[The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.]
In my younger days, long before the phrase “you only live once” became a motto for a generation, it was already a way of life for me. Though broke for most of my adult life, I thought myself happy enough due to making decisions for the short-term thrill. My thought process would go as follows
Should I jump from this plane?
Well, obviously I should; you only live once.
Jumping from this helicopter?
What did I just say? You only live once.
What about this show? It’s free, but starts after midnight on a Tuesday, it’s all the way across town, and I…
You ONLY live ONCE.
So, there’s this obstacle course where I’d get electrocuted several times…
And so it went, year after year. The implied meaning of the phrase was clear: You only live once… So never pass on an opportunity for immediate gratification.
While it’s a small wonder that I’m still fully in possession of life and limb, I didn’t escape this phase of my life completely unscathed; spending my money like I wasn’t going to make it to 30 set my bank account up for failure when I did leave my twenties.
Getting older and staying safe
As the years moved along, my tastes changed. Among other things, my stomach and roller coasters became less friendly with each other. I eat more oatmeal.
And yet, surprisingly, the phrase, “You only live once” still has relevance in my life. The big difference is now, one implied meaning is that you only live once… so be very careful with the one life you have.
At the tail end of my 20s, a pair of emergency room visits showed me just how expensive big risks could have been, had I not been heavily insured.
These days, if someone were to ask me if I want to go get electrocuted, my response might be, “Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Settle down. You only live once.”
Getting older and saving for bigger adventures
Yes, I still love to get a quick surge of adrenaline every now and then, but I’ve learned that adventure can be just as enjoyable in slow-drip form too.
Sure, flailing out of a plane is a great you-only-live-once adventure for the few minutes it takes, but so is taking a vacation for a few weeks, having the spare time to train for a marathon for several months, or the biggest, longest adventure of them all — all the things one can do with an early retirement.
Knowing that I only get to live once motivates me to live responsibly and to otherwise avoid going deeper into debt. In this one lifetime, I’m glad that I’m more able to make important life decisions centered on my dreams as opposed to limiting myself to choices based on a need to forever pay off debt.