Opinion

4 Areas of Your Life That are Well Worth Investing In

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Joanne Poh

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Have you ever had one of those mornings where you woke up, grabbed your wallet only to realise it was empty, and then realised you had completely forgotten what happened after Drink #4 the night before?

No matter how great a party it was, every single glass after Drink #4 was a bad investment. You threw your money at the bartender, only to get a drink you not only don’t remember imbibing, but which also wiped out your memory of a potentially enjoyable night.

On the other hand, nobody would tell you that that $30,000 you spent on your education was a bad idea, because the gulf between graduates’ and non-graduates’ starting pay is so great that it’s easy to see how the investment would be likely to pay off.

Here are four things that are totally worth the money, because they pay off in one way or another.

 

Your relationships

No matter how much money you have in the bank, a person with no meaningful relationships is a miserable one. These don’t necessarily have to be romantic relationships—you can have a meaningful relationship with your friends, family, neighbours, coworkers, kopi auntie and so on.

So don’t spend every second of your life working and invest a bit of time into the relationships that are important to you. Note that that’s very different from spending lots of money so that you appear cool to people or so you can impress them by going to fancy restaurants.

Turning down a job that requires you to be at the office 16 hours a day so you can spend more time with your spouse/kids, making the effort to meet your friends regularly, inviting your neighbours over for dinner or giving a trusted colleague a birthday gift are all gestures that can help you feel better about life in general.

 

Your health

Would you accept $1 million dollars—in exchange for one of your kidneys? No, right? RIGHT?! So in your pursuit of wealth and fame, don’t forget to invest in your health and mental wellbeing, too.

Investing in your health does not have to be expensive if you don’t have chronic health problems, but it does require a commitment of time and effort. No matter how hard you have to work, you need to carve out the time for regular exercise, and make the effort to eat healthily.

If you’re really time-starved, find a way to incorporate these routines seamlessly into your everyday life, such as by taking a run during lunchtime, cycling to work and cooking extra at dinner so you can bring your lunch to work.

 

Your mental wellbeing

More and more young professionals in Singapore are working so hard that they’re burning out, and finding themselves having to seek psychiatric health or even quit their jobs altogether.

Taking the time and energy to ensure your life is balanced and your mental health intact is important, even if it means taking some time off work or not always being a yes-man.

For starters, you must ensure you’re getting adequate sleep and have effective ways to wind down after work. It’s also worthwhile investing some money and time into an inexpensive hobby that gives you something to look forward to outside of work—go for jogs with a running group after work, learn to play the ukulele, whatever.

If you experience overwhelming stress, you need some tools to help you deal. Start practising meditation, get a therapist or whatever—just make sure you take steps to help yourself feel better.

 

Your education

You shouldn’t stop learning till you’re dead. And anyway, in Singapore, if you don’t keep upgrading your skills, you could very well find yourself dead, or at least retrenched.

There are few people in Singapore who can honestly say that a basic degree is a waste of money. Sure, there are some people who manage to make it even without degrees, but there is no denying that for ordinary, not particularly enterprising people, entering the workforce with a degree is a much safer bet.

Something also has to be said for upgrading your skills after you start working. Take the initiative to identify skills gaps or interests/aptitudes you’d like to develop, and then look for courses to take, books to read or people you can speak to who’ll help.

Even what you’re learning has nothing to do with your day job, new skills or knowledge can make you happier and help you feel more fulfilled. So when you are trying to choose between spending $100 to buy a new outfit or learning something new, always pick the latter.

What areas of your life do you think are worth investing in? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.