Too Much of a Good Thing — Taking It Too Far

The largest tree fruit in the world is the majestic jackfruit.

If you’re not familiar with it, jackfruit (nangka, as we call it in Malay) typically grows in tropical climates — places like India and Southeast Asia.

It’s been used for centuries in Asian cuisine, but has gained fame throughout the world in recent years as a superfood.

People love jackfruit because its texture feels like meat, it contains a large amount of protein, and it’s packed with other healthy nutrients.

Jackfruit is good for you, but it recently ended up in the headlines for a sad reason.

In July 2023, a 39-year-old Russian vegan influencer — who’d reportedly been living on jackfruit and durian without drinking water for years — suddenly died.

Doctors eventually put the cause of death to heart issues, but you can understand why people are asking whether her diet was the real cause.

Ask a doctor about nutrition, and one thing they’ll eventually come back to is moderation and balance. Even the most super of superfoods isn’t good for you if you take too much of it. If you take it too far.

Too much of a good thing can be bad.

What other things work this way?

Reducing Expenses

The theory goes like this: track your expenses to know where you’re spending too much money.

Then reduce spending so you can save and invest more.

It’s good advice that’s helped many people. It can also be taken too far.

Hetty Green was once the richest woman in America. She was also known for being a miser. Legend has it her son Ned had to have his leg amputated because she was too stingy to send him to a proper hospital.

I don’t think you and I ever become this extreme. But it’s useful to consider: when does reducing expenses to reach a better life get taken too far till it makes life miserable?

For most people, focusing on the three big expenses — housing, transport and food will likely be enough.

Beyond a certain point, reducing expenses doesn’t work for building wealth.

Treat yourself to the overpriced coffee sometimes.

Saving Money

The greatest thing the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement taught me is you don’t have work till your 60s. Get to F.U. money early and do whatever you want in life. Freedom.

The key to making this happen is saving and investing a lot of money. Always fascinated reading stories of people saving 50-70% of their salaries.

I’d never be able to do it.

It’s not so much the dollar amount. I can still remember what it’s like to live on a fresh graduate’s salary.

But the older I get, the more I feel like I’d rather have a lower savings rate, and spend more money on meaningful things today. Yeah, it’s gonna delay my retirement by more than a decade, but that’s not a problem if you like your work.

I recently read a great article on the sacrifices people make to get to FIRE. Here’s Samuel Leach who was already hustling as a student:

“Major sacrifices included not going out for coffees, meals, drinks, social events, cinema, takeaways, not taking any holidays. Anything I could not spend on I would. I shopped at Aldi (discount store) when I was at university and ate basic, cheap food.

Looking back, I feel that I could have potentially missed out on those university outings, and trips away, like travelling in summer breaks with friends and having that time to be a young carefree individual.”

Respect the hustle. He retired at 32 with millions.

At the same time, think back on some of your magical, irresponsible, nights out when you were a student. Would you give them up, knowing you can’t relive them even as a 30-year-old millionaire?

Some experiences can’t be bought with money.

Working Hard To Earn More

The biggest improvement to most people’s financial lives comes not by cutting expenses, but by earning more money.

Still, we know what happens when it’s taken too far. When people fall sick because of pushing too hard.

“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one.”

What are other signs that work has become too much?

One red flag is when it starts ruining important relationships. From the same article above:

“‘Is this what our life is going to be like? You working all the time?’ Her annoyance wasn’t unwarranted. We had a young daughter, my wife was pregnant with our second, and I had been working at this house every night for the last eight months.

Long story short, this was the breaking point. It was either I keep on this trajectory and we hate each other for life, or I slow it down…”

Derek Sall on slowing down his FIRE journey –

What’s all the extra money for, if you don’t have anyone to share it with?

Spectrums of Good and Bad

Much of life isn’t black and white, completely good or evil. Of course — the things we’ve talked about, they’re mostly good.

The lesson isn’t, “don’t be careful with spending.”
The lesson is, you can’t cut every expense.

It’s not: “don’t save money.”
It’s: Save some money for the future, but remember to enjoy the present.

Not “don’t work hard.”
Just don’t work so hard till you lose your loved ones.

Wisdom is finding the sweet spot on the spectrum.

– – –

One area I struggle with is the monetization of everything. Viewing everything in life through the lens of dollars and cents. Netflix’s recent docuseries about Blue Zones — places where people live extremely long lives reminded me about other perspectives.

In it, 86-year-old Juan Carrillo of Costa Rica is asked about money and his long life:

“Do you have money in the bank?”


“You don’t have any?”


“You don’t have any security?”

“No, sir.”

“And if you get sick, what happens?”

“Let’s say, when I have money, I like to go out and treat myself.

I do not complain. I’m poor and ugly, but I have enjoyed as much as one should enjoy.

How would I explain? It would have to be thanks to the Lord. Because if I ask Him that if, at this age that I am, already 86, but I still move around alone, I do my jobs… If He’s going to give me more years, let it always be like this.

I ask Him when I go to bed, when I get up, ‘Give me strength.'”

Great advice.

As long as you don’t take it too far.

– – –

Pic from Pexels: Jane Doan

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  • Thumbs. F.U. Money, Financial Independence… its all about Life. Some people mistakenly believe Life starts when you have money, actually Life starts now, in the moment. When they have money and still did not figure it out, that’s when they regret.

    • Love this comment.

      Indeed, I’ve learned that “When I get X then I’ll be happy” is quite a dangerous way of thinking.

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