YOLO Explained


Drizzy on stage. Photo: Lunchbox LP

A lot of folks my age, who are also in their early twenties, are just trying to figure their lives out right now (including me!).  One cultural maxim that’s become popular these last couple of years is the concept of Y.O.L.O., which stands for “You Only Live Once”, if you didn’t know.  It was popularized by The Motto, a song by Drake and Lil’ Wayne that came out some time ago.

Not only did this song rock at all the college parties, but also had people screaming out “YOLO!” right as they were about to do something pretty questionable or irresponsible.  Although I think the song is pretty catchy and I get the premise – you only live once so you might as well live it up in the here and now – there’s a part of me that really wants to look at the other end of the definition.

It’s so true – as human beings we only live once, and we have such a limited amount of time on this earth to make our mark.  For this exact reason, we should make sure we’re spending our time, talents, and money on things that truly matter to us – not just in the short term but in the long term as well.

Find A Balance

Now, naturally we need to find a balance.  It would be foolish of me to save 100% of my income and invest it all with the justification of, “I’m soooo scared and insecure about the future that I just need to save every single penny!  The government is unraveling and the sky is falling!”  On the contrary, it would be equally foolish to say  “Wow I just got paid today…might as well blow every dime right now.”  Have you ever noticed that people who say “Well, I can’t take it with me when I die,” never have any money anyway?  If that’s you, don’t worry – I used to think that way myself.

Money is a tool, and as there are different tools for different jobs, so there is with money.  Some should definitely be used for now, and some should be put aside for later.  How you strike that balance is up to you – but it is important that you define it for yourself, and not let other people do the thinking for you.

This principle not only applies to money, but all other areas of your life where you expend energy.  It applies to your talents.  It applies to your time.  When I’m in my YOLO mindset during my day I’m thinking, “Wow, what a long day at work.  I’m exhausted.  All I want to do is go to bed and sleep.  But I haven’t seen the Mrs. all day and I know we should spend some quality time together.  Well, I can manage to stay up a few more hours because investing in our relationship is important – YOLO!”

Time Is Finite

The center of the principle is that our time on this earth is limited.  It really is so short.  That’s really why I started this blog – to share my ideas about how, by thinking like we’re already at the end of our years, we can make the most of our time between now and then.  Look at this number below:


What does this represent?  It’s the average time, measured in days someone living in my country (USA) has to live.  That’s 78.64 years average life expectancy.  Of course, some folks will live longer, and some will pass away sooner.

That’s it.  That’s what we have to work with.  Barring medical crises or tragic accidents, that’s what you and I have got, on average.  Shoot, I’ve already used almost 8,500 of mine.  All the more reason to make today count, right?  YOLO!

How do you feel about both interpretations of YOLO?

Ballin’ On The Basics

When it comes to the basics things in life, like groceries and household products, finding a way of saving money can really strengthen your family’s finances over time, because those expenses are recurring. If I shopped at say, Whole Foods every month, over the course of several years I would have spent way more money than if I had shopped exclusively at a normal mainstream grocery store. Although I ultimately think focusing on income is more productive than focusing on saving, it is important to recognize that saving money plays an incredibly important role, particularly when you are just starting out in the early years. Any surplus capital that can be used to eliminate liabilities or build assets early on will have an exponential effect later in life.

However, when I’m in my 50s or 60s and already wealthy, I probably won’t care much where I get my grocery shopping done, from a pure cost perspective, because my potential savings would not have that much time to compound into something bigger. This is why we are still pretty frugal in our 20’s even though we are almost completely debt free, because we realize there is a lot more investing and saving to be done. An example of how Mrs. Mase and I are saving money on a monthly basis is how we choose to grocery shop.

Use Affordable Grocers For Regular Food Shopping

In the Midwestern United States, we have a wonderful grocery store called Aldi.  It’s where we get the bulk of our grocery shopping done.  Unlike other grocery stores out there, Aldi cuts back on the non-essential aspects of its business in order to provide really competitive prices on its products and pass the savings on to customers.  One example is the cart system.  Outside of the store are rows of carts, all linked together by a chain locking mechanism.  You simply put a quarter into the slot of the nearest cart, and it detaches from the rest.  Then, when you’re done shopping, you return the cart, snap the chain back in, and you get your quarter back.

When we first started shopping there, I thought this was a bit ridiculous.  Why on earth should I have to put up 25 cents of collateral just to use a stupid cart?!  The more I thought about it though, this is a really smart idea for Aldi, and it ultimately benefits its customers.  By implementing this system, Aldi doesn’t have to waste nearly as much money replacing carts as other groceries stores do, because it’s harder to steal a cart if you have to find a quarter first.

This, along with other cost saving techniques, allows Aldi’s prices to be really cheap.  For example, we often get fancy almond milk for a couple of bucks, whereas a similar product at Whole Foods might cost 30-50% more.  For things that we consume on a regular basis, such as meats, veggies, fruits, and snacks, those dollars add up quickly.  We typically spend just a couple hundred dollars per month on our core groceries.  Gotta love Aldi.

Take Advantage of One Time Deals

Now, Aldi does not have coupons or big deals, which is somewhat unfortunate.  However, the savings more than make up for the lack of deals and coupons.  Every once in a while, deals will pop up and just present themselves to you.  The other day we received an ad in the mail for a new CVS Pharmacy opening down the street from us, and they were having a grand opening pretty soon.  Included in the mailer were several coupons, each for something small like a free toothbrush or any item for free under $3.00.

We decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up.  There were simply too many free coupons to be ignored.  After our trip over to the CVS, we laid everything out on the counter to see what we got:

  • A roll of paper towels
  • 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola
  • Laundry Detergent
  • A bag of gummy bears
  • Colgate toothbrush
Sometimes companies just give things away in order to draw in new customers.  If you were planning on buying these things anyway – take advantage of the opportunity.

Sometimes companies just give things away in order to draw in new customers. If you were planning on buying these things anyway – take advantage of the opportunity

The grand total…. $0.00!  These were items that we were going to purchase for ourselves anyway, and we ended up getting them for free.  Sometimes life just gives you very obvious opportunities, and you should take them!  These days I’m not the type to seek out huge deals and discounts on small items like groceries – I’d rather spend my time focusing on how to increase my income – but this was just a no-brainer.  When life gives you lemons and the juicer and some ice cubes and some cups – just make some lemonade and be happy you did it.