One of the things that prevents textbook financial planning from offering the greatest benefits to wealth management clients and do-it-yourselfers is that the not-so-mighty dollar is just one of several scarce resources at our disposal.
When viewed only through a singular lens, and regardless of remaining resources, money simply does less good. But when all of one’s scarce resources are considered and activated, they can offer a synergistic effect that helps connect and amplify the benefits of each. And because personal finance is more personal than finance, good planning pays attention to all of these resources, or “assets,” whether they can be counted or not.
You may be surprised to learn that a useful way to remember these resources is a handy acronym, TIMER. That’s because each of us is in possession of or receives some amount of each of the following:
Let’s look at each resource individually and then consider how best to allocate and ultimately multiply them.
I’m glad this one comes up first with this memorable moniker, because it’s arguably the rarest of all our meager resources. Unlike influence, which expands and contracts and can also be aggravated through the influence of others (can you say “retweet”?); unlike money, of which more is printed every day and can be multiplied through investments; unlike energy, which we always seem to be able to muster a bit more of; And unlike relationships, which can be mended in even the most seemingly irreparable ways; time is something that is only spent once and never recovered.
That’s why countless methods and applications and entire books, like Laura Vanderkam’s “168 hours: you have more time than you think”, have deservedly devoted themselves to the topic of time management.
By the way, this is one of the reasons why this financial planner has devoted as much time to my personal activities as to my writing. For more information on this topic, consider the following:
With the advent of a 24-hour news cycle, blogging, vlogging, and social media, we might think we’re in the golden age of influencer. But how are we, how are you, exerting your influence? For the good and benefit of others? Or sarcasm and self-promotion?
Or maybe you haven’t even considered the impact of your influence. If so, I encourage you to contemplate who in your life currently has, or would like to have, influence.
Also, whose influence have you invited into your own life? Jim Rohn famously said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and in his book, the compound effectDarren Hardy writes: “According to research by Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McClelland, [the people you habitually associate with] determine up to 95 percent of your success or failure in life.
And those are just the humans we spend time with! What about the influences we invite into our heads and lives, virtually and otherwise? The books we read, the TV we watch, and the social media accounts we follow? Drift CEO David Cancel gives us a challenge in Inc..: “Think about how you want your reality to be. Audit your social media accounts. And keep in mind who you follow, not just in real life, but online as well.”
Consider, therefore, that your potential for influence may necessarily be limited or boosted by the influences of others.
- Here is a short video of The art of improving about the influence that I think could positively influence you.
My main focus in this post is on the non-financial resources at our disposal, but considering the overabundance of talk about money and the deification and demonization of the dollar itself, I will offer what I hope is a clarifying definition:
Money is nothing more than a neutral tool to use for better or for worse, to spend well or badly, to pursue the most important thing in your life. In today’s economy, it literally has no value other than what is attached to it. It is a means, and it may be excellent, but it is not an end.
This is an especially fascinating resource to consider, perhaps because it is one for which we can trade resources of time and money. For example, if you spend an extra hour this day getting more sleep, chances are good that you will increase your energy in all your waking hours tomorrow. If you spend an extra hour exercising, you’ll probably sleep better tonight and have more energy tomorrow. And if you spend some extra money on healthier foods, again, more energy.
So the question is: How will we spend our energy?
I can remember receiving a revelation when my children, now 19 and 17, were toddlers: Not only did I spend virtually every hour of the day at work (or commuting), but I also spent the best of my energy over there. When I got home, I only had leftover energy to offer my family, the people I said were the most important in my life.
I’m happy to say that I (mostly) paid attention to that particular conviction and the joy I’ve received in return is immeasurable. So my questions to you are:
- How are you spending your energy?
- How can you spend it better?
- How will you increase your energy, through better sleep, diet, exercise, meditation, etc.?
You’ve probably seen that relationships are one resource woven into the rest. We spend our time, money and energy in relationships through which we influence and are influenced. But here, I want to think about relationships as a resource in and of themselves. Could the ultimate ends rather than the means be represented by the other four resources?
Harvard Business School professor Dr. Arthur Brooks thinks so. At a recent conference he attended, he offered a four-part “habit portfolio” or “happiness 401(k)”:
- Faith, or a philosophy that offers us perspective
- Meaningful work that offers an opportunity to serve others.
You see, each of these four components in Brooks’ “Happiness 401(k)” is essentially about relationships. And in fact, each of the four TIMER resources above is essentially facilitating the last one. Perhaps, therefore, we are making the most of those resources when we allow our time, influence, money and energy to be invested in and for those relationships that we consider most important.