On Your Own

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YOLO And Your Money

It's true that you only live once. But that's not an excuse not to save. 

YOLO - you only live once! We've all seen this splashed across social media, inevitably followed by photos of people doing something exciting - or stupid. (Okay, fine, we can call it a lapse in judgement if you want.) And while it's true that yes, you only live once, this shouldn't be an excuse to act recklessly.

In the financial planning industry, I see many clients, especially the younger folks I work with, taking this approach to their savings. "But I want to live now!" They tell me, followed by saying something like they want to spend money while they're young and able to have fun. These clients claim they need to enjoy life now because they won't be able to do these things when they're older. Now, in addition to the fact that you've just insulted everyone over 30, this is not an approach to saving and spending that I would recommend. And I dare you to walk up to someone in their 40s, 50s or 60s and tell them they're too old to have any fun. Just try it.

First, to be very clear, I am a big proponent of enjoying life now. If you put yourself on a budget that's so restrictive you can't have any fun, you'll never stick to it. I believe that any good financial plan prepares for the future while allowing time (and money) to enjoy your hard work today.

But if you're still that person who'd rather throw caution to the wind and forgo any saving, I would ask you, what do you consider "living"? Are you really in a position to drop everything and spend a month in Tahiti? Or every weekend in Vegas? When you yell "YOLO," what is it that you're envisioning? Living like a student forever, but without those burdensome classes getting in the way?

The truth is, most people are actually limited as to how much fun they can have when just starting out. You are likely building a career, which means you're not at the top of either pay grade or number of vacation days. You may not even have that much time or money just to go out to dinner, and when you do go out for a little fun with your friends, the costs don't add up to an amount that should prevent you from saving anything.

Again, if you want to have a little fun, I'm all for that. Remember those spring break college trips you did on the cheap? Go ahead, spend a few days at the beach with your friends - now you even have the freedom to pick a week when the prices aren't inflated because it's spring break. I took a few college trips myself, and I still treasure those experiences. But you don't need to stay in a five-star resort or take five trips every year.

The last point I want to make to you is that you probably don't know what fun is. Now, before I sound like I'm calling you a whippersnapper, this applies to everyone of all ages. When I ask my younger clients what they do for fun, "hanging out" and "Netflix" are often at the top of the list. Hardly worthy of yelling "YOLO," right? Retirees and empty-nesters have the same issue (even if they aren't sure what YOLO means) - they have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it is they do - or want to do - for fun. And even the people who claimed they wanted to complete a long list of wild and crazy things usually haven't. Most people go through their whole lives not knowing what they truly want to do, or want to experience to achieve that "YOLO" moment.

So please, before you blow your future savings jumping off cliffs in Jamaica or on a every latest gadget that's released. I promise there's a way to enjoy life in the here and now while stepping away from all of your excuses not to save for the future.

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