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Fess Up Friday: What’s All This Planning FOR?

It’s been hard to write about money – mostly because I have now quit my job, packed up my stuff, and gotten ready to clear out my savings to pay for the first year of business school. In short, it’s been a lot of cash OUTFLOW and a bare trickle of cash inflow. I also found out that I was rejected for a pre-MBA workshop that I interviewed for. Even though I know it’s still very early in the process, that rejection made me a little nervous about the whole recruiting / going-without-income / taking-out-loans stage that I am about to embark on.

On a tangentially related note, in past 3 months, I’ve had an acquaintance and her fiance die in a car accident and the husband of a middle school friend pass away from acute leukemia. I just found out that one of my distant cousins succumbed to breast cancer, barely two years after diagnosis.  These people died when they were around my age. Then, last night, my mom’s friend called her and said she just got notified by the police: her husband was killed on his commute back from work.

Which brings me to this question – what is all this worrying about money and saving FOR? Obviously, we need money to lead a comfortable life, and we need to save money so that we can be comfortable when we are older and no longer capable of working. Yet all this planning ahead doesn’t change the fact that life can change in an instant.

  • Frugal City Girl - I have to admit this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Not in a too morbid way, just trying to work out (to myself) how to construct a life where I won't feel it's been wasted if I'm hit by a truck tomorrow – what's the best way to plan for the future without giving up a meaningful life now?

  • Michelle - I'm so sorry about everything that has happened around you lately! That is very sad. And I know what you mean. I want to live my life now (carefully while still saving, but not sacrificing my life), because you never know what can happen. ReplyCancel

  • Leigh - I wonder that sometimes too. I have a relative who died just after retirement, before one of the kids graduated from college, and before either of them got married. The relative and partner had a great retirement plan, but then the partner was left to enjoy it alone. That's pretty scary to me.

    Then again, I get more enjoyment out of saving than spending, to maybe it's worth it? I've definitely been working on spending more consciously over the last few years to enjoy life a bit better. ReplyCancel

  • jeff sustainlifeblog - that is so crazy – that's a lot of bad things to happen pretty quickly. I feel the same way – even though I still have income coming in, H and I have the most impressive cash burn rate that I've ever seen, and I dont even know exactly what it is! We are buying lots of stuff for the house so we can keep the progress moving and get everything done, but it is just crazy the amount of money we are spending. We've already got a spending diet planned for after the honeymoon. I'd like to start now, but I know it's not realistic because some project is going to come up, and we are going to need to buy something to finish it. ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - Wow, that's a lot of tragedy in recent times. It really does bring perspective. I always try to keep those things in mind, especially since I've dealt with close losses myself. However, unfortunately, it's human nature to just keep moving on. We need that dose of perspective now and then to remind us to enjoy our lives. As for what it's all for? I'm still trying to figure that out… ReplyCancel

  • Daisy - First of all, this post hit right to the gut. I am a newlywed and have found myself recently very scared that life will unexpedtedly take my new husband away from me. Aside from my parents, I have never felt so close or so dependent on one person and the idea is heartbreaking and terrifying. I wonder if this is a weird newlywed feeling to have? Anyways, my heart goes out to all those people that had that happen to them and to you as well for all this horrible news. Secondly, I think in a weird way you answered your own question with that last sentence: Yet all this planning ahead doesn’t change the fact that life can change in an instant. Life can change in an instance but will not always result in death. A car accident could result in a disability and possible career change, cancer could result in months of chemo and a lost job, many things can happen between now and death. For me, that is part of what I am saving for. Life can happen in an instance and in those emotionally charged and difficult times, having money to help us get through it can help take some of the stress off. Just a thought.

  • ST82 - I think about this a lot. I feel like you need to be able to enjoy life now, and so if something were to happen instantly, you'd have to no regrets. That means you'd be happy as to how you have lived each day you have as it comes, if you were to look back on it. That being said, it would also include being responsible, saving as much as you can, but at the same time traveling, shopping on occasion, and enjoying your daily life too. I think for me, I'd like to balance things. Right now I save too much. So I will to continue saving, but spend on experiences that make my life enjoyable. ReplyCancel

  • onegirl - I'm so sorry to hear about all the deaths you've been hearing about and experiencing. You (we) save because we want to live until we're old and ripe, and we have to prepare for it now. There's no telling what tomorrow will bring, but hopefully you're living a life you're content with and if it ends tomorrow, you did the best you could today. *hugs*
    Have a safe trip to your new school! ReplyCancel

  • fugalportland - Goodness gracious — you're so right. So many things matter more than money. Hug your loved ones, spend money to send a 'just because' present — that is the kind of thing that matters. ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - It's so strange. I can so relate to this post. It seems as though, when tragedy strikes, it does so over and over again. And it can put you in a real funk. It's good to use these as reminders to savor the things in life that mean the most – our families, our parents, our children, our friends, irrespective of our ability to save at any given time. ReplyCancel

  • belowhermeans - ((hug)) A good reminder to be grateful. ReplyCancel

  • myjampackedlife - That's so sad. About everything. We have friends who just lost their second son a few months back. They've now lost both their boys. Sometime you just wonder what their plan is….all we can do is live life while we are around and hope that we,ve left a legacy for people to remember us by when we go. ReplyCancel

  • SFD - My heart goes out to you. But I'd like to offer a different viewpoint. We often talk about life changing in an instant, meaning that death can happen at anytime. But we rarely talk about disability and severe long term illness occurring, and that is far more likely to happen than death. I having been disabled and bedbound and suffering from severe chronic illness since my early twenties. All that saving and worrying about money is to ensure that you will be able to get the treatment you need and be able to pay the bills should you or your loved ones fall ill or become disabled. I didn't get the chance to work and save, but thankfully my very frugal parents did save, so that now I am not homeless, although I cannot afford the best health care. Never underestimate just how expensive health care is…esp if you will be needing it for the rest of your life.

    My bf's aunt just passed away after 2 years fighting cancer. Her husband is now not only widowed, but broke. No one needs that kind of stress while going through such great grief.

    My mom passed away in her 40's. She was a very frugal woman, never went on vacations or bought nice things for herself. I use to feel so sad that my mom passed away young and didn't get to "enjoy" life. But I've come to the realization that her frugality allowed my dad to not work while she was ill and allowed her to leave this earth without the worry and guilt that my dad will be flat broke.

    So yes, one should enjoy their lives, but not to the point where they spend all their money thinking that they could suddenly die tomorrow. Life happens – illness, disability, etc and the last thing you need is worry about money during those times ReplyCancel

  • shopping2saving - I'm so sorry for your losses, especially in such a short period of time. It does make us realize that life is so short, and it could end abruptly. We all like to think positive but the reality is that anyone's life could end soon. We all should be grateful but stay smart with planning since we cannot live with the mentality that life will end tomorrow.

    I hope their families are okay, and I hope you get through this. I am again so sorry for your losses :( *hugs* ReplyCancel

  • moneyaftergrad - That's a lot of loss.. I'm sorry to hear about this for you.

    I agree with the "what is it all for?" sentiment, which is why I think you need to strike a balance: plan as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today. This is why I do things like travel even though I have student loans. It always catches me off guard when I hear about someone my age or younger or even a little bit older dying. It makes you feel like time is limited. It's good to remain grounded; life isn't just about dollars & cents. ReplyCancel

  • adahat1 - That has been a rough couple of weeks for you. My advise, which you apparently are already doing anyway, keep going for your dreams and make sure that what you are saving for is meant to fund those dreams. While personal finance is my strength my blog focuses on planning your finances so that you can do those things you love. Too many people save, save, save and then have all this money and spend anxiety. I dont want to die with a bucket of money and no memories left behind for those I love. ReplyCancel

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More - Sorry to hear about all of the sad news. While you do need to save for the future you need to make sure you are happy in day to day life as well. ReplyCancel

  • insomniaclabrat - Sorry to hear about all the losses.

    I felt the same way last summer when my cousin passed away, and I had lost a high school classmate a few months earlier.

    I think finding a balance is key. You want to live life and have fun, because you never know when it will end. But, on the other hand, you could live a long, long time. I don't want to run out of money when I'm retired and have debt that I leave behind for my family. I don't want to die young and leave Ryan with all sorts of debt, either.

    Plus, the thought of a sudden, huge medical expense makes me want to keep a decent emergency fund. One of my coworkers was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and it would be a huge financial burden on her. Fortunately, her parents are willing and able to help cover the cost, otherwise she would have the added stress of how to pay all the bills. But again, balance is key. It also wouldn't be any fun to get sick and regret not doing fun stuff while you were healthy enough too. ReplyCancel

  • Revanche - Can't answer the question but I've had a toe in that mental space a little while now as people in my immediate life have been dying for the past five or six years, one nearly every year. And maybe only one was an "easy" death in that it was a sudden death with no long-term or associated medical costs that required medical insurance and savings and flexibility on the part of the family to pay for them to hang on until that death.

    After a while you focus a lot on that and forget what it's for but I think we're supposed to remember that we're supposed to prepare for the inevitable – we're all going to die. And we can't control how and when it happens. But we can make sure that up until that point, we have tried to really live. ReplyCancel

  • StackingCash - Balance. Yin and Yang. The reason personal finance is so important to me is to find that sweet spot between saving and spending. It is so elusive. Hence I'm constantly on PF blogs to get some insight to the matter. Moneyaftergrad said it best however, "plan as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." Being a typical chinese, I tend to save a great deal to prepare for life's emergencies. I'm very concious of the limited amount of income I have which makes me save even more. In regards to spending, it gets worse with age, approaching forty I'm beginning to truly feel the midlife crisis calling. I've seen a lot more death than most, having lost my parents when I was in my twenties and seeing many other friends and aquantances pass away. It does make it hard to save for the future. On that note, it is just as tough to live as if I will die today because there is just so much I want to do…what a dilemma :/ ReplyCancel

  • belowhermeans - I came back to say I keep thinking about this entry. :( I'm a worrywart. ReplyCancel

  • Cait - I’m so sorry to hear about these losses. I have a few friends who say, “the money doesn’t go with you.” While I don’t think that’s an excuse to blow money like crazy, I do think it’s important to remember that we need to live life. Even if you live to the age of 85, that’s only 85 years of existence. We won’t be here forever. And it’s worth doing the things that will a) make us happy and b) leave the world a better place. Whether that’s being someone who puts on a smile on people’s faces or changing the world in a big way, just be a good person and do whatever is right for you and your loved ones. And it’ll all be worth it. Thinking of you, xoxo ReplyCancel

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