It’s Easy for You to Say

Illuminated brick wall with old fashioned street light and benchThere are countless reasons to spend money you don’t have.

  • You’re overly optimistic about your future earning potential.
  • You don’t want to work hard for the money.
  • You feed off instant gratification.
  • You can’t pass up a good deal.
  • You’re immature.
  • You deserve it.

Stop right there! You deserve it, huh?

Let’s explore the soundness of that logic for a moment.

Recently, I performed an internet search for the phrase, “Why Americans don’t save.”

I’m curious to know why the average American saves less than 5% of their disposable income.

I expected a laundry list of factors such as the ones noted above. But that’s not what I found.

I stumbled upon a series of New York Times articles that dealt with this issue. To my surprise, many of the commenters on these articles blame lack of income for the “inability” to save.

According to the Financial Times, “the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973.”

But that’s no excuse, is it?

If you want to save more money and you truly don’t make enough to do so, then make more money.

Simple, yes?

Hmm. Maybe not.

It’s easy to forget about those who are born without the basics you take for granted.

Maybe you were equipped – through no doing of your own – with the tools that allow you to exponentially increase your income.

Maybe you’re not burdened with obligations that prohibit you from saving.

Maybe it was your environment or some innate gift that’s allowed you to excel in your career.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of personal responsibility.

I’m not giving poor people a blanket pass to stay poor.

I’m just trying to punch a hole in that ego of yours that’s gotten so inflated you think you’re the sole author of your greatness.

You’re not!

Me telling you this is a good thing. It makes you more human.

You can thank me later.

Right now, you should thank the men and women who are responsible for the freedoms you enjoy on a daily basis.

You should thank your parents for the role – direct or indirect – they’ve played in helping you achieve your goals.

Heck, you should thank your lucky stars you were born in an industrialized nation.

For years, I’ve thought about how fortunate I am, but over the last few weeks, the extent to which I’ve been blessed has become clearer.

You see, I quit my job at the end of 2011.

Oh, how wonderful it felt to make the leap into entrepreneurship.

While I’m in the process of replacing the six-figure salary I walked away from, money is tight. I have my savings, but obviously, I want to cover my living expenses through current income.

Well, a couple weeks ago, a $50 payment entered my PayPal account in the morning. And in the evening, the $50 parking ticket that appeared on my car windshield ate it.

A similar incident happened a few days later. It’s very frustrating!

Now, I kind of know how the struggling underclass feels.

If I didn’t have the money, I’d have to pay for my necessities and leave the parking ticket unpaid (which would result in more severe financial penalties) or leave other bills unpaid (which could result in a collections account appearing on my credit report).

Ugh! I both love and hate that I understand – sort of – the frustrations of the poor.

I’m sure your life hasn’t been devoid of challenges. And I’d bet you’ve made relatively good decisions, but you can’t ignore the absense of severe disadvantages and setbacks that have permitted you to ascend to success without much disturbance.

We all have our demons, but compared to some, our lives have been a complete cakewalk.

One of my super conservative, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps friends used to tell me the story of a young man who was able to overcome familial dysfunction. The guy’s mother was a drug abuser.

Because of her addiction, the mom didn’t allow for essentials in her budget such as, say, electricity.

Since it was too dark to see inside his home, the young man would study and complete his homework outside under the streetlights. He graduated high school and is now in college.

It’s a touching story, isn’t it?

Look at all of the wonderful things you can do in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But, boy is it tough.

Clearly, success (however you define it) isn’t impossible when your mother is an addict, but I imagine staying focused is a teensy bit more difficult.

As a child, could you resist the natural pull to either feel sorry for yourself or serve your natural desire to play with your friends all day or get into trouble while hanging out with a bunch of no do-gooders? I can’t say for sure how I would’ve been able to.

And unless you’ve experienced similar levels of adversity, you can’t either.

I’m sure you deserve a lot of things.

The right to the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a good place to start. To acquire all of the luxurious toys and services your income can afford plus some? To go into debt? Not so much.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about your relatively privileged life. If nothing else, you should feel grateful. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re probably not as great as you think.

How much of your success is attributable to the sacrifices of loved ones, fellow countrymen, or strangers?

About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.