Money & the psychology of money
When Tomorrow becomes Today – The Psychology of future planning
We all want wonderful things to happen to us today, right here right now. Even though we are aware that bad things may happen, we generally don’t believe that they are going to happen to us. And if they do happen, it won’t be today, perhaps tomorrow.
What happens when tomorrow becomes today? What if all the things that were supposed to happen tomorrow, happen today? What then?
Betsy set in my office. Her tomorrow had become today all too suddenly. She received a letter from her employer informing her of her imminent retirement. She has been to the retirement office, and she was shocked as to how little she was going to retire on. Not even a third of her current salary. What should she do?
A week before, Rob was sitting in this same chair. His tomorrow had also come unexpectedly. For him, it was a letter of retrenchment. His age and education was such that the prospect of new employment were slim. Should he start a business? He inquired.
James and Jane are living it up today. They are going on a holiday this festive season, just like they did in years gone by; only this time, it’s bigger and better. Do you have a retirement plan? I ask. We are planning to start that when we come back from holiday, Jane says. But that’s what we’ve been saying every year honey, says James. They laugh. I tell them about Betsy. They shake their heads in disbelief.
Linda is a mother of two. She is a professional that has been climbing the corporate ladder. Today she finds out it has been leaning against the wrong wall. The company she has been working for is going under. Her mortgage, her car payments, her children’ school fees, and livelihood are all depended on this salary. She currently can’t afford even one month without a salary. If this salary stops, she stands to lose everything.
It was Stephen R Covey who said, if you focus on the urgent, you might neglect the important. Saving for your retirement is important, but it is not urgent, because it can always be done tomorrow. Saving for emergencies is important, but it is not urgent today, because it can always be done tomorrow. Saving for your child’s education is important, but it is not urgent, because you can always start tomorrow.
There are so many things that are supposed to happen only tomorrow. Definitely not today. This child is going to grow up and want to go to university; but definitely not today; perhaps tomorrow. So, we have time, we say. Buying a house? We’ll absolutely do it tomorrow, today the finances are still tight. But we’re going to do it for sure! Furthering my studies? Obviously I will do it tomorrow; can’t you see how busy I am today? Retirement? Of course tomorrow! Certainly not today.
One day, tomorrow becomes today. School fees are due today. The mortgage is overdue today. The car needs repairs today. The geyser needs to be replaced today. And yes, there is an advert for a new job in today’s newspaper, but the requirement is that postgraduate diploma that I should have completed before today came.
When tomorrow becomes today, will yesterday have been worth it? Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. Today is the only day that matters. Reduce your expenses today, not tomorrow. Increase your earnings and income today, not tomorrow. Invest your money today, not tomorrow. When tomorrow becomes today, will it take you by surprise? Save today, live safely tomorrow.