Google Doc | Facebook comments | Author: Mati Roy | Created: 2018-07-11 | Branched: 2019-03-12 | Published: 2019-04-16 | Updated: 2019-04-16 | Confidence: personal preferences; speculation | Status: complete | Importance: 7 | Disclaimer: I’m not a professional financial advisor | Feedback: welcomed; if you know better (or good) articles covering this topic, I would like to know

Consume now or later?

Note: This article discusses consumption for oneself (not for your tribe, allies, or individuals in your moral hypersphere of concerns).

Note: If you want to consume later, you might still want to invest now, either in stocks or in yourself for example. Some form of consumptions could also be seen as investments in your mental health.


Somewhat worse futures

Safety from wealth inequality & maintaining an income

If a lot of jobs get automated, it might be (more) difficult to earn money in the future (depending on your job), and that wealth might not be redistributed, at least initially. So now seems like a good opportunity to make money.

In that scenario, it might be better to consume later, and owning stocks might be better than owning money.

Safety from wealth reductions & being able to fulfil survival needs

There could have a global catastrophe that significantly reduces the quality of life in the future, and basic commodity might be more expensive at this point. In the future, money might be used at the margin to be less hungry whenas today it might only be used to buy fancier food (or something). If there’s a severe pandemics, money might also allow to take a break from working which could reduce your exposure to the pathogen.

In that scenario, it might be better to consume later, and owning money might be better than owning stocks.

Much worse futures

Losing all investments

On the other hand, if the future is really bad, the whole economical system could go down, and all stock investments would be lost and/or traditional currencies might stop to be used entirely. Alternatively, you could die, or the whole species could go extinct, in which cases your investment would also be worthless.

If you won’t get the chance to spend your wealth in the future, then you should either consume now or invest in safety to reduce the impact this scenario would have, for example by becoming a prepper.

Somewhat better futures

Buying future tech

There are very useful products / services we might want to buy that simply don’t exist yet. And new technologies are often expensive at their beginning.

The most important ones could be:

In that scenario, it might be better to consume in the future.

Much better futures

Having no need for money

The future could be really good, abundant, and everything could be free or very cheap. In which cases your money could be worthless, or worth significantly less. Although we might be likely to pass by a good future phase before reaching this one, so see point above.

One could argue that if we knew the future would be Utopic, then we should just use our money to make our current situation better. But if you think you might reach Utopia, it might be wise to invest in your health and security to improve your probability of reaching Utopia. Even small improvements in health and security could have a huge payoff, so it seems worth trading today’s luxury for it. You might want to consider cryonics for example.


  1. Example of arguments against that: Rationality versus Short Term Selves; On What Selves Are - CEV sequence by Diego Caleiro