My maternal grandmother, Luetta Violet Oney Shepherd, always said, "Don't cheat on your underwear."
Now before you interpret that as being something highly inappropriate, what she meant was, "You might get hit by a truck walking home, and you don't want medical professionals thinking you are poor because your underwear is cheap or worn."
As with underwear, which needs to be quality and durable because you wear it every day, you get what you pay for. And sometimes things are worth a little more investment. Others aren't worth the time it takes to think about them.
We really need to stop having such a myopic view of our expenditures.
Walmart sells you that 12 oz. can of soda for only 35 cents. Such a bargain. But the 12 teaspoons of sugar in that little can of fizzy joy could contribute to erratic blood sugar levels. In the long run, is it really a bargain?
That six bedroom, three bath home in the burbs is your dream come true. Until you find yourself laid off and unable to pay the mortgage, much less the taxes. Would something less grand serve you just as well and make less of a dent in your resources? Or could you shorten the term from, say, 40-years to 15-years and cut thousands of dollars off your total cost at the addition of a small increase in monthly payments?
Putting a large purchase on a credit card might be a necessity. If not, what will it cost you in the long run? Especially with today's interest rates. And if you bounce a check that $2.99 video rental could cost you $32.99.
The same concept works in reverse. Taking a 10 cent tomato seed, two minutes of digging and planting, a few additional minutes each week to weed and water, and reaping a dozen big juicy tomatoes which would be about three weeks old, sprayed with who knows what and cost you around $10 at the supermarket. This is a good long-term investment.
Spending 30 quality minutes with your spouse and children at dinner each night discussing the day, and then another few minutes individually at bed time saying prayers and having an open dialogue may take you away from some work-related task or phone call. But what familial rewards will you reap? This is a superior long-term investment.
There are always risks involved in our investments. Like spending $100,000 on your education and then not being able to find a job right away. But weighing it out, in the end, an excellent job will probably be found to support you and your family. Probably a very good venture. But could it be trimmed down with core classes being taken at a good community college? Will you get the same quality of instruction? Worth taking the time to figure out.
How do we determine what is a worthwhile investment?
Take the time to actually think about the long-term effects of your decision. This valuable practice will preclude you from making impulse decisions and purchases.
Ask the hard question
How will this action affect me today? Next week? Next year? In 10 years? Of course, some things will benefit you greatly and still not be around in 10 years, such as growing your food. But the effects of home-grown on your health, family, and budget are long term.
Think eternally and globally
How does this impact my salvation and that of my family? How does it impact my community and the world at large? Consider whether the investment, whether financial or time, takes you away from what's really important: family and faith? We've seen the repercussions of careless use of things that deplete our resources for immediate gratification. Landfills are full of "junk" that was something we HAD to have last year.
How will I feel about this tomorrow morning?
That's a real acid test. Will you have remorse over this? Or will you feel pretty good and at peace because it is a righteous purchase or endeavor?
When in doubt, pray
While our view of things is like looking through a knot hole in a fence, God's view is eternal. He knows the before, the after and all the in-betweens. Once you've studied it out pray for confirmation that your decision is correct.
Even the small decisions can have powerful results, either for the good or for the bad. Many of these things we won't actually see the results for many years. You have to figure out the bottom line. That's why taking your time and really working through them is so important. Invest in the process, follow the steps above and make the solid choices.