Money Will Not Save You: Diversifying a ‘Life Portfolio’ for a Happy Ending?

In the relentless pursuit of financial independence, we often forget that money is just one piece of the puzzle. Everything can become about your net worth, your spending, your accumulation or withdrawal plan. However, money will not save you.

If the world descends into chaos, natural disaster strikes or you have a personal catastrophe, money may well be useless. Not that you should go all ‘prepper’ and start outfitting a bunker…but overemphasis on money can lead to neglecting other, equally valuable resources.

A diversified portfolio of assets is what we need to achieve the real goal…a happy ending.

Building a Diversified Life Portfolio

I’ve been building my financial portfolio for over a decade and recently flexed my financial success to quit my job. The plan was to use my time diversifying my ‘Life Portfolio’.

Health, resilience, relationships and contribution were the areas I decided were the most important non-financial assets on which to focus.

Why? To live and die well. Here’s how it went.

Health: The Foundation of Everything

We all know that without health, we really have nothing. When it comes to health, there are many different facets to consider; physical, mental, and emotional well-being, regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices.

It is a mysterious and complex balancing act that I have yet to nail. If I’m sleeping enough, its because I’m sleeping through my 6 am spin class. If I’m exercising a lot, I can’t resist the urge to get the greasy fries and chase them with a beer.

During my year off, I set a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. The literature seems to ubiquitously agree walking is good for you, and it seemed easy to track. Walking is something I already liked to do. It gets me outside, away from screens and always makes me feel better.

With the help of a free step tracker app on my phone, I’ve been pretty successful. The gamification of it helps me to do it. I purposely picked where to live based on walkability, so my environment made it easier to accomplish, as well. I didn’t make my goal every day, but I definitely felt it was a worthwhile, healthy daily habit.

I thought once I was free of work, some other healthy habits would just ‘naturally’ come into being. Miraculously, I was going to be jumping out of bed to calisthenics, follow it with a green juice before I sat down to meditate for hours.

That did not happen. My little experiment failed. I still had the same old health habits as when I was gainfully employed. I knew better, and I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes at me right now, too.

I’m going to revisit my favorite book on habit building, James Clear’s Atomic Habits . It’s time to really assess what I want, be intentional, and create new systems around health. Let’s hope I can nuke some habits!

Relationships: Building Social Capital

A major focus for me during my time off has been trying to build, strengthen, and maintain relationships in my life. Relationships are essential for a fulfilling life. Investing time and effort in building meaningful relationships is, however, hard work.

Top of the priority list was to reconnect with an old friend who I had fallen out with, but missed dearly. It was very scary reaching out. There were some challenging conversations, having to hear difficult things and self-reflect. But it turned out to be well worth the effort, the relationship is on the mend.

I took other measures to invest in community building. I organized activities, invited old friends, acquaintances, close friends. I tried to have one-on-one quality conversations, as well. I accepted every invitation offered, pushed myself to talk to people I didn’t know.

Some people were very receptive of my overtures, appreciative of the thought and attention. Some people moved from acquaintance to actual friend. Reconnecting with old friends added a sense of continuity to my life. Feeling closer and more connected to more people is extremely satisfying, and well worth the effort!

However, it wasn’t universally successful. Despite my efforts, I found it challenging to deepen my connections with certain individuals I had hoped to grow closer to. For some, maintaining a superficial rapport seemed to be the comfortable status quo. Others, I realized, were simply dealing with their own limitations in terms of the time and energy available for meaningful connections.

My plan is to take the What About Bob approach. Love that movie! He thinks of trying to connect with people like calling on the phone. If they don’t answer the first time, hang up and and try again.

I won’t stop trying to connect and build my community. In the meantime, I feel less guilty about not being closer to some people because of lack of trying on my part!

Resilience: The Ultimate Insurance Policy

Resilience is a complex concept. I like to think of it like a Swiss Army knife of coping skills that you carry around with you. The aim is to wield the perfect tool for McGyvering your way out of life’s stickiest situations.

A good way to build resilience is to get outside of your comfort zone. In my year off from work, I got rid of almost everything I own and moved to Mexico. Waaaaaay outside my comfort zone.

I definitely had lots of opportunity to practice being flexible, adaptable, problem solve. I laughed off many a stressful and awkward situation. I optimistically threw myself into the unknown. Some days, I crushed it, and my self-esteem was through the roof. I felt like I could handle anything!

Some days I would hit a limit, and just want my old life back. Just give me some Trader Joe’s mac and cheese, my comfy mattress and some garbage TV in English!

There was one particular circumstance that stressed me out to my max. I won’t go into it, as it deserves its own article. So, I did what any one would do….I called my mommy.

After whining, laying out my argument as to why this situation was going to completely up-end all my plans, ruin my whole life, blah, blah, blah my mom said, “Well, you wanted adventure, didn’t you?”

Oooooouch. Cut right through all my BS and I had to take my medicine. I had to lean into what I wanted, unexpected life changes! Once I stopped fighting the change, I could start to wrap my mind around solutions. And guess what, it all turned out great!

Contribution: Soul Food

Volunteering not only benefits others but also brings a sense of purpose and fulfillment that paid activity doesn’t often provide. Giving time and energy to a cause close to your heart is a great way to enrich your soul.

As an ardent animal lover, I chose to volunteer at animal rescue during my time in Mexico. Two days a week, for about six hours a day, I was on poop duty; picking up poop, washing poop off of things. I also got to give very welcomed pets and treats, and be entertained with their animal antics.

The experience was nothing short of an emotional roller-coaster. Alongside fellow volunteers, I witnessed animals finding better homes, while also coming face-to-face with distressing situations. The camaraderie, stark realities, and moments of grace left an indelible impact on me.

No altruism here, I definitely got more than I gave, by any measure.

The End

In the pursuit of financial independence, it’s easy to forget that money is just one aspect of a truly diversified life portfolio. While financial wealth is crucial, investing in health, relationships, personal resilience and giving back, are equally important. Achieving a balanced portfolio across these diverse assets requires conscious effort.

Why put in all this effort? The truth is, we all have an expiration date, a day shrouded in uncertainty. We do our best to ignore, avoid, minimize our fears around this fact. Yet, until that inevitable day arrives, we have the opportunity to truly live.

For money nerds, like me, it’s easy to focus on something concrete, measurable, like money. But money will not hold your hand on your death bed. Memories of times you looked at your bank balance are not going to bring a smile to your face as your life slips away.

Using my financial resources to take time off from work to focus on these other areas of life was challenging, at times exhausting and discouraging. Many times I thought it would have been easier to have stayed employed and watch the bank account grow.

Nonetheless, this endeavor has proven to be profoundly worthwhile, and it’s just the beginning of my investment journey. I firmly believe the time and energy I’ve invested will not only extend the quality and duration of my life but also make facing my inevitable end more bearable.

So how’s your Life Portfolio?

Master Your Money, Live a Truly Prosperous Life!

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