If you showed me your bank statement, there's a 99% chance I would recommend you cut back spending in a certain category. Maybe you spend a big chunk of your income on Uber rides when you live in a city with great walking weather. Or you might drop $12 a day on a takeout lunch that you could easily make at home for $3. Fact: We need to work on this.
Also fact: While eliminating those low-value purchases is crucial to your financial health, so is spending money on things that improve your well-being.
What's shocking is that many of my clients are more comfortable spending random amounts of money on things they don't really care about than deliberately investing in the 6 things that can truly improve their happiness and health.
Investing in yourself today is just as important as growing your wealth. Instead of wasting your money on low-value purchases, I challenge you to put some of your spending money toward these 6 things and see how doing so affects your life.
It's been proven that regular exercise combats health conditions and diseases. And getting proper care for a medical condition can be expensive. For example, average direct medical costs for patients with cardiovascular disease totals nearly $19,000 per year.
But since a lot of exercise options are free, some people feel guilty spending money on fitness. Why pay for a gym membership or a spin class when you can run outside or do squats at home for free?
In reality, making fitness a part of your lifestyle is extremely challenging for a lot of people. Most of us need a little push to muster up enough energy to break a sweat. Because of this, it can be worthwhile to splurge on an exercise activity that you actually enjoy or buy some gym clothes that motivate you to be physical. In the long run, having an active and healthy lifestyle should turn out to be much cheaper than being in poor health.
2. Your romantic partner
Many couples get complacent once they've been together for a while and that complacency can eventually lead to unhappiness or even divorce. Having a Romance Fund can help you keep the spice alive.
Put a predetermined amount of money into your Romance Fund each time you get paid. Then use that money to do nice things for your partner like take them on a unique date or surprise them with an unexpected gift. You'll keep your partner guessing and feeling appreciated.
Having a separate account for your Romance Fund will also help you stay on track. It's much easier to plan when funds are already set aside. And if the balance in your account gets high, then you know it's probably been a while since you've had a date night and it's time to step your game up.
3. Career development
Most of us spend tons of money on getting an education, but that immediately stops after graduation.
Yes, you landed that first job. But it comes along with an entry-level salary. Promotions are where the real money comes in and you have to take initiative to make yourself stand out.
Some things my clients have done include earning job-related certifications, getting a public speaking coach, and even learning to golf. Figure out what career development opportunities could help you land that next promotion and how much they cost.
Then do the math. The average salary increase with a promotion is 8%,1 which is much higher than the standard 3% increase that most people get each year.2 The dollar amount of that extra 5% raise is probably much more than the cost of the development activity that'll help you land the promotion.
4. Personal fulfillment
Many of us have hobbies and dreams from childhood that seem to take a back seat the second adult life kicks in. Maybe you enjoyed painting or playing sports. Perhaps you've always wanted to learn a language or how to play an instrument. Why aren't you doing those things now?
I've had countless clients tell me that it feels wasteful to spend on their hobbies. But in reality, you spend the majority of your waking hours at your job earning a living. Don't you deserve to spend some of that cash on the activities that make you the happiest?
5. Mental health
Approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness every year.3 And just 41% of those suffering from mental illness actually get treatment.
There are many reasons why someone may not want to see a therapist, but cost is one that I hear all the time. Therapy is something that many people view as a luxury and therefore don't want to spend money on it.
But if you are suffering, then getting help is not a luxury–it's a necessity. If you broke your arm, you wouldn't hesitate to go to the doctor. Don't treat your mental health any differently.
If in-person therapy options aren't in the budget right now, consider digital counseling which is more affordable and just as effective for some people.
6. Giving back
Studies show that being generous makes people happier. Donating money to a cause you believe in can help you feel good while making the world a better place. Charitable giving can also help your bottom line. In many cases, the IRS grants deductions for charitable contributions which could help reduce your tax burden.
1. The Balance Careers, The Scoop on Salary Increases, Susan Heathfield, August 22, 2018.
2. Society for Human Resource Management, 2018 Salary Forecast: Smaller Real Wage Increases in the U.S. and Globally, Stephen Miller, January 4, 2018.
3. National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health By The Numbers, October 23, 2015.
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