The young professionals downing drinks and nibbling small plates at Fargo’s fine dining establishments always have confounded me.
It’s a rare occasion I splurge on a $9 martini or an artisan cheese plate. I couldn’t understand how peers could afford to do so regularly.
Then it hit me: They can’t.
They might argue with me. “Sure, I can afford it. I have $40 right here.”
But do you have money in an emergency fund?
Do you save 10 to 15 percent for retirement?
Is your credit card completely paid off?
A “no” to any of those means no, you can’t afford it.
I suppose that kind of thinking makes me a stick in the mud. It certainly doesn’t align me with the current #yolo crowd: those who post their reckless antics to social media, proclaiming them acceptable because “you only live once.”
More than an acronym, it’s a philosophy, one that seems centered on shirking responsibility. Because what the heck? You only live once.
The problem with #yolo is you’re also likely to live a long time. And if you don’t want to eat cat food in retirement, you need to think about the consequences of your spending now.
By becoming more aware of your money during those #yolo years, you have the opportunity to leverage the amazing ability of compound interest.
Every dollar invested when you are 25 will be worth $21.90 when you’re 65 (assuming an 8 percent rate of return, and not adjusted for inflation).
Wait until you’re 40, and each dollar will grow to only about $7 by retirement age.
Now, take that $40 you would have spent on a night out once a month, and invest it each and every month.
If you start when you’re 25, you’ll have more than $130,500 stashed for retirement, just by staying in one night a month.
There’s more to life than money, your #yolo status screams. But money has a profound influence on our lives, present and future. It provides the security to chase the dreams that really matter when you only live once.
Spending it on martinis and cheese plates now, instead of dealing with debt and contributing to retirement funds, means you are quite literally (after digestion runs its course) flushing your future down the toilet.
Calculations preformed at americanfunds.com
Sherri Richards is Business Editor of The Forum and a thrifty mom of two. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org