“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” —James W. Frick
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” —Benjamin Franklin
I am sure many of you are going through the same process that my wife and I have decided to undertake. We have decided to reassess what is important in our lives and what we really want to spend money on going forward. We have done these assessments in the past, but I feel it is especially important given the economic climate of today. This is also another opportunity to make sure we are aligning our capital with our values. True wealth goes beyond just our bank accounts. Wealth is being able to enjoy our lives to the fullest whether we have $100,000 or $100 million. Let’s take a look at 7 areas we should spend on in this week’s Inside Look at Building Towards Wealth.
Health: This is the bedrock of being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you do not have your health can you truly feel wealthy? Whether it is spending money on a gym membership (whenever they finally reopen), personnel trainers to help motivate you, or building a home exercise area, your health should be a priority.
This does not have to be expensive. If you don’t like lifting weights, invest in a good pair of walking or running shoes. Yes, there is a difference between the cheap $20 Payless shoe compared to the better ones out there.
During this time, I have been doing a lot of bodyweight exercises like Navy Seal burpees and kettlebell exercises. If you have kettlebells then Eric Leija is worth a follow on Instagram or Twitter for some great workouts. I am in the best shape that I have been in for a while and have the least amount of equipment. The total cost was a couple of hundred dollars.
Financial Future: Keep stocking away money for the future. Unless you believe that there is no tomorrow, you should still be putting money away for the life you want to lead in the future. The sooner the better to take advantage of compound interest.
If you have the money, now may be the time to invest, especially if your timeline for needing the money is decades away. People feel more secure when the stock market is rising; however, that’s when equities are more expensive. If you are worried about a possible near term dip in the market, consider doing some dollar-cost averaging.
The fundamentals of saving for the future have not changed just because of COVID-19. It may feel like the world has shifted, and in some ways, it has, but not so much that the fundamentals of financial planning have changed.
Your Time: Is there anything more valuable than our time? Is there anything we undervalue more than our time?
I wrote about this topic in a previous issue here. Why do we rob from our personal time to engage in activities that we get no enjoyment out of? The largest companies in the world outsource all the time so they can concentrate on their core mission. Why do we not do that more often? If you enjoy something, if you find joy or solace in an activity, then you should do more of it. If you find things a grind, do less of those things. It sounds easy, but why aren’t we doing it?
What are you still doing that you could outsource? If you are a business owner, is it your marketing, accounting, or order fulfillment? Around the house is it the cleaning, cooking, or shopping? We live in a world that allows us to outsource so much of our lives if we chose to. Of course, you know I’m a proponent of outsourcing your financial planning, but only if you don’t enjoy it, find it tedious, or outside of your area of expertise. How much time could you reclaim and by how much could you increase your happiness when paying someone else to do the tasks you do not enjoy? How much more money could your business make if you were focused on the core competencies of your business?
As with most things, there is a limit to what you may be comfortable or can afford to outsource. My challenge to you is to ask the following few questions:
- What is it that you value that you are not doing enough of?
- Can you spend a little bit of your money to get your time back for what brings you joy?
- How much would it cost to outsource a task you don’t like?
- How much time would you get back by outsourcing it?
- Would it be worth to spend that X amount of dollars to get back that Y amount of time?
Sitting down and asking yourself these questions will bring real value to your life.
Quality Food: Food tends to be one of the few budget items that can be juggled to save money here and there. The problem is that people often choose to buy poorer quality food, which can be unhealthy. The food you eat can determine your energy level and your overall health. You don’t have to spend on the Whole Foods produce, but at the same time, don’t replace it with the jumbo bag of Doritos.
Also, look at store-branded products, you would be hard-pressed to find any difference between name-brand and store-brand labels in the grocery store. Don’t believe me? Grab a bottle of name-brand peanut butter and the store label variety and compare the ingredients. Repeat this exercise with things like canned vegetables, boxes of pasta, cleaning products, and medicine. When you purchase name-brands, you are not paying for the product itself, but rather the idea behind the product. In other words: name brands are more expensive because they have higher marketing budgets.
Enrichment: Is there any better investment than investing in yourself? This can be going back to formal school, getting a certification, or learning a new skill. These all require time and some even require money, although, it is crazy how inexpensive some of these options can be.
The world of online learning is insane these days. A couple I am working on right now are Visualize Value and the basics of building a second brain and how to use all the digital tools out there to compile information. Here is a link to a workshop put on by David Perell and Tiago Forte about this.
There is all of this plus you can just read. Reading non-fiction can have obvious applications but, as this article points out, there are lots to be gained from fiction as well. Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers!
Repairs & Maintenance: As the saying goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. There are many times we can be penny wise and a pound foolish in our lives. Physical fitness is the maintenance we do on ourselves, but we should also be vigilant with major possessions we own. Our cars, home, and technology all need regular maintenance to be operating at their highest levels and we would be wise to rigorous in our maintenance schedules. Even small things like regular car washes, once they open back up, you can keep your older car feeling new to you. As a bonus, at least in Chicago, it can help to keep the car from rusting underneath. If we can keep our cars and expensive appliances running longer we will save more money and do better for the environment. A double victory.
Sleep: We do not make sleep a high enough priority in our lives. The short-term problems of not enough sleep include:
- Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on how you feel.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness. It can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
- Impaired memory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember, and process information.
- Relationship stress. It can make you feel moody and you can become more likely to have conflicts with others.
- Quality of life. You may become less likely to participate in normal daily activities or to exercise.
- Greater likelihood of car accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries, and fatalities each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Long-term problems include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, depression, impairment in immunity, and lower sex drive. A full review by the Cleveland Clinic is here.
There are two things you should invest in to get the minimum required amount of sleep of 7-9 hours.
First, devote the time and effort to establish a sleep routine and treat it like taking medicine. Consistent sleep and wake times, getting rid of phones and other screens from the bedroom, and avoid looking at the clock is all-important. The Sleep Foundation and Sleep.org both are good resources to develop a routine.
At the start of the lockdown I was having trouble sleeping and it was because I started reading my phone late at night in bed and I got off my sleep schedule for a few days. I fixed both of those problems and have slept like a baby most nights.
Second, buy a good bed! You will spend 1/3 of your life in bed so invest in a good one! You don’t need to spend $5,000 on a bed but you shouldn’t be buying the clearance special either. Consumer Reports help you understand the right type for you
Charity: I know this is 8, and I realize not everyone is able, but I believe this is great value in giving to those who are in need, and there are so many people in need these days! I believe strongly in having an abundance mindset. I also recognize my good fortune and privilege in life and feel that it is required that we be generous with our resources. I have done my best to support the causes and people that I know need my help.
With this in mind if you know someone struggling with tough financial decisions, due to layoffs, reduced hours, or whatever, please reach out. My profession is often seen as only helping the people of means but we can also help those trying to figure out a financial survival plan. I will answer people’s questions if it will help them make the right decision in desperate times.
We always have a finite amount of capital, whether it is time or money, to spend. Choosing to spend it wisely can reap huge rewards and often in ways we don’t always measure.
I hope this was helpful to everyone and please give me some feedback on other areas important to you.
Stay safe and keep doing your part to bend the curve!