Should you save your money for retirement or spend it now? Should you enjoy those sugary deserts today or should you forgo them so you will be healthier in your old age? Should you work in a secure high-paying job you don’t like or be a starving artist at something you love? These kinds of questions have no simple answer; they are different for everyone. But even beyond that I submit it is next to impossible to even know the best answers for yourself. The reason is that the time spans involved are simply too long, life is too unpredictable, and the the world is changing at a rapidly accelerating pace.
I’m sure that when you are suffering the consequences of diabetes when you are 75 you will wish you hadn’t indulged so much when you were 40. Likewise when you are poor at 80 you are going to wish you saved more when you were 30. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those would have been the “right” decisions. Once you are no longer enjoying the short-term benefits and instead are suffering the long-term consequences you are going to look at the situation differently. Who’s to say whether 30 years of eating pleasure and 15 years of poor health in old age is the wrong balance? Does the pleasure of smoking for 50 years make up for the lung cancer at 66? Most people would say no but they are looking at it from the perspective of the 66 year old. These are difficult questions even though I’m sure many of you think you know the answers.
I could save for a comfortable retirement and have it all wiped out in a currency crises (a likely possibility). What if the people who didn’t save for retirement vote to take all the money away from the people who did and use it for the “greater good of all” (another likely possibility)? I could eat an extremely strict diet and be wiped out by a bus when I’m 50. That would really suck. What if there is a pill in 30 years to fix all those health problems?
To say “balance” is the right answer is to say very little. That’s the whole question – how exactly should I balance these competing goals? How do we know? Are there any useful guidelines? Is there anyway to work it so you get both short-term and long-term pleasure? There is no easy answer to all these questions but I’ll try to provide some some thoughts that I think may help.
I’ve decided to break this article up into multiple parts to keep it from being extremely long. Tomorrow I’ll provide some ideas and work through a scenario in the area of health that will help clarify my suggestions.
Get Free Updates to The Rat Race Trap by Email here or via a reader in the top left sidebar. I would love to have you on board.
If you liked this please share it on your social network sites by clicking the share this button below: