Have you ever received conflicting advice from other people or well meaning friends? One such advice is “Enjoy your life now while you are still fit to do so. Spend some money to go travelling and visit other places. You won’t get to do this when you are old and less energetic. Life can be short and you may miss the chance completely.” To emphasize his point, your best friend goes on to give a good example, “Remember so and so who died of a heart attack at the age of 45 years old? Apparently, he had a comfortable amount of savings put aside plus a house and a property. He was working hard and did not even get the chance to enjoy life before he died. What a complete waste.”
The opposite of the advice above goes something like this, “Don’t spend money now as you may need it urgently later on. Who knows what lies in the future or during your retirement years? It is prudent to reserve your money now as much as possible and only enjoy it later.” Sounds familiar? Now, for the example that goes with the second advice “Hey, did you read the story about the old man who was abandoned by his only son? The son could not support him and sent him to the old folk’s home. The old man did not have any money and was totally dependant on his son for support but the son was not doing so well either. I heard that during his younger days, the old man managed to travel quite a bit and even drove a big car. What a pity he did not think to save some of his money for old age or retirement.”
Which advice would you listen to? Would you go for the first one or the second one? You may gravitate towards the second advice while another person may choose to go along with the first one. The opposing preference only shows that each person is different. Both advices are valid though.
I know that the two stories sound exaggerated but I believe that they do apply to some real life people. Now and then, you do hear of similar stories cropping up. The dilemma is if you spend money now, maybe you won’t have enough during your retirement years. On the other hand, if you hog your money now, you may not get to enjoy the fruits of your labor later on due to bad health that normally comes with old age.
Finding a balance
You would probably have guessed already at the obvious solution to the above dilemma. The answer is to find a balance between saving and spending money. You want to avoid regretting not saving sufficient money for your old age and also avoid regretting not spending some while you are able to. Finding the correct balance can be tricky though but only you can give the green light to how much money is to be reserved for your retirement years and how much money you can spend for enjoyment now.
Do some financial planning to put your money situation into the proper perspective. If you have achieved all your money goals, for example your savings amount is on target, you have no bad debts and you are earning a stable income, nobody can stop you if you want to spend some money for pleasure or leisure now. Spending some money means spending a reasonable amount that you can afford.
On the other hand, if your money situation is precarious with debts to pay off and a savings target that has not been met, it is better to stint now to strengthen your financial situation. As the proverb goes, “As you sow, so shall you reap”, your actions now will dictate the consequences later on. I’m sure I’ve used this proverb before but there is no harm in repeating it again. Once you have reached a satisfactory stage in your finances, then you can start to enjoy the results of your hard work.
Jacquelyn is the co-author of “Teaching Your Kids About Money” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.