As retirement planners, we talk a lot, perhaps too much, about preparing for things that will not arrive for decades. This can even trickle into your personal life, and over the past few years I have definitely been guilty of putting off things I truly want to do into the future.
“Someday I’m going to get back into Jiu-Jitsu.” “Someday I’m going to try some form of racing.” “I’d love to visit more national parks someday.”
After all, I’m only 30 years old – plenty of time to do those things later.
But this summer really changed all that for me. The passing of my uncle in his mid-50’s and another friend in his early 30’s made it abundantly clear that we are not guaranteed a “someday” to do the things we really want to do.
We like to anchor our expectations for ourselves to our longest living relative, or the seemingly common stories of people living over 100 that pop up in your newsfeed, even though we know those are somewhat unlikely to happen to us.
Even average life expectancy numbers could be misleading – who is to say you will even be average and not one of the people on the bottom half of the statistical distribution? Quite frankly, there is no guarantee you even make it to a normal retirement age.
This is not meant to depress or scare you, but more to remind you that life is short, it is going on RIGHT NOW, and putting things off until a “someday” that may never happen is a mistake.
I am not, however, saying to empty your bank account and spend all your money right now, or spend each day eating junk food and doing hard drugs like there is no tomorrow, as you don’t want your future to be completely terrible.
Like in all things the best approach lies in a balance – the middle way – between spending your time and money doing things now vs. saving for the future.
I have a confession to make: I am a retirement planner with no actual written retirement plan.
That being said, my fiancé and I live an understated lifestyle and probably save more than we need if I just do the “back of the envelope” math.
In general this is a good practice – when people my age ask how much they should save I typically say “as much as you possibly can,” because saving up-front when you are young puts the investment wind at your back through extra years of compound growth.
Though I know in general this is a good practice, lately I have been more interested to know how little saving I could get away with going forward, and still have a constantly increasing lifestyle. Could I save less and spend more today when I might actually enjoy the money more?
That’s what a retirement plan will do for me - tell me how much I can comfortably spend without costing myself my future. That way if I want to take that trip to see national parks in Utah, or spend a little extra
on Jiu-Jitsu and go-kart league racing each month, I know I can do it and don’t have to feel guilty or irresponsible.
Though most people think of retirement planning as something that will benefit you in the future, in this way it clearly can benefit you right now and continue to benefit you through all the years leading up to retirement.
Don’t Wait Until “Someday”
I always preach to start taking your finances seriously immediately – delaying saving and taking responsibility for your finances does have a cost. But don’t wait until retirement or “someday” to enjoy your time and money either, that, in my opinion, has an even greater cost.
And in case you were wondering, the past few months I’ve been getting lessons in humility as a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a rookie on the go-kart track, and just returned from a trip to check out Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park.
A few pictures from my trip below:
Queen's Garden Trail
Close to the bottom of the canyon
Looking a bit winded walking up Wall Street. Nothing in my Midwestern upbringing prepared me for this incline.
A buck on the side of the road at Bryce Canyon National Park
Double Arch Trail at Arches National Park
Beneath the arches
Sand Dune Arch Trail
Always good to arrive before the crowds
Sand Dune Arch
Paul R. Ruedi, CFP® is a financial advisor at Ruedi Wealth Management in Plano, Texas.
Paul has been quoted in news publications including USA Today, Forbes, The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Inc.com, Business Insider, US News and World Report, GoBankingRates, The Street, NerdWallet, and The Penny Hoarder. He also writes articles that have been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and MSN Money.
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