I’ve heard people say Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps are nice in theory, but he just doesn’t want me to have fun. “That’s fine for you, but I want to have fun now.” I’ve also heard, “That’s probably a good idea, but I’ve never been cheated along the way.” Well, they may have some valid points, but they are also missing some.
Getting out of debt when you have a lot of it takes some hard work. Saving money when you could buy a new car or go on vacation can be hard. It does take some sacrifice to do it. The thing is, it is worth it. And those that would choose fun over sacrifice are missing a key point. You are going to have to sacrifice at some point. If you don’t save enough money you have to keep working to feed yourself and put a roof over your head. Talk to someone who is 68 and still working because they spent every dime they ever touched. Ask them if they are sacrificing now.
Personally, I haven’t found the “Sacrifice Now” path to be all that bad. The only thing I’ve done is prioritized my spending. I drew a line in the sand and said this is how much I’m willing to spend, we’re saving / paying off debt with the rest. Then I had decide what I was willing to “Sacrifice.” One thing that I don’t have is cable. It is really expensive, and it doesn’t provide enough value for me to want it. I cut the cable, and got Netflix for $10 a month. I haven’t however, sacrificed my iPhone. It is really convenient, I really like it, I pay a lot of money for it. To me it is worth it.
I’ve sacrificed eating out. I used to spend a lot of money eating lunch out all the time. I know lots of people that eat out almost every day. That becomes very expensive. I’ve tried to limit myself to only once every few weeks. The key is simply having a budget and sticking to it. We budget X dollars a month towards eating out, and when it runs out we stay home and pack lunches. It’s that simple. Is it a sacrifice? I guess so, at least a little bit. I enjoy going out for lunch. Really though, it isn’t that bad. Packing my lunch, or going home to eat have advantages too. If I pack I can save a lot of time over eating out and get home earlier. Going home is really nice as well. I live close to the office, so I go home and relax, or get things done around there at lunch. And they save money.
The point is, I really don’t feel like I’m sacrificing any happiness, just sacrificing spending. I still buy myself nice stuff, and we still take vacations. The difference is we save the money ahead of time. I’ve been saving almost all of my blow money for the last several months because I wanted an iPad. I knew there would be a new version coming out this spring, and I wanted to have enough saved to get it. It comes out Friday, and I plan on getting one Friday. You know what, it doesn’t even feel like a big purchase. I’ve just been saving the money and I have a category in my savings for it. The money won’t come out of our regular budget at all.
The point of the little sacrifices I’ve done now is so that I don’t have to sacrifice later. I plan to retire much sooner than most people do. I’ll probably still work, but it will be for myself and my own projects, and if I don’t feel like working on any given day, I won’t have to. You may think you are living in the moment and don’t want to ever sacrifice, but at some point you are going to have to. When you get to 60 and you wish you were retired living in the south, or cruising the world, you won’t get to. You’ll still have to keep working. Even if you like your job, that is a sacrifice.
This post is a reminder to those who like to carpe diem, or seize the day. You may want to consider the fact that some sacrifices you can do today aren’t really that bad, and they are much better than the sacrifices you won’t have a choice on in 30 years.