Money Management

Are You Soft Saving for Soft Living?

Tim Melia

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Generation Z is doing it, and you may want to pay attention; your financial and personal well-being may benefit from it. #softlife

For those of you not paying attention to the trending TikTok content related to soft living and soft saving, let me explain:

  • Soft living is the concept of living for the present and having a more comfortable life now. Soft living is a philosophy that emphasizes simplicity, mindfulness, and intentional living. It encourages individuals to shift their focus away from the pursuit of material possessions and instead concentrate on experiences that bring joy and fulfillment. 
  • Soft saving is the idea of saving less money for the future to allocate more money for the present.

That sound you just heard may have been the collective groan of the Hustle Culture and Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) communities. Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is probably fine with that. Consider the findings from a December 2022 Intuit survey of Generation Z members:

  • Nearly 3 in 4 say the current economy makes them hesitant to set long-term goals
  • 2 in 3 say they’re not sure they’ll ever have enough money to be able to retire
  • They are more interested than most older generations in having money to pursue their passions or hobbies
  • Constant personal growth is more important to them than any other generation
  • Quality of life is key for them, even more important than financial or physical health
  • Nearly 3 in 4 would rather have a better quality of life than extra money in the bank2 in 3 are only interested in finances as a way to support their other interests in life

Consider some of what Generation Z has experienced in their lifetime: 

  • A global financial crisis and its aftermath 
  • The threat of climate change
  • Gun violence
  • A global pandemic 

Who can blame Generation Z for hesitating to plan for the future while placing greater focus on the present?

If there was a silver lining to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it may have been for many in the world to experience what work-life balance actually feels like. Perhaps the combination of that experience and an unknown future became a perfect formula, with the result being the popularity of soft living and soft saving.

Soft Saving

The goal of soft saving is to support the primary goal of soft living, or having a comfortable life now focused on things like experiences. But soft saving methods seem to be pretty much the same as, well, saving. With importance and focus placed on the following:

  • Establishing an emergency fund to serve as a safety net in unexpected situations like layoffs or medical emergencies. Amounts may vary, but typically the target is anywhere between three and twelve months worth of living expenses.
  • Budgeting and tracking expenses, identifying areas for cutbacks, and allocating funds towards meaningful experiences and savings.
  • Mindful spending encourages people to ask themselves if the item or experience aligns with their values and contributes to their overall well-being. 
  • Saving for the future. This one may come as a bit of a surprise, given that the goal is focused on the present. But Generation Z is smart, and they understand there will be a future, whatever it looks like, and they will need to save for it. The difference may be that they are not sacrificing the present for the future; they are saving, but maybe not as much as past generations. 

In his book Die With Zero, author Bill Perkins presents his philosophy of shifting away from a focus on working and saving one’s whole life with the primary goal of enjoying life in retirement. Perkins suggests that a balance needs to be found and that there needs to be a focus throughout life on accumulating experiences, not just money. He promotes a focus on avoiding over-saving and under-living. Perkins shares in his book, “Although we all have at least the potential to make more money in the future, we can never go back and recapture time that is now gone. So it makes no sense to let opportunities pass us by for fear of squandering our money. Squandering our lives should be a much greater worry.” Perhaps Generation Z has read this book.

To get a better understanding of Bill Perkins’ philosophy, watch this interview with Peter Attia.

There is a lot of interest from Generation Z in soft living and finding balance in life, but there may be significant challenges for them to adopt this lifestyle. Consider these other findings from the Intuit survey of Generation Z members:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 disagree that they are confident in their ability to manage their money, a rate that is nearly twice as high as the general population
  • 8 in 10 say they are not currently where they want to be in their life financially
  • 3 in 4 say they feel they only have enough money to survive, but not thrive
  • 2 in 3 say they only have enough money for their necessities, with nothing set aside for their life goals
  • 70% say they know it is important to invest, but they don’t know how to invest
  • 66% say they know how to make a budget and track their expenses but haven’t done it
  • 64% say they know how interest accumulates but still have a hard time paying it off
  • 63% say they have financial knowledge, they are just not sure how to use it

A Financial Goal Plan

Generation Z and soft lifers everywhere, let me introduce you to something that might support your financial and personal well-being: a financial goal plan. A financial goal plan can be an in-depth analysis of your current financial situation, including investments, retirement, insurance, education, taxes, estate planning, and everything in between. It isn’t just a plan for how to save money for retirement, preserve it, and then give it away when you’re gone. It can be a plan for how to budget and spend for the entirety of your life, including everything that happens before retirement, and how to do so with confidence that you will accomplish your goals. If your goals are experiences, passions, and hobbies, what does it cost? When will it happen? How important is it relative to other goals? A financial goal plan will take your income, expenses, assets, and debts into account and then provide a statistical likelihood that your goal plan will succeed. If your plan doesn’t have a statistical level of success that you are comfortable with, you need to make an adjustment, perhaps cutting back or delaying an experience. If your statistical level of success is too high, perhaps you aren’t planning for enough experiences, and it’s time to increase the hobby budget or make other adjustments. A financial goal plan should also include an analysis of your tolerance for risk, making sure the level of risk you are taking with your investments is in line with your goals, with the aim of achieving a reasonable probability of success in your financial goal plan.

For the rest of us, the trend of soft living and soft saving might serve as a reminder to find balance in our own lives. I am aware of a situation where a very nice couple saved almost every dollar for the future, often at the expense of their experiences and hobbies. This mindset served them well at times, as they had an emergency fund available during multiple layoffs and extended periods of unemployment. However, the wife is now a widow, and the plans for their golden years of retirement together were foiled by a heart attack. The widow has a sizable net worth as a result of their saving habits but is unable to experience more in life because of physical limitations. She will never spend all of her money, or even come close. She will pass away having missed a life full of experiences because she and her spouse never established a plan for finding balance. I wish for her that she had done the work to establish a financial goal plan earlier in life, which might have revealed opportunities to spend more on experiences, hobbies, and passions.

For your current and future financial and personal well-being, consider speaking with a financial planner about how to develop a financial goal plan that might support your soft life and soft saving goals.

None of the information provided is intended as investment, tax, accounting, or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as an endorsement of any company, security, fund, or other securities or non-securities offering. All information provided should be discussed with a registered advisor, accountant, or legal counsel prior to implementation. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Embolden Financial Planning LLC (“EFP”), unless otherwise specifically cited. Presented material is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ information accuracy or completeness.



Hustle Culture: The idea that one must constantly prioritize work, productivity, and achievement above all else.

Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE): A lifestyle movement focused on achieving financial freedom and the ability to retire at a young age through aggressive saving, investing, and living frugally.


Louis, Serah. “I’m not working to retire: ‘Soft saving’ is Gen Z’s firm but gentle response to FIRE and hustle culture — here’s how to make it work for you.” Yahoo! Finance, 7 May 2023,

Intuit. “Intuit Prosperity Index Report_US_Jan-2023.pdf.” Intuit Blog,

“Die With Zero Quotes by Bill Perkins.” Die With Zero Quotes by Bill Perkins,

This article was originally published here and is republished on Wealthtender with permission.

About the Author

Tim Melia

Advice Only. Hourly Fee Only. Financial Planning For Your Goals. Be Emboldened.

My name is Tim Melia, and I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have or discuss how this topic impacts your life and financial goals. Feel free to email me at If you would like to learn more about working with Embolden Financial Planning LLC, please schedule a free, virtual introductory meeting.

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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