Our money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on.
This has been a life-changing realization in my life. It has changed how I see money and how I spend it.
If we choose to buy a big screen television, our money was worth a big screen television. We get to have it in our living room and watch basketball games or play video games on it, but our money will never be worth more than the electronic hanging on our wall.
Similarly, we could use our money to buy a new pair of shoes or wardrobe or a closet organizing system. In that case, our money was worth the fashion we purchased with it… or the designer storage compartments we installed to better store our stuff.
But our money can never be spent on anything else. Once it is spent, it is spent.
Now, let’s say we decide not to buy the large screen television, but take our kids on a weekend vacation instead. It seems to me, in this scenario, we begin to increase the value of our money. We create memories around a shared experience. Or we learn something about a new place or culture or try a new food. We bond as a family and share an experience we will talk about for the rest of our lives.
There is a reason experiential purchases tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases. This trip may likely prove to be more valuable to us than an unneeded larger-screen television.
But there’s more. What happens when we begin to use our money to help people or solve problems we see in the world?
How valuable does our money become when we use it to help send a child to school in a developing country or deliver clean water to a village in Africa? What if we helped provide a family for an orphaned child or helped a refugee family get settled in a new country? What if we helped provide job training in our local community or chose to help out the financially struggling young mother in our community?
Our money could be used to help solve an injustice we see in the world—whether it would be an injustice against another person, a group of people, the environment, animals, or any cause we are personally passionate about.
When we begin to use our money in this way, its potential and value begins to increase even more!
What about the child you helped send to school? Who knows what cycle of poverty you may have broken in his/her life and who knows what potential exists there? Who knows what might become of the child you helped place in a family—whether through community orphan care, foster care, or adoption? What might become of the young mother and child you helped put on solid footing, or the man who was trained in a new job skill?
Who knows what life your financial resources were able to change or how the world may turn out differently because of your investment.
Our money can never be worth more than what we choose to spend it on. And there are some things we can buy with it that are more valuable than others.
Once we see that, spending dollars on a bigger-screen television or chasing ever-changing fashion starts to look like a pretty poor investment.