How to Face Your Future…Literally

Blue alarm clockYou’ve heard it before.

Cancel your magazine subscriptions.

Eat meatless meals once a week.

Pickle your own beets.

Do this, and you could save – I dunno – $50 a month. Invest the extra cash in the stock market, and in forty years, you could be sitting on tens of thousands of dollars.

Yeah, that’s right. In FORTY years, you’re gonna live it up.

How absurd.

Can you even picture what the world will look like four decades from now?

Be honest. Are you itching to give up the joys of today for a tomorrow that might not come? I’m certainly not.

However, there’s a fair chance you’ll live to see a couple more generations.

And like it or not, you  need a financial plan for the day you peacefully retire or opt for a more colorful resignation like flipping your boss’s desk over, parachuting out of the nearest window, and giving onlookers the finger on the way down. Do whatever suits you.

The problem with planning for the distant future is that it’s not real. 

The past is real. The present is real. But the future doesn’t exist.

As a result, it’s easy to serve your current desires without a thought for what you’ll need later in life.

Instead of rehashing the details on what you need to do in order to prepare for retirement, I want to motivate you to do what you already know is good for you.

So, I had the brilliant idea to put a face on the future – to bring life to later. (Even if you think my idea is stupid, please, just let me have this.)

Here’s what I’m supposed to look like in 35 years.

On the left, you have me at 30 years old: Shawanda 3.0. On the right, you have me at 65 years old: Shawanda 6.5.

Shawanda 30 vs 65

Age progression done using AgingBooth iPhone app

Maybe later someone can explain why Shawanda 6.5  hides walnuts in her cheeks.

Either way, there I am. There she is. And I’ve got to take care of her, i.e., me.

The point I’m trying to make by sharing a hideous (and hopefully inaccurate) depiction of my future self, is that growing “old” is real. It’s inevitable assuming you, er, um, you know…don’t die first.

For whatever reason, women tend to earn less than men, live longer, and leave the workforce for prolonged periods of time. On average, we accumulate less financial wealth. Because our life expectancy exceeds that of our male counterparts, our money has to work harder. Which makes us particularly vulnerable to financial challenges toward the tail end of life.

I don’t know how they do things in Canada, but in the United States, our social safety net is in tatters.

Social Security is crumbling, pension plans are disappearing, health care is ridiculously pricey and getting pricier. We’re kinda screwed.

Surely, happy times are ahead. But, one thing is certain, the government shouldn’t be your primary provider.

Come to think of it, when it comes to your financial future, trust NO ONE.

Okay, maybe I don’t have to be so dramatic. But still, it doesn’t matter what your husband told you or what your son promised he’d do for you when you’re a grizzly old woman. The fact remains, you have to seize control of your finances.

When [Enter Name Here] 6.5 looks back on the actions [Enter Name Here] 6.4 and prior versions made on her behalf, will she look at your work and say, “Well done”?

On the other hand, there’s more to life than money.

You have to strike a balance between pleasing yourself today and not disappointing yourself tomorrow.

Of course Shawanda 6.5 wants Shawanda 3.0 to make prudent decisions with her money. But Shawanda 6.5 also wants Shawanda 3.0 to build lasting memories and to take advantage of vanishing opportunities while she has the chance.

Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”

Y’all better not listen to Audrey. It is definitely impossible to turn back time.

Although you shouldn’t frivolously spend your money on meaningless trinkets, you also shouldn’t spend your time on meaningless tasks.

Maybe you can’t think of anything more fun than canning peaches or rationing out squares of toilet paper to your house guests right this second, but there’s gotta be something. Or maybe there isn’t. I won’t judge how you get your jollies.

Being busy makes time pass by quickly, even if you’re busy with absolute nonsense. Once you’re done wasting time, will you look up and regret having squandered it on trivial matters?

What’s your strategy?

How do you motivate yourself to live for both today and tomorrow?

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About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.