[Guest author today - Christine Chiang from The Pursuit of Green]
Finding my way to financial independence is a long journey of learning new things and changing the way I live and think about money. I find myself constantly thinking of ways to save or to use money most effectively when I have to. With all this focus on money, it’s easy to forget sometimes why I am doing this in the first place!
Money is just a means to get what you want, and is by no means the end goal.
The best reminder I have of that right now is in the form of two slightly slobbery and crazy little girls. Money isn’t a concept that they understand yet at the ages of one and a half and three and a half. The two of them will tear apart anything they can get their hands on, regardless if it’s pricey or inexpensive. They bring me down to earth and remind me that money isn’t everything.
Sometimes we’re so busy trying to make money that we neglect to spend time with the people we love. I can buy all the toys in the world for my nieces, but other than cluttering up my sister’s home, it won’t do much to bring me closer to them. My sister lives in Seattle while I’m in Los Angeles. It’s hard finding time to visit, but every time I do, it’s worth it!
How you use money is more important than spending it
With money, I can buy a Barbie dream castle, battery operated cars they can ride around in, a play house, and many other expensive toys. I can just send these gifts to Seattle and not bother trying to spend time with my nieces. I wouldn’t be a very good aunt though and they wouldn’t remember me much for it. I would just be someone who bought them a bunch of stuff.
It’s much better to buy a plane ticket to go up there and spend time with them. The plane ticket will end up being more expensive than just buying a toy, but the quality time you get to spend with them is a huge reward.
Time matters more than money
A personal birthday card can mean much more to a toddler than just sending a toy. Staying up for five more minutes past bedtime is another thing they would love. Being able to buckle their own car seat or putting on their shoes is a huge accomplishment for a toddler.
It’s not all about money in their world. It’s more about the time you spend with them and the things you let them do. My niece can be super slow about doing these things and it’s aggravating when you’re on a schedule, but letting her do it herself means so much more to her and is something money can never buy.
Simple and inexpensive is sometimes the best way
A kitchen play set can be so cool and kids will love it! Then again, they love playing with things like cardboard boxes, coloring books, and stickers too. I barely saw my nieces playing with the bigger toys they had received. Instead, they loved coloring and would drag around their favorite stuffed animal.
I also have to keep in mind that whatever I buy for them will end up being trashed and most likely broken after a short while. My iPad was a huge draw for both of them, but if I didn’t supervise them I’m sure it would have been dropped or smashed. A simple coloring book can cost a dollar and will provide them hours of fun. It will end up being ripped up eventually, but it only cost a dollar.
Money really can’t buy us everything, but it’s certainly very useful to getting us what we want! It’ll buy me a plane ticket to fly up to Seattle to spend time with my sister and her daughters. Once there, I can play with them and create memories that can never be replaced.
It’s exciting to watch my net worth go up, but I should never forget why I’m doing it in the first place. Money will help me reach my goals, but it won’t help me achieve them necessarily. That part is all up to me!
What are you trying to achieve with your money?
Christine Chiang is a interactive art director by day, who loves to delve into different things during her downtime. Her blog, The Pursuit of Green, was created to share how she works to save money and the earth at the same time. You can also find her on Facebook.
Photo cred: nubobo