If you read a lot of personal finance blogs, you’ll probably come across plenty of bloggers listing things that they’re willing to give up or sacrifice in order to get out of debt, or just get their finances in order. The ‘What I’m Giving up To Get out of Debt’ type of posts are my favorite because I’m interested to see what other people choose to sacrifice in order to improve their financial situation.
Improving your financial situation requires some sort of sacrifice. It’s unlikely that you will wake up one morning with more money in your account and no mortgage if you don’t make a few sacrifices and do the work to get there. When you make unusual or sometimes drastic financial sacrifices, it’s likely that others will assume that you are unnecessarily depriving yourself from the ‘joys of life’.
This is usually never the case since making sacrifices and being deprived are two completely unique concepts with several differences:
Sacrifice Works, Deprivation Doesn’t
A sacrifice is defined as a loss or something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause. It’s a choice you make often after you realize that your goals are more valuable than the initial sacrifice. Hence why sacrificing makes perfect sense from a financial standpoint, while deprivation on the other hand, doesn’t.
Deprivation can be defined as the lack or denial of something considered to be a necessity. It’s easier to live with the fact that you gave up a non-necessity in order to reach a goal, but if you went without food, water, or shelter for an extended period of time you might not cope so well with those losses.
Personally when I hear deprivation I envision someone who’s depressed or on the verge of starvation or something. Pain, suffering, loss, and emptiness are expressions that do not describe how financial goals are supposed to pan out, which is why sacrifice works and deprivation doesn’t.
What Would You Give Up To Get Your Finances in Order?
No matter what your financial goals are or where you are in your journey, you’ll probably have to ask yourself this question at least once or twice. The best way to determine what you should give up or sacrifice is to separate your needs from your wants and be honest with yourself.
Do you need a 2015 Chevy Malibu that you can’t really afford? My guess is you don’t, but you may truly need a car to get you and your family from point A to point B. You can sacrifice simply by choosing an older or more affordable car or even saving up enough money to purchase a vehicle in cash.
Do you need to cut your $400/month grocery budget for your family of four down to $250 just to save money? While everyone’s situation is different, food is a necessity and even though it’s possible to reduce your food spending, you’ll have to buy some sort of food in order to survive.
Finding the best budget that works for your family will allow you to continue to eat healthy and well instead of cutting your budget down to an impossible and unrealistic amount. There are plenty of wants in life that we can painlessly trim down on without subjecting ourselves to deprivation.
Feeling Entitled and Earning More
In this country we tend to walk around with a sense of entitlement, a lot. We feel that we deserve a brand new car for graduating college, a big house, a country club membership, and all that jazz. Entitlement tends to lead us into lifestyle inflation and debt. When you’re stuck in an entitled mindset, it can be easy to mistake someone’s sacrifices (including your own) for deprivation.
In February, I posted about how I was choosing to give up clothes shopping for six months and go a month without spending any money on entertainment and dining out. When I reviewed how the month went, I brought up deprivation just to highlight how my sacrifices weren’t related to that concept at all.
At the end of the day we will all feel some form of entitlement but it’s best to channel those feelings into hard work. If you feel that you deserve to dine out weekly after a busy work day or take 4 vacations each year, realize that those are actually ‘wants’, put your credit card away, and work for them. Increase your income by asking for a raise, starting a side-hustle, or taking on a second job.
If you can currently only take care of your needs and a few financial goals, there’s always the option of earning extra to be able to include some of life’s luxuries into your budget.
Treating yourself is extremely important when sacrificing, but with deprivation it’s unheard of. Even though sacrifice is all about giving something up and working hard to reach your goal, there’s no official rule that says you can’t acknowledge your progress and do something nice for yourself.
Treating yourself doesn’t have to involve doing or buying anything major, but it is a great way to take a break and encourage yourself to keep getting closer to achieving your financial goals.
What sacrifices are you making to improve your financial situation? Do you think being deprived and making sacrifices are similar or completely different?
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