The most dangerous phrase

Years ago, Mrs. T and I spent two weeks in Italy for our honeymoon. When we were planning the trip, we wanted to spend four or five days in the Tuscany region. Since both of us loved cooking, we thought that participating in Italian cooking classes while in Tuscany would be really cool. When we booked our trip and started looking around for cooking classes, we quickly found out how expensive these classes were. For example, the hotel that we were staying at offered cooking classes for around $100 CAD per person. The local classes were just as expensive. Although we really wanted to take a class, the price tag was simply too high. 

“We’ll do it next time,” we told ourselves. 

Next time never comes…

More than eight years later, we haven’t been back to Italy, and we have no idea when we will go back to Italy. That “next time” has yet to happen. (Given what’s going on in Italy due to COVID-19, it might be a while until we consider going back.)

When we originally started our financial independence journey, we had cut out many discretionary expenses including some rare occurring experiences such as concerts, travel attractions, culinary experiences, etc. We kept telling ourselves: “We’ll do it next time.” 

We were focusing on saving every single dollar. Because of that, Mrs. T and I got into a number of arguments on some discretionary expenses. After many arguments, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted us to be happy along our financial independence journey. 

What Mrs. T and I have realized is that “next time” may never come. As a result, we missed out on many opportunities that may never happen again. We ended up regretting these “cheap out” decisions. Looking back, spending $200 CAD for a memorable Italian cooking class would have been an amazing experience that we would both remember for the rest of our lives. 

My aha moment

What I realized is that we really need to cherish the moment and take up the opportunities presented. We also realized that having the experiences now (and experiencing some with our kids) will most likely be entirely different when we are in our 50s, 60s, or older, and when the kids are teenagers or adults. What we have learned is to save money for the future but also prioritize spending money to enjoy the present moment and to gain the once-in-a-lifetime type of experiences. 

Spend to enjoy life

When we visited New York City last summer, we decided to live by this model. We spent the money to get memorable experiences—we went to restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, all four of us went up the One World Trade Centre, Mrs. T and I went to see Chicago, we took the kids to Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, we took the hop-on-hop-off buses, etc. We didn’t use the “next time” excuses. Instead, we soaked up as many experiences as we could while in NYC while at the same time still being budget-conscious. How? When we went to restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, we went to lower-tier restaurants and got dishes to share, rather than everyone having a three-course meal. We tried to walk as much as possible rather than relying on the subway.  

When Mrs. T found out about the Milk Bar baking classes, I encouraged her to go when we were in New York. To keep her company, we asked my cousin’s wife if she was interested (we told her we’d pay for the class). Mrs. T and my cousin’s wife had a fabulous time at the class and each took back over $100 USD worth of treats! While the two ladies were gone, the kids and I were able to hang out with my cousin. A win-win for everyone. If we were to wait until next time when we visit New York, the experience would have been entirely different. The kids would be older (probably wouldn’t want to spend time hanging out with their dad and uncle), and my cousin and his wife may have a kid or two. 

Similarly, Mrs. T and I went to Pink and Elton John concerts last year that we wouldn’t have gone otherwise. We spent a lot of money on these tickets but when I look back, I truly believe they were money well spent. My parents were able to look after both kids for the night to allow Mrs. T and I to go out, reconnect, and enjoy ourselves. We are very grateful and fortunate to get childcare help from my parents. 

Earlier this year, Tool announced a show in Vancouver. After waiting for over 13 years to see them live again, I did not hesitate to spend over $300 for two tickets. $300 is a lot of money but I didn’t want to tell myself “I’ll see them next time.” Who knows the next time Tool will come to town? The band could break up and I would never have the chance to enjoy their music live again. 

Shift in Mentality

Years ago, it would have been easy to simply convince myself to stop spending the money, use the most dangerous phrase, also known as “we’ll do it next time”, as an excuse and call it the day. But we are more knowledgeable now and we know how to take a more balanced approach as we work our way toward financial independence.

Dear readers, do you use the most dangerous phrase often? Has your mindset changed since you started your financial independence journey? 

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30 thoughts on “The most dangerous phrase”

  1. Yes! Great article. Last year we took one of the dream cruises to Alaska. We spent a lot of money for it, but we did not skimp on the excursions. We did everything we wanted, since we knew it was a once in a lifetime thing. This is why we are frugal on most things, so we can be generous when opportunity presents itself, and to do special things that mean something to us.

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  2. Very true, Tawcan!! Next time never comes and spending (carefully thought out and allocated) money on life enriching experiences is one of the best kinds of spending!

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  3. We did a hiking vacation in Italy, a lot of it across Tuscany. It was great fun. We are active runners and hikers and we use adventure type travel companies to insure that wherever we go some intense physical activity is included with the sights, sounds and tastes of the trip. These companies are more expensive than the standard “see the sights” tour companies but well worth the cost to insure that we have the experience the way we enjoy it. Each time might be the last time, so its no time to scrimp on what matters.

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  4. Well stated Bob!

    Like Chris, we did an Alaskan cruise several years ago. What made it most special was I included my mother and sister. Sure, I could have saved the money; however, it was the trip of a lifetime.

    My mother has since passed and I’m eternally grateful we shared that experience. There are some things in life where “we’ll do it next time” will be missed opportunities we’ll always regret.

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    • That’s awesome you were able to include your mother and sister. That must have been a great family trip and great memories, especially considered your mother has sinced passed.

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  5. Very good article – especially the title :).

    Personally I’m very glad I’ve travelled extensively throughout my life (from late teens) and did not wait for retirement – added benefit from travelling younger is you don’t tend to as concerned with creature comforts hence get more experience and travel more frugally :).

    Very minor nit, Tawcan, I think where you use “non-discretionary expenses” you meant to use “discretionary expenses”. Non-discretionary expenses are those you cannot do without – rent, utilities, food etc.

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    • I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to travel since my teens and have seen a lot of different places and gained many valuable experiences because of that.

      Right, good catch, I meant discretionary expenses. Good catch. Thank you.

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  6. Good post Bob. I like finding balance on this topic, spending on things that provide a high ROI in terms of quality of life but not at the sacrifice of my freedom and long term goals. Cheers man and hope you are doing well.

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  7. These could not be truer words. Just being alive is not living. Yes, we want financial independence, but once some reach it, too much of life would pass them by. I follow quite a few “FIRE” bloggers. Some of them make frugality so extreme, I seems like the whole process would not be worth it.
    I can’t subscribe to that. My home away from home is Hawaii. I save up every year to spend 10 to 14 days there to escape the world. Been there 15 times in the past 16 years. I can’t imagine skipping visiting and not body surfing. At 50, I miss my agility of my 34 year old body battling a giant wave on Sandy’s Beach. Fortunately, I have gotten to do so over 100 times.

    Thanks for writing this.

    – John

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  8. Absolutely agree with you Bob. Life is about making memories, especially with loved ones. We did the Alaska Cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary. Cruised from Vancouver to Seward and cruised back again. We did that to maximize our coastal experience and enjoy different activities both ways. Cost a lot more but this was a trip of a lifetime for us. We have also done mountain helicopter ride for an anniversary, dog sledding for Christmas presents. Taking my wife flying with a private pilot friend for her birthday. My wife took her healthy 88 year old mother to New Zealand because the rest of the family thought it was to risky. Best trip ever for her. That woman is now in her late 90’s and wants a few more adventures. It’s all about balance and being prepared when opportunity presents. Live, don’t just exist. It’s the things we don’t do we regret.

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    • The cruise sounds amazing. We did a babymoon cruise a number of years ago and for us it was amazing. We didn’t do as many excursions as you did though.

      Dog sledding would be one heck of an experience for sure.

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  9. I think along with “we’ll do it next time” is also “we’ll do it later”. When we put things off circumstances can greatly change affective our plans. If we can do it now, I say do it now.

    I’m regretting not going to visit a good friend earlier this year. Now with the pandemic I’m not sure when I will get the chance to fly out to see her.

    I’m not advocating going YOLO crazy, just like you said being more mindful and striking a happy balance between enjoying today and saving for tomorrow.

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    • No I’m definitely not saying you should go YOLO. It’s more about taking the opportunity to consider whether it makes sense to spend the money and find a happy balance. 🙂

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  10. I’ve been known to use the phrase once or twice, but in recent years I haven’t used it.

    Why? I guess I have the funds to do what I’m really passionate about now. I don’t have to worry about saving every penny like I used to. It’s a great luxury, but I’ve also found that I’m less interested in many of the mundane amusements that life offers. Exotic locations, expensive restaurants, and fancy hotel rooms aren’t a big draw for me anymore.

    I’m pretty content with the simple things in life — good food, time with family and friends, some simple hobbies, and a quiet walk on a beautiful day. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me. 😉

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    • You guys do have the fund which makes life a lot easier no? Yea we aren’t as interested in many of the exotic stuff available anymore either. I feel as we get more and more involved in FI, we get less attracted to luxuries, instead, we get attracted to the more simple things in life. But again, you got to evaluate and assess whether it makes sense to spend the money or not.

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  11. Sigh. Guilty. I use it so much. Half because of money and half because I’m budgeting energy. The medium term consequences of overcommitting means my health will take a nosedive and I will miss out on more than the things I choose to pass on in the present moment. And I hate that but it’s a calculus I have to do every day to try and be present long term..

    Reply

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