Oct 14, 2013

Principle 14: Enjoy Life

Sitting at our table in the backyard watching the cat chase lizards while enjoying a cup of coffee always brings peace.  It's funny how many of the most wonderful things in life don't cost much.  Playing with your children.  A romantic dinner with your spouse.  A long phone call with a parent.  How life seems to "get in the way" all the time, I'll never truly understand but coming back to my table in the backyard with a cup of coffee and the cat always seems to bring the peace back.

How does one write an article with intentions of helping readers enjoy life?  I don't know.

In a financial context, there are some tips I can provide, but ultimately each person is unique.  Even a husband and wife find peace and happiness in very different ways.  Some find happiness by spending lots of money, others none at all.

The key, as with anything I believe, comes with balance.  Sure, it can be fun to blow money! Extravagant trips, new toys, or a refreshed wardrobe... but how long will it last?

Here are a few ideas I've scribbled on my napkin covered in muffin crumbs that may help you find balance in your life, with respect to enjoyment and financial responsibility.

Auto-Pay Yourself First

Set up an auto savings plan into appropriate savings or retirement vehicles equal to a monthly amount that will meet your long-term goals.  I've read several posts on the Bogleheads forum about successful individuals setting up these "auto-investments" and spending the remainder of their funds (after budgeted expenses) on the things which bring the most enjoyment.

Golf, fishing, travel, children's soccer gear, etc.  Economists use the term "utility" when referring to how consumers make discretionary decisions, and that seems to be a nice way to look at it.  Invest first, pay the bills, then spend whatever is left in your checking account on the things you enjoy most.

 Helping Others WILL Improve Your Happiness

What if you've got plenty of toys, and spending money on yourself actually makes you less happy?  Think back to a time where you've helped someone, not necessarily financially, but actually made a solid effort to improve the life of someone around you.  Was it a family member or friend in need?  Or maybe it was a stranger you just met, or have not met even to this day.  A gift of your time or money to another is one of the easiest ways to create joy in your life, and I assure you that the next time you're feeling down on yourself, look around for an opportunity to bless someone.  Undoubtedly, you will also be blessed.

Don't Miss Opportunities to Make a Memory

You know this already, but if anyone ever tells you that having a lot of money will make them happy, tell them to think again.  As a Bank Manager, I see many wealthy individuals that are no happier than you or me.  I'm talking "half-billion dollars" wealthy.

That being said, many of you may already have a solid financial foundation.  Perhaps you're saving 25% or more of your gross income for long-term goals, and you critique every expense to make sure it's not wasteful.  Take a moment, right now, to remind yourself that no one is guaranteed to make it to our "golden years."  Life is full of surprises, and I'd feel a whole lot better knowing every now and again I made the choice to enjoy rare opportunities even if it meant my wallet took a hit. 

Find Balance

The key here is to find balance.  Life is about living, not existing!  Nobody likes a miser, and its important to recognize, again, that no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

But wouldn't you say that money and opportunities are difficult to come by?  I would.

Don't waste them foolishly.  Recognize when it's best to "save it for another time" and when to make a memory.

Live simply
 Love generously
 Care deeply
Speak kindly
Leave the rest to God,


  1. I'm not wealthy but I really enjoy my life having my daughter with me is one of my greatest treasures I could ask for! Even how tired and busy I am I always see to it that I have time for my daughter that she won't feel being neglected.

  2. "Life is full of surprises, and I'd feel a whole lot better knowing every now and again I made the choice to enjoy rare opportunities even if it meant my wallet took a hit."

    Great post! This is a good reminder.