As a financial coach, it would be remiss of me to talk about money like it’s independent of other factors and resources.
Money is one of three primary resources. The other two are energy and time, and all three are interdependent.
The trouble is that it can feel as though to gain more of one we have to give up another.
Need more time with your kids? You’ll have to cut back your work hours. Need more money to pay the bills? Get a second job. Work harder to gain more, but go home too tired to enjoy your life.
This tug-of-war between money, time, and energy keeps us spinning our wheels instead of maximizing how effectively we utilize them.
It’s a constant struggle to find balance, that feeling of synergy between our money, time, and energy.
But we aren’t really striving for balance. On our deathbeds we don’t want to be remembered for living a balanced life.
We want to live a significant life.
This is about changing the way we think about utilizing our time, energy, and money. It’s about changing from having a spending mindset to an investing mindset.
When I spend money, it’s gone forever. When I invest money, I am depositing it into an account with the expectation of increase.
What about time? Time is limited. We can’t create more of it. (If anyone out there finds a way, call me.) However, we can free it up so that more of our time is spent on soul-satisfying work and activities, rather than draining ones.
When we are satisfied with how our time is spent, we have more emotional energy, which translates to physical energy. Plus, if we’re spending more time on things that matter to us, that means we also get to devote more energy into the good stuff, like our kids, our church ministries, and our passions, instead of only giving those priorities whatever little energy we have leftover.
Like money, investing our time and energy requires planning and saving. In other words, first we have to intentionally set it aside.
This is even true- especially true- when it comes to the small stuff.
I think about the basket of laundry, or the dishes in the sink or the mail sitting on the counter and I know that I can either invest 15 minutes into taking care of those chores now, or I can spend an hour searching for that bill and scrubbing stuck-on food later.
The lazy, instant-gratification voice in me says “it doesn’t matter if you put this off,” while the diligent voice says “It’s worth it to invest just a few minutes into these tasks. You’ll be glad you did.”
Because the truth is, investing 15 minutes in the morning really will save me an hour later in the day. It will free up space in my mind to be more productive and more relaxed. When I need clean socks I won’t scramble around for 10 minutes looking for a matching pair. When the mail is sorted I won’t have to sift through a stack of junk mail only to find an overdue bill. My life will be less hectic and I will have more time for all the things I’d rather be doing.
That’s five hours of freedom added to my week! What I wouldn’t give for those five hours! It’s not simply an exchange of now versus later; it’s invest a little now or spend a lot later.
This is why we encourage kids to pursue college after high school. It’s an investment of time, effort, and money that will pay off later.
If you’re stuck at a dead-end job, it’s why you pursue a career change. Even though an investment of your time, energy, and possibly money are required to make the change, you have calculated this investment will lead to more money, more available time, more energy found in the satisfaction of your work, or all three.
The same goes for getting out of debt. When you’re working your debt snowball, the goal is to get it done as soon as humanly possible. Why? Because even though there is a temporary sacrifice in which you’re working crazy hours and spending all your time and energy to get out of debt, doing so will increase your freedom with ALL your resources, not just money.
This may not be the picture of balance, but it is one of significance.
As great as the reward of the investment is, investing requires discipline. As we learn in Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (NIV)
Discipline doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when we make a plan and train ourselves to follow through, whether that’s with the guidance of a coach, an accountability partner, or a friend who will encourage you to stay on track.
To be successful with our investments, we have to embrace the concept of delayed gratification. I’ll be the first to acknowledge this goes against our culture’s YOLO mindset. You never know what will happen tomorrow, so do what feels good now!
However, that’s not God’s wisdom. His Word teaches us that this is a foolish way to live. Proverbs 21:17 and 20 say “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich…The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” (NIV)
It’s not that we can’t have it all, it’s that we try to have it all right now instead of investing and waiting for the increase.
God teaches us this concept through the imagery of saving wine and olive oil- two valuable commodities- instead of guzzling it away. What does this look like for us?
I have a friend who rises at 4:00 am so that she can pray and read her Bible uninterrupted. What I find amazing about this is that she is not naturally a “morning person,” but the value of this investment was so great that through discipline, she trained her body to wake up before the crack of dawn.
Sometimes to make room to invest, we have to cut something out. This is another reason discipline can feel unpleasant at the time- we are creatures of habit. Whatever we are used to is what we are comfortable with and cutting out something that makes us feel comfortable is not pleasant in the moment!
What is that object of comfort for you that is preventing you from investing your resources?
Maybe it’s restaurant spending or the car payment that’s preventing you from investing money, and an adjustment to the budget is in order. Maybe it’s cutting out a late-night TV show so you can get to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. Perhaps its limiting time on social media to invest more energy into relationships, or adopting a schedule that is less hurried.
Every day we are given the choice to spend money, time, and energy, or to invest them with the expectation of a greater return. It requires intention and discipline to follow through, but doing so will cause us to maximize all three of our resources instead of losing one to gain more of another.
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