How to Defeat Denial, Entitlement, and Wussiness (in Yourself)


Yesterday I spent a hew hours reading through different YNAB users’ journals in the forum (worth the time, by the way). The journals are a mixed bag:

  • Lots of quick starts and equally quick burnouts (with journals AND budgeting).
  • Lots of people who are fighting the good fight, for years in some cases.
  • Just a few cases of rank denial, entitlement, and wussiness.

One journaler journalist person made me want to kick my chair over in disgust (and righteous indignation):

“Boohoo, I can’t cut my grocery bill at all. I’m not going to eat beans and rice for the next five years just to avoid a little debt.”

“Waaa, how could I possibly deprive my son of his private french tutor?”

*Examples made up because I’m really not trying to out the cry-baby here.

After reading this journal, I typed out a harsh comment, and then – thank the heavens above – deleted it.

See, I’ve been told by those closest to me that, on the rarest occasion, I get a little preachy.

*Actually, my younger brother once observed me to have only three settings: preachy, scheming, and asleep.

After backing away from my righteous rant, I had a thought:

“He and I, we’re the same.”

We claim to “deserve” different luxuries, but entitlement is entitlement.

Hut-Dwellers Define “Necessary”

If hut-dwelling natives can enjoy quality relationships and some measure of health, why not establish their standard of living as the real baseline for “necessary?”

No, I have no intention of moving my family to a hut. The point is third-world folks provide a very useful definition of what a human needs to get by – which is to say, not much.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to climb down off my high horse (however temporarily) and go through the exercise I was going to impose on the cry-baby journal writer:

Put it all on the table.

All Major Expenses Are Up for Discussion and Debate

An economics professor of mine taught that every study needs bias to be meaningful. You don’t ask “is this true, or is that true?” You start with “This is absolutely true”, then set about trying to prove or disprove.

Up for debate are my six biggest expenses:

  • children
  • children’s education
  • shelter
  • food
  • transportation
  • insurance

I’ll bias the discussion against my life of luxury, and you’ll stand by, laughing as I wriggle and squirm under the weight of my wasteful self-justification.

Great times will be had by all.

My six hypotheses are:

  1. I should sell (or otherwise be rid of) my enormous home, moving into something much smaller and less expensive.
  2. I should absolutely not have any more children.
  3. I should not continue to send my children to private school.
  4. I should cut my grocery budget to $100 per person, per month, and I should never eat out.
  5. I should sell both my cars, use the proceeds of the sales to buy one less expensive van, and become a one-car family.
  6. I should drop, or drastically reduce my family’s health insurance coverage.

*I’m constantly using I as though I were going to make these decisions alone. Of course I won’t, but always writing as we (we being my wife and me) would sound weird.

I’ll spend quality time reasoning through each decision, so the posts (on this particular subject) will probably come once each week. I may not take them on in the order listed here.

Let’s see where this takes us. At the very least, it will spark some interesting discussion in the comments, and in my marriage. This post alone will cause me to have some ‘splaining to do when I get home from the office today.

Stay tuned.