Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guilt of affording it

Early life
Throughout my childhood I have lived a frugal lifestyle. Ours was a single-income home and hence, money was limited and generally less then everybody's cumulative needs. I used to get my pocket money and I don't remember even one incident when I had no money at the end of month. My money philosophy used to be simple, "avoid splurge today for a need of tomorrow". My dad sometimes, to tease my frugal ideas, used to say that I have more savings then him. Then I started working and was still frugal. I had a goal to save for my further studies and hence lived like a student even while working.

Some of my friends used to tell me that I am living a life of deprivation and I agree. There was no balance in my life at that point in time. I made those choices in earlier life because of two reasons, firstly because I wanted to enjoy my working life and second because I used to feel guilt of spending my dad's earned money on my wish lists. In those days, whenever I used to feel sad, I used to tell myself that this is the only way to have comfortable life that I dream about.

Employment Effects
I officially finished my studies in 2005 and started working thereafter. I told myself that now is the time to get rid of frugal attitude and enjoy the materialistic things. I started splurging on things that I loved clothes, jewellery and travelling. I convinced my self that it’s OK to spend 40% of my salary on these things and save rest. I know that it’s not necessary to save all that I earn now.

Marriage Happened
After 3 years I got married. Then came few months where I was only spending all the money that I am earning. First year of my marriage I could hardly save anything for retirement. I understood that I am building my home from scratch and hence this is bound to happen. Before my marriage completed first year, recession hit. We took pay cuts and got little more conscious about spending the money. As a result, we sailed smoothly in recession year as well.

Current Situation
Now I am again at point of time where I have no immediate expenses. I have everything that I need at my home; I have bought my new car with down payment, hence less of recurring cost of maintenance for now. I am again on track to save for retirement; I am again building my EF.

Of course I feel blessed and happy about my financial status. I am doing OK, not making any dumb choices, cutting the corners where needed and enjoying a balance between today and tomorrow. I can afford to indulge in few things that I love but others find extravagant. That makes me feel guilty of spending, guilt of being able to afford it. Not so encouraging comments from friends and family in some cases make it even worst. I find it very annoying and depressing when somebody comments on my indulgence without even considering that it might really matter to me or it might be that I have first saved for it. I have actually heard few things like, "wow, can you really afford a lunch at 5 star hotel on some XXX occasion", "you spend Rs 700 on a game, that's too much." At such occasions, I feel guilt of being able to afford some thing that my peers probably can't afford.

Why should I feel guilt on such occasions? I have worked hard for being at a place where I am today. I have made some very difficult choices in my life to have my current life. And above all, when I was making those choices and my peers were having fun, I never felt bad for myself or them. Rather I used to feel happy for them and used to motivate myself that I am going to have better life someday. But the ground reality is I feel bad.

Does anyone else also experience same? If yes, how you guys handle it?

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