More Than Money: Things You Have to Invest

Any discussion about investing tends to focus on money.

How much do you have?

How much can you earn?

How much can you invest?

Art12_ThingstoInvest - carl richards

In the process, we overlook what I think of as our human capital: time, skill, and energy.

We need to manage and invest this human capital, too, if we want to reach our goals.

To start, we think about money in units (e.g., dollars, cents).

Apply the same logic to human capital.

Every day, we start with so many units of time, energy, and skill

Every day, we weigh our available units and make decisions.

One of the most common exchanges involves time and money.

Our capital needs will vary each day, and some days, we’ll have plenty of resources in all four areas.

At other times, however, our needs and wants will seem to dwarf the capital we have available.

We’ll have to pick and choose.

Too often, particularly when it comes to money, we overlook the potential, long-term consequences.

We tell ourselves that if we have enough money, we’ll make up the difference in the other areas later.

But later is often too late and we lose out on the very things we said were most important to us about money, like time spent with family.

Forty years ago, Harry Chapin released the song “Cats in the Cradle.” It continues to resonate because we still struggle to get the exchange right.

My child arrived just the other day

He came to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch and bills to pay

He learned to walk while I was away

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day

I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”

He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time

You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu

But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad”

Money by itself isn’t enough.

We need a healthy mix of time, energy, and skill to keep us focused on what we’ve said matters most to us.

How will you invest your human capital?

This column originally appeared at the New York TimesCarl Richards blogs are also published weekly in Property Update – Subscribe to my daily updates by clicking here to receive them. 

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Carl Richards


Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at

'More Than Money: Things You Have to Invest' have 1 comment

  1. May 28, 2015 @ 7:04 am peter vella

    Great Song,
    Great point ,well thought….


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