Sometimes we engage in some strange behavior because time is illusory. We are born with an indefinite number of years to our name, and a hope to live life to the fullest capacity. This introduces a delicate choice when saving money: save for the future or spend it like there’s no tomorrow.
Present Or Prepping?
What group do you fall under? Do you feel like you’re living and prepping for your future? Or do you spend as much as you want, figuring there can only be so many years left?
Honestly, it seems like a false dichotomy. For me, the reality is more of a balance between competing desires. But that mentality of “living life to the fullest” is propagated in our mainstream culture. Various consumer industries and business leaders encourage this viewpoint. They connect our existence to spending in the economy; if we’re not doing that, what are we doing?
We’re terrible, on-the-fly statisticians. Emotions influence our ability to accurately judge situations that elicit worry, concerns, and/or ambiguity. As a psychology grad student, I can tell you that we over or underestimate nearly everything. When it comes to something as vague and unclear as death, dying, and life, we cannot predict it – despite the desire to.
When we spend unnecessarily, we are implicitly adding to the assumption that time is exceptionally finite – that there won’t be much more time to enjoy what we have. Again, the reality is that the average life expectancy is about 79 years of age. But if you’re spending more than your budget allows and will end up broke before then, the equation isn’t adding up.
For instance, skydiving seems dangerous – life-threatening, even – but statistically speaking it’s pretty safe. This kind of dialectic debate in our minds can send our mind swirling away from saving money.
Prep For The Future, Enjoy The Present
Here’s the sweet spot: recognize the frailty and fragility of life, while saving for your future. Life may be finite, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend everything you have before then. Psychologists describe this balanced life – between work and life – as reaching flow.
We are likely going to live far longer than our spending habits would suggest. As a Millennial, I will likely live even longer than current estimates. This makes the responsibility to save money more important than ever, while enjoying the present.
My way is to save and pay off my excruciating student loan debt, while treating myself to running marathons, creating a fun personal finance website, and enjoying the company of friends, family, and my girlfriend.
How can you prep for the future and enjoy the present?