You Don’t Have to Choose Between Having a Life and Having Money

It’s a misconception that the only way to either build up a substantial amount of savings/investments or to get out of debt is to live a life that isn’t a whole lot of fun. Basically, the belief is that you have to choose between having money or having a life. But you don’t have to do that.

Why the misconception?

I think the misconception comes about for a couple of reasons. For one thing, if you’ve got payments coming out your ears (you know, a house payment, student loans, car payments, credit cards, furniture, etc) you’re probably not going to have a whole lot of discretionary income until you change some of your behaviors. Since a lot of people are in that situation, it seems normal. But it’s not a good idea, or much fun.

For another, most of us don’t make a ton of money right off the bat. It takes time to get established; to build a career or business, and to bring home a decent salary. Yet we start out with a bunch of expenses. And in many cases, we automatically try to keep up the standard of living we were used to back when we lived with our parents. Also not a good idea.

You don’t have to say no to everything

In the previous cases, you will have to say no to some things if you want to get ahead (and get out of debt). At first. Either that, or you’ll have to go out and make some extra money.

But you probably still don’t have to say no to everything, and even if you do for a little while, you don’t have to do it forever. You just have to get your finances under control, and get your money working for you. And then keep it working for you, by not withdrawing it if it’s set aside for retirement.

I know, I know, your situation is different because [insert your reason here]. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save, get out of debt, invest, AND have a life. You just can’t go all-out on having a life to the detriment of everything else, because part of having a life means making sure current you takes care of future you.

Besides, everyone’s situation is different. It’s what we choose to DO in our situation (and sometimes, what we do to change it) that matters.

Look at it this way

No matter how much you make or have borrowed, there IS a limit to what you can spend. There WILL be a number at which you either don’t make any more money and/or are refused the ability to borrow more (probably because even the banks will recognize that you can’t possibly repay it.)

Now imagine that you have to live on the amount of money you’re living on now — because you do have to. Are you able to have a life? Yes.

Now pretend that your boss tells you your paycheck is going to be cut by $5 a week. Or you’re on a fixed income and it’s going to be cut by that same $5 a week. Really imagine it, and figure out how you’d get by. Now answer this:

Are you still able to have a life? (Remember, too, that “having a life” does not have to equate to “spending money on random fun things”.)

If you said yes, you can build an emergency fund, pay down debt, and start investing. (Ideally in that order.)

Go now and get started. (By doing something with $5 or more a week to help out future you.)