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Rescue Yourself From Reckless Saving

I got a lot of positive feedback on my first column.

Here's a representative sample: "What an ass you are. If you are typical of our recent college grads, God save us. Your hedonistic attitudes violate all principles of self-discipline, responsibilities to others and maturity."

My friend, flattery will get you everywhere.

Many of you thought I was being reckless and irresponsible when I advised young people not to save money. I couldn't disagree more strenuously. There's no percentage in being a paragon of self-restraint and spending discipline while you're in your early 20s.

I'm not advising anyone to go out and spend every last cent on a stereo or some sweet rims.

Telling young people to be circumspect about their savings isn't the same as telling them to be financially irresponsible. It's responsible to enjoy yourself, it's irresponsible to devote every second of your life to retiring comfortably, even at the expense of being happy in the present.

It just so happens that others agree with me. Laurence Kotlikoff has serious credentials and he's saying the same thing, people are saving too much for retirement. As the great George Allen -- the football coach not the senator -- put it, "the future is now."

If anything, you're taking a dangerous and unnecessary risk if you try to be disciplined about money in your 20s. The risk is that you might make it to 30 or 40 without ever having had a prolonged period of irresponsibility in your life. And it's not just your youth that's at stake, it's your future.

If you spend your 20s grinding away, trying to follow all the financial disciplines that we're told make you a responsible adult, you'll never get the recklessness out of your system.

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