The Times When You Want To Go All YOLO With Money

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By Amanda |

I’m typically a very money-minded person. I have a history of frugality and debt repayment and a fondness for high savings rates and index funds. But I occasionally fall off the money wagon and don’t even want to think about saving, spending, or investing. I just want to live my life.

Lately, I’ve been on a YOLO streak (ya know – “You Only Live Once”), which my teenager tells me is not a term I should use anymore and I’m stuck in 2012. So I was thinking about “Carpe Diem” for this post because that’s always a thing. Right!? But, it just wasn’t the same. So YOLO it is.


YOLO is one of the very things that can get people into financial trouble in the first place – and I’ve been in that space lately.

It’s happened to me before. Though it doesn’t happen often, the nice thing is when it does hit I’m acutely aware it’s happening. And I choose to do absolutely nothing to stop it.

Granted, I didn’t completely lose it, experience a mid-life crisis, and go buy a new Shelby GT350R. Like this exact one…Though I admit it crossed my mind for a hot second (I mean, HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO ONE OF THESE cars purrrrrr??!!).*

Moving on.

This made me wonder…Why is it that at certain times I don’t I care that I’m spending more than I *should*, and proceed to go out to eat, coffee, movies, drinks, or whatever else makes life more fun and convenient?

Why don’t I give a sh** if I even make a grocery list, let alone stick to it?

And why do I take a relatively spontaneous vacation with my husband with little forethought or planning? (Okay I admit, no regrets there.)

What’s happening in life that causes me to lose sight of my financial goals, even if it’s momentary? And is it really such a bad thing to allow me to forget about all the money-saving, frugal livingFI or bust stuff for a little while?

I think we all have times in life when it just feels like money doesn’t matter that much – that is unless you’re struggling to keep up financially. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have some degree of financial security – whether it’s from a steady paycheck, debt-freedom, savings, or a retirement account – well, we have the luxury of not thinking about money from time to time.

What happens during my YOLO “episodes”? Maybe you can relate? Or not.

As I reflected on times in my life when I’ve had these perverse money moments, some commonalities revealed themselves.

  • It’s always when I am stressed and/or time feels like it’s at a premium.
  • I feel a sense of relief to let go of worrying about money like I usually do (like day-to-day spending, grocery lists, going out for food and drinks, and conveniences I frequently forego)
  • My thought process is always “I just want to relax and enjoy my day right now, to recapture some of my time – ya know, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone.” Total scapegoat, but whatever.

YOLO Happens

As far as I know, we’ve only got one shot at this life.

So it’s a real and valid thing to treat today as the gift it is, enjoy it, and make it count. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Sometimes life gets stressful and hectic and your time no longer feels like it belongs to you. That’s when it seems easier to let go, go with the flow of life, and live with “no regrets” – no matter what the financial costs.

But I’ve been thinking about those “financial costs” of the YOLO mentality. And I think there’s a much better way to deal with it.

Reframing YOLO

When you think about “You Only Live Once,” especially as it’s related to money – it’s often associated with reckless spending. You know, like those spur of the moment sports car and vacation purchases.

But I think that gives YOLO a pretty bad rep. It deserves better.

What if, instead of taking your feelings out on your finances, you actually deal with the root cause of why you feel the need to seize the moment in the first place? What if you say to yourself, “Hold on partner” what’s really going on here?

YOLO moments don’t have to equate irresponsible spending.

The way each of us deals with YOLO is going to be as individual and personal as personal finance is.

But if we reframe it – take a whole new approach to YOLO – it just might make our lives sweeter – in the short and the long term.

Ways to reframe your thinking about YOLO

YOLO means intentional spending. Spending intentionally requires knowing what you want your life to look like, what types of experiences you want to have, and what you value most in life. When you know these things and spend money accordingly, it makes sense that you’ll experience more life satisfaction.

Intentional spending starts with establishing your core values. When you do this, you’ll be well on your way to deciding how to intentionally spend your money to live a life aligned with your values.

Don’t sabotage future YOLO moments. Your future self wants to enjoy life too! If you take a “spend all the money and enjoy it right now” approach, you could make your future self downright broke and miserable. What would your 80-year-old self sitting in the rocking chair want?

If today really was your last day on earth… Hmmm. I mean that’s the whole thought process behind YOLO, right?!

One of the biggest regrets of the dying is not spending more time with friends and family. If you take a “seize the moment” approach to this, it only makes sense that you want to spend as much time as possible with the people you love. (And spending time with loved ones doesn’t typically require you to spend your life savings or go into debt.)

There is joy in delayed gratification. Yes, joy. Much of the pleasure related to experiences is the anticipation leading up to those experiences. This means delayed gratification can be a good thing. If we always get what we want when we want it, there is no struggle to get there. And a big part of the joy in life comes not from getting what we want, but rather the desire and struggle to get what we want.

Plan to live your best life. Have some epic adventure you want to take? Just because you can’t (or rather shouldn’t) do it now, doesn’t mean you can’t one day. Set goals and make a plan so you have the time and money to take that adventure!

We’re all about trying to find a balance between money and life here on Why We Money – which is why we work through it publicly. 😉

So what did I miss here, friends? What are some other ways to reframe YOLO in a positive, healthy way?

Republished with the permission of

5 thoughts on “The Times When You Want To Go All YOLO With Money”

  1. Just be glad you didn’t buy the Shelby Mustang. A past girlfriend had one. And while it did sound amazing, that clutch absolutely took away any driving enjoyment. I actually dreaded when she would hand the keys over. Much more prefer the stiff clutch pedal in my Datsun where you could feel the engagement point.

  2. Yes, I’ve heard the Shelby Mustang rumble. I’ve had my eye on the Bullitt version for the past few months. I’ve learned the best time to buy a new or used muscle car Mustang at the dealer is in January/February. They are pretty motivated to clean up the lot because no normal person purchases a muscle car during the Chicago winter.
    You bring up some excellent points which typically stop me in my tracks spending a great deal of capital on a depreciating asset. So, my “YOLO” sits in the bank waiting for me while I continue to want what I already have. (full disclosure: I have a 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T, that I truly adore). But that Mustang does sound soooooo good.

  3. YOLO hits for me when someone near my age passes away. It’s like $=!+ if last Christmas was their last Christmas, maybe it’s worth it to take that trip, go to that wedding or birthday etc. If I have unknown time, I should get the table I want, the pants that fit better, the earrings i will wear and enjoy each day.

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