Looking at our life, lifestyle and living from a time perspective, there is 3 versions of ourselves generally:
The you and me today are the cumulated results of all the actions, inactions, decisions and non-decisions that we had taken in the past. Be it our financial situation, our health, our relationships - whatever it is, it is almost never an accident, nor is it sudden. (Of course, there are accidents, anomalies and outliers that occur, but herein, I am referring to the things, actions and stuff that we can directly influence).
Think about your physical fitness and health today.
Ok, why not talk about mine. When I first started my entrepreneurial journey in 2008, I got so engrossed learning, refining and growing our businesses to keep it afloat and making money that I neglected my health, my relationships with my family and in-laws and friendships.
As a result of that:
If we had been overspending since years or months ago, what we'd end up with is chronic debt, and month by month of paying off some amounts off the debt, and maybe racking up more debt as we grow anxious looking at our debts (or some people grow "itchy" and want to spend more).
If we had been setting aside 5, 10, 20 or more percent of your income since years or months ago, by now you'd have a stash of money saved. Maybe it'd be able to last you months, or maybe years, or maybe more. Or maybe if you had invested all these savings into dividend stocks, and you've built your portfolio to give you hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dividends per year - what would that mean to you, today?
BUT what's done in the past, has gone - good or bad or neutral, you're reaping it today. And we cannot change what's in the past, we can only learn from it and hopefully, apply the lessons effectively to change our future positively.
If you find that you've not been saving (or worse, deeper and deeper in debt), then have you considered that you're truly screwing your future you? Because in the end, your future you is the one who has to pay for it as the present you will be the one enjoying all the products/purchases you make TODAY. Incur six figures of debt and your future you will be working long and hard to pay it off for a long time.
On the other hand, by doing a 3-way combination of:
You will, on the flip side, pay it forward to your future you. Your future self will be so grateful, and by then, you may even be able to plan an early retirement or to stop being chained to a job (ie you work for social and learning rather than just to pay the bills - this changes happiness score a LOT).
If you decide to not save money, spend all you have or worse, go deeper and deeper into debt - it's both a slippery slope and hole-digging event combined: it gets harder and harder to get back out once you're in. And if you keep going forward like that, you can simply connect the dots to see how well you'd do financially in the future (finances screwed in past = finance screwed today, no change for better = finances screwed for the future)
Maybe it is...but more likely, you likely feel that way because you have to cut down a certain lifestyle that you've been accustomed to, for a while. I'm not averse to spending money (I love my lattes and eating out and traveling) nor am I a extreme hardcore frugality dude but I'm talking about NOT spending money where it doesn't really make us any happier eg buying a $3 donut versus a $30 donut or changing cars and mobile phones just because.
It's the same reason why I:
I am pretty much happy: I've got a wife, wonderful children, wonderful family, wonderful team, wonderful church and God - I'm happy. Can I make more? Of course. I found out early that buying stuff do not generally make me happy, especially if the purchases do not make me any money (unless the experience is super unique) - I prefer to invest in dividend stocks that make my money work hard for me, day in, day out.
And every dollar I invest brings me closer and closer to my goal of full passive income lifestyle and freedom.
All these actions are consciously made such that my future self will be very happy and grateful of the freedom that I'd bring to him and my family then. Disclaimer: I do splurge and go out and eat and meet and travel, just that I do not overspend beyond my goal or waste money unnecessarily.
What's in the past, is in the past, and can't be changed. If you've been doing good till today, good for you; but if you've been screwing around, stop it. What you can do today in the present months and years and decades, can screw or benefit the future you.
Choose to benefit the future you.
Do these today, everyday and month:
And once you've received your first dividend or better, hit your minimum requirement to early retirement, let me know. I'll be here.
For those who are already deep in debt, the process is the same, with just an additional line: pay down debts. I will still expect you to save, because the conscious and active action of saving creates a new motor-pathway in your brain and when done consistently overtime, will hardwire into you and become a habit.
A good habit which your future you will thank the present you for.