Investment versus Spending

In Wise Eyes on November 21, 2008 at 7:39 am

Lindsay and I are on a trip for our first anniversary to California’s Central coast.  We are staying in the small town of Cambria, just south of Hearst Castle.  So far, I have been thinking about investments and wealth, living richly.  Strangely enough these thoughts began with my teeth.

Yesterday, I felt pain in my lower row of teeth, which have been pushing against the upper row.  I had an orthodontic evaluation in July about the shifting teeth.  Because I have had braces in the past, I was bummed to learn that my teeth were still shifting on ‘living tissue’.  I tend to look at making difficult decisions as an inconvenience, rather than a natural progression of living.

“So, how much is orthodontic treatment going to set us back?” I thought.  I notice that I was already orienting myself toward the expense as ‘spending’ rather than ‘investing’.  As you might have guessed it was a pretty penny, considering some of the other ways Lindsay and I are invested right now (grad school, writing a book, working part time, etc.)

So, to find out that my teeth were still bothering me was a reminder that I needed to take action (things will not get better on their own).  As Lindsay and I sat down at a Mexican Restaurant last night we discussed our options.  The way I saw it, we had three options: 1) do nothing and the teeth may get worse, 2) get passive retainers to prevent any further movement, & 3) get orthodontic treatment and count the cost for the time being.

As we discussed these options, I was reminded of Lindsay’s desire for Laser Eye Surgery.  Even though Lindsay qualifies braces as more imperative, I see both treatments as equally superficial in their effects.  That is, both are desires, but not absolutely necessary.  Lindsay is such a good partner to have these conversations with.  We really balance each other out in our spending habits.

Regardless of which action we take, I decided last night that ‘worrying’ about it was not the proper course of action.  This morning, I took off on a jog up down to the shoreline.  Eventually, some rocks on an outcropping steered me back to Highway One for even terrain.  As I ran, I prayed about our first year of marriage and the year to follow.   I was considering my current decision to step out in writing.  I was thinking about this next year in terms of investment.  Thinking of the time I would spend studying as an investment into our future.  It may not give immediate returns, but it will prepare us for a future worth having.  I thought about the braces and the eye surgery and I thought about the current funds that we have.

As I prayed, God challenged me to think of this next year in terms of investing in our future.  In that way, braces invest in care of my teeth, which I will use the rest of my life.  Eye surgery cares for Lindsay’s eyes, which she will use for the rest of her life.  Stepping out in my career will pay dividends that I will use for the rest of my life.  In those terms, I sensed a call to deeper faith, that trusts in God to provide in the future, whether for a house or for children.

Lindsay seemed to think that we each conceive of our money differently.  Lindsay sees me as more concerned about whether we will have enough in the future.  Whereas, Lindsay is more concerned with not ‘living beyond our means’.  For instance, why by the flashiest car, when the less expensive one will be equally practical and comfortable; both will depreciate in value.  However, this does not include giving up one thing to gain another (I.e. Selling her car, letting her use my car, to have braces and laser eye surgery).  So, when we decide to invest, we have to consider what we are willing to give up.  We are both willing to give up having two cars for a time, in order to fund braces and eye surgery.  After our conversations, I am convinced about seeing this next year in terms of investment and trusting that God has provided and will continue to provide for us in the future.

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