We spend a lot of time on this site talking about financial investments, behavioral finance, and money. The other focus is on living a life well lived. Wealth & wellness make a lot of sense when you combine them, and lack a lot of value when either is absent. In this post, we will discuss some of the best alternative investments that exist – but we aren’t going to talk about real estate, precious metals, or cryptocurrency. Instead, we will talk about other things we need to be investing in to accomplish a life well lived.
Before we get started, some transparency is warranted. In my life, what I am about to encourage you to do has never been my strength. In a hope of “turning over a new leaf” in my life, I’ve recently made plans to be more intentional about these alternative investments.
I’d encourage you to do the same.
Invest in Your Family
This is one of the highest yielding investments you can make.
Investing in family can come in multiple forms. It might mean investing in your marriage, investing in your children, or investing in loved ones that are far away.
Invest in Your Marriage
If you are married or in a long-standing relationship, this is likely your most important investment. There is no other single area of your life that probably impacts both your wealth & wellness more than being married.
My wife and I try to be intentional in this area, though we could be better. Usually it consists of date nights, which (ideally) should happen 2-4 times per month. Pay for a babysitter (yes, even you Mr./Mrs. Frugal). View it as an investment in your marriage where the return on your investment will be substantial.
This is particularly important for those who have kids. After kids, it becomes very easy to fall into a routine where work and kids dominate your life. Take some time to make sure your spouse really knows who their number 1 priority is – which is something that is sure to improve not only your marriage, but your kids’s lives as well.
Invest in your Kids
One way that our family consistently does this is by having “family night” every Friday.
Given the young age of our kids (all three are less than 10), this currently consists of “family movie night.” This gives them the opportunity to learn how to hold a conversation and compromise as we pick the movie.
As they get older, I hope this turns into a night where we can spend time playing board games or doing other fun activities as a family.
Investing in your kids can have other looks, too. It might include daddy daughter dates, mommy (little) man dates, or simply spending intentional time at an ice cream shop after school.
Regardless of how this functions, the purpose of having intentional time with your kids is to talk to them about their ups/downs, joys & passions, and what is going on in their life. It may seem small to you, but I bet it is really important to them.
Invest in Yourself
One of the times in which burnout rears its ugly head is when people lose their identity. What I mean by this is when your career or pursuits begin to define you.
I am 100% clear with who I am when people ask me to tell them something about myself. I am a God-fearing man who needs Jesus every day. I am married to a woman I don’t deserve. I am a brother, son, and grandson. My three children are what I am most proud of in this life. My hobbies include being terrible at golf, loving craft beer, and running this website. I am an inventor, author, and passionate college sports fan. I also happen to be a physician practicing anesthesiology.
Why do I always put my profession last? To remind me (and anyone else I am talking to) that being a physician does not define me.
Don’t forget to spend time doing the things that make you… you.
This may include spending time on your faith (something that I’ve recently recommitted to doing better). It might also involve cultivating and creating hobbies. Creative outlets are important for anyone in any profession – but particularly in medicine.
Sit down and ask yourself the tough questions. What do you want to accomplish in this life? What will be your legacy? What things in life truly provide enjoyment for you?
Invest time (and money) in those things.
Invest in Your Friends
You may be starting to see the theme of this post, which is investing in people.
Investing in friends is probably the area that I have done the worst job in the last half decade. I’d love to blame it on being busy with medical training and having three kids, but the truth is that it just doesn’t come naturally to me.
It is one of the few areas of my life I’d really regret if I died today.
The truth is that spending time with loved ones is really what matters at the end of this life. Did we invest in the lives of those around us? Did we support them through the valleys of their life and celebrate with them on the mountain tops?
One of my best friends in college taught me how to do that. To be happy for others (even when I’m not happy about my own situation). It’s an essential skill in life that I learned from spending time with a friend. This is just one of the thousands of things I’ve learned from friends over the years.
Take some time and make the phone call you’ve been meaning to make. You won’t regret it. And I bet it’ll make their day.
Invest in Experiences
The last alternative investment actually involves spending money. The problem is that if you invest in the wrong thing, you’ll get a flat or possibly even negative return on your investment.
Research has shown that spending money on things (you know… cars, houses, gadgets, and status symbols) do not provide long lasting joy. Instead, research encourages us to spend money on experiences, which produce memories and longer lasting fulfillment.
The catch, of course, is that these experiences should likely occur with all those other alternative investments listed above (i.e. family and friends).
So, when you spend your money… do so intentionally with an eye towards spending money on experiences as opposed to things.
Talking about financial independence and personal finance is all good, but it is pretty pointless if we aren’t investing in the areas of our life that really matter.
Take some time to inventory what is really important to you, and invest in the people and things that mean the most. You won’t regret it, and in fact – it will probably prevent you from having some regrets.
What are some non-financial areas of your life in which you invest? Are you spending adequate time investing in the alternative investments listed above? Leave a comment below.