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Personal responsibility is important: Why have we become so entitlement-conscious?

by xyonent
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I believe in personal responsibility, and so should you. We will all be richer and live better lives if we take responsibility for our actions.

If you’re the father, you should take the initiative to care for your children until they reach adulthood, not say “later” if you want to move in with someone else and not pay child support.

If you want to make the national team, you have to practice long hours after practice is over. It’s delusional to blame your coach for not liking you if you don’t have the skills to serve wide or run a sub-7-minute mile.

If you have a lot of consumer debt, blaming the rich or the government for your spending habits won’t solve anything. Instead, you need to dramatically change how you think about money and get rid of your credit cards.

If you get caught breaking a car window and stealing the contents, accept your punishment. Serve your sentence, pay your fines, and work on yourself. Hire a lawyer and don’t blame your actions on your upbringing. Contact all victims and offer to pay for what you did.

If you have a dog, clean up after them. Don’t pretend to be on your phone and not notice your neighbor’s dog defecate in front of their house. Be respectful.

Admittedly, my ideas about personal responsibility may be radical, but the world is too competitive for us to not take personal responsibility seriously if we want to be successful.

We all make mistakes. I made mistakes. But if no one can save us, we have to save ourselves.

Lack of personal responsibility and gratitude towards friends

Here is a great comment from Yetisaurus, a long-time reader of Financial Samurai who has shared some great insights over the past decade: This comment was left on one of my posts about sticky money situations: This prompted me to write this post and made me wonder what happened to personal responsibility and gratitude for others.

Helping a friend who has lost their home

I’ve been in some sticky money situations. One of the most sticky was when a friend of mine lost her condo to foreclosure. She wasn’t completely irresponsible with her money, but she made choices that I wouldn’t have made, and when her husband lost his job, they didn’t have enough emergency savings to get through. This was around the time the housing bubble burst.

The good news for them was that they were able to stop making mortgage payments and it took a long time for the bank to actually foreclose. I think they basically didn’t pay a mortgage or rent for two years. When the condo finally foreclosed, a buyer approached them and offered to give them cash in exchange for the keys as a condition for moving out. I offered to let them stay at my house for a month or two until they found a new place, as I would get more money if they moved out sooner. They agreed, got paid and moved into my house.

My friend offered to pay the rent, and while I was grateful, I declined. I told them that my goal was to help them become independent and move out as quickly as possible, and charging rent would only slow down the process.

Uncomfortable living conditions

It was very stressful. I was used to living alone with my two dogs, so having three more people in the house (their son was here too) and a dog was hard. Their son broke the blinds in one room (an accident), broke my lawnmower trying to help with chores (also an accident), and my kitchen was constantly in use because they were constantly cooking.

I gritted my teeth and began counting down the two months, spending more time at the gym and more time holed up in my bedroom.

The following month came Christmas, and even though they “didn’t have money,” they bought her son a brand new (not fancy, but not super cheap) guitar. She said she just felt bad for him missing Christmas. I told her that she thought her son (he was 18) would understand that the family was in a temporary bind and that they might have to be more frugal this Christmas, but she insisted that she wasn’t going to deprive him of anything.

Two months passed and there was still no movement on the move. I asked a friend about the situation and he told me he had applied to a few places but hadn’t been approved anywhere yet.

I gently reminded her that my offer was for a month or two, not indefinitely, and that two months had passed already. I replied that it wasn’t personal, but that I’m an introvert and it was hard for me to have three more people in the house and a dog. She said she would try harder. I replied, OK, let me know how it goes.

The beginning of an awkward relationship

My friend was a little standoffish after that, but I understood. About a week later, a small moving truck showed up at our house to load our belongings. I said, “Oh, I didn’t know you’d found a place to move to.” She said she’d just found a place to move to and would be able to move in quickly, and was on her way. I said, “Okay,” and offered to help load the truck, but she said she was almost done.

They moved away and we barely had any contact after that. A few months later her other son got married and I was invited to the wedding, which was very awkward. I basically tried to act like nothing had happened. I gave her nice presents and ran out to buy drinks when she ran out, but my friend was pretty cold and distant and we barely spoke.

I haven’t heard from her since.

Bribery and privilege

A few months later, her husband called me and said he was selling solar panels and wanted to know if I was interested. I replied that I had no intention of buying any at the time, but thank you.

He said, “Order it and you’ll get it.” [friend] “I want you to come so we can hang out again. I know there was some awkwardness between you two before, but maybe this will ease things up a bit.”

When I asked him why it was so awkward, he said:Well, they basically kicked us out without any warning.” after that I told him that I gave him a 1-2 month deadline when they first moved in and they let that deadline pass without telling me and then they suddenly moved out without any discussion. His wife didn’t think so.

Anyway, I refused, trying to rekindle our friendship by bribing her husband with a solar panel contract was the worst thing I could do, and we haven’t spoken since.

What’s going on with some of them these days?

Yetisaurus clearly performed an act of generosity by offering free housing for two months to a friend in need, her husband, and her son. If she felt a little awkward, her friend must have also felt awkward for invading her space for so long. But maybe not.

Her friend’s lack of personal responsibility made her feel entitled to overstay her welcome; her friend showed no compassion or consideration for the inconvenience Yetisaurus had to endure. As a result, they are no longer friends.

It’s one thing to not be too grateful to a Yetisaurus, but it’s another to try to get the Yetisaurus to buy you solar panels in an effort to rekindle your friendship. I was expecting a month or two of freedom, and my friend was totally clueless with, “Well, you basically kicked us out with no warning.”

If someone says 1-2 months then it’s best to get out of there after a month and not stay for more than 2 months. In fact, I feel bad if I stay at my friends or parents’ place for more than 4-5 days.

Thankful for People Who Lack Personal Responsibility

The only saving grace from this story is that those of us who do have a greater chance of success because of the lack of personal responsibility among some people — people so ignorant and entitled that they think the world owes them something, even though they’ve already received it.

When people are competing with ignorant, selfish people, they are less likely to try hard and lack the emotional intelligence to help others and build strong relationships.

Life becomes easier for us because we do the opposite. We work harder than they do. We also become more considerate about inconveniencing others. Instead of just receiving, we give and help others without expecting anything in return. When we get something for free, we are grateful without asking for more. By doing so, we will be able to create much greater wealth and live much better lives.

And when people who lack personal responsibility accuse us of living in a “bubble,” we just nod and agree. When we encounter people who don’t take responsibility for their actions, no amount of dialogue can convince them.

Questions from readers

Why do some people not take personal responsibility? Why is the Yetisaurus’ friend ungrateful, even angry, for letting his family stay with him for two months for free? Do you agree that people who don’t take responsibility for their actions make life easier for the rest of us? Why have we become so arrogant?

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