A lot of financial planning is, of course, about the future. But people’s goals can backfire if they neglect themselves in the present, says Preston Cherry, a certified financial planner and founder and president of Concurrent Financial Planning in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“Starving your current self … could be discouraging,” said Cherry, who is also a member of CNBC’s Financial Advisor Council. It can lead to you abandoning your plans altogether, he said.
There are certain things that are easier to do when you’re younger, Cherry said, “and some experiences may better fit now than later, providing elevated well-being and reduced regret over time.”
But people shouldn’t have to pick between a good life now and a good life later, Cherry said.
Here are his tips for balancing the two.
The division between “wants” and “needs” is often too rigid for people, Cherry said. “In context, wants are needs, too.” It can be helpful to think about how the two are related, he said.
For example, while it’s critical to salt away money for when you get older, it’s also something many people want to do, Cherry said. That’s because the stress of not doing so makes it hard to enjoy the moment.
On the other hand, spending your money in a way that makes you feel good now can make it more tolerable to practice financial discipline for the future, he said.
“Give yourself some grace and permission to spend,” Cherry said.
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Cherry advises people to spend on things that bring them joy, but to also “be selective of the fun.”
For one, you don’t want your discretionary purchases to interrupt your progress on important goals, he said. But you don’t want to waste money on products or services that don’t really add happiness or meaning to your life, either, he said.
He recommends people reflect on the expenses that feel really worthwhile to them.
“People can receive joy across all the domains, [from] gifts to experiences, and one of these categories may bring more joy at one life stage than another,” Cherry said. “I’m a champion of what brings people joy, [and] I encourage people to do that if it’s healthy for them and within their capacity.”