Resistance is futile?

Back when I was a 20-something spring chicken, I made it a goal to run a marathon.  It actually took me about 2-3 training attempts to complete one, but when I did I think it was because I announced it.  Publicly declaring my goal, and fundraising for it simultaneously, made me finish what I started since I didn’t want to both disappoint anyone who donated nor be embarrassed by not going through with it.

So, when I decided to finally get off my self-entitled, consumerist high horse, get rid of my debt, and increase my net worth, I publicly declared it.  To B, my loved ones, and of course on this here blog.  This blog and its readers have given me tremendous support and motivation, that I honestly attribute my chunks of debt repayment because of it.  B is also very supportive – whenever a fleeting frivolity catches my eye, he kindly reminds commands that I’m “on a budget!”, so much so that it’s now a running joke around the house.  So when he saw that I put a modest amount in the church offerings for Easter and called me out on it, I kindly snarkily reminded him that “I’m on a budget.”

However, when I try to explain to friends and family, I’m at times met with resistance.  Whenever I declare that I’m on a year long shopping abstinence or that I’m getting rid of stuff to achieve a more minimalist environment, I’ve been met with the following responses:

Mom: “Why??  You have you treat yourself sometimes, you deserve it!”

Friends: “But you deserve massages sometimes, they’re so relaxing and you work so hard!” or “But why??”

Coworkers: (laughter) “We’ll see after the first month!” or “Well, how about just buy one thing every three months or something, you might not last through the year!”

I suppose these reactions are two-fold – one, as much as I thought I wasn’t too bad in my spending, that I must have been a big consumer to elicit such responses.  And two, that perhaps the majority of people are Borgs consumption-obsessed, and might not understand why I’m doing this.  While I know that my loved ones just have the best intentions and don’t mean any harm by their comments, I do find their reactions odd since it seems like a positive thing to shoot for.  I mean, it’s one silly year out of (hopefully) many – so I’m going to resist Borg assimilation the consumerist noise and carry on.

I’m wondering if anyone else has been met with resistance, or maybe looked at weirdly, whenever they declare something PF-related that might not be the norm.  And if so, how do you respond?

P.S. Despite the references that would prove otherwise, I’m definitely on Team Star Wars.

P.P.S. And just in case the more youthful folks don’t know what a Borg is (cough GMD cough), here’s the reference.  Get it?  Because Borgs are famous for saying “Resistance is futile” and that’s the title – clever, eh?  Or… not.

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41 thoughts on “Resistance is futile?

  1. I get the same looks when I tell people I want to try to be debt free in 4 years. Most of my friends and loved ones know how massively in debt I am and they think that my life will suffer for it. Even my bf thinks it’s a little too much. It’s not fun, and I do want to enjoy myself sometimes, but paying off my debt is so important to me. If I can be in my early thirties and be debt free, I will still have time to pad an EF, actually have a retirement and travel like I’ve always dreamed of doing. You can’t put a price on dreams of freedom and most people react negatively, because they couldn’t do it themselves.

    I think sometimes people feel inadvertently attacked when they react this way—probably because they feel like you are judging them if you are not like that or something. But at the end of the day, it’s a personal decision and you have to stay strong in your conviction and forget about the naysayers!

    • I agree with you 100% – even though it might be too much for some, I wonder if at times they’re projecting or that they think I’m judging their decisions (when I’m not, or at least don’t mean to). I agree that working hard now to enjoy later, which is in a mere few years, seems more worth it!

    • Me too. I think that sometimes people see your success as their failure and they take it personally. But it isn’t necessarily failure on the other person’s fault, they just aren’t as serious about eliminating debt =/

      • I couldn’t have said it better – just because I’m choosing to do one method doesn’t mean I look down on another method, but I guess some might not share my perspective.

  2. I get BORG’d all the time.

    Started when I claimed I would be out of $60,000 of debt in 5 years.

    Then when I announced I’d give up my apartment and travel / live in hotels while working.

    Then when I said I’d quit my job and freelance. (That was a major BORG)

    Then when I said I’d take a year off to travel.

    Then when I said I’d stop using detergent and shampoo… oh you get the picture.

    Kind of makes me want to go even harder in the other way (harder resistance).. but other times, I’m too lazy and I give in especially when macarons are in the way.

    • I agree, maybe I’m being stubborn or I have slight “I’ll show you!” tendencies, but it makes me want to work harder. Oh man, not to rub it in, but my friend made me macarons the other day – it was my first time trying one, so light and crispy! I can see why you’re addicted.

  3. I loved this post Anna! Despite not having a clue about your Star Wars, Star Trek references 😉 I can see from your sidebar that you are kicking ass with your debt repayment! Suprisngly I haven’t really been met with any weird looks when I’ve announced to people in my “real” life that I am adopting a more frugal lifestyle…they must probably be thinking “it’s about freaking time GMD” LOL.

  4. I have about a million examples, but I don’t want to bore everyone, so I’ll just throw out one.

    I have friends that I refuse to travel with anymore. They will not share a room and they insist on staying at the most expensive hotels (“we should treat ourselves”). The really dumb thing is these are outdoor adventure trips, all we do is sleep in the stupid room.

    I’m all for having a clean, bedbug free place, but you don’t need to pay $200+/night for that.

    • I get the “we should treat ourselves” shtick all the time, especially for bachelorette parties where they want bottle service which is crazy expensive. We get the same reaction with sharing rooms, too – we’re only there to literally sleep, why not just get double beds and half the cost of lodging?

  5. Despite having some great family and friends, I’ve gotten this reaction as well. I try not to sound like I’m telling them how they should be handling their money when I explain why I’m handling mine a certain way! So, I am not as forthcoming as I used to be about my PF goals, but when I get reactions like you mentioned in your blog, I answer with a simple, “yeah, I’m trying this; I just want to see how long I can keep it up; or didn’t you know, austerity measures are all the rage now.” Meanwhile, I know that I’m not going to stop fighting until I’m debt free no matter how people react!

    • Oh my goodness, I literally LOL’ed at “austerity measures are all the rage now” – I’m going to have to add that into my response repository. I think I might have been too eager to share my PF goals whenever someone asks “What’s new with you?”, so perhaps I’ll just use this outlet to talk about it. Best wishes on your debt free mission! 🙂

  6. I’m also currently on a shopping ban. My family took bets on how long it would take for me to break it (my hubby was the closest, though) but they were still supportive, even if most of them didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Well, I have cheated on it in March but I’m back on because I still think its a good goal and even if I don’t make an entire year of not shopping I still will have spent less and saved more than if I didn’t have that goal in the first place.

    My friends were a little less supportive as we often go shopping as an excursion, but I just said “why don’t we meet for coffee or dinner”? I’m not trying to exclude them from my life, just the shopping 🙂

    • Aww, hopefully the bets made weren’t meant to be mean-spirited! I wouldn’t be surprised if my loved ones also took bets… I just don’t want to hear the “I told you so!” so I’m sticking to my guns. I know exactly what you mean about shopping – get a group of girls together and everyone insists you HAVE to buy everything you try on. lol That’s great you suggest alternatives, hopefully they’re more understanding about it now!

  7. We get those same stinkin responses from people. “You guys have to treat yourself and enjoy life.” “Life’s too short to pinch pennies.” “It’s all about making the memories and enjoying the moment.”

    I just want to punch people who think like that. Yeah, lets spend every penny now so we can slave away for 40 years and hope the government bureaucrats support us at 65!

    • Oh, well, I dunno if I want to punch my mom. 🙂 But yeah, it’s a bit frustrating but I can’t let it get to me – I know that I’m doing myself a huge favor down the line, so that’s all that matters since they won’t be the ones footing the bill!

  8. Yeah! I know that feeling. I felt this a lot at the beginning of getting my financial act together (June 2011). Then it felt like I drilled my insistence on being better with money into everyone’s head for so long that they understand it. Not that they have all started saving, but they’re like “oh yeah, I forgot, you don’t spend/you’re cheap now”. Not that it bothers me one bit :). I’d rather be cheap than broke!

  9. Team Star Wars!!! I remember having an Ewok doll when I was a kid, but like many items, it mysteriously “disappeared” .

    *cough-parents threw it out cough*.

    People have been supportive of us cutting back on expenses, but I’m not one to hold back; if someone who is part of my life had a problem with me getting out of debt, I’m going to say something! I mean, who actually would want someone to stay in debt? 😉

    • Haha, awww so sad that your parents threw out your Ewok doll. They were so cute, I wanted one in real life and didn’t understand why I couldn’t! 😉 That’s great that you’re able to stand up for yourself – I I think I just need to get thicker skin and speak up for why I want to do it, as well. I guess it just catches me off-guard when people react like above at first, but I think I’ve heard it enough times to where now I’ll say something.

  10. I think it was like that at first when I make some radical changes in my lifestyle, but I think eventually most of my good friends got on board, and even admire that I can stick to it. I think people often want to drag other people down (like when someone skips french fries at a restaurant and the other person keeps bugging them to get it) because they themselves can’t do it.

    • I think your analogy is spot on – the ones who were most resistant are definitely the most habitual spenders, so maybe they were projecting. Hopefully they’ll get on board, though, at least with accepting what I’m trying to do.

  11. When I was working feverishly at becoming debt free I did face some opposition. Some friends thought I was absolutely nuts to have cut my spending while others cheered me on but thought I needed to take longer to pay it off so I could enjoy life a bit. I didn’t really pay attention and kept on with my plan. When I did pay off my debt (Dec 21, 2012) after 3 yrs & 6 months, everyone was pretty impressed. Note that my closest friends are all still very much in debt 😦

    • Congrats on your debt payoff! Stories like yours keep me motivated to stick with paying off my debt aggressively as I can. I think your strategy is the way to go – pay not attention and just stick to the plan!

  12. My own father often tells me that I should be spending more money and having more experiences. I appreciate the thought behind this, but have to tell him that I’m making sacrifices now so that I won’t be broke at retirement.

  13. Me: “I plan on retiring by age 35”
    EVERYone else: “Yeah, good luck with that…”

    I am convinced that everyone else is a borg, or I’d prefer to think of them as Cylons, that have been programmed to think that consumption is normal and unavoidable. Silly robots… We have a choice in life. You don’t deserve a damn massage, you deserve a life free from having to work so hard. You only need the massage in the first place because of HAVING to work so hard.. It’s a vicious cycle that humans (Americans in particular) perpetuate.

    • Oh man, that’s awesome that you know what a Cylon is!! I loved that series a lot (newer version, never saw the older one), and love any reference of it. Great insight on the vicious cycle – indeed it is! I don’t think I’ll stop massages for the sports therapy results, but definitely don’t need the “frou-frou” ones and can’t justify it if I’m not training for something I spent race fees on.

  14. I think I’m too young for the borg reference… but I can totally relate with your message. I absolutely HATE it when advertising says “You deserve it”. No, that’s awful logic. What does that even mean? Why do you deserve it?

    The thing I’ve realized about public PF goals is that they actually are controversial. Plenty of people run marathons, so when you announce that you’re going to do it, everyone else pretty much has to be supportive because it’s not controversial. When you announce a frugal goal, everyone else starts comparing their spending to yours to see if they are different from normal. They don’t want to support you because they don’t way to be “different”.

    When I made the choice to change the way I spend money, I told nobody except the internet. For me, challenges are very personal, so I still haven’t told anyone in the real world about what I’m trying to do. It’s probably not healthy, but it avoids awkward conversations at least…

    • Very insightful point, CR – I guess it was a learning lesson that PF, or rather how people spend/save, is a controversial topic. I was actually thinking about it on a run this morning, how when I did announce I was running a marathon that some people weren’t supportive then, either, suggesting maybe I should just do 5k’s or something. So it wasn’t really all sunshine and positivity then, either, but at least I finished so hopefully that’s what I’ll accomplish by announcing my PF goals!

    • Ooh, that’s a tough one – my running shoes are pretty pricey since I have flat feet and companies only make 1-2 models of mine tops so my choices are limited. I would suggest going to a local running shoe store that specializes in running shoes, since I think most of them will let you run around in them a block or so (the one I go to have treadmills at the stores). They can also give recommendations based on your footstrike (i.e., over-pronate, regular). Once I have that, I usually try to find them online at a cheaper rate – mine are pretty standard at $110, though. 😦

  15. Pingback: April 2013 Budget Roundup = Increase of + $9838.48 or + 4.83% | Save. Spend. Splurge.

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