Andrea, thanks for always being “real” and honest with your readers with what works for you in your life. I’m sure it’s not easy opening yourself up to potential criticism or judgment, but I know I for one really enjoy reading your take on different things. Even if we don’t always agree with another’s opinion, it’s great to consider something in a new way 🙂

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  18. Luca

    08/29/2014

    I know what you mean. My husband and I were poor grad students for six years, but we were SO incredibly happy with the few cheap things we had and we knew to have fun outdoors and with friends without spending much. We both got good jobs but continued to maintain a grad-school lifestyle and budget, so we paid off our mortgage completely in three years. We continue to save, have zero debt, but we are slowly spending more on travel and hobbies and things we want rather than need. We work hard, too. I think you said it in the post — as long as you live a lifestyle within your means, then you shouldn’t worry (and you also give so much back!). Life is short. Enjoy it.

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  19. lydia @ five4fivemeals

    08/29/2014

    This is how I look at it. Enjoyment is when you have saved, worked for something and make room in your budget to pay for it out of the money you have, not money you borrowed from Citi Bank.

    Entitlement is when you feel that you are owed something and shouldn’t have to put forth any effort to pay for it.

    Andrea, you work hard. You and Dave are frugal and make good financial decisions. Choosing to spend a few extra dollars on good quality salsa is not an entitlement it’s a choice to have a small indulgence.

    [Reply]

  20. Robyn

    08/29/2014

    I love your site and have for a while! I can say that I really really loved when you did more budget posts etc. For example, there was one you did a while back about what you did with a 100 dollar gift card you got and I thought that was great. I also realize and understand that now your money has increased as you have mentioned. I think it is ok you don’t feel so bad about spending extra now and then, because you HAVE extra.I personally think that is OK if its within reason and I would totally do the same thing. I really think most people would too. If you are worried about it though, I would say make some new goals for savings etc, and give even more money to bless others if you can 🙂 In the end, we can’t take it with us 🙂

    I personally don’t have extra money too often, but that doesn’t mean I won’t read your blog . You do not seem like you are a snooty person and this post really shows that. Sometimes, I will read a blog starting out. The person is very frugal, and posts a lot of money saving ideas and their real life stories. They are relatable and not too over the top. Then the Blog takes off and suddenly the Blogger is buying more and more and more and the saving money and budget stuff slowly goes out the window or it’s taken over by guest posts. That is honestly when I decide if I can still relate to the person blogging or not and I can choose to read or find another I relate to better. After all, it’s my own personal time to choose which blog I read/why .

    The grocery store post didn’t bother me because I KNOW first hand, that even though you may have extra money, grocery prices HAVE gone WAY up. I think you are doing very well with it even without extra coupons etc. .

    I have four children, home-school and can’t afford childcare so when I see your posts about working from home, that would be a dream come true for me. I admit, I was a tad bit jealous of that post and the one about the stylist. HOWEVER, I am also happy for you and you give a lot of really good tips !

    What I’m saying is, I know that even though we may not have the exact same budgets etc… I will still be able to take away something useful in your upcoming post about your new look and I’m sure and hopeful I can continue to find useful stuff on your blog!
    I love your writing, I love your honesty, and people can choose to read or not. I’m staying 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Robyn 🙂
    And honestly, do you think you’d even have the time to work from home with 4 children and all your homeschooling duties??? I think you’d be super woman for sure if you could pull all of that off! You already have 2 full-time jobs — and just think of all the money you’re saving by not needing to pay for childcare or the many schooling expenses!

    [Reply]

    Robyn Reply:

    Exactly ! I have thought of maybe doing something in the evening part time for a little extra spending money , as in maybe two nights a week. Anymore than that is asking for trouble in my situation ! Especially since 3 of my 4 are 5 and under ! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I see — yes, you would be asking for trouble with everything else you have going on!
    The one thing I would say is that the type of VA work I do definitely can not be contained to one or two nights a week. It’s more of a “when they need me, but within reason” type of working environment. They know I can’t do something that minute, but they also know that I will have time to get it done that day or very early the next day.

    I’m trying to think of a situation that could work for keeping more ‘strict’ hours for your type of schedule. Nothing is currently coming to mind, but I’ll let you know if I think of anything.
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Robyn Reply:

    It would work if they knew I might not be able to get to it right away . As long as it didn’t turn into 6 hours every night type of thing I’d have no problem being flexible . Even if it were just a few hrs each day or eveningI could swing that,no problem without being too stressed but not more than that . My husband is home every evening as well and I have a good two hour window each afternoon during the day where my two youngest are napping as well as oldest are done with school work I do have a good computer, the highest speed internet, and years of Customer Service experience and typing. ( I’ve worked both Retail Customer Serv. As well as at a Bank as a Teller, and as I’m sure you know, Tellers are trained to work quickly ! ) Really my only issue is finding a legitimate/flexible connection and not a scam . Hope that makes since. Thanks so much for commenting back ! Appreciate the feedback!

    [Reply]

  21. Elizabeth

    08/29/2014

    Well…I honestly think it doesn’t really matter what we believe or not about what you do or don’t do. Ask God for wisdom every time that you are in doubt, and for sure He’ll guide your heart and mind toward the “right thing” to do. God bless you.

    [Reply]

  22. Heather

    08/29/2014

    It’s so funny that you brought this up – I’ve been reading your site for a few years off and on and recently, I thought, this site is just not for me anymore.

    My kids are much older than yours, we live way below our means and in the last year or so, I was surprised at how much money you spend and on what.

    It is NONE of my business where you spend your money, but I remember reading you saying you “don’t have anything with an “i” at beginning, i.e. Iphone, etc.

    You’ve validated for me that I need to move on from your site.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Heather — you are certainly free to read (or not read) whatever blogs you choose. However, I feel that I need to make it very clear (for anyone reading these comments) that Dave and I definitely DO live well below our means.

    We have never had so much as a penny of debt outside a few student loans and our mortgage. We paid off our student loans right after we were married and we should have our mortgage paid off in about 2 years. Considering, I’m still in my 20’s, I feel that’s a pretty good accomplishment that would only be possible if we lived well below our means.

    We fully-fund our retirement accounts every year, we give generously to church, Dave’s school, and community organization, we buy almost everything used, and we question every single purchase we make (even used items via Craigslist).

    Oh, and yes, 4 years ago, I did write a blog post mentioning that we didn’t have anything that started with an “i”. But that was FOUR years ago… as should be expected, our lives have changed just a bit in those four years — new house, new career for me, 2 new children, etc. and that’s OK.

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    If she actually reads your blog, she would know all of those things. I did.

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    LOL – ditto. And 4 years ago, many people didn’t have smart phones… these days, it’s almost required if you’re going to have a cell phone that it’s a smart phone

    [Reply]

    Audra Reply:

    Oh my! I would agree that if she read more often she’d realize how financially responsible you are. Good grief! I guess if I had a blog I wouldn’t want judgmental people like that reading it anyway. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Audra and Jen — there is no need to defend me though 🙂 I’m not upset, I just wanted to clarify for others reading the comments that Dave and I have not gone into debt to fund our small splurges.

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    You did that Andrea and you did it well. Great post thank you. I rarely comment but I read your blog many times per week. This was a really interesting post and many thought provoking comments.

    [Reply]

    CJ Reply:

    Heather is certainly entitled to her opinion, that being said there are a few things to keep in mind here. The line of work that Andrea is in, you need some sort of a smart phone. Doing her VA work, if a client calls with a question and she is not at home, she would still be able to access the internet if needed (via her phone) and as anyone who has had to work with clients would know – getting back ASAP is a priority. Also Andrea can write off some of her smart phone and internet fees during tax time (always a good thing).

    On to the ipad – most of the time these are “family” items. Being a parent I know how helpful items such as an ipad can be for even educational purposes.

    My husband and I are much like Andrea and her husband. We are savers. We will clip those coupons, repurpose, get creative so we can save and have a healthy emergency account and the only loan we have is our home loan. And much like Andrea and her husband the very few times we splurge on something (very few times), everyone seems to notice but they always forget how much saving you had to do to be comfortable to be able to do the occasional splurge.

    If Andrea and her husband’s only debt is their home and they are working to pay it off in the next couple of years, I would have to say they must be doing something right.

    [Reply]

    Karyn Reply:

    I think what doesn’t sit right with me about Heather’s comment is the fact that it is unnecessary. If you’d like to move on from a site that is not for you, shouldn’t you do it quietly and with grace without expressing your displeasure. Its this exact attitude that I am trying to teach my children not to have. If something makes you unhappy, don’t complain loudly about it, ask the Lord for grace, be kind and keep the rest to yourself. Just my 2 cents. Andrea I so appreciate your openness and honesty – so refreshing. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Julie Reply:

    Heather’s budget might be a bit TOO tight! A balanced budget and savings should make one feel happy, not feel bitter or better than anyone else. We all get to do what we want with our money and time, it’s called adulthood. And it’s fun! And it’s fun to read good ideas about different ways to do it!

    Thanks Andrea for a great website, you always are careful to offer your thoughts and ideas with an open heart and mind. As with everything, it’s our job as readers to take what works for us and leave what may not apply. Your ideas always inspire and are fun to read. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  23. Kim

    08/29/2014

    Wow! This post really hit home for me today! I have been asking myself these questions as well. We are about to come into some inheritance money and there are things that we need and want to spend some of the money on while investing the rest. I am very concerned that our line of need vs. want is a little blurry at this point because when my husband or I mention things we NEED, I start to ask myself “yeah, but do we really NEED it, could we live without it, since we have been up until now”. I have put a budget on what we are “allowed” to spend on things we think we NEED and things we WANT. I don’t want to go over board here because I really do want to save the majority of the money for a rainy day.

    I think what you are doing with the groceries is something that you, yourself, feel is less stressful because you don’t have to go to multiple places…so I guess you would have to put a price on the stress that you are saving, right? I feel that way. For example, I don’t have a lot of hobbies but I enjoy playing a certain computer game. Yes, the game is not cheap since when they first release it, it is usually $60 but the enjoyment it brings me and the stress that it relieves (I can “get away” from it all for an hour or so) makes me happy. I don’t do many other things for myself (never really go to a salon to get my hair done, never really buy myself clothes, do not do pedis or manis, etc.), so my husband always encourages me to buy the new game when it comes out.

    Again, great post and it’s nice to know that others struggle with these kinds of questions as well.

    [Reply]

  24. Katherine

    08/29/2014

    I think these are really great questions to ask yourself and talk about in your marriage!

    I read the term “lifestyle creep” once and it seems like that’s what you are questioning a bit. The comparison of then versus now can’t be one to one, since your job situation has changed so much. You used to have a high-speed computer at work (and none at home) but now you work at home- so your computer needs change accordingly. Also, comparing pre-kids versus kids is hard too.

    When my husband and I were meeting with a counselor and having a hard time on the topic of our budget, our counselor wanted to make sure we weren’t in any sort of debt (no- except our mortgage). And then he encouraged us to spend more on certain areas for this stage of life. Things like date nights, babysitters, the occasional help mowing the grass. Those are all investments in our marriage and family at a stage that is particularly physically and emotionally draining. Our “need” for a date night won’t be as strong when the kids are older and bedtime isn’t so draining! (Not that we won’t want to still go on dates, but part of what we love is paying someone to do that part of our evening right now- it feels like a luxury!)

    The bigger question for me seemed to be what my “master” was. For a long time it was the budget. Talking to friends and a counselor helped me put money and our budget where it belongs- as something that serves us. I needed to stop serving the budget and our savings. I was giving it too much authority in our marriage and life. Does that make sense? Maybe a little abstract, but that’s what was happening in my heart.

    Putting things in the “right” order has helped free me from a lot of service toward my money. We give generously, we save well, we are not in debt. At this stage of life I appreciate splurging on things that are not necessities, but that help strengthen our marriage and family life.

    Long answer:) Lots of thoughts:)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oooo, I love the term “lifestyle creep”. Obviously our lives are changing due to a new house, a newish career for me, and 2 new children over the past 3.5 years… but I just want to make sure our changes in spending aren’t getting too crazy 🙂

    Also, I could not agree more with your question of ‘who is the master’. you are right… definitely something for us to think about! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    I totally agree with this – I think the areas you splurge can change over time, and that isn’t a bad thing. My husband and I do have some of the “extras” in life (things like cable, faster internet, etc.), but we still live within our means. I think the danger is when you’re not aware of how much you’re spending and where your money is going. We revisit our budget at least twice a year (once in Dec when we set the budget for the following year, and then in the summer as just a check-in), and make sure that we haven’t got off track. We make sure that the most important things are taken care of, the tithe is a reflection of our income, and that savings is where we want it… and then we make any other adjustments that we need to. We’re actually in the process of making a change to our home phone line because the company has almost doubled our bill in the last year (for several reasons, we don’t want to completely get rid of it, but there is a service that we can get for $4/mo, which for us makes way more sense, since we rarely use it). We don’t really use our credit cards, except when we travel, and we make sure they’re paid off. We are paying down our mortgage much faster than required (and refinanced to get a low rate about 18mo ago), and my school loan should be finished by next year, but beyond that, we don’t carry debt.

    I look at my parents and where they’ve spent their money – it most certainly has changed. They used to sacrifice things so that my brother and I could compete in sports (both time and money)… now that we’re grown and not dependent on them, they enjoy a dinner out every Friday night, and more weekend trips to visit friends around the country. They’re still living well within their means, but their money choices have changed – do they *need* to eat out or travel? Nope, but they both work hard, and it’s one way that they stay connected now that they aren’t running the parental shuttle 7 days a week.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — funny you should mention about your parents. Dave and I ALWAYS talk about how our parents live so differently now than when we were growing up. They go out to eat regularly, splurge on nice vacations, get new furniture, etc. Oh well, have the the time and money to enjoy those things now!

    [Reply]

  25. Jen

    08/29/2014

    I think it’s a matter of semantics. “Entitlement” or “entitled” are not the bad words the media has made them out to be. They simply mean having the “right” to do something. We *are* entitled to certain things. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.,,and I would argue, the freedom to make our own decisions about our money.

    Some people will make huge mistakes and end up in terrible financial places. Others will make excellent financial decisions with minimal mistakes (I would put you and Dave into that category so far). Most people will fall somewhere in the middle (that’s me!). But I think looking at the word “entitlement” as an exclusively negative concept is the wrong approach. You ARE entitled to loosen the reins and live more comfortably, as long as it is not hurting anyone else and/or making you a drain on society. lol

    So my thoughts (only because you asked) is that you’re doing just fine, you’re aware of the slippery slope of spending, and you’re keeping yourself in check. This post is a good reminder for all of us to just take a quick inventory of our spending habits and make sure we’re staying the course (whatever we have decided our own “course” is…which we are entitled to do!). Great post, and thanks for the invitation to talk it out!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your perspective Jen — I think you are right. Also, I love your comment about “being a drain on society!” it made me laugh, and also realize that having a few extra electronics and spending a little more on groceries probably isn’t the end of the world when it comes to our financial lives 🙂

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    Thanks. 🙂 Your perspective on money and finances has really inspired me over the years. I always just sort of thought of debt as an unpleasant but inevitable part of life, and I definitely never thought of a mortgage as something you could eliminate in fewer than thirty years! Thank you for being so open about a topic than can be hard to navigate tactfully. It really does make me (and I think others, too!) feel like we can do it, too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks again Jen.
    And also, I do think a HUGE part of our financial perspectives are based on our parent’s financial perspectives. My parents were always “preaching” NO DEBT… so that has been ingrained into me, practically from Day 1. I remember asking my parents (in high school) how credit card companies made money since everyone just paid their bills at the end of the month. They laughed and told me that many people did not pay their bills at the end of the month — and that was really the first time I realized the snowball effect of debt.

    My parents taught me many good lessons, but we’ve also learned many helpful lessons from Dave’s parents too (more how they personally use their money versus what they ‘tell’ us to do). If we are not taught these things growing up, we don’t have a chance of learning them… until we learn them the hard way 🙂

    Dave and I have learned some financial lessons the hard way — but we are both thankful for parents who modeled good financial decisions over the years.

    [Reply]

  26. Abby

    08/29/2014

    I know how you feel! I recently left a full-time job to focus on freelance work that had become a part-time job … but finding the balance now that I’m out here on my own is tricky. I took a prime working hour to make a grocery run for some screaming deals earlier this week and found myself thinking about whether it was worth it the whole time. Thanks for voicing this – good to know it is a common struggle.

    P.S. – So looking forward to hearing about your wardrobe adventures!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know what you mean Abby. There have been MANY times when I have thought, “oh, I should go get that deal” and then I stop and figure out how much time it would take me versus how much I would save. If I would save $20 or $30, it’s probably worth my time. If I’d only save $5, it’s probably not worth my time. I often use this “equation” when I’m contemplating driving further to save a few cents on gas (yes, I do that sometimes!!) I mentally think through how much I would actually save — and since it’s usually only $1 or $2, I quickly realize that it’s probably not worth any extra time or energy!

    [Reply]

  27. Kim

    08/29/2014

    Thank you for this food for thought this morning! I am trying to pare down everything right now and pay down debt. This is exactly what I needed to think of everything at a different angle. I have been telling my children lately how fortunate they are, even if they don’t have iPod touches and iPhones like their friends and I am remind them that the little inconveniences and petty grievances are “1st world problems.” They really love that!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly Kim — almost any inconvenience we have are 1st world problems. I often think of this to try and change my perspective on my “problems”!

    [Reply]