Save for the Future, but Spend for the Moments

Get through schooling.  Go to college.  Get a desk job.  Get married.  By a house.  Have kids.  Save for retirement.  Work.  Retire.  Enjoy your last 10-20 years.  This was the “American Dream” that I grew up with.

Growing up in the 80’s/90’s, I watched my parents support my sister and myself and push us towards what they knew best.  Go to college and get a good job.  You’re expected to get married, have a couple of kids, be responsible with your money and replicate what you’ve learned.

This was not a bad model and my parents did a great job of helping me to be the man I am.  I’m sure this is a similar experience for those reading this blog.  The only problem with the model we’ve all learned, is the lack of freedom.  The working and saving for retirement has consumed the fun and freedom of life.

My first 10-12 years of working, I had no idea what to do with my money.  I knew I needed to save for retirement, but it was coming at the expense of family vacations and experiences.  I was clinging to what I saved up and when I hit 60, I’ll be able to have a great time.  Nothing like working all of your life just to enjoy the last 20 years of it (if lucky) and miss out on giving and enjoying experiences with my wife and kids while we’re young.

I had an “awakening” a couple of years ago.  I was accumulating.  My retirement account looked good and I had a lot of stuff.  What I didn’t have were a lot of family pictures on vacation or on adventures.  My “investing” was in material goods that I didn’t care about and my retirement.  It was time to make a change.  Time to start investing in my family.

Figure Out Your Priorities

My wife and I discussed our priorities in life and started to put together a plan.  We wanted to provide our kids with fun adventures and experiences.  We love being on the lake, so we wanted a lake property for the weekends.  Along with planned trips, the lake property would also give our family many fun memories.  As a family we all love fishing, swimming, skiing and enjoying the outdoors.

With these new goals, we set off looking for a weekend lake house that fit our budget.  We got with our realtor and she provided us with a set of properties.  3 weeks later, we closed on a lake property that the whole family loved.  That was quick, but we knew what we wanted.

The view from our lake cottage.

The view from our lake cottage.

Don’t Defer Your Present for the Future 

In order to make this purchase happen, we may save a little less for our future.  It’s not more than what we can afford, but instead of setting aside 15-20% towards retirement, we’ll set aside 7-10%.  After all, the lake cottage is an asset that will increase in value along with our primary residency.  If all works to plan in 10-15 years, we’ll sell our primary residence and build a new house to replace the dwelling on our lake property.

In a way it’s a different view on retirement.  While using traditional methods, we have also added an asset that will provide for our retirement and for the primary goal of providing experiences for our children.  It’s a win-win.

Do Not Be Afraid

If you’ve accumulated wealth, do not be afraid to spend it.  Identify your priorities and invest in that along with your retirement.  You can get creative with properties or ways to create passive income.  If it helps you get to your family goals, just do it.  If you make a mistake, you can overcome your mistakes.  Plenty of mistakes are made in the stock market.  People lose money in stocks and have nothing to show for it.  If you can use some of your retirement savings to pay for family experiences, you will carry those with you for the rest of your life.  Take 2% of your gross income and put it towards your family with trips and adventures.  That 2% will provide a bigger return than anything you’ll earn in your retirement account.

Please share with your friends if this post has helped.  Let me know what you think about “retirement”.