I have several people in my life that claim to be be unconcerned about their future, because they believe they shouldn’t be concerned about it because it may never come. Generally, I hear about this when there’s something in the news about cancer rates being up or other negative news about the future. This belief manifests itself in unhealthy actions such as excessive drinking, racking up debt or unhealthy eating. These actions are ‘justified’ by saying “might as well do this, I might not see tomorrow” or something along those lines.
The fallacy of living this way is described by Aesop in the fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper” – what happens when tomorrow does come? All of the crap that was consumed will have had a negative effect on your health. A lack of financial foresight may have lead to significant debt being built up. Neither of these results are desirable, and make the lifestyle of “living for today” very hard to do, because at some point there will be an obstacle. Either there is no money for a purchase, or health problems come up, or retirement come around without any saving and there is debt that still needs to be paid off.
I never know what to say to people who have this kind of mindset. I understand where it comes from as the future isn’t fun to think about, it’s much easier to basically stick your head in the sand and not take responsibility for your actions. It’s really easy to spend everything you earn (and then some) – you get a lot of toys, and have a lot of experiences right now if you’re not worried about tomorrow. If you’re not concerned about your health you can eat whatever you want.
I prefer to live in a different way. I think the perception of most people is that in order to save the amount of money that I do, or maintain the fitness level that I am at, certain sacrifices need to be made. Just because my wife and I are saving around 70% of our paycheques doesn’t mean we don’t have fun. We spend money on things that interest us, some of which could be perceived as a waste by others. We do not spend on things that don’t interest us or something that won’t add enjoyment to our lives.
What my wife and I have achieved is balance. We have minimal “wasteful” spending today and significant savings that will allow us to have minimal spending on frivolous things in the future. The people in my life who don’t think about the future have no balance. These people have decided to stick their head in the sand, pretending that there is no future when in reality there is a pretty high probability there will be a “tomorrow” (the flaw in their logic). At some point in the future they will have to address the decisions they have made, which may mean significant changes in their life.
Do you have people in your life that prefer not to think of the future? Have you seen anyone run into problems due to lack of planning?