Why do with less?

One of the reasons we decided to do the 30 Days of Nothing is simple: bills. Our daughter’s health issues this summer used our medical savings plan faster than we’d anticipated, and I’m eager to get things paid off. We don’t have much debt, and I get uncomfortable when the bills stack deeper than usual. But there’s a deeper reason to take this journey, one I haven’t talked a lot about this year. It has to do with the concept of entitlement.

Currently I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a Mexican mocha steaming in a cup in front of me. Once a week I take a writing day, and this is just what I do: head off to a coffee shop, and plow through some writing assignments undisturbed. Thinking of next week, I’m not sure what I’ll do on my writing day. Part of me thinks, oh, it’s $3. Let’s call that an essential. I’m entitled after rassling a zillion kids all week long.

But that sense of entitlement is a tricky thing.

I’m entitled to a cup of coffee, even though I can make something just as good at home. I deserve a new blouse, even though my closet is bulging. I earned the money (or at least the stellar credit rating) to buy a new car- never mind that my 10 year old paid-for rig is still chugging along. And the chipped-up vinyl floor in my kitchen– no one’s floor should look like that– we really should do something about that. Or so the thoughts go in my mind.

Meanwhile, the coffee farmer who grew my posh coffee can barely feed his family. My closet could clothe half a village, and the clothes I just discarded from my little girls’ room could clothe the other half. My 1998 Ford Econoline would make most people in this world feel as rich as a sultan (though, granted, the gas would bankrupt them). And kitchen floors in homes all over the world are just dirt.

How much am I really entitled to? And if I didn’t have such a large sense of entitlement, what could just a bit of my excess accomplish for someone else? Tough questions. Questions we’ll be thinking about this month.