You saw this in my last musings post and if you've looked around my website you may have noticed my "words to live by": Earn as much as you can. Give generously. Save early and often. Spend the rest to enjoy life!
I really think these short sentences, applied in order, to one's personal financial life, will make for a very happy life.
Earn as much as you can. This is not to suggest that you should work 80 hours per week and sacrifice other aspects of your life to earn an inordinate amount of money for the sake of earning money. Earn as much as you can to carry out the rest of the mantra... so you can give generously, so you can save enough to have peace of mind and live comfortably and so you can spend the rest to enjoy your life.
Give generously. This is a very personal decision that everyone has to make, but I feel it's very important to give. Whether to your church or other charitable causes, it's about giving back. Giving helps you do good and makes you feel good. Sounds cheesy, but it's true.
Save early and often. I probably tell my students in my Intro. to Personal and Family Finance class once or twice per class to save 10% for retirement from day 1 of their first job after graduating. I know some (maybe many) recommend saving 15% or more, but 10%starting on day 1 and continuing throughout one's career will go a long way.
Spend the rest to enjoy life! My favorite line from the movie Heat (Al Pacino's character) is, "You could get killed walking your doggie!" The point is that it's silly to plan and plan and plan and save and save and save for retirement at the expense of enjoying today. What if you don't make it to retirement? Then what was it all for? It's all about finding a balance between enjoying today and planning for tomorrow.
Next musing I'll have another graphic for you that shows how to apply these principles.