Monday, October 2, 2017

Save for Tomorrow While You Live for Today

Courtesy of Pinterest

“You have to financially plan for your future, but you better enjoy today because you just never know.”  These words from a nurse of 30+ years as she addressed my residency cohort last week have been on my mind a lot.  Especially today.  The day after one of the worst mass shootings in recent U.S history seems like an odd day to write about happiness, but I think it proves our instructor’s point: you just never know. 
I work on the inpatient side of oncology and in the couple of months since work started I’ve seen how true this is.  People younger than me start feeling “off” and then a few months later, they’re in the hospital on chemo and barely have enough energy to get out of bed.  People close to retirement go in for a routine checkup, find out they have cancer, and suddenly all their life plans are out the window.  Cancer and mass shootings are not predictable, they are not fair, and they can completely change what you thought your life would look like.  We often spend so much time worrying about our future that we forget to be happy for today.  Instead of always focusing on how much better our lives would be "if only," we need to focus on how great our lives are right now.

Our big goal right now is becoming debt-free.  Of course retiring early sounds good too, but our main focus is to live more frugally and pay off our debt.  In order to reach this goal, we realize that some short-term financial sacrifices have to be made.  Keeping this goal in mind, we’ve also been discussing how to ensure we aren’t sacrificing everything we want to do in order to pay off debt “a little faster.”  We shouldn’t become part of the instant gratification society, but we shouldn’t sacrifice weekends on the coast here and there, occasional days off where we tackle housework together, or those trips to see family a couple times a year.  Living frugally and becoming debt-free shouldn’t mean that we stop taking time to be together as a family.  The time we have right now is not something to sacrifice for early retirement.  I know a lot of people disagree with that mentality, but to me time is the most important thing we have.  I can always work overtime here and there to make up for days off, but I can’t make up that missed time with the people I love. 

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