From spender to acquierer to investor, perhaps

On my way to the coffee shop after dropping off Javi, I listen to talk radio, preferably NPR, but really anything with words not set to music. The topics are wide and varied and I like the break from my usual thought obsessions (potty training, cleaning my house, resourcing options, coaching teams). I like that sometimes I end up thinking about something that doesn’t seem to be related to my life but ends up being an important perspective shifter.

This morning’s topic was investing in art and it got me thinking about values and how we inhabit our lives and money, adding and expanding the thoughts I’ve been processing here.

Long story short: I’m ready to be an investor, not a spender or acquirer or hoarder*.

I feel like I’ve moved beyond spending, which to me implies throwaway, disposable, use up and replace kinds of things. Now I’m an acquirer, happy to prove I can by buying anything that might mean something. Now, though, I’m ready to invest my money in things and people and experiences. Going to the beach was a great use of this year’s bonus, investing in family time and giving my son a beach experience.

I really like this perspective, even on a small scale! Every morning now, I drop off Javi and head to a coffee shop to buy overpriced coffee and work. When I add up the cost, I’m spending about $80 a month, but upon consideration, I’m investing in myself and my productivity. See, I don’t do well when I’m home all the time. Like my son, I struggle with abrupt transitions and need both clear delineations between worlds AND a graceful passage between them. Dropping him off, driving five minutes to a coffee shop, and sipping my coffee while I think and ponder and plan has been such a great improvement to my daily patterns, far more impactful than all the money I’ve put into sprucing up our basement office.

Finding a good method for myself has helped me provide similar structure for him. I’ve noticed that this summer’s 3pm pick up time is really hard for him because he’s fresh from a nap and hasn’t had time to himself before having to do things again (get in the car, get buckled in, go to the potty, change clothes, do this, do that). When we picked him up during the school year at 4:30, he had time to wake up, have a snack, and play outside on his own before having to follow rules again. Noticing his challenges because I had finally solved my own led us to a better transition strategy: we now pick him up from school and head straight to a park 2 minutes away for some quiet time. He has a snack and pokes around in the picnic area while we sit quietly, and when he’s ready and happy again, we move on to the rest of our schedule.

My $80 a month seems like a great investment from that perspective!

*I’m not actually even close to being a hoarder, and I’m uncomfortable when people use what is a real and critical psychological problem as a cheap descriptor, but my husband is fond of calling me one (pot, meet kettle) so I make the reference tongue-in-cheek.

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