Greetings! During these cold, ice and snow covered days in parts of our state it is hard to think that Spring, if we get to have one this year, and then Summer will be upon us in no time at all and we will all be discussing how hot and humid our state is and how much we wish Fall or Winter was near.
In this edition let’s talk about investing. Seems like a simple enough topic on the surface, but investing can take on many forms at many different levels in our lives. I think we can all agree that an investment in the obvious form normally deals with a financial matter. In other forms investment can be doing things for your betterment, we have all heard the saying “invest in your future” at some point or another.
When you consider the overall importance of financial matters in the long term well-being of any of us it becomes pretty evident that at some point we each need to make investments. Although money is not everything, it is an unfortunate thing that in our society money is required to meet many of our obligations. The recent federal government shut down news coverage was riddled with the sensational stories of employees that had not yet missed the first paycheck, but were already going to be evicted or had no food for themselves. I am fully aware that there are many people in our society that live literally from one paycheck to the next, but to have this outcry before a check was missed should be a wake up call to anyone working and receiving a paycheck.
Have you made any efforts to make even small investments to help with your future financial stability? You might find it amazing what the returns can be even when making small investments on a regular basis. There are many simple ways to work towards making these small investments, you just have to be creative. Perhaps you got a raise in your salary this year, did you think about taking some or all of the “raise” amount and depositing it in an interest bearing account? If you think about that raise amount as money you didn’t need before you started earning it and you were getting by then perhaps just make the investment instead of adjusting your spending habits up to eat away at the raise. If you have the option of direct deposit, take advantage. There is no easier way to put money away then to never have it in your hand. You don’t have to fight off the temptation to spend it and you don’t have to make time to go to the bank or use your electronic device to make the transaction.
What do you do with your income tax refund each year? Spend it all or set some back? I know that may be a way to settle some outstanding bills, which can often save money long term by avoiding the interest payments, but if you don’t need it to settle these debts consider putting some back for the future. I look back at American history and see a group of people who had limited funds and literally saved and reused almost everything that wasn’t rotting trash, much of that went to feed the animals. Perhaps that is a result of the post-depression era that molded many of their beliefs, but no matter why they were that way they were actually making a financial investment. By reusing and repurposing things they were able to save money instead of spend it for the same thing over and over. Eventually they could actually make financial investments, which over time grew and many of those people were able to amass funds that helped them provide for their families and their futures.
Financial investment really boils down to a simple decision, do I want to spend everything I have now or do I want to keep at least some back so should things not go as I plan I am able to support myself for a period of time? If you decide you want to make a financial investment to benefit you later then get creative and look for places to trim your expenses some, nothing drastic is needed, or in some form take any “extra” funds and secure them.
Have you considered what you are investing in you as a person yet? This is beyond the financial side of investing and jumps to the “what are you doing to make yourself” category. These types of investments may be doing things for better health, pursuing additional education or job specific training or maybe simply making time to do things for yourself for a change.
Considering the way most of our schedules go while engaged in the emergency service field we often do not eat correctly, sleep enough or get the exercise we need. All of these things can have a negative impact on the way we do our job and ultimately on our overall health. So the next time you are faced with the decision, to “eat healthy (something that tastes good) or eat unhealthy” make the choice to eat healthy. When you have the opportunity to catch some extra rest, do so. These opportunities often come few and far between so take advantage when you can. If you don’t get regular exercise beyond getting on and off the rig or in and out of the ambulance take a few extra minutes between calls and squeeze in some basic exercise. How about a brisk walk around the station parking lot a few times, you are still close enough to respond on the calls, or doing some basic other exercises inside the station with your crew partner or entire shift. None of this has to be some exotic workout led by Tony Little on the Gazelle®, google the infomercial, it will make you shake your head, but can just be simple things you take the effort to add to your day. All of these things are an investment in you!
Have you considered your education, formal or informal, and your ongoing training? This area is likely the single most important investment you can make. I am not talking about the financial investment to pay for this, but the way it affects everything you do. Whether we like it or not our profession continues to change and evolve. Not that many years ago, and yes some of us are still around, SCBA’s were almost unheard of. Now it is far more rare to see people working in the hazardous environments we encounter without one. Why, because we continued to educate ourselves and discover some of the things that were ending careers and lives early and made an investment to use these items to protect ourselves. Why not pursue additional training and make the investment in yourself to be better than you were yesterday and help those around you be better also.
The last area of investment I will talk about is that investment you make by doing something for yourself. We are in a business where our entire purpose is doing for others, but what about you? Do something simple like a few days away from the normal schedule or maybe a short inexpensive vacation. Just get away and let your mind clear and your body heal and you might be surprised what you can do upon your return. A little investment in you can go a long way.
Any way you look at investing it is not a bad thing. Whether you invest financially or just make investments in yourself the dividends you will receive will no doubt benefit you in many ways. Take the time to sit down and look at ways you can invest in your future, I don’t think you will be disappointed with where you end up.
As always if I can be of any assistance to you, please contact me.