A Flaw in Logic

I have several people in my life that claim to be  be unconcerned about their future, because they believe they shouldn’t be concerned about it because it may never come.  Generally, I hear about this when there’s something in the news about cancer rates being up or other negative news about the future.  This belief manifests itself in unhealthy actions such as excessive drinking, racking up debt or unhealthy eating.  These actions are ‘justified’ by saying “might as well do this, I might not see tomorrow” or something along those lines.

The fallacy of living this way is described by Aesop in the fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper” – what happens when tomorrow does come?  All of the crap that was consumed will have had a negative effect on your health.  A lack of financial foresight may have lead to significant debt being built up.  Neither of these results are desirable, and make the lifestyle of “living for today” very hard to do, because at some point there will be an obstacle.  Either there is no money for a purchase, or health problems come up, or retirement come around without any saving and there is debt that still needs to be paid off.

I never know what to say to people who have this kind of mindset.  I understand where it comes from as the future isn’t fun to think about, it’s much easier to basically stick your head in the sand and not take responsibility for your actions.  It’s really easy to spend everything you earn (and then some) – you get a lot of toys, and have a lot of experiences right now if you’re not worried about tomorrow.  If you’re not concerned about your health you can eat whatever you want.

I prefer to live in a different way.  I think the perception of most people is that in order to save the amount of money that I do, or maintain the fitness level that I am at, certain sacrifices need to be made.  Just because my wife and I are saving around 70% of our paycheques doesn’t mean we don’t have fun.  We spend money on things that interest us, some of which could be perceived as a waste by others.  We do not spend on things that don’t interest us or something that won’t add enjoyment to our lives.

What my wife and I have achieved is balance.  We have minimal “wasteful” spending today and significant savings that will allow us to have minimal spending on frivolous things in the future.  The people in my life who don’t think about the future have no balance.   These people have decided to stick their head in the sand, pretending that there is no future when in reality there is a pretty high probability there will be a “tomorrow” (the flaw in their logic).  At some point in the future they will have to address the decisions they have made, which may mean significant changes in their life.

Do you have people in your life that prefer not to think of the future?  Have you seen anyone run into problems due to lack of planning?

5 thoughts on “A Flaw in Logic”

  1. Ahh! The ant and the grasshopper! Brings me back to my childhood- listening to fables =)

    That’s great that you are able to save 70% of your income. =)

    There are people in my life who prefer not to think of the future and do take it one day at a time, but I guess it’s their life they want to lead, right? Everyone learns their own way.

    As long as they don’t come knocking on my door asking for a bail out, I’m happy.

  2. Dave, I have a friend whose husband’s father passed away at a young age. He’s a very high earner and something of a workaholic. They have little to nothing saved (at the ages of 50 and 46) outside of automatic pensions that have come through work.
    Years ago, he worked at Enron at the time of the implosion. Despite making mid 6 figures, they were living paycheck to paycheck. That experience taught them nothing unfortunately.
    It’s a good thing that he is a workaholic though since he’ll probably have to be working the rest of his life.

  3. I hear the “I could be hit by a bus tomorrow” rationale all the time. My general response is, “True, and it looks like you’re banking on it too!”

    My real concern is that bankruptcy has become a relatively easy, socially acceptable solution that allows people to live it up with minor consequences…


  4. @ Young and thrifty – It just kind of happened (the 70% savings) – not so much bragging as juxtaposing what I do with individual’s who have no savings.

    @ Jacq – I can understand why individuals who have had significant losses of family at early ages – but really, the odds are significantly against it happening to them

    @ Adam -I may be a little jealous of people who can act this way with their money/health/life etc, but at the same time it just drives me crazy because it doesn’t make sense. It would be different I think if people could work until they were old then drop dead – this is generally not the case though.

  5. @Adam: you are so right about bankrupty becoming a «socially acceptable solution». A friend of mine told me that her brother did it TWICE!

    And he said lately: Well, if things go wrong again, I’ll go brankrupt and start over again.

    I’d be so embarrassed if this ever happens to me, I just cannot understand how you can think like this!

    @Dave: «diving into wrong»… when you know it’s wrong but do it anyway with your $/food/health… When you are constantly under stress, your cortisol(and other stress related hormones) level increases dramatically and your reasoning capacities are affected. This is not an excuse, but a partial explanation…

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