Every year at Thanksgiving dinner since I was a kid, we would go around the table and say something we were thankful for. Usually Dad said he was thankful for Mom. Mom said she was thankful for the kids. And the kids said they were thankful for their stuff. As we grow have grown older though, the value we place on relationships has increased dramatically.
How’s your relationship investment portfolio?
When you say what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving, my guess is that for most of you it will have something to do with your loved ones. That begs the question: Are you appropriately investing in those things for which you are most grateful?
Relationships require time. That time often requires spending or foregoing money. My wife has always been surprised with how much I am willing to spend on dates and babysitters while I’m such a tight wad in most other areas. Time with loved ones becomes even more complicated as I venture into the world of side businesses and self employment. Every minute spent with family or friends is a minute I could potentially be building my business. Spending time with loved ones is an investment. Spending money for experiences with loved ones is an investment. But I know these investments will yield dividends for the rest of my life. And the dividends are a heck of a lot bigger than the S&P 500’s standard 2%.
My wife and I will be spending the weekend in Chicago without kids! I got the hotel with points, but it’s still going to cost me at least $50 for parking on top of whatever we spend for food. Now, I could be an annoying finance person and talk about how that $50 could equal 8 gazillion dollars in 50 years, OR I could invest some quality time and a little bit of money into the most important relationship in my life. I’m fairly certain that’s where I’ll have my best return.
The irony of my (and your) obsession with money, savings, and frugality is that once I’ve actually reached my retirement and savings goals, it will likely not prove to be the main source of my satisfaction. WHAT!? Yes, this has always been a tough one to believe, but it has started to settle on me during the few years in which I have been a parent (and because so many old people say it!). My dad used to repeat this quote to us:
You have nothing in this world more precious than your [loved ones]. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your [loved ones] have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my [loved ones] done?
If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete. If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss. – G.B. Hinckley
Ponder on THAT for a while. It will help take the focus away from the guilt and painful overly full feeling you got from eating too much pie.
Then go and invest wisely!