Can you believe it has been three years since the world shut down for COVID? A few weekends ago, my husband and I took a weekend road trip to St. Augustine, Florida. We were going to see one of my favorite bands that Saturday night. In case you were wondering, it was The Avett Brothers.
Throughout the weekend, we kept reflecting on how it has been three years since the shutdowns and how so much has changed in those three years. One of my favorite pastimes is live music, and that was something I truly missed during the shutdown. I even tried a couple of virtual concerts during that time to tide me over, but nothing can match that rush of concerts and hundreds of people all singing the same songs together in the same space with the ones who wrote them.
At the concert, they played one of their songs called “At the Beach,” and one of my favorite lines from it says:
“No need to keep the stressing of our everyday lives on our mind, we have got to leave all that behind.”
If we learned anything from the past three years, we have learned that life is too short, and we need to make sure we take time to enjoy our days while also being prepared for the future.
As millennials, we’re in the process of building our lives, or as we financial advisors like to call it, “accumulation mode.” Accumulation mode comes with its own set of conflicting needs. Those needs can sound like: How do I make sure I am covering my necessary expenses for today? How do I save for tomorrow? And how do I have a little fun in between? That means that these needs are a delicate balance. Here are a couple of ideas that have helped me as I am in accumulation mode:
Know what your regular expenses are and what money you’re bringing in every month.
Most people are not aware of these figures, and then they’re shocked at the end of the month when it’s all gone. At least getting a grasp of what is going in and coming out of your bank account can help narrow down where you may need to trim your spending or where you can save for the future.
Set aside what you can for your retirement, even if it is not as much as you think it should be.
Every little bit helps, and time is on your side! By making that simple adjustment, you can adapt your lifestyle to accommodate that money going toward your future in a way that can be more palatable for you. Then, put a reminder in your phone to increase that by 1% of your income every 6 months. At that rate, you’ll be looking at saving 10% of your income in five years, if not sooner!
Build up your emergency fund.
Things can change in the blink of an eye, are you prepared if something were to happen, like a medical event or losing your job? Use this time to build up an emergency fund that covers 6 months of expenses.
Plan your fun!
One of the biggest things that can derail your financial goals is impulse expenses. So what would happen if you treated your “fun” as a line item in your budget? For instance, as someone who enjoys concerts, I follow my favorite bands on Spotify and various social media; that way, I can have a heads up of a few months to plan for their next show. I love researching months ahead to see if we can even find a cheap Airbnb or make reservations at a new, local restaurant for dinner before the concert. It gives you something to look forward to and can help relieve some financial stress of putting something together last minute.
We have come so far in the past three years and have learned so much. Balancing the needs of your present and your future are so crucial to your financial plan. Don’t forget to plan a little fun along the way!