A few people have said to me that I worry about the future too much and that I need to enjoy the present. There’s a lot to be said for living in the moment. But I don’t want to sacrifice my future security for stupid stuff now.
The question “what if you die before you get to enjoy your money?” has to be the question that makes me roll my eyes the most. What if I don’t? I’ll be working at 70 and cursing my younger self. Even if I die leaving a large sum, my family would benefit. Don’t have a family? Well I would hope that by getting a grip on your money you wouldn’t have the awful pressure of debt payments hanging over you or the fear that your car will break down and you won’t be able to afford the repairs.
Being sensible with money doesn’t mean you never enjoy yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t get to live. This year, my partner and I have gone to a bunch of shows, and will be seeing Paul McCartney later this year (whoot!). We buy books, coffee and take holidays. But we also plan for the future so that we can maintain our lifestyle into our old age.
That said, we saved furiously for our last overseas holiday. We saved up for our car (second hand but nice). We have an account just for our entertainment and holidays so that we don’t raid our savings for the fun stuff in life.
The people who use the idea of living in the moment as an excuse not to save and look after their future are kidding themselves. They don’t live in the moment – they just like to perpetuate the idea that they are free and fun people.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a rich and full life. But if you want to do that, then go and do it. Don’t refuse to deal with your finances because you want to enjoy yourself in tiny little ways. Don’t stay at a job that you hate just so you can pay for craft beer on the weekend. Don’t feel miserable for 48 weeks of the year just so you can spend 4 weeks enjoying yourself in Japan. If you NEED coffee or chocolate or bottles of wine to get through your days then you need a lot more than budget help. You need to figure out why and how you’ve managed to trap yourself.
I’m being kind of hypocritical right now. I’ve spent a lot of money on travel and experiences – and I don’t regret any of those purchases. But I also saved for them. Nothing was on credit.
Living in the moment sounds alluring. Saving sounds boring. It’s almost an impossibility to convince people that saving and investing has merit if they are desperate to live it up now. On the other hand, grinding away in misery is no way to live. There is a middle ground – you’ve just got to find where it is for you.