I remember sitting in the living room surrounded with people I love, hearing their laughter, and feeling the satisfaction that comes with sharing time with those you respect, admire, and cherish. Essentially in a daze, I’m taking it all in when suddenly it hit me – “the value of this moment.” In that instance I not only realized, but experienced something far more valuable than money could offer.
Financial independence is something most of us seek. By now, you’ve probably heard and read much advice on the topic that all boils down to: controlling your spending, saving, investing, and repeat – or something along those lines. Bare in mind that these steps are severely simplified. To achieve financial independence, discipline and perseverance are a most. Which is why some make it, and others fall by the way side – it’s the difference between the truly wealthy and those who are not.
The truth is however, that often times these lessons can be distorted in ways that breed unhealthy lifestyles – I’m guilty of this. Nothing wrong with the lessons of course, but our enthusiasm and eagerness to reach our goal can definitely lead us far off the tracks. Examples include: working too much (neglecting ones’ family), working too hard (neglecting ones’ health), and self-afflicted financial deprivation (refusing to invest in personal or family related experiences, and necessities). All done in the name of sacrificing now for the chance of a better future.
While I agree with the principle of “sacrificing now for a better future,” there are certainly some behavioral patterns we need be careful not to fall into. Specifically, we need to be more aware of our more finite resources, and learn to invest them more appropriately when making day-to-day financial decisions. The idea of sacrificing now so that we can live out our dreams later is common within the frugal lifestyle community. Naturally, we expect our hard work to pay off. But are there exceptions to the game? I argue there is.
Its name is time. Time is a resource more precious than any amount of gold or money. Although you can free some of your time with money, you cannot ever buy it back. How you invest or take advantage of your time now will certainly be evident later in life. Which is why, how we spend or don’t spend our time should be taken into serious consideration on our journey towards financial independence.
Time With Family
Take advantage of the time you have with family. As we grow and times change, nothing about family stays the same. Everything, including our lives, comes and goes. There will inevitably come a time in our lives where our parents won’t be there to counsel us, there might be a time where a brother or sister won’t be there to laugh with us, and there may even come a time where we will not be present in our family’s lives. Nothing is guaranteed to us, only the moment we are in.
It can be very tempting to pass on family time, on taking your parents out to dinner, or taking that family vacation in order to save a few extra bucks. But here is the problem, if you spend your entire life consumed by making and saving your money for a better future, what happens when you realize the future you envisioned is not the one you get? What happens when you realize that your parents can’t go to the family vacation due to medical illness? What happens when you reach your goal and mom and dad have passed?
My point is simple, while it’s good to sacrifice now for a more solid financial future, let’s not deprive ourselves of investing time (and money) into creating experiences with our family’s that last a lifetime. Otherwise, when we reach our financial goal – having deprived ourselves along the way – we may have all the money we desire, but lack the opportunity to create memories with our loved ones. Time cannot be bought, so invest whatever time you’ve got on creating memories with those you hold dearest.
Time In The Present
There is no time like the present. You’ve probably heard that before. Although this can be taken to an unhealthy extreme – spend all your money now, don’t look back, you only live once – there is some real truth to the saying.
Turning down every “once in a lifetime” opportunity for the sake of reaching financial freedom quicker, puts us at risk of never actually living. We may at times live life with the expectation that when the day comes – where we’ll no longer have to worry about money – we will be able to perform and have the same opportunities as before. Except that, again, nothing is promised but the moment we are currently in.
I’d wait on the luxury apartment/home, expensive sports car, and going all out on vacations. I’d encourage you however, spend on experiences that you can responsibly afford, but don’t come by often. By the time you become financially independent, you’ll likely be much older, weaker, and less energetic. Take this into consideration when debating on whether to go or skip that backpacking trip around Europe.
Time Doing What You Love
Going through life doing something you are not absolutely passionate about is simply not worth it. Life is too short, and time is too precious to waste on anything other than what makes us happy.
All too often we waste time doing something we don’t love in return for money, or promises of success. In the end, money isn’t worth anything if you look back at life with regrets.
I received a good piece of advice from one of my elderly patients once. She said, “you can go through life doing what love and be broke, but never regret it. But if you go through life doing something only for the money or for what society perceives as success, you can be rich, but still live with regrets.”
Spend your time doing what makes you happy. Live a rich and fulfilling life. It would be a shame if you lived your entire life doing something you didn’t love, and come retirement spend the change with regrets on your mind. You can’t buy your life back, but you can invest your life intelligently.
Time Appreciating Health
Oh, this will cost you. One way or the other. You can either invest in your health now, or pay later plus interest. Research is clear, investing in your health early is the less painful way to go. The better care you take of your body now, the less pain you will feel, the less money you will spend, and less time you will lose later in life.
Take care of yourself now, and your body will thank you later. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
- 3 Ways Being Healthy Boosts Finances
- How to Create a Weight Loss Environment
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- The Best Anti-Aging Medicine
- 9 Psychological Tricks to Meet Your Fitness Goals
Now, don’t misunderstand me. In order to reach financial independence, you will at times need to sacrifice, you will need to invest your money intelligently, and you will not always get what you want. However, it’s important to understand the value of our time and how we spend it. Think about this as you continue your journey to becoming wealthy, because somethings really are more important than money.
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