Personal Finance in Your 20s & 30s For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Many things in life are far more important than the girth of your investment portfolio or the size of your latest paycheck. Following is a list of ten things more valuable than money.

Investing in Your Health

People neglect their health for different reasons. In some cases, as with money management, people simply don't know the keys to good personal health. Getting too caught up in one's career and working endless hours also often lead to neglect of one's health.

Plenty of people suffer from ongoing conditions that damage their body and make them feel worse than need be. Stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, problematic relationships — all these bad habits can harm your health. You only get one body — take care of it and treat it with the respect it deserves!

Stay active and at a healthy weight

  • Hydrate much more
  • Exercise more.
  • Eat healthier.

Use fitness trackers to monitor your activity level

With the proliferation of cellphones, few people, especially younger people, wear a wristwatch anymore. But now, more and more people are wearing something that looks like a watch on their wrist but is in fact a fitness tracker first and a watch second. The simplest ones cost less than $100 and track how much activity (for example, number of steps) you engage in every day.

More sophisticated trackers that typically cost about $100 to $150 can track your heart rate throughout the day as well as your resting heart rate, track many different kinds of exercise, track your sleeping patterns, and even include a GPS device that may be of use, for example, to runners or bikers who want more precise analysis of their exercise patterns and routes.

Before buying a fitness tracker, examine the features on each device you're considering and do your best to determine what you really want. It's not worth paying for certain features, like GPS tracking, if you're unlikely to use them. Also, be sure to read customer reviews of the devices you're considering to understand what others like and don't like about it.

Making and Keeping Friends

So many items in this consumer-oriented society are disposable, and unfortunately, friends too often fall into that category. These days, it seems like friends aren't really friends as much as they are acquaintances who can further people's careers, and after that function has passed, they're cast aside.

Ask yourself who your true friends are. Do you have friends you can turn to in a time of need who can really listen and be there for you? Take the time to invest in your friendships, both old and new.

Appreciating What You Have

In my work as a financial counselor and writer, I've had the opportunity to interact with many people from all walks of life. Rich or poor, invariably people focus on what they don't have instead of appreciating the material and nonmaterial things they do have.

Make a list of at least ten things that you appreciate. Periodically (weekly or monthly) make another list. This exercise helps you focus on what you have instead of dwelling on what you don't.

Minding your reputation

A professor once said, "It can take a lifetime to build a reputation but only moments to lose it." As people chase after more fame, power, money, and possessions, they often devalue and underinvest in relationships and commit illegal and immoral acts along the way. Your reputation is one of the most important things you have, so don't do anything to taint it.

Think of the people you most admire in your life. Although none of them is perfect, each has a superior reputation in your eyes.

Continuing education

Education is a lifelong process — it's not just about attending a pricey college and perhaps getting an advanced degree. You always have something to discover, whether it's related to your career or a new hobby. Look for opportunities to master new lessons each and every day. And who knows, maybe someday you'll gain an understanding of the meaning of life. The older people get, the more they have to reflect upon and benefit from.

Having fun

In the quest to earn and save more, some people get caught up in society's money game, and money becomes the purpose of their existence. They lose sight of what life is really about. Whether you call it an addiction or an obsession, having such a financial focus steers you from life's good things. Plenty of people realize too late in life that sacrificing personal relationships and one's health isn't worth any amount of financial success.

Therapists' offices are filled with unhappy people who spend too much time and energy chasing elusive career goals and money. These same people come to me for financial counseling and worry about having enough money. When I tell them that they have "enough," the conversation usually turns to the personal things lacking in their life. Remember to keep your perspective and live each day to the fullest.

Putting your family first

Some employees rightfully fear that their boss may not be sympathetic to their family's needs, especially when those needs get in the way of getting the job done as efficiently as an impatient boss would like. Others put their company first because that's what peers do and because they don't want to rock the boat.

Your spouse, your parents, and your kids, of course, should come first. They're more important than your next promotion, so treat them that way. Balance is key; your actions speak louder than promises and words. Should your boss not respect or value the importance of family, then perhaps it's time to find a new boss.

Knowing your neighbors

Your neighbors can be sources of friendship, happiness, and comfort. People often get caught up in their routine and neglect their neighbors. You live by these people and probably see them on a semiregular basis. Take the time to get to know them.

You may not want to get to know all your neighbors better, but give them a chance. Don't write them off because they aren't the same age or race, or don't have the same occupation as you. Part of your coherence with greater society comes from where you live, and your neighbors are an important piece of that connection.

Volunteering and donating

Although the United States has one of the world's highest per-capita incomes, by other, more important measures, the country has room for improvement. Society has some significant problems, such as a relatively high rate of poverty, gun violence, divorce, and suicide.

You can find plenty of causes worthy of your volunteer time or donations. Check out VolunteerMatch to discover volunteer opportunities. If you want to donate something as a thank-you to members of the military, visit the National Military Family Association. (Military folks can use this site to find out about a wide range of benefits.)

Caring for kids

The children in society are tomorrow's future. You should care about children even if you don't have any. Why? Do you care about the quality of society? Do you have any concerns about crime? Do you care about the economy? What about your Social Security and Medicare benefits? All these issues depend to a large extent on the nation's children and what kind of teenagers and adults they someday become.

Investing in your children and other children is absolutely one of the best investments you can make. Understanding how to relate to and care for kids can help make you a better and more fulfilled person. (Understanding kids can help you better understand what makes grown-ups tick, too!)

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Eric Tyson, MBA, is a renowned finance counselor, syndicated columnist, and author of numerous bestselling financial titles.

Tony Martin, B.Comm, is a nationally-recognized personal finance, speaker, commentator, columnist, management trainer, and communications consultant. He is the co-author of Personal Finance For Canadians For Dummies.

This article can be found in the category: