As a thirty something, I see a lot of “treat yourself” posts on social media, website ads, and in radio commercials. It’s satisfying to clear out an online shopping cart and have a new package waiting at home after a long day of work.
However, while it’s nice to make purchases that make ourselves feel rewarded, often instantly, I can’t help but think how much these posts are really promoting spending money in a casual, carefree manner. We see it occasionally with our younger planning clients, and even sometimes with our established clients that are experiencing a bit of “lifestyle creep.” Big promotions, early retirement, or large cash inflows can affect our current spending judgements, clouding the bigger picture painted with our financial plans.
What Would Future-Self Tell You?
What if we took pause and treated our future-selves every once in a while? Checking in on how our spending compares against our plan targets–or for some–starting a new financial plan to really get a grasp on our how our current spending impacts our future. Many of our clients first come to us not realizing how much they are spending, but once a plan is in place and spending is compared to targets, some are shocked to see how their money is being spent.
For me, I live by the golden rule of paying myself first by contributing to the retirement accounts my Advisors recommend, and keeping my emergency savings in line with my household needs. This also means increasing that savings as my household income (and subsequent lifestyle expenses) increases. Sometimes it’s not easy saying no every once in a while to going out with friends or splurging on material possessions, but I know it is important to be able to achieve mine (and my husband’s) financial goals.
Treating yourself doesn’t have to mean spending money in the absolute present to feel satisfied. Next time you feel an impulse to make a big/splurge purchase, take a moment to revisit your future-self and see if you can instead stash away a few extra dollars to enjoy down the road.