It’s okay to spend money on life’s indulgences once in a while. If a daily latte or weekly visit to the spa floats your boat, I say go for it. When you design your budget around the things that are important to you – while cutting out the things that aren’t – then your splurging actually becomes more like purposeful spending.
The Worst Financial Advice
What’s not okay, at least in my books, is the throw caution to the wind, you-only-live-once mantra that has become the unfortunate rallying cry of today’s youth. You only live once, or YOLO for short, is best defined by Urban Dictionary as:
“The dumbass’s excuse for something stupid that they did.”
That’s why I was seething when I read this hot piece of garbage on Elite Daily called, If you have savings in your 20s, you’re doing something wrong. I feel dirty just linking to the article, but you have to read it in its entirety to fully appreciate the worst financial advice ever given to Millennials.
It’s full of tired cliches about wasted youth and regret – like this beauty:
“Don’t waste your youth worrying about expenses when you should be worrying about experiences.”
Do you know what you might regret if you follow this terrible money advice? How about not having two nickels to rub together in your 40s because you spent the entire decade of your 30s repaying the experiences you had in your 20s. With interest.
Guess what? Life doesn’t end at 30. It certainly won’t end if you don’t take a limo out to Skye Bar to spend $200 on bottle service and then puke on your friend Tyler’s lawn.
Those “experiences” sound more like an excuse to postpone adulthood, and the “regret” you feel might be that you should have stayed home and studied, or that you wish you hadn’t gone to work hungover and messed up your chance at a promotion, or you still had that $200 you spent at the bar so you could replace your flat tire.
You can still travel and enjoy the finer things in your 30s and beyond. Heck, my in-laws just got back from three-week, eight country, whirlwind tour of Europe that could put any 20-something’s backpacking itinerary to shame.
Back to the worst financial advice you’ve ever heard:
“When you’re 40, you’re not going to look back on your 20s and be grateful for the few thousand you saved. You’re going to be full of regret.”
When I look back at my 20s I regret that I had to spend the last half of that decade paying for all the mistakes I made in the first half. Maxed-out credit cards, lines of credit, store credit to buy furniture and electronics, you name it.
Related: The plight of Generation Y
I never turned down a night on the town – I’d be the one buying a round of drinks at midnight after a visit to the ATM. If I was lucky, I made the withdrawal with my debit card, but on a bad month it might have been a cash advance on my credit card. YOLO, right?
Wrong. I had a big wake-up call when my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 26 years old. But instead of taking the news as an excuse to YOLO our way across Europe while blowing every dime we had, our instincts were to speed up our plans to start a family and settle down. We got our financial act together and enjoyed new experiences that we couldn’t even imagine in our 20s.
And because we have our finances in order, because we saved, we’re now able to spend money on life’s indulgences – the things we enjoy. As our savings grow, so does the opportunity to pursue new hobbies and explore new places – things we wouldn’t be able to do had we treated our money with irresponsible and reckless abandon.
The best part is that it’s not hard to live life to its fullest AND save at the same time. It’s not an either-or argument. Enjoy your present self, but you also need to remember to take care of your future self.
As Warren Buffett famously said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Make sure that someone is you.