Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For Every Thing, There Is a Season

"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." - Soren Kierkegaard.

For me, the new year provides a good opportunity for reflection.  The sheer number of resolutions that people make (including myself) is testimony to that fact.   So, in the spirit of the time of the year, here's something that has been on my mind lately.

When thinking about money, the prudent or the smart thing to do is often to focus on the future.  Did you receive a sudden windfall?  Make sure to invest it.  Are you contributing enough to receive the maximum match from your company's 401k program?  If not, are you looking forward to eating primarily cat food in your golden years?

Get your dirty mitts off my Meow Mix.

While the above, in general, is absolutely sound and worthwhile advice, it poses a simple problem: we each only exist right now.  While your future self will be thankful for a comfortable retirement, if you always deny yourself present happiness, I can't help but think that that same future self will look back on a life that was hardly lived.

So, what am I suggesting?  Am I suggesting an "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" mindset?  Hardly.  In fact, focusing too much on your happiness today will come at the cost of a less secure retirement. 

All that I'm saying is that it is fine to splurge once in a while.  What I'm suggesting is a balance between your present and future happiness (your past, having already been lived, is unchangeable).  Inasmuch as your happiness is tied to the things that you own or the things that money allows you to do, make sure to have some fun once in a while.

We only get to live once, after all.  We may as well have some fun once in a while.

Picture by PugnoM.

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