Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Why I dislike the term #YOLO

I know a lot of you love it, but I think the hashtag #YOLO is kinda stupid. Okay, it’s not that it’s stupid, I just dislike how it’s being used. Especially because people seem to be using it as an excuse to justify their excessive or unnecessary spending. Whoops, look what I’ve done! Oh well, I’ll worry about it later! It drives me nuts.

And what was once a simple message about taking chances and overcoming fear in order to better our lives, has been completely lost.

I love the original concept behind the phrase. In my life, taking chances has led to the best things in life – like deciding to move to the USA for university to pursue NCAA sports, quitting my job and becoming a freelancer, or breaking up with a long-term boyfriend. But there’s a big difference between living life in the moment and making completely irresponsible decisions.

Despite what you see when you search Twitter, #YOLO shouldn’t be about whipping out your credit card for a last-minute vacation to Mexico. It’s not about spending your student loans on beer, going on a weekend shopping spree, buying a home you cannot afford, or doing things you’ll end up regretting (like thinking it’s ok to have credit cad debt when you’re young because “every student has debt!”). And it is absolutely NOT about justifying your spending. #YOLO is about living your life to the fullest, and seizing opportunities when they come up – but only if they’re worth it. And only if they make your present (and future) life better.

Sure, life is short. But at the same time, life is actually kinda long. We could all die tomorrow, but we could also live to be 100. And I don’t know about you, but since I’m only going to live once, I want to lead the most fun and exciting life I can make for myself – without the stress of dealing with poor financial and life decisions.

But, the phrase #YOLO will likely be around for a while. So instead of using it to justify questionable decisions, let’s all start using it to promote positive life changes. Maybe then we can bring the original meaning back to the phrase.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Tanner says:

    I actually dislike the term because the first few times I read about it were people either driving off hills while texting at high speeds, killing themselves, or a DUI accident that killed an innocent driver. They use it to justify their stupidity… so yeah, I’ve never, ever liked that term. Sounds silly too.

  2. Well if you believe in reincarnation/rebirth I suppose you could argue that you can live twice : ). That said I once had a friend justify that she would rather party young and die young with debt then live a “dull” life and die young with savings. I then had to point out to her that her father had co-signed all her loans, and leaving him deep in debt after her death was a pretty harsh attitude.

  3. I dislike every catchy saying or abbreviation. “It is what it is” is my current least favourite. Does that mean that you are just stuck with the way things are?

  4. I dislike this term because people use it as a justification to spend with wild abandon. It’s true that you can’t take your money with you, but it sure is nice to have some leftover in old age so you can live comfortably.

  5. Eric says:

    Passed on that designer jacket and bought those preferred bank shares instead #YOLO

  6. Bridget says:

    but the song by Lonely Island is so, so good!

    Nevertheless, I agree with your points (never saw that coming did you?). I don’t believe in acting for your own self-destruction — which is exactly what charging a last-minute vacation to Mexico is — but I also don’t believe in saying no to everything in the name of hoarding money.

  7. Nelson says:

    How did that Not Will Ferrell tweet get retweeted 950 times? Geez.

    “YOLO” is just code for “I’m doing something dumb, and want to justify it.” I’d actually be tolerant of this, if more people would admit that their dumb financial decisions are dumb, rather than justifying them.

  8. I think it`s silly, and as you say, just an excuse for doing something stupid/un-frugal/un-healthy/extreme etc.

  9. Liquid says:

    I’m guilty of using that phrase sometimes lol. Maybe YOLO was invented by smart people to get rid of all the idiots on this planet :)

  10. Your article nailed this annoyance on the head! Couldn’t agree more!!

  11. Michelle says:

    YOLO so let’s create an annoying acronym to justify doing all the things we know we shouldn’t be doing intuitively because most of us have COMMON SENSE. Some things just feel like the wrong choice. Thanks for the post.

  12. Catherine says:

    Love this post! I totally agree. Someone (on twitter maybe?) said (and I’m paraphrasing) ”YOLO is so dumb, like we ever used to live MORE than once?!” haha.

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