In a world where materialism is celebrated, frugality is a virtue. It’s easy to fritter away your resources on superficial things that add zero value to your life.
However, money can buy certain things that do create massive impact on your life. Many people are under-spending in these areas, which only limits their lives in the long run.
Now, nothing brings up our shit quite like money can (love probably being the closest runner up). As you keep reading, you might find yourself thinking, “Yeah, sure, Jordan, these things would be amazing, but I really don’t have the cash.” I know this story well, because my friends and I used to tell it all the time.
I’m not going to get into a financial seminar here (psst… I did go into one here), but let me quickly say: there is always a way. That is, if your mind is actually committed to finding one. If you decide to get serious about your well-being, you’ll get serious about your finances. You’ll naturally stop spending on things that don’t matter, and start investing in things that do.
And by the way, these “investments” don’t need to have a massive price tag. Saving up $5 a month to buy one of these amazing books could change your life. That’s all it takes. Some of the biggest game-changing spends for me have been on a book under $20.
The value of something isn’t always reflected by the cost. The real secret is the investment of heart, time, and focus that you put in. After all, you can spend thousands per hour on a life coach, but if you don’t go deep to absorb and implement the insights that you receive with real follow through, you might as well have just soaked that stack of cash in kerosene and turned it to ash.
That said, at other times, putting down a lot of money on something (like a workshop, or a mentor) is exactly what’s needed to bring the energetic investment required to cause a real shift. There’s no shortage of information and solutions available for free. Most of the time, we know exactly what we need to do, whether that’s with our diets or our careers or our relationships. The sticky part is weathering discomfort and making change in our behaviours in order to actually produce results in the long run.
When it comes to personal development, the general law is: the amount you pay dictates how much you value it. When you part with a big chunk of hard-earned dollars, it makes you take yourself and the experience more seriously. You’ll find yourself exponentially more present and attentive, and more likely to do the homework and take action.
Leveraging this principle of motivation is totally okay. It doesn’t mean you’re weak-willed. It means you’re proactive, committed, self-loving, want the best for yourself, and you’re dead serious about levelling up.
But what ultimately gets in the way of healthy spending?
We invest in what we value. What sometimes lays beneath the surface of the “I don’t have the money/time/ability for this stuff” stories, is another story:
I’m not worth it.
The difference with this narrative is that it’s usually more subliminal. In other words, you might not be sitting around explicitly saying that to yourself all day, but it will show up over time in what you do, or don’t do, and how you treat yourself. It’s a belief that’s revealed more through your actions than your inner dialogue.
If you can that tell this false narrative of you not being valuable or worth investing in is running your life from behind the scenes, I’ll recommend you start with number three on this list.
5 Things You Can’t Spend Enough Money On
Investing in books, seminars, online courses, mentors, secondary education can all be high-yield… but if you’re looking for the safest investments of your life, there is no higher guaranteed ROI than the following five things.
Your mind and your passions are your life’s greatest asset. Period.
Investing in yourself is the highest leverage use of your money, because it has the power to affect literally every single aspect of your life experience. The knowledge you’re equipped with informs how you move through the world. It changes your beliefs, how you treat other people (and yourself), redefines your meaning for life, and alters your goals, which determines your destiny.
The quality of your education also dictates your skill level and belief in yourself to be able to take on opportunities, or accomplish higher goals. This leads to value-driven accomplishment, which is key to personal fulfilment. And I’m not just talking about formal education through colleges and universities here. In fact, I’m mainly not talking about that.
The vast majority of my own education has been – and will continue being – outside of the academic system (ie. reading, seminars, workshops, trainings, retreats, men’s groups, mentors, therapists, coaches, etc.). This isn’t just because of the career and life I wanted to pursue, but because I found that the juiciest and most deeply impactful learning I’ve ever encountered has been outside the university campus. It was also way more compatible with my learning style.
I’m absolutely not putting down the academic path. It’s just that a lot of people get stuck on one idea of what a valuable education is. I’m only advocating that people widen their definition and discover the insane gold mine of transformation that awaits you, if you can think outside the societally-prescribed box.
Education includes anything that advances and improves on your emotional and intellectual processes. It can be defined as “receiving systematic instruction”, or “an enlightening experience.” An improv class would be educating and therapeutic… so are yoga retreats… so are sessions with the right therapist.
Pursuing your dream might involve getting a degree, or more, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You have to honour your path – whatever that is. For example, heart surgeons probably shouldn’t go the self-taught route (although I’m sure there will be some pretty interesting DIY YouTube videos of that in the future). But even if your purpose lies in the medical field, your life would be hugely served by prying open time in your schedule to take a workshop on relationships, or work with a great therapist.
Yes, some people do have powerfully life-altering experiences through following the academic path. But still, the most well-schooled people in my network seem to agree, from personal experience, that only a very small percentage of undergrads and PHD students walk away from university with profound insights into their psychology, or create deep transformations in how they live and love.
Instead, their school years were heavily focused on digesting a narrow range of textbooks, and researching and memorizing external knowledge, rather than exploring their inner lives and other subjects, because that’s what’s required to get a position in the lab or the work force.
Both styles of education can be awesome. It just depends on what most serves your goals.
For me, reading, hiring coaches, and taking intensive workshops taught me things in business and relationships that I couldn’t put a price on, nor could I have gotten them anywhere else.
I discovered a sense of purpose and put it to work by creating a business that utilizes my gifts, supports my dreams, and impacts people around the globe.
I learned a language and skill set for navigating my emotions and psychology, which has not only led me to have deeply fulfilling romantic relationships, but also gave me tools to help move through suicidal ideation and depression toward levels of mental and physical wellness that I once thought weren’t possible for me.
Books have done all of the above, while exposing me to new information and models of thinking that connected other dots, and sparked fires of inspiration.
Ultimately, this is not about formal versus informal education. It’s about self-knowledge and the right knowledge – by whatever means work for you.
2. Healthy food
That beautiful mind and body you’re paying to upgrade needs power. Food is your fuel. If you are loading yourself up with crap, you’ll feel like crap. What you’re eating affects your energy, mood, thinking, and decisions, which in turn affect your entire life. Getting your diet right is in the interest of both your present and future selves.
All the knowledge in the world isn’t worth a damn if you don’t have the vitality to put it to use.
Consistently buy the highest quality, most nutrient-dense food you can, and your mental clarity and energy levels will feel the benefit. A simple tip for grocery shopping is to stick to the outside walls of the store. This is usually where the meat, produce, and eggs can be found. Everything else in the middle aisles is usually hyper-processed filler, in one form or another. A few major exceptions being nuts, oatmeal, rice/pasta, and quality dark chocolate.
It’s so easy to underspend on your diet because of how affordable and normalized shitty food is. Again, it all comes back to education. If you spend just a few hours studying the latest science in nutrition and the realities of industrial agriculture, it becomes easier to make the best decisions in the moment.
When you look at a package of gummies, you no longer see a tasty snack option; you see a harmful pile of sugar. Or when you look at a pale pound of cellophaned ground mystery beef, you see the steroid injections, nutrient deficiency, and the horrible circumstances behind what brought it there.
It’s the same with vegetables. Two bell peppers might look the same, but one has minimal nutrient content because it was mono-cropped on a factory farm in depleted soil, using chemical fertilizers and genetic modification to increase shelf-life. Whereas one that’s organically grown is more nutrient-rich and molecularly familiar to your body’s digestive system.
Still, a non-organic pepper is better than a box of Oreos. So take whatever the next step is, whether it’s transitioning to eating more whole, unprocessed foods, and cooking at home, or stepping up to sourcing more local, farm-fresh suppliers.
And before the recovered orthorexics come after me… no, I am not saying that any food is bad or inherently evil. Eat the cookies! Eat the gummy bears! Have the occasional drink of alcohol! Just make sure that the majority of your eating decisions aren’t highly-processed fake foods that all have bar codes.
I won’t bother including dietary supplements here. There are ton out there, and what your body needs will be drastically different from the next person’s. At the end of the day, it’s the basic food you eat day in, day out that makes the biggest impact on your health and longevity. Don’t worry about getting too complicated with the rest. Healthy food is the first place you should focus your health spending.
People take their car to a mechanic because they need to get around, and they want to maintain something that cost them a lot of money. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing with your mind and emotional body, which navigate everything you do? Are you and your life not more valuable than a Toyota Camry?
The old attitude toward therapy was that it was for people who were fucked up, or crazy (surprise: we’re all crazy) and I’m thrilled that that’s changing in modern times. Still, you don’t need to have been abused in childhood, or wait for a rock-bottom life crisis to visit a therapist. People waste a lot of time engaging in things that are not at all compatible with who they are at their core, because they never slowed down long enough to actually know themselves.
Therapy helps you do that. It alters the way you live your life to be more aligned with what actually fills you up, and serves your growth and happiness.
I honestly think it should be mandatory for every single person. Can you imagine if every government in the world gave an annual allotment of funds so that everyone could do a few therapy sessions? What a world that would be.
Getting therapeutic help could mean the difference between spending a decade in depression – or the wrong relationship, or a job – and righting the course of your ship to brighten up your world. It could also save you years of being blind to your own bullshit, which is constantly getting in the way of you being happier and having longer, deeper, richer love.
Parts of therapy kind of falls into the “education” category, in gaining self-knowledge. But there’s a whole other dimension to it that goes beyond language and information altogether. Emotional dynamics are incredibly complicated, and it takes a very skilled, well-matched therapist to map out yours in order to help you untie emotional knots in yourself, and break down walls.
On your own, it’s damn near impossible to see how your life experience since birth has affected the way you feel (or don’t feel) certain emotions, or how you interpret the world, or think about things. It’s also hard to see the way these things are impacting your life today. For some, there will be dams to deep sadness and anger that need to be broken down, while others need their mind blown by a different way of seeing things.
Everybody’s path will be different. But one thing is for sure: once you start on it, and clear some of your shit out and work on yourself, you’ll have a whole new sense of passion and aliveness for how you engage with your entire life.
4. Buying time
When people say money can’t buy happiness, they are mostly right. But money can buy more time, which creates more room for the things that make you happy. So, in a way, it kind of does buy happiness, in the sense that it makes space for it to happen.
If you were to catalogue how you’re spending your hours each week, and each day, where are they going? What would that chart look like? Are there any ways you can take back – or buy back – chunks of that time that are going to things that detract from your happiness?
If you’re feeling like you don’t have any spare time, and you’re not feeling filled up by most of what’s occupying your current schedule, the first trick is to start finding things that you can outsource.
Most people are trained to try and do every little thing themselves, which is never how we were meant to operate. We always shared the workload of tasks and chores with our community. Get back to leveraging the cooperative model and let other people help you.
For example, let’s say you make $100,000 per year. If you have an average 40-hour workweek, that breaks down to earning about $40 per hour. So, by that logic, you shouldn’t be doing anything that you can outsource for under $40/hr. Unless, that is, you actually enjoy doing it.
Sure, you could pay for someone to clean your house, or cook some of your meals, but if you get personal satisfaction out of doing those things, then by all means, do them. If not, you could be spending that time in much more leveraged ways.
We live in an age where the average person can automate so much of their everyday domestic time sucks. You can get groceries and household items delivered to your door step. You can get weekly or monthly help cleaning and doing laundry for the cost of lunch for two.
If you like doing those things, there are still always opportunities to systematize, automate, and outsource regular things in your life. Keep looking for ways you can spend a little money to do this and free up your schedule. You’ll be able to get back to doing the things you enjoy, and cut out major interruptions in your work flow, or off-days of relaxation.
Remember, you can always make more money, but you can never get your time back. So it’s best to only do things that you love, and outsource/ask for help with as much as possible that falls outside of the tasks that bring you joy.
5. Other people
Data has undisputedly proven that when you spend your money on friends/family/charities that you believe in, you will get a positive emotional ROI (unless, of course, you’re a sociopath and truly don’t care about anyone but yourself).
If you spend all of your money on just you, you’ll be miserable. But when you also invest in your community and your loved ones, you’ll feel better about yourself and your life as a whole.
Any mindful person I know who has achieved great financial success has come to the same conclusion: it’s all for nothing if you don’t share and give back.
Personal education and accomplishment is critically important. But the next level of the game that makes or breaks an amazing life is our relationships, and the contributions we make to those around us.
How can you invest a little money into your community, friends, or charities?
Maybe you can automate a monthly donation to a charity that you believe in. Send out some invitations and host a monthly dinner party with your closest friends, and completely foot the bill, or just make them a meal if that’s something you enjoy doing. It could be as simple as surprising a friend with their favourite drink, or snack, or buying a coffee for the person standing behind you in line at a café.
Where Should You Start?
Remember, there’s always a way to execute each of these points that doesn’t cost a small fortune. It’s the selfless act of heart-centred giving that brings the magic.
If you’re ready to take action and start some healthy spending, the best place to start is by taking stock of where your money is currently going, and how much of it is going there. Once you know, you can scale back and redirect some of the more frivolous flow.
From there, where do you feel called to invest some of those newfound resources? Building education? Upgrading your diet? Diving into your emotional life? Freeing up your schedule? Giving back to others?
If you’re limited on budget, brainstorm some more creative options, or simply start setting aside that $5 a month for your book wish list.
You literally can’t spend enough money in these areas. All you’re doing is watering and feeding the garden that is your life. The results will blossom accordingly.
Dedicated to your success,
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