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Living for today versus saving for tomorrow

Saturday mornings in London summertime have come to mean a few things for me - strong coffee, a seat on the balcony, watching planes fly into Heathrow and listening to those mildly annoying parakeets flirt with each other.

It’s a privileged position to be in, I recognise that. We moved to this flat in September 2020, having survived the first lockdown in a flat that had pre-owned furniture and a shared garden. It was nice, we were happy there, but when this unfurnished place came up, we realised something.

Up until this point, throughout lockdown we had been saving money rapidly due to the lack of London commuter costs and our non-existent social lives. Neither of us had ever had this much money before, and we’d always been told by our parents to SAVE SAVE SAVE your money. A fair point from people who didn’t always have enough of it.

So when we found this beautiful, unfurnished and surprisingly affordable flat to rent, we realised that we wanted to invest our money in our life as it currently was. By this I simply mean we shelled out more money than we ever had on furniture - beautiful, high-quality, comfortable furniture that would make our flat feel like home.

The other option was of course to buy second-hand, cheap and cheerful furniture that would do the job and save us cash - a perfectly fine choice if you’re aim is to invest in the life you’ll have in a few years time. But both of us had the overwhelming urge to make the life we lived now as good as it could be (without of course making ourselves penniless).

And honestly, it was the best decision. Not long after we moved in, and the furniture had arrived, and we’d made it feel like our home, did we receive a series of awful news. My darling Grandma Pat and my partner’s Grandad John had died, and then - most heartbreakingly of all - our dear friend was diagnosed with incurable stage four cancer.

At this point, in amongst the grief, everything became crystal clear. Life is not guaranteed, and time cannot simply be bought or earned or bargained for. Money is important, but after a certain point it cannot provide you with happiness or contentment, and it can’t always solve your problems. I realise this may sound a little intense or morbid, but to be honest, so is finding out your close friend has incurable cancer.

Since then I have come to realise that, like most things in life, we must find a balance. It’s important to save some of your money, because as well as being fragile, life is also unexpected. It will throw mad shit at you without any warning - shit that may require money.

But it’s also incredibly important to allow ourselves to make the most of now, of this very moment. We can’t ever get this time back, so why spend it in a place that doesn’t feel like home, or with people who don’t treat us well, or doing a job we hate?

We need to stop worrying about how ‘future me’ will handle life, especially if ‘current me’ is having a rubbish time. If buying yourself a new pair of shoes, or painting the walls in your rented flat, or shelling out money for a fancy coffee machine will bring you some much needed joy, then please just do it (if you can).

Because you deserve to feel joy today, tomorrow, and for as long as time will allow.

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