Into all of our lives a little rain must fall, and sometimes that little shower can turn into a deluge. With such uncertainty, it can be tempting to just throw out our umbrellas, hope for sun, and enjoy today. But we can't allow our inability to predict the weather (or the future) ruin our resolve to plan for it.
Recently, a colleague, whom I had known as a prodigious saver, told me he had become a net debtor. He no longer invests in stocks and instead spends his money on things that hold little long-term value but provide more immediate gratification: big houses, fancy cars, and doodads of a consumptive lifestyle. When I asked him about his dramatic change, he said the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and a personal family tragedy made him realize all of his saving and squirreling away for the future was for naught. He had decided to enjoy himself today because he might not be around tomorrow.
There's a certain resonance to what he says. If we focus solely on the future, then we can miss out on today. If we work too much, we take the chance of missing our children growing up -- one of the greatest pleasures we're afforded in this life. There's a Billy Ray Cyrus tune that sums it all up:
Have you ever seen a headstone with these words/
"If I only spent more time at work"?
Yet as true as my colleague's feelings may ring, there's also a certain dissonance. True -- you might not be here tomorrow. But you also very well may be. In fact, chances are you will be. Forget about planning for the future today, and the future will be upon you sooner than you'd like, and you'll end up in an existence of want and neglect. Or, at least dripping wet sans umbrella.
But planning for tomorrow doesn't have to be so dour. It's not a life without indulgence, simply one of delayed gratification. It comes down to living your life by your rules, not those of credit card companies, auto finance companies, and mortgage bankers.
And plan for tomorrow
That's what the retirement Fools at Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement seek to help subscribers achieve. They offer a balanced approach to financial planning that takes into account your future needs and your current desires.
You don't have to pour every dime into your savings account. But you do need to put something away -- and into things that appreciate in value rather than lose value over time. A $50,000 luxury car might be fun now, but you'll be lucky if it's worth one-third that amount in 15 years. But invest just $10,000 in a company like Paychex
Retirement planning doesn't have to be all work and no play. Look at it as a little work today for a lot of play tomorrow. And when the rain comes, as it invariably will, you'll know that you've prepared for the worst and are ready for it. Don't be like my colleague and rationalize away a secure future, rather make like Gene Kelly and sing in the rain.
Motley Fool retirement guru Robert Brokamp helps Rule Your Retirement subscribers each month to "plan well and retire wealthy." A 30-day free trial will give you an all-access pass to a sound financial future.