I have been pondering on some finance topics to write about this January. By tradition, the New Year stands as a fresh start for everyone and as expected, finance posts have been flooding my news feeds the past few weeks.
It’s a fresh start for us, too!
For months, I’ve been talking about how we were slowly but surely inching our way out of our credit card debt, and last week, we paid the last of it, yahoo! Let me take this opportunity to declare that we are finally “DEBT-FREE!”
Opportunity in disguise
Paying our credit card debt monthly became really annoying especially when we wanted to do something as a family but couldn’t because we had to pay our credit card dues. It’s one of those lessons we learned the hard way.
But it was also a season that trained us to be wise with our spending and consider the things that are more important to use our money for.
By habit, we now have a certain amount monthly from our budget that we can put somewhere else, now that the debt is out of the way. Which brings me to ask myself, what are the things I want to invest my hard-earned money on?
7 Valuable investments I want to make in my lifetime
I came up with 7 – My marriage, building memories with my children, my spiritual well-being, our health, our education, our relationships, and our future.
One thing I have observed among my most successful friends is that they have wisely allocated money for people and things that they value the most in life.
My Spiritual Well-being
Early this year, I made a decision to purchase an Archaeological Bible which cost me Php 2,700 (that’s a sale price, actually). It’s a lot of money, I know, but I take my spiritual walk seriously and I spend on tools that help me nurture my faith. When my faith is in shambles, so is the rest of my life.
But that’s not where it ends. I do not dare live my faith alone.
I invest in opportunities that allow me to be with and share lives with fellow Christians who strive to live by the Word of God. When I do, I sometimes have to spend for coffee or food, but that’s okay because the truth is, I get more value from these meet-ups than I’m spending.
My husband, Jay and I used to take the kids out on our supposed “dates,” but later on realized that from time to time, we need to just be with each other and enjoy such moments.
We have not hired a stay-in helper in over five years, and we sure don’t have a place for one here in our tiny home, so we do the next best thing: We hire babysitters.
Then we eat out, watch movies with our feet up on La-z boys, chat over coffee at Starbucks or shop together for stuff we need for the house or for the kids. We also attend marriage workshops. We don’t necessarily spend a fortune for this but money is involved, still.
Even watching our favorite shows on Netflix over coffee has its monetary equivalent, but that’s okay because these dates contribute to the nurturing of our relationship as husband and wife.
When Jay and I are getting along well, we parent our children better.
Building Memories with our Children
Building memories with our children doesn’t necessarily mean spending thousands on travel, gadgets and toys , although traveling isn’t such a bad idea if you can afford it.
Take for example this week, we promised the kids that we’d take them on a picnic at one of the parks in the city, so we bought a few food items to bring with us.
My husband also ran to the toy store to buy a baseball and they spent a good part of our afternoon learning how to bat. The kids were ecstatic!
Here’s what we have been taught. That the quality of time we spend with our children now has a lot to do with the adults they will turn out to be. We invest in these family moments because one day, we will no longer be with our children. What we will leave them are these memories that we hope have helped build them to be God-fearing, confident, productive, peace-loving, and happy adults.
I’ve mentioned a few times in my previous blogs that we’ve been doing our best to serve our family healthy meals. We got rid of chicken cubes and artificial seasoning and substituted some of the products we buy with healthier options.
For example, instead of Iodized salt, we learned that it is better to use sea salt; and instead of regular soy sauce, which is a staple in Filipino dishes, we now buy the less sodium versions or Liquid Aminos. Instead of snacking on junk food, we try harder to buy fruits.
This substitution business can become quite expensive, but hey, it’s better to spend to keep our bodies healthy than to having to deal with serious illnesses in the future.
Of course there’s no real guarantee that sickness will not come if you change your diet, but would you give up your health without a fight?
Then there are the annual physical checkups, the kids’ vaccines, vitamins and supplements, fitness and wellness programs — as I become older, the more I realize the value of investing on these.
And when it comes down to it, I’d rather own a health insurance I do not have to use than to be sick and not be able to take care of my children.
I’m not only referring to university courses and earning degrees. Life is continuous learning – something I tell my children everyday.
We’re aiming to travel as a family because we now understand that being able to experience different cultures will add depth to your understanding of people and the world you live in.
We want our children to realize that the world does not revolve around them and to be aware of global issues that need resolution, such as poverty, global warming, economic instability, racial issues and civil wars.
Hopefully, they will want to take part in the solution.
I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Communication, but I have learned the dynamics of today’s marketing years after I’ve received my diploma. I’ve been studying more about personal finances and investments, I’ve read up on parenting, homeschooling, and many other things.
I also try to join writing workshops to continue honing my skills. The opportunities to learn more and improve your skills are endless!
Some of the workshops I’ve joined are free, but it doesn’t mean they didn’t cost me anything. Like I said, we pay for babysitters to look after our kids when we need to be somewhere else where we can’t take them with us..
I invest in education because I believe that it’s important to keep up with progress and technology.
Speaking of workshops and training, we invest in our children’s, too. We believe in investing in our children’s dreams.
Our eldest is a budding animator and we’ve been helping him prepare financially to be able to afford the training, gadgets, tools, and programs he needs in the future to better enhance his skills.
I had no idea we were going to have a tech-headed kid, but am I glad that he has an educational plan that we can use if he plans to pursue this passion by enrolling in a university. It won’t be enough to cover everything, but at least we have something to start with.
One of our other sons wants to do Gymnastics and Parkour, and again, it’s something we’re looking into.
Our stand is that we want to invest in our children’s strengths which will most likely figure in their future.
I still believe that genuine friendships will stand strong against time and distances, but in order to nurture new relationships, we must also invest in them.
For the past few years, this was a struggle for us because even “pot-luck” get-togethers can cost. Traveling and babysitter expenses are no joke. But we realized that valuing relationships also mean doing our best to be there for them.
So this year, one of the things my husband and I agreed on is to host more intimate dinners here in our tiny home and work out ways to join meet-ups with people who help Jay out in his ministry.
I have made some good friends in the blogging industry, and I value the few friends I’ve made in the past who are still in my life. So we will try harder to be present in their lives as much we can.
As days go by, I become more and more aware that our kids are growing up and that we are getting older. “Our future” is just around the corner and we need to prepare for it.
We started investing in our retirement through Mutual Funds and have finally secured our first life insurance.
I was just talking to my BFF yesterday and I told her that at times, I would get distracted and feel discouraged when I realize how small the end-total of these finance investments we made would be compared to the investments of those who were wise enough to invest in these things when they were younger; but I remind myself that God will take care of our future. Our part is really to be good stewards of the things he gives us.
Besides, we are far better off now than we were five years ago when being able to invest was not even a remote possibility. But God made this possible, how can we even doubt him now? In fact, what we have accomplished now is proof that God is faithful, even in finances.
Wikipedia defines Investment as allocation of money or resource with expectation of benefit in the future. I am convinced that the above 7 fall into this category.
I’m not saying we should just splurge on get-togethers and travels, because we do tend to go the extreme and just spend, spend and spend.
No, we don’t have to spend so much all the time to be able to invest in our relationships and our children, but if there is one thing that I’ve learned during the past few years while we were getting back up on our feet, it’s that we need to know our priorities and align our finances to them.
It takes wisdom and discernment to know if you’re doing it right. I get overwhelmed by it sometimes.
I’m not a finance expert, I can’t tell you much about calculation and economic forecasts; and a lot of people will tell you what you should and shouldn’t prioritize.
But what keeps me on track is finding out what God has to say about money, properties, and our future, because at the end of the day, it is what He says that matters.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21.