Should you spend your money while you can?
A new article on Slate today details a study by some economists that say people should enjoy their money while they are still healthy and young. The conclusion of their study is that money buys less happiness when you are in ill health so spending money while you are healthy gives you more happiness value for your money. So should your abandon frugality for the sake of your happiness?
First of all, I think there is definitely wisdom in the carpe diem mentality. No one knows when they will kick the bucket, and the world is too vast for anyone to discover completely in one lifetime. Although I am pretty frugal, I have to admit that spending money on good food and vacations does make me very happy. The Slate article mentions Chez Panisse, the Berkeley restaurant that is considered the birthplace of California Cuisine, and having gone there for one of my birthdays I could honestly say that it is definitely worth the $60 to $95 they charge. I do believe that money is ultimately meant to be spent and enjoyed because you have worked for it, and being extremely cheap for the sake of being miserly is not a very enviable lifestyle.
Another reason I agree with the idea of spending your money while you can on the things you enjoy is that the world is changing rapidly and many wonderful things you can see, taste, and touch today may not be there anymore 30 to 40 years in the future. For example, many waterfalls in China are drying up right now and many different species of animals are becoming endangered and even extinct. Last year my husband and I saw endangered monk seals in Kauai, but would we still see them 30 years from now? Would the beaches of the island still be so pristine and beautiful? So in a way, I feel that there is an urgency to spend money and see the world before it gets any worse.
I think the problem with the Slate article is that it does not address that there needs to be a balance between spending and saving. The reason that I could spend hundreds of dollars on a meal and not feel guilty is that I know I have the money to pay for it. I know that I already made a sizable contribution to my retirement fund for the month and all other bills were paid, so I can afford to treat myself. The problem many people have with spending is that they are not spending their own money so the happiness they bought gets wiped out by stress and worry stemming from the need to repay debt.
What do you think? Are you cautious about saving and sacrifice the luxuries of today for a better financial tomorrow? Or are you focused on enjoying your money today? How do you balance your pleasure spending and your saving?