You Deserve It

I’m often perplexed when, to comfort someone else, friends suggest to do something “because you deserve it” or reassure them that “good things are coming your way, you deserve it!”. I understand in situations where someone gets to make choices for us where deserving may come into play. Apparently when Apple was taking off, Steve Wozniak felt that the programmers who had been there deserved more money so he gave them a share of his stock options. He looked at the reward system in place, sacrificed some of his personal property in order to compensate people he felt were entitled to more. I understand this.

When someone encourages us to buy an expensive new coat saying “you deserve it!” what does this mean? We all have finite funds to make purchasing decisions with, so what is it that could possibly entitle us to the coat? We can either afford it or we can’t, right? Is it just saying “You’ve had a rough time recently, so you should increase the proportion of your entertainment spending to make yourself feel better”?

With random events, this is even more perplexing. I’m always hearing women say they’re holding out for a first rate man “because I deserve it”. What does this mean? I usually move on to greener pastures at this point since, as Mike’s wife assures me, I’m at best a third or fourth rate man ;-).

The only explanation I can make for this is that people feel like God or karma is going to “compensate” them for their good deeds or recent suffering. I’ve heard people who aren’t religious or spiritual make the same assurances and I can never quite figure it out. Unless there’s an all-powerful Woz to reward us for our life choices, where does this expectation come from?

If you’re not religious or spiritual, and you feel like people “deserve” things, where does this belief come from? Are you surprised when people don’t get what they “deserve”?

23 replies on “You Deserve It”

Hey Mr. Cheap,
I don’t think it’s a matter of deserving it or not, even for the people who says so. It’s more an easy way to convince yourself that you did not spend money the wrong way 😉

Human beings are ready to use the “I deserve it factor” to get away from guilt. I actually wrote a post on the topic:

As a matter of what people “deserve” in general (1st, 2nd, 3rd man rate 😉 ), I agree with you, that’s anything. I still believe that somehow you could be punished from your bad actions at one point or another but people rarely get what THEY THINK they deserve.

?! Naughty, naughty, Mr. Cheap. I never suggested anything of the sort.
Now go find that lovely lady who wants the McD’s buffet-style wedding. You deserve it!

Rationalization is a beautiful thing. That’s what ‘you deserve it’ is all about.

And, as for being 2nd rate, refer to that old Avis ad that used to say, “We’re #2, we try harder” I’d rather someone who works hard at a relationship than a #1 dork.

Recently, I listened to a friend tell me about their fight to get out of serious debt. I mostly bit my tongue as he talked about his plans to refinance their house (again!) to pay off substantial cc debt, never once mentioning how he was going to stop the vicious spending that got him to where he is (repeatedly). So I told him about the envelope method for budgeting but mentioned that I’m sure at times it would be tough to have to stay home when there’s no more money left in the “eating out” envelope.

He said, “yeah, I work hard and make a good salary, I deserve to spend my money however I want to”. 🙁

I agree with the others, I think it’s a way of justifying your behaviour (or others helping to justify it for you).

FB: I think I was considering this post a while back, put it off when you did your post, then managed to convince myself it was new and fresh and wrote it up. Sorry, I should have linked to your excellent post on the subject. Actually, I think your idea of using rewards to motivate yourself is a great one (and in that case, “I deserve it” does make sense, as you’ve met the objectives you set for yourself). I think my objection comes just from the random justification (your first usage).

Mike: I think FB has figured out I’m stealing his posts. I *think* I put him off this time, but I’m going to need to be more subtle in the future. We should steal from bloggers who aren’t so smart, he and CC catch me right away…

Mrs. Pillars: just testing if you’re still reading :-).

Leslie: Yes, I think you’re exactly right. I liked that Avis ad campaign too!

telly: I always find it really hard talking to people like that. You know there making bad decisions, not seeing the truth about themselves and their behaviours, but there’s nothing you can do but watch them hurt themselves…

Yup, I think you guys are right that its just a pretty transparent justification…

OMG, Telly. I personally know a woman just like the guy friend you described. Some people are just stuck in this financial self destructive mode. And it ususally back fires if you try to offer a sincere advice.

Now I just stop trying, unless if she starts offering advice to my circle of friends, then nothing will hold me back to debunk her notions.

People who earn a “good salary” do deserve to spend their money how they see fit, it’s spending the money they don’t have that’s the problem!

Mr. C – we need to start stealing material from people who don’t read the blog. Maybe from a pet-grooming blog or debt reduction or something??

LOL, you guys are hilarious. There’s something about Cheap’s humor that I find entertaining. Perhaps it’s because I see a lot of myself in Mr. Cheap. McD’s wedding all the way!

On another note, most of the ppl that I know use the “I deserve it factor”, and it’s usually these ppl who are in a financial mess. However, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself every now and again, providing that it’s financially responsible.

Have a great weekend guys!

Hey Cheap, great post (and comments). It’s always nice to have a little injection of the “personal” in PF 🙂

“I deserve it” is one of the weirdest PF concepts, b/c it’s very prevalent yet clearly carries a measure of irrationality to it. To be specific, if you’re using the line to justify a purchase, what does this really mean?

If I saved up money for a few months and then went out and bought and X-box 360, did I “deserve” that 360? The term I’d use is that I’d “earned” that 360.

What about a daily Starbucks? I work hard, I earn good money, I “deserve” to be treated to good coffee. Why not just say I’ve earned the ability to treat myself to good coffee?

It sounds to me like “I deserve this purchase” is really a simple way of saying: “I feel like I’ve earned this purchase even if I can’t afford it”.

Earned is an empowering word; Deserved is a dis-empowering word.

Compare these two statements:
1. I’ve earned a pay raise at my job, but haven’t received it yet.
2. I’ve deserve a pay raise at my job, but haven’t received it yet.

It’s automatically easier to sympathize with the statement #1. #1 is driving the bus, #2 is just being taken for a ride. I think that they key perspective here is to earn the stuff you want rather than to deserve the stuff you want.

will you people all stop telling the Deservers the errors of their ways? Then I’ll run out of clients!
😉 on the serious side – I think we all grew up with a set of expectations of what life would look like for us financially, and haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that it isn’t. (much as I love my funky condo in Vancouver, I sure never dreamed a condo would be all I could afford!). In addition – hello – a kabillion marketing messages come at us every day, from every direction, telling us we deserve it. Eventually, we succumb and tell ourselves we do indeed, price-tag be damned, as commentors above wrote. @GatesVP – mind if I use your empowering/disempowering concept with my clients? I’ll try to credit you!

So what do you tell someone when they say they deserve it? I have a friend who says that. She’s in debt, and tells me that she grew up without a lot of money (6 kids, sahm, dad was blue collar), paid her way through college, etc, and now she deserves the indulgence, or whatever. I want to respond by pointing out that perhaps with her bad decision-making (she picked up an absurd monthly payment when she got her mortgage), the only thing she deserves is her debt.
Of course, that’s mean. 🙂

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