No matter your income, you have a choice in how you spend the money that you have. The way that you choose to spend your money can have a dramatic effect on whether you are creating wealth or creating poverty. We are not typical Americans in that we spend our money on some things that most Americans don’t value as much. Here are some of the unconventional things that we spend our money on:
Relationship Building Relationships are extremely important to us. We will often have people over to our house for dinner. We may take people out to lunch or for coffee and pay for the meal. Sometimes I send books to friends and relatives that may have been inspirational for me. I get to share something that has impacted me, and they get to know that I am thinking about them.
We travel several times a year. As my family is mostly in Montana, we try to go out to visit once a year or so. My mom and stepdad recently moved to Alaska and we will be visiting them in a few weeks. Brad and I also enjoy Latin American countries, and I’ve been to Guatemala and Puerto Rico in the last year. We love to travel, and even took long trips when we were poor college students. We also take our children with us on quite a few of our trips. I hear people make excuses all of the time why they can’t go anywhere. It’s sad. We hear this often from people when they have kids. I think this is a huge disservice to your children. My boys love to travel, and it has helped them with so many skills. They have learned how to have a good attitude even when they are tired (early morning flights), how to pack their own bags and be responsible for them, meeting new people and experiences new cultures, gaining a sense of independence (our oldest son has flown by himself to visit his grandparents), overcoming difficult circumstances and making the best of it (missing flights). I could go on and on. I am a better person because of travelling frequently and I think it is helping to shape the character of my children. You will never regret spending money on experiences that you will always remember; whereas that brand new car won’t be so great in five years.
This is another big thing that I feel like most Americans don’t spend money on. Our health is one of our most valuable assets. We do our best to eat healthy by buying meat and produce from local farmers. We have a small garden of our own that provides a little as well. I try to cook the majority of our food at home from scratch using basic whole foods. My oldest son and I work out at a gym several times a week, and we have a rowing machine in our basement that Brad uses quite often. Our family also invests in a few supplements to help our health. In addition, we spend money on chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage when needed to help us heal from everything from allergies to back pain. All of these can add up in cost, but we feel that the money we spend on these things can only help us in the long run.
This one goes along with health, but is something a little different. Brad and I both are constantly looking for ways to improve ourselves. We read books, listen to podcasts, do courses, and watch documentaries all in order to try to become better people. I have a goal to read 26 books this year which averages out to a book every two weeks. I wouldn’t be near the person I am today without investing in myself and making it a priority.
We spend a good amount of our money on investments, and most of that is put into properties. If our choice is to buy new living room furniture or put money down on a new property, we will choose the latter almost every time. Our family has also put a good amount of money into whole life insurances policies in case something were to happen to Brad or I so that our children would still be financially secure. Brad could probably talk more about this at length at another time. You don’t realize just how many people pass away without life insurance and the family is left having to scramble to cover the funeral expenses, let alone any other expenses that were left behind. It’s very sad, and can be avoided by just spending a little bit every month.
We choose to give 10% of our money to our church. In addition to that, there are times when we feel like we can help someone financially, so we do that. We bought a bed for friends that had been sleeping on a 30 year old mattress that had springs poking them in the back every night. We found out and had a new bed delivered to them. We try to help young people as much as we can. It could be that they are going on a mission’s trip and are raising money for that so we will put money towards that for them. I try to incorporate the kids sometimes as well. Last summer on a very hot day, I took the boys and we went and bought cold drinks and snacks and parked our car in front of the local homeless shelter and handed things out to people. The people were so happy, and the boys enjoyed doing it. Please understand me; I am not saying this to brag about how great we are, but to get you thinking about how you currently spend your money. Money is simply a tool that you can use, how are you using it?