Finance · Lifestyle

Happy Now, Sad Later

I have a confession: I’m a hoarder. Are you like me? Does this sound familiar?

Here’s just one example of my hoarding tendencies:

Rather than accrue vacation and sick time, my employer doles out paid time off (PTO) once a year to each employee on his/her anniversary date. So every year, I look at my calendar and start by marking the days I definitely want to take off — my birthday, the day after Thanksgiving, time in December between Christmas and New Year’s, etc.

Back before my cat became diabetic, I was taking only one trip with friends each year. That requires just a few days of PTO, so I’d be left with huge chunks of time off that I didn’t know what to do with. My PTO renews in May so this has been on my mind a lot lately. And with my cat requiring so much care, I won’t be taking any trips this year. I’m just not comfortable leaving him in the care of someone else.

Do I risk it and take random days off over the summer, even though I don’t have specific plans? Or should I hold on to my PTO in case I need it in the late winter/early spring, before my PTO renews?

Inevitably, I end up using a sizable amount in March and April. This year that amounted to 7 days. I try to have at least 5 days banked in case of an emergency but somehow I managed to save even more days than usual.

There are usually days where it’s tempting to use a day of PTO as a mental health day (as my mom likes to say). When I think about doing so, the phrase, “Happy now, sad later” always comes to mind. It’ll make me happy in that moment but I’ll be sad later if I want to use my time off then. Hence, my hoarding tendencies. It’s a fight between instant and delayed gratification.

There are ways for hoarding to work in our favor, though. Money hoarded and invested can lead to a comfortable retirement, or even early retirement. For anyone who is interested in retirement, we have to fight the idea of being happy now (by spending all our money) to prevent being sad later (by working the rest of our lives) We know that there’s a much bigger reward awaiting us.

It took a long time for me to understand this concept, but now I’m happy to be a hoarder, by saving around 70% of my take home pay. This will allow me to retire around age 50, rather than waiting until 65 or 67. Hoarding isn’t all bad, right?

Do you have anything that you hoard to prevent “happy now, sad later?”

* In case you’re wondering, I got that phrase from the TV show King of Queens. Doug was using two frosting packets on one Toaster Strudel and he said, “Happy now, sad later,” since one strudel in the box would end up without a frosting packet.



7 thoughts on “Happy Now, Sad Later

  1. Love that episode of King of Queens and sadly recognized it as soon as I started reading your article (yes too much TV time for me). I too used to hoard the PTO and I think it was taught to me by my parents. Where I used to work we had a generous cap of 27 days that we could bank and carry over. I spent years not taking days off to build up that cap “just in case”. Once I hit the cap I had a hard time using all of the days as I was not used to taking PTO and hence lost some days.

    After years of employment I was let go in a down-sizing and those 27 days were paid out to me and taxed mightily. I can tell you when that happened I was not celebrating the extra paycheck as you might think. I was actually mad that I spent years not taking those occasional mental health days and extra vacations. I have vowed never again to hoard vacation and now balance out a healthy does of vacation time spent and keep some banked. I think that is a reminder to me to certainly save for the future but don’t ignore the present completely either.

    1. What a great point – while we should be prepared for the future, we shouldn’t forget to live today. I think I’ve come up with a plan to spread out my PTO over the next year so we’ll see how it goes. I can’t carry any forward so that’s a huge incentive to use it all.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I think my biggest struggle with this concept right now is how to best use my time in the present. I can relax and play with my kids now (happy), but this could require me to work more in the future before achieving financial semi-independence (sad). Granted, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, but I always have trouble finding the right balance.
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Constructive Ways To Use Your Time, Instead Of Playing Pokemon GoMy Profile

    1. It would be so difficult to put off time with your kids, since they grow up so quickly. I’m constantly amazed by parents – it’s the hardest job in the world and also the most important. Reaching semi-FI would definitely make finding balance a little easier.

      Thanks for commenting!

    1. Thanks! Here’s hoping I have the means to retire earlier 🙂 If nothing else, it would just be nice to have the option.

  3. Hoarding the right things is good. One thing I never want to do is worship money or anything else.
    I had saved a bunch of money this year but used it to pay off my credit card as 2 years ago had some expenses like a trip to Isreal.

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