There are three words in the English language that I’m beginning to loathe. Those words are “You Deserve It!” How many times have you heard those words. “Buy yourself a new outfit. You deserve it!” “Take a vacation. You deserve it!” Even the old McDonald’s commercials used it, remember? “You deserve a break today….at McDonald’s!”

“You deserve it” makes us feel good. “Yes,” we say. “I’ve worked hard! I’ve slaved for 40 hours a week at my job! I deserve to take that cruise this summer!”

Like any advertising strategy, there is some semblance of truth to the statement “You deserve it.” After all, is there anyone out there who works hard at what they do that doesn’t deserve a nice reward every once in a while?

But rewards aren’t rewards if they get in the way of your long term goals. When rewards get in the way of your long term goals, they become burdens.

Last year about this time our 5 year old cheap computer died. Now, I will say we did need a new computer. We used our computer for a lot of essential things, such as managing our finances and keeping in touch with people. When buying our computer, we took into account that we had paid down a lot of our debt. We had even paid off all of our credit cards. In May of last year, we knew we’d be getting the last bit of my husband’s inheritance.

And then we made the mistake of thinking back over the last year. We thought about the rough year that we’d had….a death in the family, two surgeries (one for me, one for my husband), lots of rehab on my husband’s hand…and we thought we deserved to splurge a little and buy a nice computer…one that was a little more expensive than the cash we had on hand. Big mistake.

We charged a nice computer on our then zero balance credit card. We knew we would pay it off in May, when we got the inheritance money. We wouldn’t even have to pay any interest.

But then my husband lost his job in May (the first time). And instead of paying off the Visa, we needed the extra money to live on. And while we were trying to cut back expenses, we had a new Visa payment to make. Suddenly, “I deserve it” didn’t sound so good.

Now, I’m not saying that we should never take vacations or buy nice things. If these things are in your budget, and you don’t have to go into debt to purchase them, go right ahead. After reading everyone’s comments and talking more with my husband about our economic stimulus rebate, I’m fairly certain we’ll be taking a vacation. We do need a break after our horrific last year. But we won’t be going into debt over it. We definitely do not deserve the bondage that comes with being under obligation to a credit card company.

The next time you find yourself wanting to buy something because “you deserve it,” please consider whether you deserve the bondage that comes with debt. Consider whether you deserve to sacrifice your long term goals. If you can buy that thing you’re eyeing without going into debt or sacrificing your goals, purchase it with a clean conscience. But don’t let advertising campaigns seduce you into thinking you deserve something that will make your life more difficult in the long term.

Have you ever purchased something you regretted, because you convinced yourself you deserved it at the time? How do you feel about the words, “You deserve it,” especially as they’re used in advertising campaigns?