Financial Fast
5:55 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

21 Day Blog: Entitlement vs. Contentment

Credit Lindsay Myers

After spending this weekend in a resort town and reflecting on my finances some themes emerged that Michelle Singletary brings forward in these past few days: entitlement and contentment.

Her definition of entitlement is "to believe you deserve something, such as a certain home or car or lifestyle." She lists entitlements like a vacation, a "perfect" wedding, or the latest technology. I can totally relate to feeling entitled to those things and, even writing this, the justification comes swiftly: I have been frugal most of my life, a vacation or wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, some technology can result in a savings of time or money, etc.

Spending the weekend in the resort town of Watercolor, FL heightened both the enticement and the critical eye I am turning on those feelings. Being in a planned resort community around people who are dressed in head-to-toe beautiful designer clothing, carrying expensive handbags, driving luxury cars, and relaxing in their second homes it is hard not to feel envious of the lifestyle I imagine they have.

That's where the second part of my musings come in: contentment. No amount of money can buy gratitude and contentment with one's circumstances. Singletary quotes Thoreau who said, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."

I found that quote echoing in my mind and chose to be grateful for for having (warm!) clothing, a car that takes me where I need to go, and a place to lay my head 365 days a year. I chose to be glad that I had made delicious food to bring with me and good people to share it with.

I was also reminded that beautiful experiences don't have to cost anything. The purpose of our trip this weekend was to record new music and interviews for our original contemporary folk show Acoustic Interlude. Not only is Acoustic Interlude my favorite locally produced show (sorry Jazz and 14/59!) but I got to ferry the artists we featured around 30A, sit in the living room while they played their songs, and talk to them about their work when they wrapped up.

TLDR: private concerts with awesome singer songwriters.

So while I wasn't perfect  at the fast (I caved and had dinner out one night and coffee out one morning!) I was deeply reminded of the paradoxical nature of contentment and being. The more time I spend being content the less I need to BE contented.

Tomorrow I'll be back with this week's menu and number crunching as I make a (gulp!) budget but for now I'll just be content.