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Investing: A Sure Fire Investment

Nov 30, 2007
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, now is the time to start considering end-of-year returns. It is also time to analyze our investments and decide if changes need to be made. Here is one sure-fire investment that you need to consider as you evaluate your portfolio and calculate your wealth.

The returns of the market indexes are an important yardstick when measuring the performance of your portfolio. But there is another measure of return that is harder to define but vastly more important. It's the measure of your wealth.

Wealth is a term defined by Madison Avenue as having it all: the luxury car, vacation home, fine furniture, etc. Wall Street defines wealth as being a multi-millionaire with a private helicopter and a Park Avenue address.

There's a different definition of wealth that helps us focus on what is truly important in life. It affects us all, regardless of the size of our bank account. The Bible defines wealth as simply having more than you need. Based on this definition, if you've got leftovers in the refrigerator, you're wealthy!

Our founding fathers understood this definition well. Just look at the very first Thanksgiving held nearly 400 years ago. The Pilgrims had fled to the shores of this unsettled land to escape persecution and find the freedom to worship God as they saw fit. Their first year was extremely difficult. Disease wiped out over half of the original settlers. It's hard to imagine the emotional and physical challenges they faced daily.

Yet as they gathered their hard-won harvest in the fall of that first year, they took the time to give thanks to their Creator. I'm not sure I could be so thankful if I were in their situation. But they knew that even in the face of hardship and grief, they were blessed. They had more than they needed.

The Pilgrims aren't the only ones who have led thankful lives. More recent generations have struggled through hardship of their own, including two world wars and the Great Depression. People living in those times knew what it was like to do without. Yet they were thankful for living in the greatest country on earth.

How times have changed! The only reason we miss a meal nowadays is because we're on a diet. Many buy new clothes just to have the latest color or style. The national savings rate is at an all-time low and spending is up.

What lessons can we learn from our founding fathers and our grandfathers that will help us achieve a better balance in our own lives?

First, we have to stop defining wealth by our quantity of material possessions. It's an old saying, but there are many things that money can't buy: love, health, family, and friends. When is the last time you measured the value of those kinds of assets?

Second, we need to refocus our investments. I don't mean investments of money, of course, but investments of ourselves: our time, our attention, our love.

I've been doing just that. Last year, I made the decision to give up my nice office in town and start working from home. This wasn't done for financial reasons, but from an inner conviction that I needed to spend more quality time with my wife and children.

I also believe it's important that children know and learn from their grandparents. With access to airplanes, telephones, emails, and even video, the only thing that separates us is our priorities.

Grandparents have a unique opportunity, and a solemn responsibility, to pass on a lasting heritage to their grandchildren. Family traditions, a strong moral base and wisdom gained from life lessons are all far more valuable than a college savings account.

All of us need a little reminder every now and then to not let the urgent activities of life overshadow the important ones. What better time than Thanksgiving to pause and reflect on our many blessings, while also looking ahead at how we can live more meaningful lives.

It's never too late to invest yourself in those you love. The benefits will last a lifetime. If you're looking for a sure-fire investment, look no further than family and friends. I can guarantee that the returns on your investment in their lives will far exceed those of the best-ranked mutual fund!
About the Author
Nationally-syndicated financial columnist and Certified Financial Planner Jeffrey Voudrie provides personal, in-depth money management services and advice to select private clients throughout the USA. He will answer your financial question FREE at http://www.guardingyourwealth.net
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