Treat Yo’ (Future) Self
I’ve been reading a lot of productivity books lately and you might wonder what they have to do with personal finance.
A lot of what I write about on this blog are things I do to help me and my husband save more money. Basically, I want to set us up for a good, cushy retirement and so I’ve figured out what works to keep us saving money and still live lives that don’t feel constrained by penny pinching and frugality.
But I think that sometimes we need to revisit our mindsets to make sure that the choices we are making for ourselves are the right choices and not just the easy choices.
Productivity books and self-help books force you to examine your life, your choices, and your mindset at every turn. This can be good for people who are looking to grow or change. Or this can be frightening to people who are stuck in their ruts or feeling cozy in their bubbles.
One of the biggest takeaways I’ve derived from these types of books relates to decision making. Every time you need to make a decision, stop and ask yourself if your future self will appreciate that decision.
This can be applied to sooooo many things in your life. If you’re about to eat a plate of cheese fries, they might taste good in the moment, but you may not appreciate that choice in the future when you’ve gained a pound and are wondering why your pants don’t fit.
If you’re about to drop a hundred dollars on a pair of ridiculously cute but impractical shoes, you might ask yourself how your future self will feel when she wears them to her sister’s wedding and then can barely get through the pictures because her feet hurt so bad (ask me how I know).
But conversely, if you’re about to spend a bunch of money on a once in a lifetime Alaskan cruise, that might be something your future self will appreciate! Those memories will be truly unique!
There seems to be this misconception in the personal finance world that you can’t really treat yourself in the present because you’re saving for the future. Lots of people will look at those of us saving for retirement so vigorously and say, “Well, I want to enjoy myself now. Not when I’m old.”
Duh, you moron. Like duh. Everyone wants to enjoy themselves now.
But I will readily admit that this is something I struggle with. Despite the fact that I started this blog for just that reason. I started this blog because I want to live a fun, adventurous life, while also being practical about what it will take for retirement.
I’m trying to remember that my goal is to make choices that benefit my future self as well as my present self.
Here’s an example I’ve been struggling with lately. My husband and I want to spend some money on new furniture for our extra bedroom – the mattress in there is absolutely terrible and we have house-guests a few times a year. Plus, it’s nice to have the extra bed if one of us is sick or super-snorey or something. We can spread out.
So, I’ll pick it all out and make pinterest boards about it like a ridiculous weirdo. But then when it comes time to actually buy the new furniture I’m paralyzed. Because if I spend this money now then I’m taking it away from my future self.
Isn’t that insane?
Or is it?
Does anyone else feel like this? Or do you live more in the present?
So from all of this, I’ve gleaned that it helps to reframe your mindset. Instead of buying the super impractical 4 inch heels (remember, I’m short!), I’ll buy the still adorable and much more comfortable 3 inch heels. I’ll still treat myself in the present, but I’ll also treat my future self by being able to wear those shoes more than the one time they destroy my feet!
Okay, that’s kind of a dumb example, but I hope you guys get my point. Spending a reasonable amount of money on the guest room means that when I’m sick and sleeping in there so as not to infect my husband, I can still get a decent night’s sleep.
Spending a reasonable amount of money on the guest room also means that family will want to stay with us when they visit and we’ll get to spend more time with that. That is also a benefit to my future self (as well as my husband’s future self!).
So what do you guys think of this mindset? Can you adopt it yourself? Does it make sense to you?