Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is life passing me by?

Sometimes I am seriously tempted by something I really want and don't have the money for. I've never charged on a CC and not been able to pay in full, so I haven't had the rush ever of getting something I can't afford. Recently there are moments of weakness where I say, I wish I could go on an expensive ski vacation or trip to Europe. I never went after college to tour Europe as so many people seem to have done. I didn't have the money. Neither did DH. I always wonder how did these people make it?

I've actually asked a lot of my friends who would go for 3 months to 1 year, how did they cover the expenses? Many said parents, some said savings, and more than a few said they just threw it on the CC and worried about it later.

I wonder if I am missing out by not going to Europe now when I'm still young and active? Should I chuck responsibility and throw caution to the wind? I mean I am somewhat borderline compulsive about being prepared financially for everything, so it's tough for me to justify a trip to Europe or even an expensive weekend getaway. And yet at the same time I know I'll only live once.

So I wonder if I'll sit here on this blog 10 years from now regretting not taking the chance to go and experience life; or if I'll instead appreciate the sacrifice of delayed gratification? Instead I'll be happy with a large retirement account, possible early retirement, money in bank, college funded, and lots of home equity?

I already know I chose a home in my early 20s over travelling and having fun. Turned into a good investment, but I think I do regret giving up some of the fun. I also know that by keeping my car instead of trading up saves me a lot of money. But will I regret my ways later? Am I over the line stingy? Should I be experiencing life more? What if there is no later?

Do people in CC debt regret it? Or do you have great memories to recall and experiences you treasure? Did you enjoy life to the fullest? Am I planning for a future I may not have?

15 comments:

Ms. MiniDucky said...

I've been thinking this very same thing (minus having the house, etc. as you, so I have less to be happy about =P): are we denying ourselves excessively today for a tomorrow that may not occur? I'm still working on that balance because letting yourself get into the "enjoy now, worry less" mentality is far too easy, and even easier to STAY in.

California Money Musings said...

my friend backpacked in europe last month and let's just say he built up a lot of credit card debt ... even though he did save a lot from work. and he spent a month all over europe ... spain, portugal,czech republic ... it was a very expensive trip.

most people i know who do the backpacking in europe thing don't have the money for it but you know the saving ... you only live once.

Anonymous said...

I'm living in Europe. Great continent to live on, but in my humble opinion not something you absolutely need to visit before you die. This may sound quite cynical but while I think travel can be educational, I think it's mostly an industry that exploits people with a low self image who need something to boast about or people who mistakenly believe happiness is something you find in far away countries instead of by fixing your problems.

English Major said...

I truly believe that being well-traveled is priceless. I may not believe that it's worth going into debt, but I do feel that it's worth making substantial daily sacrifices for, so that I can be funneling money into a travel fund. I hope to spend a couple of months traveling in the Czech Republic, Russia, Mongolia and China within a couple of years; my savings goal for this year for travel is $2,000.

Living Almost Large said...

Ever thought part of the reason a lot of Americans think the US is the center of the universe is because they never saw or experienced another culture? Part of why Americans are so brash is because they think they better than everyone else and our way of life is better. There is a reason why the stereotype is a loud, obnoxious american traveling...Besides, I'm not sure if I want to see Europe anyway, there are a ton of places that are higher on the priority list than there. Europe is either backpacking when you're young or going when your old (because it's safe). I'd rather see other places. Besides if you were born anywhere other than where you were raised, it might be nice to learn something about the place you were born.

CMM, I feel exactly that way. I wonder if I'm spending too much time worrying about a future that I may not want or have?

English major, how much do you think your trip will cost? And how will you take time off from work for a substantial trip?

To me it seems when you have time, you have no money. When you are making money to go, you can't get the time.

California Money Musings said...

my former coworker was supposed to sign his divorce papers the day he died of an anuersym. and he had planned to stay at his job a little while longer to max out his retirement benefits and then do something else. but he didn't get a chance to ...

and to your earlier comment on whether my grades would be good for grad school ... realistically, unlikely unless they count my internship experience in a variety of places which show progression and growth and my current job in international business ... im hoping for a real miracle and that they'll see that i've got huge potential ...

Cat said...

I'm in my thirties, married, two kids, and a homeowner. Neither my husband nor myself ever had the benefit of financially literate parents to point out the do's and dont's, so we learned the hard way. We have been to the bottom of the pit and pulled ourselves back out. We are now working towards our financial independence, but we regret all of the time that we have already lost in the money we could have made through saving and investing rather than spending as much as we made every week. We have friends who appear very wealthy on the surface, and we are often envious of their McMansion and shiny new cars, but then we think about how much debt they are carrying in order to have those things. We own two older vehicles out-right, and we bought a house that fit our budget and was comfortable for our family, even though the house is as old as me. Since we bought the house three years ago, my husband's income has doubled, and we could go out and get a bigger house or newer cars. But, we've gotten used to having more money than we actually NEED. I can honestly say that our vacations are much more fun and enjoyable now then they ever were when we were carrying huge debts. I can actually relax on vacation since I'm not worrying about the bills at home. I know that thirty seems old and far away during your twenties, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I still feel young and have energy. The only thing that has changed for me is the kids and planning for them, and that tends to work out every time, anyway. I suggest that rather then looking at just what your peers seem to be doing, talk to some folks in your parent's generation and see what their take is. My parent's generation is now in their fifties and sixties, and some are really struggling financially. Many of those who are struggling are the same ones who always "looked" rich when I was a kid because they had more stuff than my family. As a kid I didn't know anything about credit or debt, my family always used cash. Now, as they're approaching retirement age, they are overwhelmed by debt and in serious financial trouble. They don't talk about how great their vacations from years ago were, all they can talk about is how to keep from loosing their house.
It sounds like YOU are doing the right thing, and years from now you and your DH will be able to afford vacations that don't come back to bite you later. Meanwhile, you're peers will be worrying about their debts, and their stories of their vacations will be old and over-told. Stick to your plan, the rewards will be well-worth it.

Living Almost Large said...

Thanks for that perspective, it's a very tough road to be responsible in your 20s. I guess its because I want fabulous vacations, nice clothes, and a fancy car.

Now a lot of people can afford everything they own, not everyone needs a CC. But unfortunately I do not fall in that category.

I guess everyone wants what they can't have. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Drew said...

I don't have any parent or dependable relatives here so I've been careful about saving, building up a safety net, etc. But I've ALWAYS wanted to go to Europe too, on a tour (short, guided, and I can decide where i want to go back to a few years later). I finally saved up and went for a 2-week Contiki tour in September at 35 (the age limit, I'd hemmed and hawed for years) and it was AMAZING. I made sure to sleep as little as possible and make friends and see whatever I could.. (hee hee I wanted MAXIMUM VALUE for my money, I wasn't going to spend my time sitting around in a cafe like some of those tired people, I could've done that at home!). Spent more than I planned to, but saved again and it was fully paid off 2 months later, no worries. And I'm so much richer for it in experiences, friends, new likes/dislikes, proof of my own capabilities... all worth more than the money spent. I wish I'd done it 2 years ago so I could've gone on one more but... I'm VERY happy I did it.

Go for it. You need balance. And it doesn't seem like you're in debt. My new philosophy... it's not the stuff (fancy car in the garage) it's the experience (average, reliable car on a great road trip)

"Is it not sheer madness to live poor to die rich?" - Decimus Junius Juvenal

The Watchmen said...

It's funny, I wrote something today on my blog that sort of discusses the same issues, only I'm 30 and married and finding that the spending I did once upon a time may have just caught up with me. I hope you don't mind but since I found your entry so interesting, I linked to your blog from mine.

You can check us out at:
http://blackfrieghter.blogspot.com

Living Almost Large said...

Thank you blackfreighter. I greatly enjoyed your post and your blog.

I am not sure but I probably need a second post on this concept because since writing it I've come to a realization about my relationship with money.

M said...

I don't know that it has to be so black and white. Why not have fun and be financially responsible too. There are so many ways to be "carefree," to enjoy life, to "splurge" and so on without spending money.

I believing depriving oneself of one's desires can lead to regret. In my life at least, there has to be a way to do what is necessary for the future without sacrificing the joy of today. All we have and are promised is today. That doesn't mean we must spend, spend, spend, but we must also be in the present and live this one life we are given, think.

To me, it isn't about money at all, but about getting all the joy out of life that I can. That has nothing to do with money for me, and I am very grateful for that.

M said...

I don't know that it has to be so black and white. I think one can have fun and be financially responsible too. There are so many ways to be "carefree," to enjoy life, to "splurge" and so on without spending money.

I believing depriving oneself of one's desires can lead to regret. In my life at least, there has to be a way to do what is necessary for the future without sacrificing the joy of today. All we have and are promised is today. That doesn't mean we must spend, spend, spend, but we must also be in the present and live this one life we are given, think.

To me, it isn't about money at all, but about getting all the joy out of life that I can. That has nothing to do with money for me, and I am very grateful for that.

Living Almost Large said...

But M, things like travel cost money. It comes with a price tag. Unfortunately. My favorite hobby is traveling, but when you are a poor grad student you have tons of time, but no money. Then you when you have money, you have no time it seems.

So what to do? Debt for travelling when you have time? Or no debt and shorter trips?

Our current roomie has been more places than most people. He's been backpacking in turkey, pakistan, india, all over southeast asia, europe, safari in africa. Some of it was funded by his parents, some by himself. Some by his boss. But it does come with a price. He has no savings, no retirement, nothing. He's going to buy a condo, but his parents are giving him the DP of $100k. He realizes this is not typical, but how many people can really afford to travel and see the world while being responsible?

He even acknowledges if you have to buy a house, car, and college yourself, you might as well not travel because you can't afford the extra debt.

Anonymous said...

I am in my late 40's and travelled a lot through my 20's and 30's. I would go to one country/year with a good friend (we were young and single!). That was my big spend every year - my vacation -- and I still saved money in my 401k. I am so glad I did that and have fond memories. I met so many great people. I often found that costs in Europe were so much lower than taking a vacation here...the dollar was favorable....that the only variance was airfare. If its right for you, you will do it. If you are going to be watching every penny on your trip -- don't do it. You won't have fun. What I do advise is that you just don't talk about it. Either do it or move on to something that you really want to do.