The topic of regret is a controversial one, especially in personal finance. Whole treatises have been written on the premise that if you live frugally during your twenties and make sound financial decisions for the future, you’ll regret wasting your youth as a joyless loner.
We reject this characterization of a frugal youth for a couple of reasons:
- It doesn’t take a lot of (or any) money to have fun with your friends. In fact, some of the best times I’ve had with friends involved spending zero dollars!
- You can (and should) pursue fun long past your twenties. A great woman once said that if you’re not getting happier as you grow older, you’re fucking up. And I whole-heartedly agree! Life has only gotten better after thirty for me.
- You’re at more risk of regretting not saving than you are at risk of regretting not going out to da clerb that one time. Saving for retirement in your twenties isn’t a ticket to Regretsville or Unfuntown. It’s a way of ensuring you’ll be able to have fun later in life instead of working forever.
And yet fear of this kind of regret persists.
I get it! No one wants to constantly feel left out. FOMO is real! But I also firmly believe that no one wants to get to retirement age only to realize that all the money they could’ve lived on for another twenty to thirty years got puked out after a night of binge drinking. (It has been said that you’d have to drink a lot of alcohol to puke out your retirement savings. These naysayers underestimate both the power of compound interest and the alcohol tolerance of the average 23-year-old.)
Yet I don’t fear regretting my frugal twenties when I get to my twilight years. Now, depending on a single, barely funded income stream after retirement, one that could easily go up in a puff of smoke… that’s something worth regretting.Read More