The most difficult dilemmas occur when your choices each have a strong case, rationally and emotionally. One of the dilemmas you may face is having to decide whether you should spend or save. For example, maybe you’re thinking about going on an extended trip to Europe, but your retirement is just a few years away. Should you spend that money today, or should you invest it to reap the benefits in the future?
Both options have their pros and cons. A trip to Europe is worthwhile because life should be enjoyed to the fullest while you’re healthy and active. On the other hand, if you choose to invest, you’re positioning yourself better for retirement.
Finding a healthy balance
When you’re torn between spending or saving, try to find a healthy balance. You could shorten your trip to Europe or opt for a less costly destination. You should be able to feel that you’re living well today while also investing wisely for the future.
If your retirement is decades away, still try to find balance. Let’s say you’re thinking of purchasing a cottage to establish a summer tradition for your family. But you question whether those dollars would be better allocated to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Perhaps a good compromise is renting a cottage each summer while also adding to your retirement savings.
Balance doesn’t have to be limited to large-scale expenses like property. Let’s say your child’s heart is set on a fancy, “cool” laptop, but if they only need it to do research, write essays, watch movies and browse social media, then their needs can easily be met by mid-range laptops. Another example is an expensive gym membership – you can save money over time by purchasing equipment for your home or by choosing a gym with lower fees.
Talking about money
When a saver is married to a spender, you might think that trouble awaits. In fact, however, couples like this have the potential to get the best of both worlds – live for the present and save for the future. To achieve this, they would need to reach a middle ground by communicating openly and understanding each other’s perspective.
Communication is just as important for like-minded spouses. Two natural spenders may have no problem living large during their working years – only to find themselves short at retirement. Two savers may have no problem building their nest egg but might unnecessarily sacrifice enjoyment in their younger years. Couples need to talk openly about their current lifestyle and retirement plans to ensure one goal doesn’t come at the expense of the other.
Fine-tuning your solution
Your spending/saving balance may fluctuate over the years as your life evolves. If you’re having trouble attaining that balance, consult your advisor. They can help you find a solution that allows you to enjoy life today and feel confident about tomorrow.