You Can’t Be Everything

It’s amazing how people try to be everything to everyone.  We end up being a husband, father, friend, co-worker, engineer, writer, painter, Mr. Fix It, personal finance consultant, cook, general labourer, student, researcher…you get the idea.  Yet at some point people learn to say no to some things, because they understand you can get stretched too thin.  When that happens you really aren’t good at anything and often too busy and unhappy from it.

Money is very much a similar experience.  You can’t save for everything.  You can’t save for your child’s RESP, your regular retirement, your early retirement, pay off your mortgage faster, give generously to charity, buy luxury items and travel the world all at once and expect to be happy with the results.  By spreading your saving too thin you often end up feeling like you are getting no where fast, but often people are doing that very thing.  They try to save for everything all at once.

Yet if you don’t save for something how can you get to your goal?  That is true, but perhaps you should look at your goals and put it in a priority sequence.  What is the most important goal for you to complete.  Then the second most important goal.  Keep going until you have a list like this:

  • Pay off mortgage
  • Save for regular retirement
  • Save for early retirement
  • Save for RESP
  • Charity
  • Travel
  • Luxury Items

Now let’s list what you are saving/spending each month in each category.

  • Pay off mortgage $100
  • Save for regular retirement $500
  • Save for early retirement $200
  • Save for RESP $300
  • Charity $100
  • Travel $350
  • Luxury Items $200

Now you might have noticed a small problem.  Your saving/spending does not match your priorities at all.  No wonder people don’t feel happy about everything they are spending/saving.  They got the money going to all the wrong things for them.   Perhaps the solution is to either shift your priorities or shift you spending/savings.  Doing that you might end up with something like this:

  • Save for regular retirement $500
  • Pay off mortgage $400
  • Save for early retirement $300
  • Save for RESP $200
  • Charity $150
  • Travel $150
  • Luxury Items $50

Granted your trips won’t be as nice or you will be taking them less often, but you will actually see your mortgage start to fall off faster.  At least this way you will actually feel like you are getting somewhere.  That’s the point of not doing everything or trying to be everything to everyone.  It’s doing what works for you regardless of the opinions of others.  Yes it is difficult at times, but you will be happier in your own skin because of it.  So does your spending match your priorities?

One thought on “You Can’t Be Everything”

  1. Some very good points – it is very important to prioritize and take action on all fronts. I must say that I am not very good at prioritizing my time. My money, though, seems to prioritize itself pretty well just out of necessity. I think, though, by paring down the luxuries, like you did in the example, it could give a little more flexibility.

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