Moderation in all things. It’s a snippet of wisdom that’s lasted over 2000 years, and whenever it’s espoused, you see heads nodding in agreement. But once in a while, it’s followed by its modern-day addendum “especially moderation,” and one wonders if there isn’t a certain wisdom buried in that 20th century cynicism.
There are a few exceptions in which the popular opinion is that “more is more.” After all, you can never be too rich or too thin – well, too rich, anyway (the skeletal forms of young actresses and starving babies call the latter into question). And there’s that other thing in this world that there’s just too little of…
So it seems it’s love and money we’re after. We could all use a little more wisdom, time and energy, but I’ll leave those mysteries to the philosophers and physicists. Strangely enough, a lot of the same techniques that entrepreneurs use to build wealth are effective when it comes to your emotional and spiritual investments as well. Take these five examples that prove effective in keeping both your wallet and your heart full.
1. Don’t spend needlessly (or fall for gimmicks)
Marketing is a billion-dollar industry centered on creating demand. Every day we’re blasted with images, songs, hype and packaging designed to make us believe we need what they’re selling. Don’t fall for it. Know yourself and what you need, and don’t let anyone convince you that a name brand or a shinier car is going to bring you happiness. Think about what you’re buying, and justify why you need it and need it now. Most of the time that money can be better invested in your savings and your future.
Your personal relationships are no different. People use gimmicks to get you into relationships and gimmicks to persuade you to tolerate what you know you don’t need. Don’t fall for attractive packaging when you know you’re not getting a quality product, and don’t buy lines that keep you in time-and-energy-sapping relationships. If you’re not getting what you pay for, don’t buy it.
2. Acquire “good debt”
Debt isn’t bad in itself. In fact, you have to spend money to make money, and give of yourself to receive fulfilling relationships. Just make sure your investments are good ones. No one needs a relationship that takes everything and charges 21.99%. To come out ahead, aim to acquire good debt, like real estate, small business and anything that gives you a higher rate of earning than your “bad debt.” Pay off credit cards and high-interest loans as soon as possible. Good emotional investments work the same way. Aim for a high rate of return. Invest your energy in good friends (who give unselfishly in return), in yourself and in anything that will leave you feeling accomplished later. Avoid easy substitutions like television and materialism and devote time to self improvement and creative fulfillment.
3. Get rid of expensive habits
Bad habits are costly. And the drain is usually on more than our bank account. Credit cards, smoking and binge spending can hurt your health, your mood and your self-esteem as well as your net worth. Identify habits that cost more than you can afford to lose. Sit down and calculate how much you spend each year on something like cigarettes or eating out – the results are usually shocking. Think about how that expenditure could be better invested in a gym membership, a weekly class or a college fund.
Other habits have hidden costs that are harder to tabulate, but just as damaging. Watch for habitual self-sabotage, bad relationships and chronic pessimism and self-criticism. Over time, these take a significant toll on your self-worth and, if not checked, can leave you feeling spiritually bankrupt. Whenever you identify expensive bad habits, replace them with good investments that will mature as you do.
4. Make informed investments
Any expert will tell you: know what you’re getting into. Making informed investments involves everything from reading contracts thoroughly and consulting lawyers. Remember, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. To avoid emotional spending, compare prices before you buy. Sources like Consumer Reports and Cnet.com offer unbiased reviews of products – these will be much more helpful than listening to sales pitches or reading seller-generated information. And always have a mechanic you trust inspect a pre-owned car before purchase. It’s important to understand the value of what you are buying before you make a decision, which isn’t always easy. There’s a lot of information out there, and not all of it is unbiased. Only buy information from sources you trust.
The same is true in your personal life. It’s an unfortunate truth, but you can’t believe everything that comes your way. Never join religious groups or donate to charities before you have background information from an impartial source. Charities should always be registered as 5013c nonprofit. Take steps to protect yourself in your personal relationships. At some point, trust is always a leap of faith, but make sure have reason to believe in a person’s character before you trust them with your secrets or your heart. It’s not a bad idea to get second opinions on your relationships from trusted loved ones. In the end, you always trust yourself first, but your friends and family may have insights that can help you make the right decision.
5. Learn from your mistakes
At one time or another, everyone makes a bad investment. We have to take chances in ourselves, in love and in finances. The important part is to learn from those missteps and turn them into steps on your way to success. An investment that turns sour wasn’t necessarily a mistake. You can’t control everything, and once in a while your best guesses will still lead you astray. It may be that the next time you make those choices – to know what you need, understand the cost and take an informed risk – you’ll come out on top. So there it is: when it comes to money, love – especially love of self – let’s agree that more is always more.
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