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You Only Live Once, Right? What You Can Do With This Logic


This following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics.

You only live once. A phrase that’s usually followed by some very careless action. Do you only live once? Is early retirement extreme not an option? What I love about this site is that it explores the possibilities of what can happen if you make the right moves in your youth with your finances. It’s too easy to get caught up with the distractions.

It’s okay to do stupid things because you only live once. You got to be dumb because you only have one life to live. Right? Well, sort of. I love to get wild and have fun. I also enjoy this whole making money and getting ahead thing.

I’ve heard friends justify many of the following activities:

  • Spending tons of money on alcohol.
  • Using credit cards for all sorts of crap.
  • Buying the newest gadget.
  • Not going to work because work isn’t fun.

While I’ve made my fair share of dumb mistakes, I’m tired of solely hearing the logic that you only live once being applied to mistakes. This logic can be applied to getting ahead and being smart with your resources.

I wrote about early retirement extreme last year because the topic intrigues me. It goes against suggesting that you only live once prior to doing something stupid. Early retirement shows you that working hard today can really pay off tomorrow. Busting it in your 20s can lead to you enjoying life in your 30s/40s. You can retire before your friends. You can earn your freedom at a young age.

What did I pick up as the core tenet the last time I wrote about early retirement extreme?

Becoming financially independent and using that freedom to pursue other interests.

Where am I going with all of this? We need to try to apply this mantra/catch-phrase that you only live once to other areas of life, such as the following:

Switching a job you hate.

We don’t live in some utopian society and we all won’t always enjoy our work. That’s understandable. What’s unacceptable is working a job you hate to buy stuff that you don’t need — or sticking around in a job because you’re too lazy to take action. Since you only live once, why stay at a job that you can’t handle? Why torture yourself for 1/3 of your life?

early retirement extreme travel

Traveling is more fun when you are young.

Traveling to an interesting destination.

Have you been thinking about traveling the world? What’s stopping you? Life is very short. So short that I would easily have to live at least five times to see what this world truly has to offer. Traveling is an excellent motivator for saving money, working harder, and getting more serious. It gives you something to look forward to and chase after. Where’s your next trip?

Working long hours to increase income.

Just because you live once it doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny. Living once means that you should try to have a decent retirement. If you work longer hours to upgrade your skills and make more money, you can save tons of cash and be set for the future.

Retiring early.

You want something to show for your hard work. Too often do we read about celebrities that have spent millions and are now forced to work in their golden years (the wrestler Ric Flair is a perfect example). Since you only live once, why not work hard now and use a little creativity so that you can retire early and be free at a youthful age?

Life isn’t about absolutes and falling under only one side of the spectrum. I just want you guys to think a bit before you dismiss something or try to justify a poor behavior.

Have you though about giving early retirement extreme a chance?

How am I planning for early retirement?

I’m doing my best to avoid the whole job force. Rather than leaving early, my plan is to never enter! I’m 25 now and this has been possibly because I worked full-time, applied for every form of financial assistance (free money baby), and used some creativity to graduate from college debt-free. In the process, I also took some risks with the stock market, real estate, and my own blogs. As a result of all of this I didn’t have to take the first job that came my way after college nor did I have to stress about money.

Now post-college, I’m working my butt off to sustain my online income so that I never have to look for a “real job.” I’ve dabbled into blogging, freelancing, self-publishing, launching products, and consulting. I’m always trying to increase my income and decrease my spending. My lifestyle design isn’t complete yet but I’m working on it. In 2012, I was able to go on five trips and going forward I plan on traveling more.

This was a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, where he explores all topics from student credit cards to surviving a night out on the town.


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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • davidmichael July 9, 2013, 8:34 am

    Interesting concept about YOLO. When I bicycled the length and breadth of New Zealand for three months on my 65th birthday, I met lots of young people from the Commonwealth (ages 20-23) spending a year after college graduation travelling and working the East Asia circuit. From NZ to Australia to Vietnam, and on. They were vibrant, full of life, and just plain fun. I spent a week with a handful of them picking grapes in a South Island Vineyard. The girls from Northern Ireland with their singing brogue accents were amazing in all ways. I have never forgotten that experience. So yes. I definitely recommend a person at the end of high school or in college, take a year off and explore the world. Money is only a tool. I travelled in my teens, 20’s, and every decade since. Sometimes I was rich, and sometimes poor. Didn’t make any difference. There was always a way. And people the world over, are so kind and helpful, particularly if you travel by bicycle.

  • Integrator February 4, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I’m doing everything I can now to be financially set in 5 years. I think at that point i’ll be happy to stop and take a bit of a brak. But given the goal line seems so close, I’m determined to work like nothing else to get there. I’ll be 40 by that time, but hopefully i can still enjoy many years of the benefits of financial independence

    • retirebyforty February 5, 2013, 10:39 pm

      Good luck! 5 years of hard work will pay off.

  • Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter February 1, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Yep, you only live once…so I never understand why anybody is okay with being broke and working until they die – that is not how I want to live my “once”. I like to live like I’ll die soon but save like I’ll live forever. This generally means saving and investing a ton but making sure to budget for some fun too.

    • retirebyforty February 3, 2013, 8:43 am

      Great comment!

  • [email protected] February 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

    People are so stupid with this YOLO thing. Drake is balling though! But seriously, they behave as though they are on their death-bed and trying to knock off their bucket-list, when in fact they probably have many many years ahead of them, and they choose to mess it up because ‘you only live once’. Well thank you so much for pointing out that if you only have one life you should try to make it as comfortable and prosperous as possible.

  • sin camisa January 31, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I will never argue against any travel, in particular, International. I always thought Americans would benefit immensely by traveling overseas; and by that I not only mean travel to a remote village in Asia or Latin America and think how lucky we are as Americans; but to cities in other industrialized countries and see how badly we have fallen behind in health, education, arts, etc.

    I was very lucky I had the chance.

  • My Multiple Incomes January 31, 2013, 8:34 am

    Early retirement is one option I am really looking forward to having in life, but I need to make sure that I am financially prepared for it. Also, unlike some people I plan to retire early not just to enjoy life but to be able to focus on things that I really want to do.

    • Martin January 31, 2013, 9:57 am

      What age would you consider to be early retirement? I talk about it now at 25, but in reality who knows what can happen in the future. I’m just doing my best to be prepared.

  • Ramona January 31, 2013, 2:47 am

    Read it twice and still confused. Are you condoning your position of “free money baby” as a lifestyle choice? Where do you think the money comes from?

    • Martin January 31, 2013, 9:58 am

      Sorry for the confusion Ramona. I just wanted to look at how you can apply the logic of “YOLO” to other areas of your life (career and early retirement). Money is never free and it comes from our efforts.

  • FF2026 January 31, 2013, 2:19 am

    Great blog you have here! Very inspiring! I am starting my journey with a similar goal in mind! Keep up the good work!

  • Julie @ Freedom 48 January 30, 2013, 7:27 pm

    I use the “You only live once” rule when it comes to our vacations. We do well with saving & investing, but we do spend about $5,000 per year on vacations (between Caribbean getaways, camping, road trips etc.) I know we could cut back and increase saving… but I’m always thinking “You never know what tomorrow brings… and I don’t want to have any regrets”. Therefore we try not to put things into the “some day” category – but rather do it NOW, while we can.

    • retirebyforty January 30, 2013, 10:25 pm

      I don’t mind spending when I’m on vacation either. What’s the chance of us going back there again anyway? I’ll be cheap when I’m home. 🙂

  • Mike January 30, 2013, 11:07 am

    I agree. Certain things such as travel, decreasing spending are all wise things to do. One should be a little bit wiser in how they handle certain things-like debt-but one can minimize things through alternatives and maybe even a few part time jobs or freelancing gigs if possible.

    For me, I am looking towards being able to get a few online incomes and a few incomes from other sources to help cover the rising costs of my area (since most jobs hover at poverty level).

  • krantcents January 30, 2013, 10:09 am

    Life is all about choices! You can make bad or good choices. There can be significant consequences for bad choices. For the most part, you are rewarded for good choices. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, but you may learn more skills and experience working for someone for a while. It is a choice certainly and you may not need it. Good luck.

  • Bridget January 30, 2013, 10:05 am

    oh man this goes so good with the post I’m publishing on Friday…

    • Martin January 31, 2013, 9:59 am

      Already looking forward to reading it.

  • Michelle January 30, 2013, 10:04 am

    This post came at a perfect time for me, especially considering my post that I published today. I want to enjoy life but also save as well.

  • retirebyforty January 30, 2013, 8:22 am

    Thanks for the guest post. It’s great that you can break from the beaten path and make your way through life. I’m really jealous of your travels. We had a lot of fun traveling when we were a bit younger. It’s more fun when you’re young.

  • Financial Samurai January 30, 2013, 7:35 am

    Uh oh, the YOLO movement has spread to RB40!

    I think it’s great to see young folks spend their money in their 20s and have a good time. You have a lifetime to make more money. It’s also good fun to live vicariously through y’all too.

    Spend baby spend!

  • SavvyFinancialLatina January 30, 2013, 6:45 am

    I’m young as well, in my early 20s, and I don’t want to feel like I have to work forever for the man.
    But I do want to enjoy life. So, we are trying to find a balance between working too much and enjoying life. Not always easy, but it’s manageable on Saturdays.

    • Martin January 30, 2013, 7:29 am

      How close are you to finding that balance?

  • Alexa @ travelmiamor January 30, 2013, 6:25 am

    I think of the term as, “You’re only young once.” And this is a subject my husband and I go back and forth on. I LOVE to travel; I want to travel when we’re young and before we have kids. But he wants to save now to do stuff like that later, when we’re retired.

    But I have won the argument a few times, this past November we went to Kauai and took 2 all day hikes (one 12 miles and one 8 miles). We saw beautiful views that I know we wouldn’t have been able to see when we are in our 50s or 60s. I have convinced him (sort of) to take one last vacation overseas before we have kids. I want Thailand but he thinks that is too far so we have settled on Europe for the time being.

    • Martin January 30, 2013, 7:28 am

      That’s awesome to hear Alexa. St. Augustine said that the world is like a book and that if you never leave home, you never get off the first page.

      I imagine that it’s a tough balancing act for you guys. I’m in the same boat. I love to travel, yet I’m a huge proponent of saving money.

      I see trips as an investment. I always have a great time, meet tons of new folks, and have memories to last a life time. Plus, I noticed that trips force me to work harder. I know that if I want to travel, I need to step up the productivity.

      • Alexa @ travelmiamor January 31, 2013, 5:09 am

        That quote is actually the sub header on my blog! I also just saw this one on a yahoo post, “Tomorrow is promised to no man, no mater what your age.” Makes you want to live for today!

        • Martin January 31, 2013, 9:56 am

          I like that one! I’m going to use it.

  • My Financial Independence Journey January 30, 2013, 2:44 am

    I look at financial independence largely as an insurance policy. The job market is way too unstable. You never know when your company might get bought up and your whole department downsized. Or you don’t know when your boss might be replaced by someone you can’t stand. I work in a very specialized industry, so if I go unemployed it’s going to have to be a mad dash across the country to find a new job. I’m not adverse to moving and the like, I’d just like to do things more at my own speed and have the option to turn down places or companies I don’t really want to work at. That kind of insurance can only be achieved if you’re financially independent.

    • Martin January 30, 2013, 7:26 am

      Good points. A friend of mine, his father, got laid off from his job. The only problem was that he was in his 60s already. He never saved or planned for the future. Unfortunately, he was stuck working into his 70s.

  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank January 30, 2013, 1:50 am

    Life is short, but the line for handouts from the government is long. I would rather be self sufficient than spending money on a whole heap of things I don’t really need.

    I think there is a balance to be struck between living life and planning for the future.

    • Martin January 30, 2013, 7:24 am

      You’re right on that one Glen. The line for handouts is out of control. Have you been able to find the balance between living life and planning for the future?

      • Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle January 30, 2013, 8:28 am

        My employer just announced there will be changes and the word outsourcing was used. What a terrifying word.

        I am not financially independant and I am years from getting there. I need to work more at something other than my current job to eliminate my massive debt so I can be less reliant on an employer who can take away your pay cheque at any time.

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