Spend All Your Money

From Podcast #177: Guilt-Free Spending, the one in which Jesse tells a joke and encourages you to spend all your money.

You are budgeting. You are saving, saving, saving and it feels great. And you know what you do after you’ve saved that money? You spend it. Eventually—hopefully—you spend all your money, or you give it away or whatever. But you let go of it. Maybe like a pharaoh, you bury yourself with it. Whatever. Whatever was your last priority, maybe that was your last priority and I say more power to you.

I would tell you a long joke about three men that helped a friend out but,… OK, fine I’ll tell it.

There’s a lawyer, a doctor and an architect, and the only one that matters is the lawyer. And the friend goes to each of them separately and says, “Listen, guy. You’re a good friend of mine and I’m really worried about not having any money when I die. So if I die before you, I’m leaving you some money now, I want you to just hang on to it, and when I die, if you could just put it in my casket for me, I want to have something. It will give me a lot of peace of mind.”

And all three friends agree. They say, “Absolutely.” Well, the friend did pass away and each of those friends—the architect, the doctor and the lawyer—all went up to the casket and paid their respects and slipped an envelope in there. A couple years later, the doctor was talking with his two other friends, the architect and the lawyer, and he says, “Guys, I’ve got a confession to make. This has been weighing on me, but I didn’t put all the money in the casket that our friend left me. I took some out of it and I used it to purchase some medicine for this home where they had people that couldn’t afford medicine. And I knew that the money wasn’t going to help him, it was just going to sit in the ground and be completely useless, and the money I spent was going to a good cause.”

And the architect said, “You know, I’m glad you said that. I also need to get something off my chest. I didn’t include any of the money in the envelope. I kept it all and I ended up using it to build an orphanage. And I just knew those kids, they needed that building. I mean, they needed it and I knew it would just be a waste to leave that money with our good friend. I mean, he doesn’t need it.”

The lawyer, he’s been quiet and he’s been listening attentively. And he looks at the two friends and kind of says, “You know, I’m shocked. I’m upset. This is very upsetting to me. I just can’t believe… You know, our friend’s dying wish was to just have you leave him some money, to give him some peace of mind. It was the last thing he wanted. It was just one thing that you could do. It was easy. You know, I just can’t believe that you guys would do that. I mean, I took the money and I went up to that casket and I wrote him a check for the entire amount.”

And that’s my joke.

I’ll admit it’s hard to say a joke like this when you’ve got no audience but I’ll assume you’re laughing and I’ll assume that I should say jokes like this more often.

But the point is, at the end of the day, you can’t take the money with you. Right? And part of you wants to spend it (for some of you, it is a very large part). Because generally speaking, we’ve saved it to enjoy it in some way. You don’t have to enjoy it by wasting it or just selfishly spending it only on yourself. But you know, you enjoy it by getting rid of it. Right?

And that’s the power of the budget. It lets you spend guilt-free.

You can always take away from the fun of spending by saying, “Gosh, I could have saved a little more in my IRA. I could have put a little more toward my retirement. I could have put a little more in the car repairs, just in case. I could have done this, I could have done that, I could add a little more to my son’s college education fund.”

I mean, you can always do better, you know. I could always go to a soup kitchen and every evening I could go do that instead of occasionally watching some show or sitting down and reading a novel. I could always be reading something more intellectually challenging instead of some John Grisham or Michael Crichton—although I love those.

At every moment, we could do more, but is that the point? My friend Mark says, “You’re shoulding all over yourself.” And I like that, because with the spending you can often say, “Oh, I should, I should, I should,” and you just question everything. You know, in parenting it’s the same thing, “Oh, I should have read one more book to my three year-old, I should have thrown the ball one more time to my ten year-old, I should have done a little more of the tea party with my two year-old, I should have danced a little longer with my six year-old.” Whatever it is, you know, these were all like the last week. Right? You can always do that.

The power of the budget is that you know that your spending fits inside your entire plan and you’re being conscious and purposeful with that plan. And you should do what you want to do. And that’s basically it. It’s your money, your priorities, your values. And I’ll say it one more time: you should stop shooting all over yourself (that’s still funny to me).

Anyway, two funny things (did you already forget my joke?) and a reminder that the budget isn’t about not spending, it’s about intentional, guilt-free spending.

Now go budget (and then spend!).

Until next time, follow YNAB’s Four Rules and you will win financially. You’ve never budgeted like this.For more about how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, get out of debt and save more money, faster—subscribe to the You Need A Budget podcast today!