Relying Too Much on “Future You”

Your Future

Are you relying too much on "future you"?

Your future self just called. They want their money back.

We all have to rely on others from time to time. What are friends and family for, right?

So, is relying on your future self the same as asking for a handout from someone else?

I say there’s nothing wrong with doing that occasionally. But when you do it over and over again, you sort of wear out your welcome, don’t you?

The “future you” I’m referring to is of course your future earning capacity. When you go into debt, you are relying on future earnings to pay for things that you want now. And, because of the associated interest payments, you’re asking your future self to pay more than they should.

For things like a home, a car, an education, asking the “future you” for a little help isn’t that bad of an idea. After all, they will all either increase / maintain value or provide some other source of income over time.

Where you get into trouble is when you go into debt to pay for things that don’t maintain value or help produce income. The future you ends up paying money (in the form of high interest) for something that isn’t there anymore, or is outdated and long replaced.

Action step for today: Write your “future self” an email. Say that you’ve started a debt reduction plan and you’ll quit relying on his or her earnings so much.



Last Edited: October 10, 2011 @ 12:29 am The content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. Ryan Yates says:

    Phil,

    I really liked your article today. The way you used “your future self” really made a lot of sense and helped to put unnecessary spending/depreciating value into perspective. And, anytime you can teach me something by using Back to the Future, I will always retain it. Play on, brother!

  2. Thanks, Ryan. I wrote it from 3 to 3:30 am this morning. Sometimes the best posts come quick and in the wee hours of the night.

  3. this is what got us in to the debt mess that most are in- borrowing from the future us thinking that we will be more credit worthy in the future. As experience has taught us, nothing could be further from the truth. when i feel the overwhelming need to splurge, i will sit down and write the letter to myself(this is a nice idea that you have given us). hopefully by the time i am through, i will be more level headed

  4. Great Article PT. What you have described is the underlying reason for the recession. Living on credit today that we cannot pay in the future unless everything works out perfectly and goes according to future values and predictions, which is never the case.I am an advocate on spending money on items that appreciate like houses, memorabilia, education etc.They are a cost which is worth the interest because they will make you cash. As for an expensive pair of glasses well you will look cool for a few months but your credit card statement wont in a few years time and I dare say buying expensive glasses then will not be possible. However for the person who bought the house and lived within their means for those couple years well expensive glasses will be on their shopping list and they will only pay $250 not $250 + years worth of interest.

  5. Now THAT’S what I call an excellent personal finance article, PT. Pithy and entertaining to boot! 🙂

    I always remind my kids that every time they borrow money from Dad they are unwittingly limiting their future choices precisely because they are stealing from their future earnings, be it their allowance or holiday/birthday money.

    Best,

    Len
    Len Penzo dot Com

  6. Great post PT.