About six years ago I was flat broke. I did not feel particularly broke because I had 4 young children, a great house that had enough room for us and plenty of space to garden and home school. I had enough work to stay home most of the time, and I loved my day-to-day life.
So on the outside I did not look broke. But really, I struggled to cover even the slightest unexpected expense, like car repairs, dentists, etc. Yet, I was really happy, but also really stressed.
Then I read a book called, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and started to realize that I had a “poor dad” mentality. For one thing, I did not know the difference between consuming and investing. If money went out, it was just gone. I spent on what I “needed”, but never thought about a return.
I also found that I had many internal conversations about not having enough money to invest. I thought that meant that I had to “save” money and then “someday” invest. Investing was all about money and nothing else.
What I did not understand at the time was that investing is a way of life. It is not just about cash, but also about energy. It is about getting more value from the energy you invest in something, whether it is sweat equity, a marriage, or a job.
Investing is an attitude. It is about putting energy into something and expecting something of value to come back to you. In the event of cash, it would mean that you put $1 in and get $1.50 out.
However, if it is not cash, how can you expect “value” back? What does a return on investment (ROI) on your heart, your work, or your well-being look like? The good news and the bad news is you get to create the value that you want. There is no pre-existing standard for that type of ROI, so it is really up to you.
Let’s look at an example.
When I was homeschooling my children and staying home most days, I was extremely content with almost no money. I put a lot of energy into it, a lot of thought, and a ton of elbow grease. I worked every day for years to give them a stay-at-home, single mom that provided them a great education, a lot of exercise, and organic fresh food.
What is my ROI? I have 4 strong, independent, college kids who have a deep respect for their bodies and the earth they live in. I was genuinely happy scraping by because I was fulfilling a deep-seated commitment that was authentically important to me, and would have been extremely damaging to my family for me to not fulfill.
Now they are grown and I am working on a different “investment”.
From what I learned from Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I started buying property and now have 10 income properties (starting from scratch), and have 4 full time employees. That was a monetary ROI, but for the first 4 years of being in business it was extremely hard work and almost no cash out. We were buying property and fixing them up for rentals, so a lot of cash out (all borrowed) and then refinancing the property at these great interest rates to pay off all the debt. Then do it again.
The years when it was a lot of work and very little income were stressful, but again, we had to hold on to the dream of passive income in the future… that made the “investment”of stress and tons of sweat equity worth it.
At any time during those stressful years I could have decided that it was not worth it. That it was too hard, or too much “investment”for the pay out in the future. But because we held on to our dream we now have a very comfortable income for the rest of our lives. In 6 years!
Now, I am committed another dream. I dream of helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. What’s the ROI going to be? You tell me!