According to undisclosed anecdotal evidence, people without financial goals are undisciplined with money. Why shouldn't they be? If one is not saving money for something, and one wants to buy something, and one has the money to spend, one buys. As the disconnect between labor and possession grows, so does this trend1. At some point in history, people labored directly for what they had; harvest fields, build barns, weave garments... Want a new table? That'll take the time and effort to cut a tree into planks and peg them together. People knew the cost of what they had because they paid it with their own sweat.2
Through the ages we learned to barter, invent currency, and eventually credit3. Now we scarcely even see money, let alone the direct fruits of our labors. After a shift at McArKingdy's Hutbell4 we know we're tired, and we tell ourselves we deserve more compensation for our eight hours on our feet, but we haven't gained anything tangible for our labors, just some numbers in a computer somewhere, or at best, on a piece of paper that someone will use to enter numbers in a computer somewhere.
When someone says "That'll be twenty dollars" how easy is it to forget how much you'll have to labor to get "that"? Especially, if you've been working long enough that you've got four hundred dollars to spend.
I've rediscovered an old way of looking at money: the labor it represents. Since I make a hypothetical ten dollars an hour, the government lets me keep a windfall seven dollars an hour, or about fifty dollars per day. Considering my very aggressive financial goal of saving $20,000 for retirement, I know that I have 400 days to meet my goal. Then I can quit my job5 and live the high life. That is, unless, I spend money on something else. That new 3000 inch LCD TV that I bought on sale for $300 will set me back six days in my goal. That means I have to work a job for an employer that isn't me for six more days. That's not $300, that's six days pay, six days labor, or six days of my life.
Now I can look at expenses in terms of days. How many days will I have to work for someone else to pay for this item? Is this item worth working for someone else for that many days? Now that I have solid financial goals, and an awareness of my daily potential, I can ask these questions. Now that I can ask these questions, I can make better hypothetical decisions about money and retire at the hypothetical age of 19.