Saving doesn’t have to interfere with living

Mary and Pete saved every penny for retirement.  They never went on vacations, they rarely went out to eat, and they lived a frugal lifestyle secure in the knowledge that when they retired, they would be able to live comfortably. In short, they worried so much about retirement that they forgot to experience all that life has to offer.

Saving for retirement is a worthy goal, but there must be a balance between that and living life to the fullest.  

I have clients who scrimped and saved all their lives so they would have plenty of money for retirement.  But when they do retire, they still don’t want to spend any money to enjoy themselves because they have been so programmed during their working lives to save every penny until the day they die.  The trick is to find that balance between saving to have a good retirement and managing your money so you can be rich in experiences. 

This concept was driven home to me when a 20-year-old friend died in a traffic accident while driving across the country to start a new church. She lived a life of kindness and joy and had wonderful adventures in her life. I saw the people she had impacted and it really hit home to me that life is short.

Saving for retirement is a worthy goal, but it shouldn’t be the only goal. We need to know that if we died tomorrow, we would be happy because we lived richly, not that we died rich.

Have a comprehensive plan. Design a life plan around all your financial goals – short term and long-term – and how you plan to reach them. If you are unsure how to devise such a comprehensive plan, seek the advice of a qualified financial planner.

Those who experience life to the fullest sometimes have to take risks, both professionally and personally. You will only regret the risks you never took. Everything else is just a learning experience.

We should ask ourselves what is the worst that can happen when taking a big gamble, such as moving to another city for a job. Once people ask themselves that question, many are able to overcome their fears because they know they can handle that worst-case situation.

Yes, it’s important to be able to have a comfortable retirement. But we only go around once in life, and it is also important to live richly while our health is good so we don’t have any regrets when we do retire.  You don’t want to be short of money, but you also don’t want to be short on experiencing life.

John Hagensen is the founder and managing director of Keystone Wealth Partners.