The third wave of personal finance is about living your best life. New books and blogs are coming out that encourage people to figure out how they want to spend their time once they have achieved financial independence. The personal finance realm is no longer solely about working super-hard for a fixed number of years in order to retire as soon as possible. This new era is focused on determining how you want to live your life once your time is your own.
Recently, a new perspective has emerged. It’s about spending your money, all of it, in order to live your best life. There’s a book called Die With Zero that encourages people to spend all their money before they shuffle off the collective mortal coil. I’ve read the book. I’ve thought about the book. My conclusion is that it’s not for me.
I fully expect that this blog post will appeal to a very slim margin of people who read it. And that’s fine. I’m okay with the fact that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m sharing my thoughts because I can’t be the only one who believes that you need not spend it all to be happy.
Am I an advocate of saving every nickel? Squirreling away every dime for an uncertain future? Hoarding currency with the sole goal of acquiring “more”?
The answer is “No”. Life is meant to be enjoyed. So many people don’t have any option other than living paycheque-to-paycheque, or by depending on charity. Not everyone has the disposable income to live life the way they would prefer. However, there are many others who do have the funds to craft the life that they truly desire. I’ve always encouraged those people to prioritize their spending in a fashion that allows them to achieve their heart’s desire and fulfill their lifelong dreams. We each only get one life, so we should do what we can to make that life as good as it can possibly be.
My position is that I don’t believe that spending all of your money is always necessary. Let’s say you’re fortunate enough to earn enough money to pay for all your needs, you’ve paid off your debts, and you can easily purchase all of your wants too. After you’re done paying for that, you’ve still got money leftover at the end of the month.
Do you really need to spend the leftover money in order to acquire more happiness & joy? After all, you’re already acquiring everything you need and want. Your creditors are distant memories. You’re already living the life you want. Will spending even more money bring your more joy and happiness?
What are you supposed to do with the “leftover” money? According to DWZ, you’re supposed to just spend it on something. The premise of the book is that dying with leftover money means that you did not maximize your joy when you were alive.
That’s where I take issue with the book. In my view, you shouldn’t spend your money simply because you can. That’s wasteful. I’m also not convinced that spending money just because it’s there will bring you any greater amount of joy. There are many awesome and incredible experiences in the world. You should only pursue those that appeal to you, and you’re already smart enough to figure out what those are. Once you’ve done everything you want to do, then I’m certainly not going to tell you how to spend your remaining money.
If you’re already spending your money = on everything that you need and want, and you’re out of debt, then why do you need to spend more? Once you’ve reached the very desirable goal of living your life as you wish, then what will you achieve by spending more?
Money buys options. Of this, there is no doubt. With money, you can pay for your food, shelter, clothing, transportation, communication, entertainment, medical care, travel and various other miscellaneous things. There is no doubt that having money can make your life much, much easier. Yet, I’m still not convinced that spending money when you don’t particularly want to is a good thing.
You’re allowed to keep it.
One of the lesser-discussed aspects of money is that you don’t have to spend it. It’s true. You can have it and just keep it wherever you want – in a savings account, an investment portfolio, or in your sock drawer. Allow me to repeat it more loudly for the people at the back. You don’t have to spend your money if you don’t want to!
This is where I take issue with DWZ’s premise. I don’t think that people need to spend every penny before they die in order to have lived a great life. Once you’re out of debt, and you can spend freely on both your needs and your wants, then anything that’s leftover shouldn’t be viewed as a problem to be solved. Your fortunate financial position will still have allowed you to spend money during your lifetime pursuing your dreams and having the life you wanted. So what if there’s some money leftover?
Bottom line is this. You need not spend it all. You shouldn’t be pressured into spending money if you’re already living your dream life. It’s okay to not spend even if you have the money to do so. Live your best life and spend your money doing so in the way that makes you happiest. If you decide to increase your spending, that’s fine. And if you decide not to increase your spending, that’s fine too. The ultimate decision lies with you.