Top 10 Non-Financial Investments

Top 10 Non-Financial Investments

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John Ndege and I talked recently about non-financial investments and came up with a list of the top five things we’d recommend people invest in. Although Maven Adviser is mainly concerned with personal investments and finance, there’s way more to it than that. You can’t focus on money in isolation, without thinking about what else is important in life.

John said that money exists to help you get what you want out of life, it’s not about earning a certain amount and doing nothing – you should use it to do good. Money is not the only thing you can invest in and grow to help you achieve that, so there are other non-financial investments to focus on, which can give you a good return, so you can look back on your life and feel you’ve had a good time.

We agreed that it’s about where you concentrate your time and focus to achieve purpose in your life. We all have the same hours and minutes in the day, so it’s about how we prioritise these. When people say, “I don’t have time” the real issue is that they’re choosing to prioritise some things above others.

What we Chose

When John and I have done similar discussions, we didn’t confer on our answers before we shared them live, so our choices were a surprise to the other. This time, we clarified that we didn’t have any overlaps, so we could provide as much value as possible.

What Didn’t Make the Top Five Lists

One of John’s tips is to get a cleaner for your house: “It’s controversial, but a lot of arguments and time used is around tidying the home, which is not always the best use of time. While you don’t make money back, it gives you more time to do things that are more important to you”.

John also recommended purchasing a magazine subscription: choose one that covers a topic you’d like to learn more about or an area of your life you’d like to improve, and use it as inspiration.

For music fans, you can’t go wrong with Alexa, the home music system, which helps me find new music that I might not discover otherwise. I’d also recommend a good bed! Maybe it’s something that matters more as you get older, but a proper night’s sleep with good quality pillows and bedding make a real difference.

I’d also suggest paying attention to the food you choose to eat: I think it’s important to be clear that ‘diet’ means the food we consume, rather than the act of trying to lose weight - we’re all on a diet! Choosing good food creates a domino effect, as it helps you to function and sleep better.

Finally, consider having a dog, because there are multiple benefits to owning a pet. Dogs are great fun to have around, but they also create a domino effect: they force you to walk a lot, which is good for your physical health, and because you’re out so much you become an avid podcast listener, so you’re learning new things all the time.

I also asked my wife, Caroline, for her input, and she highlighted a dishwasher and a handbag – both interesting choices. John agreed that a dishwasher is a great choice: “For a fairly small investment, you can get rid of annoyances in your life”.

Andy’s Top Five Non-Financial Investments

5. Technology: I know that’s quite wide, but what I mean is that you should invest in good technology that works and you know how to use it. We all spend 40 hours a week glued to screens and we’re all in the technology business, even if we earn our money in different ways.

Today, people need to have a good grasp of reading, writing, arithmetic and TECHNOLOGY, because tech is the fabric of our lives - it’s not going away. And yet people carry it around like a badge of honour, and say “Oh I’m not very good with technology”. You’d never say “Oh, I just can’t add up”, would you?!

Being able to use technology properly then leads to increases in productivity and efficiency, because it helps you build your business and free up more time. And make sure you have a great laptop – this is your tool to do more with technology.

4. Personal Development: There are many ways to improve yourself, including books and podcasts in this. I’m an avid fan of lifelong learning, and I think it’s important to learn from mistakes - they don’t have to be your own.

I personally flick between business, marketing and finance podcasts, anything with a narrative style. I’m not good with reading fiction, but enjoy stories and narrative. It helps you concentrate on your skill set and helps you find a purpose, so you can learn new skills.

This is a lot of investment of time and purpose, and learning is like a muscle - you need to work at it. Implementation is key, because too many people consume everything but implement nothing. You HAVE to act, no matter how daunting it seems, because creating and changing is necessary.

3. Physical and mental wellbeing: I believe that these go hand in hand, although I’m specifically focussing on the physical side. I’m lucky that I’ve always been pretty active, and often try new things.

I used to play a lot of rugby with my two older brothers, but at the moment I spend time at the gym and play tennis a couple of times a week. I do it because I want to be in flow – I want to forget about everything else and just focus on the moment.

A one-hour boxing class, for example, is a good way to do this, because you’re concentrating on not getting hit in the face instead of thinking about life.

It also has a domino effect, because you sleep better, and exercise helps you get up early to go to the gym again and it also helps you develop healthier eating habits. John feels that it’s not just about losing weight, it’s a way of life, and you don’t feel as good if you don’t do it.

2. Life Network: This means the accumulation of everyone you know in your life. The longer you’re in a role or industry, the more people you’ll get to know. I feel fortunate that the financial advice community is open and welcoming, and I find myself getting closer to people as I get to know them better.

Meeting new people is also important, even if they’re in a different industry. For instance, I went to the launch of a magazine, ‘Second Home’, in Brick Lane, and I didn’t know anyone. It’s good to go to events on your own, because it forces you out of your comfort zone.

I ended up spending time with a guy who’s developed a fashion brand, who told me all about creating demand and developing waiting lists, and had a great conversation. Going out to events and meeting people is a good analogy for creating luck – “luck is like a bus, you have to put yourself in front of it.” You have to go out and try things for the first time, make yourself vulnerable and meet new people.

1.Life partner: The only tip John and I had in common. Life is so long, and every person changes so much throughout their life. The idea is that you find ‘the one’, but you may find that your paths heading in different directions, and that person isn’t the one forever.

Each partner in a relationship will find that their life develops, and it’s important that they stay aligned with each other, not go in different directions. You spend most of your time with them – you share all of your ideas and dreams with one person, so you need to have their full support.

Relationships are very hard, because you spend many years together, and you both need to constantly make an effort. Long-term relationships especially need this, as your mindset changes and experiences shape the person you become.

The differences between you can also be positives, because variety is good. Relationships, like everything else, have to be worked at. There’s no such thing as a shortcut or an easy ride, but it’s all fulfilling in the end. 

John’s Top Five Non-Financial Investments

5. Books: If you’ve come across John before, you won’t be surprised to see that he chose books as his first recommendation. He explained: “I believe that buying books is a fantastic use of resources, because it’s about mastering the best of what other people have figured out, so you make fewer mistakes.

And this includes fiction too, because it can broaden your mind and take you to another world. You can take a book anywhere and you get an instant experience of something new.”

4. Mental Health: Investing in your mental health is critical to living a fulfilling life and being happy on a day to day basis. For John, he believes that good mental health is about having purpose, so he always gives himself a goal. “Don’t just survive without a purpose for what you’re doing, because that’s how you go off track.”

John said that perspective is important and recognising how fortunate you are compared to a lot of people, as is not thinking too much about yourself. Think about your family and friends, rather than being wrapped up in your own business and being too much in your head.

He also thinks it’s important to have something to look forward to, whether that’s dinner with friends, a holiday or a work task. All of these will have a positive effect on your mental health.

3. Holidays: Originally, John’s number three was holidays, but he changed it during our conversation to new things you haven’t tried before. He highlighted that it's not about relaxation (although that's important), it's about creating lasting memories to carry through your life.

A lot of people create these when they’re on holiday, because it’s different to what they usually do, and includes trying something for the first time. New activities are a great investment, no matter what they are.

Doing this is a way to stretch yourself and get out of your rut. To satisfy yourself, you want some predictability in life, but you also need an element of the unknown, an adventure, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

2. Attending Conferences: Maybe this is a subset of building relationships, but going to conferences is always a great experience, no matter what the subject. Most of us are knowledge workers and spend a lot of time on our own.

Conferences help you meet people in related fields and allow you to take the pulse of your industry, making new friends and educating yourself. Building a network is important, but it’s more about making connections. When you’re in a room full of people who care about the same things that you do, it’s special. There’s an energy and you feel part of something.

1. Life Partner: They are the person who has the biggest impact on what you think about yourself and what you get out of life. It seems obvious, but I think it’s important to talk about it.

It could be considered selfish, but people need to be aware that their life partner has an impact on their mental image. A great partner can elevate you, a bad partner can tear you down. They influence what you do with your life, in all different areas, so it’s essential that they can support you to get what you want out of life.

John went on to say: “It’s critical that you find someone who shares your values, and I think that sadly, there are a lot of people who pick a life partner without thinking deeply about it, and end up choosing the wrong person”.

There are things to be aware of when you’re choosing someone to spend your life with, that people often overlook. Shared values are the most important to John: If you have those in common, the relationship is more likely to persist. From his own experience, his wife pushes him to improve, develop himself and do different things, and he feels that’s vital.

Once you have a child, your life partner becomes even more significant. John has recently become a father, and he said that you’re then responsible for someone else, and you want your child to grow up to be happy and fulfilled, and a lot of that is dependent on your partner. You need to see eye to eye on how to raise the child.

More about John

If you want to get in touch with John, you can visit his website or on Twitter @JohnNdege. Pocket Risk is a company that focuses on financial advisers and provides them with tools to improve the services with their end clients, and has customers all over the world.