The Future, Now

As I was kicking off my shoes the other morning after a particularly intense Insanity workout, it occurred to me that by not taking the time to untie my sneakers, I was being a jerk to Future Anjali. So I took the extra 30 seconds to untie the laces and take my shoes off properly, and thus showed Future Anjali a little bit of love. Over the last few days, I have continued to think about this concept, about the choices we make every day to love our future selves – or not to love them, in some cases.

It’s little things, like untying your shoes and turning your shirt right-side-out before throwing it in the laundry, but it’s also big things, and I’m specifically thinking about finances right now.

Every time you choose to send part of your paycheck to a retirement account, or even a general savings account, you are showing your future self some love and consideration. And every time you choose to set up a recurring expense, you’re making your future self pay for something that she may or may not want. This is one reason that I think long and hard before ever entering into a new recurring expense. I resent things that take money out of my account month after month, and I want to make sure that I am truly getting full value and really need/want whatever that expense might be. It’s too easy to sign up for something and get used to it being debited from your account, and then forget about it or not reexamine its value to you.

So, an assignment, if you feel like it: look over your various accounts and see what actions you’ve assigned your money.

First, are your contributions to retirement and savings automated? If not, why not? If they are, what would happen if you upped the amount by $10/month? $25/month? Try increasing it a little and see if you feel a squeeze. You can always change it back, but I bet you won’t even notice the difference (make sure you’re not over the legal contribution limit in your retirement accounts – $458.33 monthly into IRAs, $1,500 monthly into 401(k)s – annual limits of $5,500 and $18,000 respectively). Tell yourself you’ll try three months at a slightly higher savings rate, and if it’s too hard on your budget, you can knock it back down at the end of those three months.

Next, look at your recurring expenses. Are all of them necessary and desired? Can any of them be lowered? A couple of hours on the phone can sometimes result in significant savings in the areas of internet, cable, and insurance. Look at your cell phone use and see if the plan you’re paying for is really the one you need. Can you make do with less data and get a little more thoughtful about waiting until you’re on wifi for some actions? Do you get stressed over higher utility bills at certain times of the year? Look into budget billing with your electric and gas companies so that the amounts are smoothed out over the year and you can expect the same payment each month.

Go out there and show your future self some love! It’s easy to love Present Anjali; she’s right here and very demanding. But I feel great when I know I’m taking care of Future Anjali, too.

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