Personal Responsibility Is Important: How Did We Get So Entitled?

I believe in personal responsibility. So should you. If we take responsibility for our actions, we will end up wealthier and lead better lives.

If you father a child, you had better step up and take care of your child until they are adults. None of this “see you later” nonsense while you shack up with someone else and neglect child support.

If you want to make the varsity squad, you must practice long after the official practice is over. Blaming your coaches for not liking you when you lack the skill to hit a wide serve or run a sub-seven-minute mile is delusional.

If you find yourself in a lot of consumer debt, blaming rich people or the government for your spending habits won’t get you anywhere. Instead, you must dramatically change the way you view money and cut up your credit cards.

If you’ve been breaking car windows and stealing what’s inside and get caught, accept the punishment. Do the time, pay the fine, and work on yourself. Don’t hire a lawyer and blame your actions on your upbringing. Reach out to every victim and offer to pay for what you did.

If you own a dog, pick up after it. Don’t pretend to be on your phone and not see as your dog defecates in front of your neighbor’s house. Be respectful.

Yes, my thoughts on personal responsibility may be radical. But the world is too competitive not to take personal responsibility seriously, if you want to get ahead.

We all make mistakes—goodness knows I have. But since nobody is going to save us, we must save ourselves!

The Lack Of Personal Responsibility And Appreciation For A Friend

Here’s a great comment by Yetisaurus, a long-time Financial Samurai reader who has shared amazing insights over the past 10+ years. This comment was left on my post about awkward money situations. It was the catalyst for writing this post and made me wonder what happened to personal responsibility and appreciation for others?

Helping A Friend Who Lost Her Home

I’ve had a couple of awkward money situations come up. The most awkward was when a friend of mine was losing her condo to foreclosure. She wasn’t totally irresponsible with money in general, but she made some choices that I wouldn’t have, and when her husband lost his job, they didn’t have enough emergency savings to get through. This was around the time of the housing collapse.

The good news (for them) was that they were able to stop paying their mortgage, and the bank took ages to actually foreclose. I think they basically got two years of no mortgage/no rent out of it. When the condo finally foreclosed, they were approached by the buyer and offered cash for keys to move out. They would get more money if they were able to move out quickly, so I offered to let them stay at my house for a month or two while they found a new place. They agreed, got paid, and moved into my house.

My friend offered to pay rent, and I thanked her but declined. I said that my goal was for them to be able to get on their feet and move out as quickly as possible, so charging them rent would have actually slowed that process down.

An Uncomfortable Living Situation

It was so stressful. I am used to living alone with my two dogs, and having an additional three people (their son came too) and an additional dog in the house was a lot. Their son broke the blinds in one room (an accident), they broke my lawnmower trying to help with chores (another accident), and my kitchen was always in use because they cooked constantly.

I gritted my teeth, spent a lot of time at the gym or just hiding out in my bedroom, and started counting down the two months.

Christmas came the next month, and even though they had “no money,” they bought their son a brand new (not luxury, but not super cheap either) guitar. She said she just felt too bad for him to miss out on a Christmas. I said I was pretty sure he would understand (he was 18, for crying out loud) that their family was having a temporary struggle and that Christmas might need to be more modest this year, but she insisted that she wouldn’t deprive him.

At the end of the two months, there was no moving activity. I asked my friend what the status was. She said they had applied at some 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 it had been two months. I said it wasn’t personal, but I’m an introverted person, and it was just hard having three additional people and an additional dog in the house. She said they would ramp up their efforts. I said okay, and just keep me posted.

The Start Of An Awkward Relationship

My friend was kind of distant after that, but I understood. About a week later, there was a small moving truck at the house, and they were loading up their stuff. I said, “Oh, I didn’t know you had found a place.” She said they just found one and were able to move right away, so they were going. I said okay and offered to help load the truck, but she said they were just about finished.

They moved out, and I barely heard from them again. Her other son got married a few months later, and they invited me to the wedding, but it was super awkward. I was basically trying to act like nothing happened. I gave them a nice gift and even ran out to get more beverages when they ran dry, but my friend was pretty stiff and distant, so we hardly talked.

After that, I never heard from her again.

The Bribe And The Entitlement

Her husband called me a few months later, saying he was selling solar panels now, and he wanted to know if I was interested. I said I wasn’t really in the market for them at the moment, but thank you.

He said, “If you order them, I bet I could get [friend] to come over so you can hang out again. I know things got awkward between you two before, and this would probably thin the ice.”

I asked him why things got so awkward, and he said, “Well, you basically kicked us out with no warning.” Then I said that I had given them a 1-2 month timeline when they first moved in, and they just went past that without even talking to me about it, and then they moved abruptly without even discussing it. He said his wife didn’t see it that way.

Anyway, I declined. The last thing I needed was to try to rekindle a friendship by bribing her husband with a solar panel contract. We haven’t spoken since.

What Is Going On With Some People These Days?

Yetisaurus was clearly more than generous by offering two months of free housing to a friend, her husband, and her son in need. If she was feeling a little awkward, surely her friend was too by invading her space for so long. But maybe not!

Her friend’s lack of personal responsibility made her feel entitled to outstay her welcome. Her friend showed no thoughtfulness or sensitivity to the inconvenience Yetisaurus had to endure. As a result, they are no longer friends.

Not being super grateful to Yetisaurus is one thing. But trying to get Yetisaurus to buy solar panels to rekindle a friendship is another. The friend was absolutely clueless in saying, “Well, you basically kicked us out with no warning,” when expectations were set for one to two months of free living.

When someone says one to two months, you had best try to get out of there after one month and not stay past two months. Heck, I start feeling bad after staying at a friend or my parent’s place for more than four or five days.

Thankful For People Who Lack Personal Responsibility

The silver lining to this story is that people who lack personal responsibility are the reason the rest of us who do can get ahead more easily. These people are so clueless and entitled that they think the world owes them something, even after already receiving help.

When your competition consists of clueless and entitled people, they simply won’t try as hard. They’ll also lack the emotional intelligence to help others and build strong relationships as a result.

Our lives will be easier because we will do the opposite. We will work harder than them. We’ll also be thoughtful about the troubles we put others through. We’ll give and help others without expecting anything in return, instead of just taking. When we get something for free, we appreciate it, instead of ask for more. In doing so, we’ll build far greater wealth and have far better lives.

And when those who lack personal responsibility come at us for living in a “bubble,” we’ll just nod our heads in agreement. When you encounter someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions, there’s no amount of dialogue to convince them otherwise.

Reader Questions

Why do you think some people don’t take personal responsibility? How could Yetisaurus’s friend not be grateful for housing her family for free for two months, but actually take offense? Do you agree that people who don’t take responsibility for their actions make life easier for the rest of us? How did we get so entitled?

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