What motivates you to save money?
This question probably brings out a big variety of answers. We all have different life experiences, family situations, quality of health, etc. Additionally, no two people are exactly alike in terms of personal values and dreams. Sure, there are probably some similarities, including some close ones. But our unique lives lead us to some different financial motivators.
What truly drives one person to save money might be different than what impacts the next person. That is, if that person is motivated to save at all. Clearly, looking at our personal savings rates here in the US (and Canada, for that matter) compared to global savings rates, this might not apply to all of us!
Anyway, being in the camp of people who thinks saving is important, I do have a variety of motivators. Some aspirational, others more practical. But there’s one motivator that especially drives me:
I don’t want to be old and broke
Simply put, I don’t want to grow old and worry about how to pay bills and how to get by. Deep down, underneath all my other motivations surrounding making money, this one is the one that lights the fire within to get things done. I saw an older person working at a restaurant recently, and she looked like a tired grandma. She clearly wasn’t the owner of the place. I felt really bad for her, almost wanted to help her do her job. Also, I just didn’t want to end up like her.
Surprising? Well, I know that there are people who don’t share this motivator.
I had a conversation about this in the last year, where I was told that one can’t live life in fear, and should think positively and not worry about it. In other words, have some goals but realize that you can really enjoy your money when you’re younger – when you’re mobile, can travel, have younger kids, etc. The idea with this way of thinking is that being motivated by things or experiences that money can buy is a better way of approaching it. Why bother worrying, when you focus energies on enjoying your money, is how the line of thinking goes.
It’s easy for me to see the point, and I do share some of those values. Life is to enjoy, and we simply can’t delay gratification forever. Every single day is to be enjoyed, and sometimes this enjoyment does involve spending some hard-earned money on wants as opposed to needs. A life focused strictly on needs would be a boring life.
However, while holding that view to some degree and fully believing in enjoying each day, I just can’t shake that under the surface fear factor when it comes to money and age. Visualization is key here. To me, the visualization of being old and having far less energy than a younger person – yet needing to work hard to stay afloat financially – sounds atrocious. You never know what your health will be, even if you eat healthy, exercise regularly, manage stress, etc. Sure, you can put the odds in your favor by making good decisions, and I’m all about that these days. But who the heck knows what the future actually holds? None of us has a crystal ball.
Not sure about you, but being old and broke sounds terrible. The way to take personal responsibility for that is to save money when younger, allow compounding to work it’s magic, and invest intelligently.
The way I see it, we are working not only for our lives today, but we’re also working for the lives of a senior citizen. We’re working for two people, and both of those people are actually ourselves! You’re working for the you of today, and the you of old age.
Saving for old age is a need, not a want. When considering the financial hierarchy of needs, it’s not as important as taking care of daily needs for now, but it’s still important. I’m not expecting social security to be around.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that people have the potential to do a lot as they get older. Heck, there was a story recently about a 100 year old man who finished a marathon in Toronto. The guy apparently didn’t take up running until age 89. Incredible! So, there are people that can succeed in business or their career, even later in life. So much is about attitude.
But I don’t want to count on a miracle comeback late in the 4th quarter of life. Better to have some peace of mind by preparing for the future while repsonsibly enjoying every day as much as possible! Doing both, rather than one or the other, sounds good to me.
My Questions for You
What motivates you to save?
Are your true motivations aspirational, or defensive?
Do you think about money needs in old age, even if that’s far off for you?