11 Frugal Gifts Your Future Self Will Love
There are a lot of things I wish my younger self would have done for the benefit of my present self. As I look forward to what my future self will want, here are some gifts that I can work to deliver starting today (and you can, too!).
1. Money in the Bank
Occasionally when I put on a coat or jacket that have not worn for a long time, I find some cash in the pocket — a gift from the past! My younger self even left some money in a savings account which my current self greatly appreciates.
Give the gift: Put $50 per week in a savings account and you'll save $26,000 per decade for your future self to enjoy.
A great gift to your future self would be a chance at early retirement. Depending on how your investments perform and how much you plan to spend in retirement, if you increase the funding level for retirement investments from 10% of income to 20% during your career, your future self could retire more than 10 years earlier!
Give the gift: Sign up for automatic deposits to your retirement fund to save your current self from having to remember to transfer funds. Choose an investment fund with low fees and contribute as much as you can to set your future self free as early as possible.
3. Less Debt
My younger self often thought it was okay to spend a lot of money since my future self would earn more income and could easily pay the bills. This logic made sense to me at the time, but my current self is not very happy with this strategy.
Give the gift: Start paying down debts today. Pay off your highest interest rate debts first to eliminate debt as quickly as possible. Cut expenses and apply the savings toward paying down debts faster.
4. Higher Education
Make life as easy as possible for your future self by setting up a convenient source of income. This could be a cushy or interesting career, running a profitable business, or creating passive income opportunities. It takes time and effort to establish a good source of income, so start today!
Give the gift: Complete school or training now to advance your career earning opportunities instead of waiting for your future self to do it. If growing a business is your game plan, don't wait to get started. Take on the hard work now so your future self can enjoy the benefits.
5. Active Lifestyle
Get into fitness activities that will keep you fit for life, and provide interesting recreational opportunities. I look forward to exploring new bike trails and recently went on some awesome half-day bike adventures. I like hiking and walking, too, and enjoy exploring both urban and rural areas.
Give the gift: For me, a quality bicycle was a good gift to my future self. It will last for years and provide many hours of entertainment, exercise, and free transportation. If it will keep you active, a health club membership, sporting equipment, or a workout program can be a good gift that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
6. Creative Outlets
Your future self will want to look back and see what you've done with your life. Create a body of work that you can look back on by creating things that will last. I am sending my future self some completed home improvement projects to look back on with pride. I have also published a few books and hundreds of personal finance articles and blog posts that will be around for a long time. Other lasting creations include publishing some scientific journal articles and obtaining patents.
Give the gift: Find opportunities to create things that last for your future self to be proud of.
Put in the hard work now to acquire skills that your future self will find useful and entertaining. Here are some possibilities:
- Electrical wiring
- Computer programming
- Foreign language
- Automotive maintenance/repair
Give the gift: Choose a skill that would be useful to acquire and put in the time and effort now to gain the skill so your future self can easily use it.
8. A Stronger Brain
Keep your brain sharp for your future self. Because if you don't use it, you'll lose it!. Exercise your short term memory, learning, and analytical thinking skills as much as possible.
Give the gift: Keep reading, learning, and finding new interests every day. Use brain games such as Lumosity to exercise your brain and stay sharp.
9. Organized Tools and Paperwork
The other day, I needed a cold work chisel that I had not used in 20 years, but I knew exactly where to find it. Years ago, my wife helped me set up an organizational scheme for my tools, and they have stayed organized ever since. Organize your tools, financial documents, bills, budget, and closet to make life easy for your future self.
Give the gift: Choose something and get it totally organized today. Once an organizational scheme and habit are established, it takes little effort to keep things organized for your future self to enjoy.
10. A Shorter Commute
Move closer to work, school, shopping, etc. to reduce your commute — and expenses. I moved about 10 minutes closer to work and it makes a noticeable difference to the amount of free time that I have. I spend less on gas as well.
Give the gift: Moving to a different home is hard, but can be worth the trouble if you can reduce your expenses and/or reduce your commute every day for your future self.
11. Memories Captured
Take lots of pictures! No one wishes they had fewer photos from the good old days. Photos with loved ones are best, but photos of scenes from everyday life are interesting, too. It is amazing how many memories even a single photo from a normal day can bring back. What seems mundane to your current self may be fascinating for your future self to remember.
Give the gift: A nice digital camera can be a good gift to your future self. Use a memory stick or cloud storage to keep a backup copy of all of your digital photos somewhere safe.