Everybody is an investor, though many people don’t realize it. In this article I will explain a simple mindset shift that you can make that will enable you to view all of your spending choices with greater wisdom, clarity, and understanding. This mental shift will allow you to make better financial choices that improve the entirety of your life.
Isolated Versus Interconnected Spending
Most people, when they’re making decisions on how to spend their time, money, and attention, view their choices in a categorized manner. For example, when a person is considering going to eat at a restaurant, they will often times make the choice within the context of hunger and being satisfied. If you’re considering spending money on traveling, you’ll evaluate if that choice will improve your experience within the original context of “vacation.” The decision to exercise many will view only in a single context, such as to get a thinner waist or to get jacked.
Instead, what we want to start doing is viewing our life as a system of interconnected components. In systemic spending, you evaluate how any particular bit of spending improves or worsens every other context in your life, besides the original context.
There are six major contexts that most people care about:
1. Health (nutrition, fitness, sleep)
2. Relationships (sex, love, friends, family)
3. Money (income, net worth, career)
4. Culture (entertainment, travel, leisure, home)
5. Purpose (legacy, contribution to others)
6. Capability to Provide Value (creativity, influence, knowledge)
What we’ll do now is run through an example where we apply systemic spending.
Imagine that you and one other person, let’s call him Kyle, both have enough money to spend a night at the movies with some friends. Kyle calls up his friends and decides to go see a superhero movie. With a slushee, candy, some popcorn, and movie tickets for his friends and himself, Kyle spends $65.
You, on the other hand, decide to pick a documentary on an issue that is important to one of your business mentors. You invite a small group of people, including a couple people you don’t know well, but are valuable connections, to join you at the movie and to discuss the film afterwards and to get to know one another. You buy all your friends attending a water bottle and their tickets, costing you $65.
Both you and Kyle spent $65, but the question is which one of you consumed, and which one of you invested? To the typical economist or financial planner, both of you consumed $65, but in terms of the six life contexts, you and Kyle made very different choices.
Health: The water and lack of sugar will help your ability to sleep and to get deep nourishing REM sleep. Staying hydrated will do more to energize your friends and to put them in a comfortable state to engage with one another than will sugar. Kyle was merely thinking in terms of immediate pleasure, you were thinking in terms of long-term consequences and influence.
Relationships: An open and honest discussion among people you admire on an issue that you all find of interest is a fantastic way to connect and build formidable relationships, far better than just spending time together. For Kyle and his friends, the time together doesn’t come close to the bonding and connection that takes place with your friends.
Career: Your thoughtfulness to bring together this movie and dialogue on a topic that is deeply important to your mentor will strengthen your relationship with him, and his respect and gratitude for you will leave a valuable impression on your newly acquainted and industry-connected friends.
Purpose: You taking the initiative to host a gathering like this will likely lead your friends to reciprocate and create new ideas for events for all of you in the future. All of you will receive deep satisfaction at contributing to the lives of others.
What You Should Take Away From This
When you view everything you buy as an investment, you now realize that you have much more investment power and ability to mold your future and to create opportunities. Instead of the traditional view of investing the small amount of money you have left after all expenses, you can now view every dollar you spend as a way to maximize the quality of your life and to improve other areas of your life.
The side effects of every purchase all add up to create your future, so by utilizing systemic spending you now have the opportunity to leverage your spending to create your best possible future.