Joe Biden said “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” Some people work hard to earn money and they spend it all on liquor, cigarettes, or even illegal drugs. Others work hard to pay for things that enrich their lives like travel, self-education and self-improvement. In our limited lifespans, what can we do to make the most of it? What should we do to maximize our achievement using the money that we earn? Here are a few ideas on what to spend money on!
*Note: I won’t include necessities like food and water or utilities like electricity and internet here. These are the things you should spend money on after you’ve paid all your living expenses.
Assets (Things that make money)
Imagine that you have a bag full of nuts and seeds. If you eat them all, you’ll be fed for a week. If, however, you eat a little less and PLANT some of the seeds, then after a few years you’ll have trees that will bear fruit and feed you for a lifetime. What’s more, if you collect their seeds and plant them, then you’ll have even MORE trees that bear even MORE fruit and seeds.
One major lesson that Robert Kiyosaki, the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” taught is that in order to get rich, you must learn to buy assets (things that produce money) and avoid liabilities (things that lose money).
Assets generally include businesses, stocks, bonds, real estate, rental properties, mutual funds, gold/precious metals, and other things that produce money or profit. If it’s valuable and it creates money or profit, it’s generally an asset. Liabilities include most “stuff” you have in your life, like toys and gadgets, cigarettes, terrible businesses that lose money, poorly chosen stocks/bonds/mutual funds/real estate that ALSO lose money, and many more.
Stuff break and become obsolete and we’re always chasing after the newer stuff that we don’t have. On the other hand, excellent experiences become a part of who you are and bring you more joy in the long run. Travel to another country, experience another culture, and go on an adventure! You’ll find more happiness that way (Read: “The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things“)!
You’ll have two choices: You can spend thousands of pesos or dollars every week to pay for your doctor’s bills and medications and spend the rest of your life all stressed, tired and sick… or spend an extra few hundred every week on food and on developing good habits that strengthen your mind and body so you can have more fun with your friends and family. What will you choose?
If you don’t take care of yourself now and learn healthy habits, you’ll suffer greatly in the long run. What’s worse, you’ll likely drag your family down with you as they pay for your ever-increasing medical bills from preventable diseases.
Take care of your health: drink plenty of clean water, minimize or avoid junk food like chips, soda, or chemically flavored sugary drinks, play a sport or some other fun activity, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and get plenty of rest! You’ll either thank yourself later on, or you’ll hate yourself for not starting soon enough.
Things that bring you joy
Sure, saving money is an important value, however overdoing it to the point of cutting out all enjoyment in life is one of the worst things you can do. That’s one lesson from Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez in “Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence”: frugality is not in being cheap but in maximizing the amount of joy you can receive for every cent that you use.
Avoid unnecessary expenses like buying expensive stuff to try to impress your friends. Most people don’t care about the stuff you have, and that new toy likely won’t bring you much joy after a few weeks of crippling debt. You must also avoid impulse purchases, like that thing you bought last month that you simply stored in your cabinet and never used again.
The things that make us happy differ for everybody. You’re a big fan of a certain author so you bought their books as you enjoy reading them. You love playing tennis or basketball with your friends so you bought the best quality sports gear. You enjoy playing videogames on your spare time so you bought and play a lot of different titles in your gaming library. Regardless of what most people say about your hobbies that they don’t understand, it’s still good to spend a reasonable amount of money on the things that truly bring you joy.
Whether it’s for organizations dedicated to helping the poor, improving the living conditions of those in need, or those dedicated to saving lives during times of disaster (like Red Cross), using money to help others is one of the best things you can do. Personally, I donate to charities that provide scholarships and education for the needy like the HERO Foundation and PETFI (PMA Education Foundation, Inc.).
*By the way, my younger brother and I were HERO and PETFI scholars ourselves. They helped us out a lot when our father died protecting the country against terrorists back in 1996.
Education doesn’t end after your graduation. If there’s one key to success that I know of, it’s this: You can achieve nearly anything you want IF and WHEN you LEARNED HOW you can earn it. In that sense, education is an asset! Really, why do children go to school? So they’ll have knowledge and skills that they can use to earn money! That’s one main reason why you should add education to your budget plan. Why stop learning when you’ve graduated when you can gain MORE knowledge and skills that you can use to achieve even more in life (not just money)?
You want to get promoted? Learn how to be more productive at work, learn how to be more charismatic so you’ll get noticed, and learn how to manage people well so you’ll have the skills to lead! You can also learn to look for another job or career that suits you better!
You want to earn more money? You can try learning how to save more money, you can learn how to invest in assets like stocks, mutual funds, or real estate which can earn you more money in the long run! You can also try starting and running your own business during weekends!
Whatever you want to do, there’s a way to do it. You’ll find opportunities when you learn how to look for them and use them well!
One caveat to all of this:
Spend WITHIN REASON.
Budget your finances well and don’t spend ALL your money OR get into bad debt. The only exception for this is debt/loans used for starting well planned businesses or good assets like rental properties (“good debt”).
And there you have it! A few ideas on what to spend money on. How about you? What other things do you budget for?