Posted by Dave on January 26, 2010
18,533 – this is how many days I have left if I were to live to the current life expectancy of a Canadian Male (Currently 80.4 years). When a lifetime is put into days that can essentially be ticked off rather then years which are large incomprehensible chunks of time, money decisions can really be put into perspective.
My end goal is retirement at 45 – this gives me a specific number of days to achieve my two-parted goal of minimizing expenses and saving enough money to live off of to support the lifestyle I want. Every spending decision between now and that deadline can be assessed against whether or not this is going to assist or hurt the attainment of that goal. For example, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about a vacation and how it is essentially a waste of money. Even though I am excited to go someplace warm and drink pina coladas for a week or so, the trade off is that my house is not getting paid off and my savings are not growing, (my two primary goals of the moment) all for a week away someplace warm – which, if this were something I did a couple of times a year would have a significant impact on my end retirement goal.
I have family members who are in their mid-to-late 50’s and have plans of continuing to work for several more years. All of these people are relatively well off, and to my knowledge really have no reason to work other then to maximize their pension money, or top up their retirement funds. The mindset of trading time in my 50’s because I have to work is foreign to me. I realize that my opinion on work may change at some point, but thinking that I have to work at 55 is a situation I don’t want to be in. At 55, with less then 10,000 days of expected life left (some of which may not be at optimal health) the last thing I would like to be doing is worrying about making more money. I’ve spoken with these family members and asked what they really want to do, and in general they don’t really have a plan. I think if they had a plan and knew what they wanted to do, they might realize that grinding their time away at work may not be the best thing they could be doing now, and they may have enough money to afford to retire.
I also know people who refuse to create a plan and “live for today”, which (from my observation) generally means living paycheque to paycheque (and going into debt when the paycheque isn’t enough) and justifying the lack of financial responsibility by thinking they may die tomorrow, which means these people don’t bother saving, paying off debts, creating a spending plan, setting goals (essentially everything that a site like this and a majority of readers of personal finance sites follow). What I see this attitude leading to in the long-term is a lack of freedom. Eventually (unless the people do die tomorrow) the debts that are being taken on need to be paid (or they increase exponentially), savings need to be created (or the person would have to work forever), and the “fun” that is being had today turns into tomorrow’s problem. I “live for today” as well, I just choose how I “live” so that if I am still around in my 80’s, I don’t have to be working.
I realize that this post is a little morbid in nature, but I think everyone needs to think about the future, and how much future is left. If you think of your life in (average) days remaining (for me anyways), it puts spending and financial decisions into perspective.
Am I the only one who thinks in this morbid manner, or are there other people out there that weigh money decisions in this frame of mind?