One of the Best Non-Financial Things You can do for Your Finances this Month
February is here already? This is the month of love right? Whether it's Singles Awareness Day, or the day where you spend $200 on disposable displays of love, February is known for something. Hopefully you get your taxes started, hopefully some of your New Year's resolutions are sticking, and hopefully you're still optimistic about the year ahead! And if you're rolling your eyes at my enthusiasm for February (I'm just a happy guy, what can I say), just remember that February is the shortest month of the year, and then you can get excited for Spring Break season (see, there's always something to celebrate! Wait...Spring Break this year mayyyy just not look the same as it does in "normal years", but I digress).
Many of us are so inundated with messages of being more financially responsible, and I'm with you, it can get old and obnoxious after a while. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with trying to improve your current finances if they are in disarray, in fact it should be a priority. However, money isn't the end goal in life. It provides the means to a good life, but so do so many other things. So, you might be reading the title of this blog scratching your head and wondering what on Earth I could be talking about. Well, I'm talking about your relationships, particularly your relationships with your friends. What on Earth could my friends have to do with my finances, you ask? Well, many things! Being a guy, I know guys tend to have different orbits around their friendships than women, but they are still very important to each and every one of us (or at least they should be).
The reason I'm encouraging you to invest in your friends, and always be open for new ones, is because whether you're consciously aware of it are not, they matter. A lot. It should come as no surprise that we are social creatures, and this pandemic has shed light on how much we maybe take relationships for granted. No amazing concert nights, summer festivals, parties, or happy hours. I've seen many people kind of cocoon themselves and use the pandemic as an excuse, but have you ever taken a moment to assess how you feel about yourself the night after you binge on YouTube? (No, I don't have Netflix so I don't use it in my arguments!) Probably not the same as you feel right after a night out with friends, or after a virtual group hangout.
Even in 'normal' times, we hide behind our screens, text instead of call, let calls from old friends go to voicemail, and then text them back. We back out of plans at the last minute coming up with some lame excuse that seems easy in the moment, or worse the "I'll let ya know!" We surrender at the slightest hill, the activation energy, because the path of least resistance supposedly brings us the most happiness, at least in the short term, but there is a cost.
Speaking of cost, this is a personal finance blog right? Oh, snap, that's right! So how does all of this relate to money? Well, in so many ways that I can't even list them all here. Real friends will make you stay with them when you're in town for a job interview, weekend trip or even a wedding they're not invited to. They might even help you get a job with their connections. They might introduce you to your future wife/husband. They'll be there for you when times are tough, cheering you up so you don't go self-pity shopping after a break up or bad day. Friends are what make life worth living. Sure, you think you're all set because you're in your 30s now and have a 'partner', or maybe you're married already. But do you ever see what happens to relationships when the partner is also the friend, the therapist, the hiking buddy, the workout partner, etc? They get strained. Plus, what if you separate or a tragedy hits? Who's going to be there for you then?
When we invest in our friendships, they return dividends to our health and happiness more than money ever can. As we go through life, all we have is memories. No one's going to care that you put in 60 hours at week at work, and over time you won't either. Do you remember the 43 weekends you just lounged around and scrolled Instagram? No. Do you remember the camping trip last summer that took way too much planning, but ended up being the most majestic, eye-opening experience? Every minute of it. And I bet it brings a smile to your face. So, if we are healthy and not lonely, that probably means we don't need therapy sessions, we don't need a life coach, we don't shop mindlessly on Amazon on Friday night while a movie plays in the background. Our mental health is better, so we are more resilient, happy, productive, energetic, and prosperous. Can you really put a price on that? On feeling like you're walking on clouds, and can't help but smile at your good fortune?
Believe me, it's hard to make friends the older you get, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. And just because you've lost touch with friends from a previous life, doesn't mean they wouldn't love to hear from you. Just be patient, persistent, and forgiving. Go look at old photos of you with your friends, whether last year or senior year of college. Create new memories, and keep in touch. Go deeper in your friendships, be vulnerable, and be honest. Your wallet will thank you for it!