Life is too short to save everything – I came across these words in the title of an interesting article (link). Immediately I knew I wanted to write on this topic. More so after my experience with Covid-19.
Due to this crazy virus, so many of us have lost so many of our loved ones. It’s something that none of us (or our previous generations) were prepared for. So it does push one to contemplate various aspects of life.
I have long maintained that despite being an investor and an investment advisor, I don’t believe that one should save everything. Life is much more than just about money.
Though the article linked earlier is written for US readers, it does point to a scary statistic that till now, the number of deaths in the US is so dramatic that it took an entire year off the average life expectancy of the country! Scary. And this is the biggest drop in life expectancy since World War II.
We (me included) constantly talk about how and why we need to save a lot more as there is an increasing gap between retirement and life expectancy. But you can never be sure whether you will see your retirement or not. Many young people I know who left us due to the pandemic were sincere with their finances. But fate had different plans. We always know how much money we have but we never know how much time we had. Isn’t it?
Do read Money we have Vs. Time we have.
I quote from the article directly here as it says what I want to say myself – I’m a huge advocate for saving money and taking a long-term view when it comes to your finances. But the past year is a stark reminder that the long-term doesn’t always work out like we expect. Some people will spend decades of their lives saving and planning for retirement, only to pass away before ever truly enjoying the fruits of their labor. I would never recommend people become reckless with their money but it is important to balance the need for long-term financial planning with the ability to enjoy yourself in the present.
Here is a super image from the article that highlights the dilemma that many savers (with retirement and financial plan) like us have:
One of my goals is to become financially independent as soon as possible. I aim for FI at 40 but let’s see what happens. Fingers crossed. But over the last few years, I have realized that given the nature of this goal, being a bit late is fine. Instead, I should focus on enjoying the journey as well. I have written about it at Is going Very Fast in F.I.R.E really Good?
You can use tricks and secrets to reach financial freedom early. But I would say that it is more important to enjoy the journey. And the company you enjoy this journey with.
Please don’t think that I am asking you to not save and not plan for the future. You need to do that. But you also need to take the middle path between those who save nothing and those who are irritatingly frugal. As the author in the earlier linked article says – There is no ideal balance for everyone because we all have different goals, needs, resources, expectations, and desires. The hardest part about planning for your financial future is the simple fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen. No one has things all figured out because no one knows the various curve balls life is going to throw at them.
But still, try to find a balance. It’s important. And it’s necessary.
Don’t postpone your life for tomorrow. We get life lessons in unexpected places. I got one on the topic we are discussing in Egypt from a Chinese Man.
Being the richest man in the graveyard is of no use as you can’t take it all with you. And is there any point in saving all the money if you never plan on spending any of it?
So enjoy some of your money now. Spend on experiences you value most. Splurge on things you really want (but don’t be greedy or foolish). Don’t shortchange your life today. Don’t live an unnecessarily constrained and ultra-frugal life that will make you regret not having lived life to the fullest. But also keep an eye on the future. You don’t want to screw it no matter how much you believe in YOLO or You-Only-Live-Once approach. As running out of money before years will be a tragedy in itself.
This discussion also reminds me of a quote by George Lorimer – It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.
So all said and done, the fact is that our life is unpredictable. You never know when your time will come to an end. And how. So think about it. Save some. But remember that life is too short to save everything.