The other day, I received a work email that shocked me and made me tear up – a coworker of mine passed away unexpectedly. I didn’t know this coworker very well but I had worked with her throughout the past six years. Whenever I talked to her, she always had a bright smile on her face.
While death is inevitable for all of us, what made me quite upset was how young this coworker was. She was in her early 30s and had a bright future ahead of her.
After talking to a few coworkers, I found out the death was unrelated to COVID-19, but there were no further details. It was terrible news and I am sure that those who worked closely with her took this unexpected passing pretty hard.
As a parent of two young kids, I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have to say goodbye to your kids forever, especially when it was unexpected. I can’t imagine what her family is going through with this terrible news, and I sent them my condolences.
I have experienced knowing some people who have passed away in the last few years and I have written some posts on the thoughts I had. If you haven’t read them in the past, I hope you take the time to read them.
- Life. Death. Financial independence is really not that important…is it?
- Life reflection
- Appreciation – live life without regrets
Finding the right balance
The passing of this coworker made me ponder if the financial independence journey is the right path. Are we simply saving too much money and not spending enough money to enjoy the present moment?
If you asked me that question 10 years ago when we had just started our financial independence journey, I’d answer it with a definite YES.
When we started our FI journey, I was very much focused on saving money and saving more money so that we could get to the “FI finish line” faster. But overtime, I realized we needed to enjoy the present moment as well.
Afterall, the FI finish line isn’t all that important if you aren’t around to enjoy it. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but it really is about the journey, not the destination!
I am fortunate that Mrs. T keeps me grounded and reminds me that there are more important things than the amount in our bank accounts or our net worth. It’s about spending money on things that we value in life.
Although I shoot portraits and weddings on the side, Mrs. T and I felt we needed to hire someone else to take pictures of our family. So we recently hired a photographer for a family portrait session. It cost $350, but we thought that money was worth every penny.
We loved many of the photos from the session and Mrs. T printed out some of our favourite pictures on canvases so we could hang them at home. She ordered six canvases that cost around $400.
For the old me from ten years ago, I would have told you that $750 was too much money to spend. But the new me now would say it was money well spent. We spent that money to create precious memories.
On this financial independence journey, it is important to find the right balance between saving for the future and spending to enjoy the present moment. What’s the right balance? That’s a very personal answer.
But if I had to summarize this in a few words, I’d tell you to…
Spend money that brings you joy.
It is OK to spend money now. Don’t be like Ebenezer Scrooge or Scrooge McDuck.
The irony of life
We all exchange our time for money. We then use money to purchase things we need and want in life. Yet when we need time the most, we find we cannot buy time with our money.
Isn’t this ironic?
Rather than use money to purchase things we want in life. Focus on using money to purchase things we need and things that bring joy to us. Focus on investing money for a better future.
More importantly, use the time you have on your hands. Don’t keep telling yourself the most dangerous phrase: “We’ll do it next time.”
Teaching kids about money
I’ll end this short post with this lesson from a book called “The Know-Nonsense Guide to Money: An Awesomely Fun Guide to the World of Finance” that Mrs. T and the kids borrowed from the library…
Spending – Buying Memories
A memory is an experience you can enjoy forever. Unlike an object, it never breaks, goes out of style, or loses value.
Replica dinosaur eggs. Underwater hammocks. Sequined scuba gear. Titanium shoelaces. There are so many things you can buy. But buy enough of those things, and you’ll soon find you aren’t any better off than you were before.
You can’t really buy happiness, but if you want to try, the best way to spend your money is on memories, not things. It could be as simple as having a picnic with friends or as high-minded as taking a class on origami. Either way, you’ll never forget the experience. Low on cash? Try eating dinner in complete darkness or hunting for rainbows after a storm. Happy spenders choose new experiences over things, which is nonsense you know you’ll want to remember!
Please find time to spend with those you love. Use money to buy memories. And spend money that brings you joy!