I’ve been reading a lot of PF blogs this past month in order to get some tips/advice on ways to be frugal, get out of debt, stick to a budget, and how to save and invest. The basics, I suppose. The PF community is vast (and incredibly nice), but the ones I gravitate towards tend to be or have been in my current situation – trying to get out of debt or are out of debt, and/or figuring out ways for a more fiscally sound future. Since money seems to still feel taboo when discussing with friends, at least with mine, it’s comforting to know there are others out there in the same situation who are improving themselves (and discussing it).
One of the blogs I encountered, Frugal Portland, takes a kind approach to her situation and others, in that, sure, maybe past mistakes were made, but there’s no sense in beating yourself up over this. That’s life, and all one can really do is learn from your mistakes and improve upon it. Here and there, she writes to be kind to your future self, and to “pay your future self, don’t borrow from her.” I thought these words were really profound, and is the philosophical approach I’m going with in taking rein of my personal finance.
One thing I foolishly prided myself in was that as soon as I turned 18, I made sure to pay my own way through college and in my 20’s so my mom wouldn’t have to work multiple jobs anymore. It’s obviously a false sense of pride, though, considering while I wasn’t borrowing from her, I lacked the common sense to also not borrow from my future self. I’ve always been employed, but I was living way above my means and partying it up, shopping for nice clothes, and splurging on nice trips. I suppose in your 20’s (heck even in your 30’s and 40’s), that’s what happens to some people – you think and live for the day, and worry about the boring, serious stuff later when you’re actually “a grown up.” For some people, they learn a lot quicker in figuring out that, oh hi, you have to pay for the past stuff back. For me, I’ve always been a late bloomer of sorts, and controlling my finances was no exception as this struck me recently (coinciding when I also started dating a very frugal person, which I’m thankful for).
I think my real wake-up call wasn’t when most of my friends were getting married, owning a house, and having babies, but more when the babies started crawling. Then walking. Then talking. And using “nocturnal” in a sentence. Then owning tablets and asking me what the wireless password was. Holy crap, life happens quickly!
Though friends who have followed the “life timeline” around the same time seem to received the memo a few years ago, I’m
getting to at an age now where I’m starting to realize that life is finite, and shorter than I think since days and months seem to pass by so quickly. So while I have these years when my body is able and my mind is on point (most times), I need to get my act together to not only get out of this debt mess, but to pay for things up front and, more importantly, to save so that my future self isn’t in the same predicament as I am now. Because sooner than later my 40’s will creep up, then my 50’s and 60’s, and I’d like to know that my 60-70 year old self has enough in her savings to enjoy the next third of her life without having to work, rather than paying for the mistakes of her past self.
(And, if jet packs for the common person will be available at that time, then I’d really love for my 65-year old self to be able to pay upfront and cruise around in that with my “move over, sonny” attitude!)
So, I’m sticking with this philosophy when it comes to personal finance because it’s sensible and motivating. Save and pay my future self, don’t borrow from her…. including next year’s self once I finish this year’s elimination project.