Mastering the Art of Sensible Living

In my books and posts I constantly harp on the concept of living sensibly. So what exactly do I mean by this?

Living Sensibly

Living sensibly is the concept of allowing oneself to enjoy life but also prepare for the future, by establishing a balance between wants and needs. Life is to be enjoyed, but there must be reasonable limits on the pursuit of wants.

Wants vs. Needs

I find it fascinating that the average person simply can’t separate needs from wants. The satisfaction of our wants is driven by easy credit, lack of discipline, and the constant consumerism that bombards us every waking moment of our lives. Every business wants a piece of your spending dollar and available credit. They will entice you with non-stop messages to achieve that goal. Never forget that. Without discipline, a want will always be justified as a need.

Eating Out

Take the simple example of eating out. My mother grew up in a family of six sisters. Their special treat was to go out for a single scoop ice cream cone; a meal out would be unthinkable. In my family, my sister and I were raised by a single mother. Our special treat was a restaurant meal every couple of months. Compare this to the common practice of people who now order take-out food a minimum of three times a week.

If I were to challenge the logic behind this practice, people would justify the convenience of take-out food delivered to their door as a need to cope with their busy and stressful lives. Plain and simple, it’s a wasteful and expensive want driven by the laziness to cook one’s own meals.

Retirement PlanI could even go so far as to do the math, calculating the money saved every month by skipping the take-out, and the sizeable retirement nest egg that would result from low cost investments and years of compounding. I’d even throw in the argument that home cooked meals are more nutritious and healthy. Sadly, I doubt I’d convince anyone to change their ways. The instant gratification urge is very strong indeed.

Wants Justified as Needs

Living sensibly means accepting that ridiculous wants cannot be justified as needs. The idea that an experience is “special” is founded on the principle of it being a reward that we wait for patiently. This is exactly the opposite of instant gratification. The ultimate delayed gratification reward is a comfortable and secure retirement.

If you simply can’t control your urge to have everything you want now, you will doom yourself to a lower standard of living in retirement. We all deserve a better future, and the sensible balance between wants and needs must become your goal.

Water BarrelThe BalanceIn my E-books (“Water Barrel” and “The Balance”) I discuss simple methods to live sensibly for today, take charge of your financial affairs, and invest safely for the long term. For more information please visit David Penna Amazon.

As always, I am not a qualified financial advisor. I just relate financial management to my own experience which may not resemble yours at all. Advice is frequently worth exactly what you paid for it. Most of mine came from expensive experiences.

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