When we are young, we have time. We have health. But most of us have no money to enjoy that time and health.
As we get older to our middle-age, we have money. More than we had when we were young. And we have health. If you’ve taken care of yourself. But with all the responsibilities that come at this stage in our life, we have no time.
And when we get old. Into our later stages of life, we have money and we have plenty of time. But now we have no health to enjoy the money and time.
So true wealth is to have all three at once. Health, Money and Time. Simultaneously.
So how do we achieve this? Or can we ever achieve this? Is this some phantom pipedream reserved only for special people?
I dare to say no. It will definitely take work and effort, but I believe we can all achieve this ultimate wealth trifecta.
Let me show you how.
Invest in Health
First, invest in health.
This is a personal finance site, so I speak a lot about investing, saving money and growing your net worth.
However, if you don’t have your health, money doesn’t mean anything.
Paul Kalinithi was in his last year of neurosurgical residency at Stanford when he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer.
He wrote “When Breath Becomes Air” as an autobiographical book of his experiences as a doctor and a patient facing a terminal illness.
The story was so moving because the terminal illness that Paul faced contrasted so much with the hope of the future that he was looking forward to after completing one of the toughest medical training in the world.
In a snap of a finger, his world was turned upside down and he was looking at a completely different reality of the future.
We will never know what life will throw at us.
Diligently saving our money and investing for the future is a good thing. It sure beats not having money and living paycheck to paycheck.
However, if we take it too far we can get so obsessed with looking towards the future for our happiness that we neglect today.
And health unfortunately becomes an easy scapegoat for many people.
Warren Buffet says.
“You have only one mind and one body for the rest of your life. If you aren’t taking care of them when you’re young, it’s like leaving that car out in hailstorms and letting rust eat away at it. If you don’t take care of your mind and body now, by the time you’re 40 or 50, you’ll be like a car that can’t go anywhere.” – Warren Buffet
Yet, how many of us do this willingly? I sure have.
- I have postponed going to the gym with the excuse that I just don’t have the time.
- I have sacrificed sleep with an excuse that I need to send off one more email.
- I have chosen a bag of chips over healthy fruits with the excuse that I need to decompress from work and that I deserve it.
But if you are like me and in your middle age, between 40 and 60, both you and I know our bodies are not what they used to be in our twenties.
- Back then we could function perfectly fine even after 4 hours of sleep.
- You do 5 push ups and you have biceps.
- We could eat Del Taco for breakfast, lunch & dinner and we’d be totally fine.
Not so much anymore, right?
As we invest in our wealth, let’s ensure we are also investing in our health.
I’m not a health expert, but there are a few practical tips I want to share with you based on what’s worked for me.
Many of us abuse sleep. And that’s because it is one of the most under-appreciated activities. It is oftentimes the first item to be sacrificed when other priorities pop up and many of us don’t give it too much thought. However, study after study have shown a direct correlation between sleep and mental performance – slower reaction time, lower concentration and reduced analytical reasoning.
Here are a few ways that I’ve been able to sleep better:
Set a Sleep Schedule – Setting a routine sleep schedule and sticking to it both weekdays and weekends. For me this is being in bed by no later than 10pm and waking up at 6am.
Watch What You Eat or Drink – Watching what I’m eating and drinking close to bedtime. I try not to have big meals at night after 8pm. I’ve noticed my body struggles with digestion and makes it hard to fall asleep. Also I limit caffeine after 4pm.
Eliminate Light & Noise – I also eliminate extra light and noise by using eye masks and ear plugs. This has been a game changer. After having kids, both my wife and I have noticed we are a lot more sensitive to sleep. By artificially reducing light and noise, I notice my sleep isn’t interrupted as much.
Minimize Processed Food:
Aside from prioritizing sleep, I’ve also gotten really vigilant about minimizing processed food from my diet.
I like to prepare the majority of my food ahead of time. Everything from breakfast protein shakes to simple lunches made of broccoli, chicken and brown rice. This has really helped me stick to a healthy diet.
If you’d like to learn more from an expert, check out my friend Bri’s website – Frugal Minimalist Kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and has some great resources around meal planning specifically.
Last area of health that has really helped me has been weight lifting.
I used to be a runner, but after a decade of beating the pavement from my army days, my knees aren’t what they used to be in my 20s.
Nothing heavy, but regular strength training has really helped me in maintaining a low body fat percentage.
In order to reduce the friction of working out on a daily basis. Wait for it. I’ve installed a squat rack right behind me in my home office.
This way I have no excuse for not lifting something on a daily basis.
Again, I’m not a health expert, but these are some of the things I do to invest in my health.
I’d be curious to know how you are investing in your health. Please let me know in the comments below.
The 2nd arm of the wealth trifecta is money.
And this is where if you are watching personal finance channels like this and investing in your financial literacy, you are well ahead of the game.
And even if you are just starting to get your finances in order, not a problem.
What’s interesting is that, after having learned to manage my health and my money the past several decades.
Ironically managing my health feels a lot harder with time, whereas managing money gets easier with time.
With money, once you learn the basics such as budgeting, investing and protecting yourself with appropriate insurance, the system takes over.
In investing for example, once you have enough money in the market in a good low cost index fund like VTSAX, compounding takes over and there is actually less work with time.
Your fund makes more money while you work less.
Health on the other hand feels like the opposite. There is no set it and forget it when working out. You have to show up everyday and put in the reps. And it gets harder and harder as we get older.
Few quick guidelines when it comes to mastering your money that I borrowed from JL Collins, the author of simple path to wealth.
He talks about three simple guidelines to mastering money and not having it master you:
50% Savings Rate – One is to target saving and investing 50% of your income. This sounds crazy when you first hear it, but when you can master your expenses, this may not be too far off. Saving must be the core habit that we must master first if we want to achieve financial security.
George S. Clason, the author of Richest Man in Babylon highlights the second cure to a lean purse is to “Control thy expenditure.” And this comes before making “thy gold multiply.”
Avoid Debt – Second is to avoid debt. JL Collins takes it far as to say having no home mortgage debt. I personally believe having a home mortgage is ok as long as you aren’t living in a home way over your budget and you are financing it with a fixed 15 or 30 year mortgage. But when it comes to any other types of debt, avoid it as much as possible. You can check out my post on “Beware of Good Debt” to learn more.
Index Investing – Third is to embrace index investing as a core wealth building tool. It’s a simple concept, but something that the financial industry works hard to confuse you with. You’d be hard pressed to find investment managers or insurance salesmen eagerly willing to sell you simple products like low cost index funds.
Low cost index funds don’t make much money for financial institutions, but they can make a lot of money for you – if you buy them regularly and hold them forever.
Buy Back Time
The third arm of the wealth trifecta is time.
Like I mentioned earlier, many of us who are in our middle age have money, or more money than when we were in our twenties, and we still have our health. Of course not the agile bodies we had when we were 18, but still in relatively good health compared to our aging parents.
But the one thing that many of us struggle with is time.
In our twenties, we are in our exploration phase. We are just starting out in our careers. Many of us in entry level positions were just learning the ropes. It is hard work, but in hindsight, we had a lot more time than now.
Now as we move into our 30s, 40s and 50s, we become more proficient in our careers. We get more responsibilities. We move into management roles.
Whereas before we might have only been responsible for our individual work, we are now responsible for our teams and our departments.
For many of us in traditional corporate work, work doesn’t stop on Friday. Being in management is a round the clock work.
In addition, this is also a phase in our life where many of us start having families. Getting married, having kids.
And this comes with additional time responsibilities. Whereas in our twenties we were just responsible for ourselves, we now have kids we have to take care of. Marriages we are investing into.
Now as the Sandwich Generation, add in our aging parents. They might need additional support because of health or financial issues.
Free time feels like a dream now.
You have to think really hard about when was the last time you had any time for yourself.
I remember vividly the first time I was able to drop both of my kids off at the daycare and coming home to an empty house for the first time in god knows how many years. The house was a mess and I had 100 things on my to-do list, but I remember just sitting on my couch and staring at the wall for 30 minute straight because I couldn’t remember what silence felt like.
We can have all the money in the world, but if we don’t have time to enjoy it, it really means nothing.
Of all things that money can buy, I believe buying back time has the greatest return for your investment.
What’s the point of having $100 million dollars in your bank account if you don’t have the time to watch your children grow up. Spend quality time with your spouse or be with your parents at the late stages of their lives.
This was one of my biggest motivators for starting my blog and this channel because I’ve seen firsthand the power that mastering your money can have – especially for the Sandwich Generation.
When you’ve mastered your money, you open a door to a possibility of options:
It could be working less hours so you can spend more time with your kids. I’ve been thankfully able to do this and for the first time coached my son’s soccer team this past season.
We didn’t make it to the finals – but hey don’t blame the coach.
Or you can choose to travel the world with your spouse. Check out the Millennial Revolution. Kristy and Bryce retired from their engineering job at the age of 31 and have been traveling the world since.
Mastering money and achieving financial independence gives you the freedom to spend your time as you see fit.There are variety of ways to achieve financial independence, but here are some commons ways:
Achieve The 4% Withdrawal Rate – Achieve the 4% Withdrawal Rate. This is the most popular and widely used strategy.
By saving 25 times your annual expenses, let’s say $1,000,000, you will be able to withdraw $40k per year indefinitely based on a withdrawal rate of four percent. This could happen if you save and invest diligently. There are many examples of people who have achieved this. If you are interested in learning more specifically about financial independence, checkout ChooseFI. They have a popular podcast and a website with some great resources around financial independence specifically.
And make sure to check out episode 186. I heard the guy on it is pretty amazing.
Become A Landlord – Become a Landlord. If you have the time, expertise and money necessary to invest in real estate, investing in a rental property is another way to generate passive income on your investments. Checkout Bigger Pockets to learn more about real estate investing.
Start Your Own Business – Starting a business is another way to achieve financial independence.
This option might be the most difficult, but it’s certainly an option worth exploring if you have a strong desire to become an entrepreneur.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but know that financial independence is within reach if you’re willing to put in the work.There you have it guys – master money. But don’t just stop there.
Complete your wealth trifecta by investing in your health and buying back time.