I had one of those shower thoughts today. Those thoughts where you’re like, “Oh yeah, wow, this makes a lot of sense.” I started thinking about all of these extreme money saving methods and how they can turn you into a robot if you’re not careful.
Let me explain.
Robots are basically computers, right? And computers, at their most basic level, are number crunchers. Believe it or not, that’s all a computer can do: addition, subtraction, logic, etc. etc. With some fancy number crunching and about a billion other layers on top, words and pictures appear on your screen.
So how are extreme money saving methods like a computer? Well, if you stay focused on the numbers and don’t look up to enjoy the sunset, you’re pretty much a robot. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.
Stop being a money saving robot.
Don’t let your life turn into a min-max. What the hell is min-max?
Let me tell you about a guy named Jimmy. Jimmy gets paid $4,000 every month. You can make a decent living with take-home pay like that, right?
Unfortunately, Jimmy’s life has turned into a mix-max effort. He’s playing his life like a video game. Jimmy has optimized his life to earn the maximum amount of points before he dies. In other words, he wants to perfectly maximize his wealth before he bites the dust.
Jimmy gets paid $4,000 every month and lives in a standard home. His mortgage is $800 and he spends $400 per month on groceries. When you add up his other bare-minimum expenses, he owes $2,000 every month.
At this point, most people would use some of that money for fun and entertainment. You might even start saving for a vacation. Not Jimmy. Remember, Jimmy is a mix-maxer. He wants to perfectly optimize his life around building wealth. He’s obsessed.
When Jimmy’s friends call him up to see a movie, he always says no. It’s getting to the point where Jimmy’s friends start to notice. “Jimmy never wants to hang out with us anymore.” As you might be thinking, Jimmy might find himself with no friends some day.
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Min-maxing your finances is boring. It’s robotic.
Don’t be like Jimmy. Min-maxing is boring and robotic.
In video games, min-maxing can make gaming seem like a chore. For example, if your goal is to make the most powerful character in World of Warcraft, you might follow a guide to do it. Soon enough, your game play experience will become periods of long grinding with quick references to the guide in between.
In essence, min-maxing can take away the fun of exploring and trying new things. You’re constantly focused on the next milestone and you don’t stray far from the main path. You’re basically stuck, following a step by step guide, drudging along to the end of the game.Be careful not to lose the things that make you who you are. Click To Tweet
When you’re planning for the future, be careful not to lose the things that make you who you are. Don’t let your inner flame die chasing a perfect score. When you’re dead, you don’t get any extra points for being the guy that never wasted a dollar.
The beauty of being human is thinking logically with sprinkles of impulsiveness and emotion.
Your life doesn’t have to be perfectly optimized. There’s fun in spontaneity and impulsiveness. You can still get where you want to go with a little bit of fun along the way.
Thinking logically about everything all the time is boring. Once in awhile, you need the little part of you that gets excited and emotional. You are who you are because of what you love in life.
Don’t be the guy who always has a solution to other people’s problems. That’s your logical thinking talking. Instead, listen. Listen with empathy. Let your emotions show. People aren’t always asking you for an answer.
Emotion makes us fun. We go on vacations because we want to experience new things. We want to feel what we’ve never felt and see what we’ve never seen.
Money always looks the same. It’s plain and boring. Money doesn’t give you the same feeling of staring in awe at a mountain range on the horizon. When you step into the warm ocean for the first time, the sand pouring through your toes, you won’t be thinking about your retirement accounts.
Don’t worship money. Money is simply a tool. It’s not the end game. Use your money to have some fun. Buy the things you love. If you love comic books, buy them. If you collect guitars, never let anyone take that from you.
Related Reading: The majority of millionaires keep a budget. Get started with these beginner budgeting tips.
It’s ok to spend money and spending money doesn’t have to make sense.
Don’t dwell on money you’ve wasted in the past. I know it’s hard to avoid, but try.
Instead, have fun with your money. Obviously, you don’t want to blow your life savings on a binger in Las Vegas, but have fun.
Think about it this way, you might be destined to die within the next five years. That’s why it’s important to find your balance. Plan for the future, but live in the present. Don’t stare off into the distance trying to get a glimpse of your retirement goals.
Here’s something you should know about me. Retirement doesn’t excite me. Freedom does. We have more freedom in the present than most of us like to admit. Many of us have our health and we’re able to stay active. Relative to others in the world, we should take advantage of it.
The short term rarely matters. Long term habits get you to better places.
Spending money here and there isn’t going to effect your future that much. It’s just a blip on the radar. The stock market has been through multiple recessions and now it’s reaching record highs. Your retirement accounts will follow the same path.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be scared of stock market disaster. Simply know, long term changes and discipline will get you there, but don’t live ten years in the future. Enjoy the present.
What’s the difference between $1.1 million and $1.4 million? Is it really that much? I don’t think so. You’ll be just fine either way.
I’m pretty sure I was inspired by this post by Our Next Life: It’s Okay to Be A Brat When Planning for (Early) Retirement. I started to think about how one could easily lose sight of the present if they’re not careful.
That’s why when I look at things like extreme couponing, I cringe. I don’t see the point in wasting all that time in search of savings. It’s time I would rather spend doing things I really love.
Be careful when trying to save more money. It’s possible to take it too far. We don’t get much time while we’re alive. Make sure you’re enjoying it. After all, one of the most common deathbed regrets is “I wish I was content with what I have.”
Remember, there are no trophies when you die. There’s no podium for first place. Don’t let your regret be “I wish I wasn’t a robot trying to save the most money.”
[Featured Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@jeisblack]