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Stop Being So Obsessed With Saving Every Penny

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Everywhere you look, people are writing about ways to cut “unnecessary” expenses from their lives.

People are constantly looking for new and inventive ways to save and hoard every penny they can.

Saving for retirement, and the future, in general, seems to be an obsession.

Maybe it’s the effects of several economic failures in the US over the last decade.

Perhaps it’s the financial media’s focus on the fact that the US has an abysmal savings rate as a whole.

Perhaps people realize they can’t wait until the last second and are obsessing now.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping an eye toward the future, there seems to be a big part of the picture being ignored, perhaps tragically so: today.

So much of the focus in personal finance journalism tends to be on the future but no one seems to be talking about living in the here and now.

There are several reasons why this intense and narrow focus on obsessive saving and future planning needs to be addressed:

Tomorrow Is Not Guaranteed

This is perhaps the most obvious reason.

We see and hear about it every day, peoples’ lives being cut short either due to:

Benjamin Franklin famously coined the phrase:

The only certainties in life are death and taxes

This may be a very dark and morbid view, but it cannot be more accurate and should not be ignored.

You can stash as much money away as you would like.

You can deprive yourself of anything you wish in the name of saving.

You can avoid spending money on anything that you don’t consider to be a need as much as you want.

The simple truth of the matter is that there is no guarantee the day you designate for being able to start spending that money will ever come.

Besides, what is the point of making money if you aren’t able to enjoy at least some of those spoils while you are still alive and able to?

Speaking of which…

You Can’t Take It With You

As far as I know, none of us are Egyptian Pharaohs, meaning that none of us will be buried with our treasures and worldly possessions to take with us to the afterlife (if you even believe in that).

You simply cannot spend any of the money you stockpiled when you are dead.

Having decades worth of maxed out retirement accounts, savings accounts overflowing with cash, brokerage accounts flush with investments that will support your lifestyle for many years to come, income-producing investments that will continue to supply you with positive cash flows for as long as you will possibly need are all great if you can take advantage of them.

You need to be alive for any of that to matter.

Sure, you can leave your wealth to future generations or choose to be philanthropic with it, but if that wasn’t the original plan, then all of that effort and dedication to scrimping and saving will go to waste.

And while we’re on the subject of wasted efforts…

You Aren’t Indestructible Or Immortal

Physical limitations impact your future plans.

It’s great to have grand plans, and the discipline to follow through on those plans.

The bad part is that many times things do not go according to plan.

The reason is simple: life gets in the way.

How many people do you know who, as they enter the latter stages in life regret not doing some things while they were younger?

This happens quite often as so many people do not take life into account when planning for the future.

They talk about working hard during their prime years in order to travel or spend their golden years doing the things they enjoy with no financial worries.

While they are working hard, sacrificing certain amenities and cutting every corner possible time is taking its toll on their bodies, and life is wearing on them.

Health is a very important consideration when it comes to seeing those dreams and plans come to fruition.

There are many things that simply cannot be done at an advanced age from a physical standpoint.

There is simply no denying that fact.

What do you do when you are ready to retire but your body won’t let you accomplish or enjoy any of the things you put off until this time?

Wrapping Up

Will you look back and wonder “what if”?

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop thinking about the future or stop looking for ways to save on the things you enjoy.

While there is nothing wrong with saving money, a balance needs to be found.

One of my personal quotes is “live for today while keeping an eye on the future”.

I think that it would be wise for others to do so as well.

Life is meant to be lived, and by allowing it to pass you by for the sake of saving for the ideal future which may never come can lead to huge regrets.

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TB at BlueCollarWorkman

Here here!  I completely agree.  I appreciate all the pf blogs out there and all the money saving tips (becuase we do throw away money in ridiculous ways sometimes), but we also must live today.  I probably won’t be able to bungee jump when I’m 65, but I can now and so I should pay to do it! The same goes for long hiking/camping adventures and rollercoaster fun, etc.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

I absolutely agree about the appreciation for the others out there!  However, I think sometimes it gets to be a little like “Chicken Little” and so much of the calls to action being that of squirreling away everything you possibly can.  There are some things that just should not be put off, especially when you are in a position to do them today without mortgaging the future to do so.

Modest Money
9 years ago

I think a lot comes down to your present financial standing.  I spent all of my 20s living in the here and now and didn’t put enough money into savings or investments.  So I am working at finding more balance in the other direction.  I realize that I can find plenty of ways to save without affecting my overall happiness much.  If I can find enough ways to save like that, I can better fit in the fun stuff and still plan for the future.  You do definitely have to balance in some fun though.

Drew
Drew
9 years ago

It’s when you get totally out of balance with spending-saving you’ve got a problem, particularly if you’ve been through the mill and dragged yourself out of deep debt, it can be scary to spend money on yourself and enjoy life. My latest post tries to address this dilemma.

sunk818
sunk818
9 years ago

OP’s post is typical of western thinking versus how other cultural views about leaving a legacy. If you don’t want to leave a legacy, that’s your choice. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but that doesn’t mean you live as you will die tomorrow. 

We want to give purpose to our money for the present and future. We also want to prioritize our spending based on the goals. Obsessing over savings means that other goals can be achieved that much more efficiently.