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.