My grandfather passed away this weekend. Naturally I didn't feel like writing for a few days, which was interesting since I usually write to sort through my feelings. Although I did work on my novel a bit, I couldn't bring myself to write a blog post.
I guess I had an existential crisis of sorts and was left to ponder my life and the topic of money -- what is money good for to me, does money really matter in the grand scheme of things, and why do I write on it incessantly, versus say literary analysis, in a blog? Okay, so money may make the world go 'round because of the obvious reasons (i.e., we need it to eat, have shelter, etc.), but when did saving money become such a falsely quantifiable science based on some pre-determined age you think you'll live until? Take my blog, for instance: "Mastering the art of saving now to live lavishly later." What if there is no "later", and there is only "now?" Say I scrimped and saved every penny I could, forgoing things I'd love right now like a trip to Italy or an espresso maker, on the premise that I will enjoy my money when I'm older?
Perhaps I just need to vent, but I see two problems with this equation:
One, I have a feeling that one day when I'm older, I'll look back at all the time I wished I had traveled more at this age, and resent the fact that I didn't take advantage of all the energy I had to traipse around the world. At 26, I'm not who I was at 21, and that's just a five-year gap. Before I used to pull all-nighters with no problem, and relished going out with friends and meeting new ones. I was an endless reservoir of energy and enthusiasm, a social butterfly who was always up to try anything new. Nowadays I don't feel like that plucky spring chick I once was. (Am I getting old? Eep.) I'm often tired when I get home from a full day of work, I spend any extra vigor I have on kickboxing or writing at night, and look forward to the weekends when I can recharge my battery and veg like broccoli. (Usually retail therapy or lunch with friends works best for me.) If I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like at 47, my scary age? More importantly, if I feel this way times 10 at 47 (don't people get tired the older they get?), why would I want to pack my bags and go yodeling with goat-herders in the Swiss Alps or mash grapes with locals in Portugal to make homespun wine? I want to do all that when I look and feel impossibly fresh-looking. Isn't money meant to be enjoyed (responsibly, of course) in the crevices of our youth? I often see older, white-haired men driving sleek Porsches, and I wonder if they ever wish they could have had all that 25 years ago. After all, money can buy you a sportscar, but it can't buy the feeling of being young again.
The second problem to the "saving for later" equation is that none of us know when we'll die. I've never had anyone close to me die before this weekend, and I've been grappling with my mortality ever since -- it was something I thought about every once in a long while, but it never seemed likely. Me? Die?? Pffff. Exactly. Oh how naive I was, before the recent dose of reality sobered up my inebriatingly puerile state. It's a grand plan to save up for an early retirement at say, 50, 65, or 85, but what if you don't make it to then? (Of course, the argument against this would be "Well, what if you do make it to 50," but then that turns into a "chicken or the egg" debate, and we won't go there tonight.) I think it's very important to plan for the future, but when does fiscal planning simply turn into tightwad-ism ... maybe, even, for the rest of your life? Could you ever, then, enjoy your money later if you've so trained yourself to be mechanically frugal in the present?
I think it's important to think or write or talk about money, but it's equally as important to not allow money to take over your life. I know that it's easier said than done, especially when you don't have much of it. To me, money has always equated to power. Although I always knew that money couldn't buy you everything (though it seemed to help out with happiness, depending on your definition of the word), now my beliefs have been reaffirmed, especially that money cannot buy you perfect health or immortality. We all die in the end, no matter how poor or rich we are. My grandmother told me recently on the phone that "None of us get out of here alive." If that wouldn't take the "power" out of any millionaire's wings, then I don't know what would.
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