Polar YOLO Extremes: how to do personal finance right

There are some great posts this week on Personal Finance. I particularly love Michelle’s post I’ll never be a frugal blogger (*fist bump*) because, god knows, I won’t either. I’ve even been labeled the “YOLO blogger” because I have a tendency to spend money rapidly, excessively, and with a kind of jubilation that sends fear into your average frugalista’s heart. I am fearless though, because I believe money is a tool to enjoy your life.

Now, how you enjoy your life (and how much) is up to you. Different people value different things to different degrees, which is why it’s ok to blow your disposable income on marshmallow cream if that’s what makes you happy. As with all things, moderation is key, and extreme frugality will make you as miserable as spending until you’re broke and in-debt.

Now this:

Not only is that a brilliantly hilarious video featuring my future husband, Adam Levine, it also provides an awesome, very honest message using both pop culture and sarcasm, which is my personal favorite way of saying anything. They do include some commentary on financial planning if you want to skip ahead to 2:00, or just read the lyrics below:

Take no chances, stop freelancing right now
Invest in your future, don’t dilute your finances, 401K, k?
Make sure it’s low risk, then get some real estate
How much? 4.2%, 30 year mortgage, that’s important, that’s a great deal!
If you can afford it, don’t forge it, know your last bill
Renting is for suckers right now
Have dependable savings and you’ll retire with money in your account
YOLO? Say no-no, isolate yourself and just roll solo, be careful-o

The rest of the video also makes me LOL at everything from not going to loud clubs or concerts to never traveling, which as you know, are activities that occupy the bulk of my free time. One of my favorite things about having money is spending it, so I don’t really get why anyone would choose to shower in cold water or not order wine with dinner just to keep the bills down. People have a lot of good reasons for not doing fun things, and there’s no shortage of these reasons in the Personal Finance community but the cliche is true: personal finance is personal.

THAT FACE! <3

THAT FACE! <3

 

Everyone does money differently, and I think in an ideal world every preachy PF blogger would like you to spend money the way they do, because everyone thinks they’re doing it “right”. I feel the real gauge of whether or not you’re doing it right is pretty straightforward:

is your net worth increasing each month?

If the answer is no, you’re doing it wrong.

If the answer is yes, you’re doing it right.

How much you want to “do right” is up to you, be it $50 or $5000 there’s really no wrong answer. You can live on Kraft dinner and bank all your disposable income, or not. You can pay down your debts with only the minimum payment and be in debt for years and years, or not. There is a happy medium between the extremes, but it’s for you to determine. Personally if you’re here looking for advice I would also encourage you to:

  • commit to saving 10%+ of your income for retirement
  • build an emergency fund that could replace 3+ months of your income
  • pay off high-interest all debt
  • purchase income-generating assets
  • earn as much money as you possibly can

But that’s just me. Every choice has its perks and pitfalls, you just have to be prepared to live with the consequences of your choice. (Note: other people may not be able to live with the consequences of your choice, and will be vocal about it.)

I think many readers surfing personal finance blogs don’t want to retire at 35. They just want to be in a better financial position than they currently find themselves in. Maybe a little less debt, a little more savings, a whole lot more peace of mind.

Some people want money for money’s sake, some people want money for a certain lifestyle, some people don’t even want money at all, they just find it a necessary evil that they need to undertake in order to afford things like groceries and rent. However you do money, just make sure your bottom line is going up and its doing so at the rate you want it to. No one has to live with your money but you, so you get to make the rules. But this also means if you’re not happy with where you are, you have to take responsibility for that and change your situation.

However, if you’re like me and you are very happy with your money and how you spend it, then live on, friend, live on — because you only live once.

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Comments

  1. Fist bump girl! I agree!

  2. I was thinking about responding to the Lonely Island video this week but didn’t get to it. I’m glad to see another PF blogger noticed it.

    I think you covered both responses I have to the YOLO phenomenon, although you emphasized the spend-it-while-you-can one more. If you’re happy with your big-picture progress (for while YOLO as well), I agree that you have freedom with the rest of your spending.

  3. The only things I’d point out is that while all of this is true and I am of the same sentiment (money is meant to be spent, not hoarded):

    a) People DO decide to do foolish things like payday loans, and then try to YOLO their way out of it, but they just end up sinking deeper and deeper into financial quicksand

    b) No one (well, I’m not..) is expecting anyone to take cold showers and retire at 35, but I think our current (Canadian) savings rates says it all — 4.5% doesn’t give you enough to retire at 65 unless you have an awesome company pension and/or are counting on the government.

    c) We as PF bloggers and PF readers are a small, SMALL percentage of the general population.

    If someone happens to wander by and find out little community, that’s when saying things like: spend less, save at least 10%, don’t waste your money because you’ll regret it when you’re 65 … all start clicking and making sense for these NEWcomers.

    As for the rest of us, we already drink the Kool-Aid of saving, spending reasonably, and knowing what we have to do for the future.

    This advice is old news to us, but brand new to new people.

    d) Maybe some people coming by are much older and DO need to get on the frugal bandwagon ASAP because they didn’t start thinking about retirement until they hit 50 and realized they were 15 years off with $0 saved.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts :)

    I really believe that money is earned to be spent. Not hoarded.

    We just have to find that balance between spending NOW and spending for the future when we don’t want to get up at 6 a.m. to work, 7 days a week.

    Or do other things now and later, like travel.

    • haha you make good points — I guess I was just thinking in the context of criticism from other PF bloggers. Joe told me recently, “well do you have a six-figure net worth yet? No? Well then you can’t travel/party/whatever”. I think the standards are very different from the PF community to outside of it.

      I don’t advocated using YOLO as an excuse to act for your self-destruction, but I do feel some over-eager savers could loosen up a bit.

      • And that net worth thing going to be different for everybody.

        Some people might be working at jobs or careers where people can make GREAT amounts of money early but burn out on the work quickly, while others might be mid-range for awhile before going up a more natural income progression and others (haha, where I still stand) just starting out career wise with steps to go eventually but at a pretty low bottom for now. I’m in a career for example where EVENTUALLY you make more money but it’s lean to start but I don’t plan on being a person who uses garbage bags as curtains. (Actual “frugal” tip I’ve seen before. Seriously.)

  4. Um, yes. I agree with everything, except for the usage of “YOLO” as it makes me want to punch a baby :).

    I tried to go the Dave Ramsey way of paying off debt at first (“rice and beans” and “you shouldn’t be in a restaurant unless you’re working there”), but that got old quickly. I am not frugal when it comes to food, travel, and clothing. I also drop at least $1000 on debt every month, and now with my husband’s new job it’s more like $1500. I’m not up to 10% for retirement yet (I’m at 6% with a 1.5% match from my firm) but I’ll get there.

    Great post, Bridget!

  5. Agreed. Money is meant to be enjoyed, and that means spent, not hoarded. I don’t budget but do track my NW and am happy when it goes up slowly. As long as you move towards your goals, you should be happy.

  6. Ah Bridget, you and Michelle made my week with these posts! I give out high fives so here’s one for you :)

  7. Hah! I think the same way. I save, invest, and spend :)

  8. I am waiting for the PF blog about the song “thrift shop”

  9. I don’t regret any of the cool things that I spent on/continue to spend money on. Do I regret not being more money savvy? Yes! Can I do anything about the past? No! Have to focus on the future.As long as I keep focused, have fun, and approach my spending in a balanced way (savings, investing, debt repayment, enjoying life) then I think I’m doing ok.

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