Invest time, before you invest money

[Spoiler Alert] This blog post is not about how to best invest your money. Not even a little bit. For one, I know 0.004% about financial investments. And secondly, I find the topic dreadfully boring. If you want to read about personal investments, go find another blog. Hint: it will probably be written by a boring, balding dude. But if you want to read about guitar lessons, cycling and me in a bikini – see below.

My daughter and I were at the magical indoor water park (wave pool, four slides, boo-yah) near our house when it occurred to me: I can swim!

Of course, I already knew I can swim. I took swimming lessons when I was a little girl, and I love the water. What dawned on me is that I can swim for exercise.

At my most physically fit (read: size 4), I worked-out seven days a week and played roller derby. But a few years ago, I got bored of my routine (yes, anything – even roller derby – can become monotonous), and I’ve since become an Internet-surfing slug. Although I’m no longer aspiring to be a size 4 –which for me is extremely arduous – I do want the mental and physical health benefits of activity. Size 8 will do just fine, thank you very much.

Luckily, there’s a pool at my workplace and I decided to try it out last week. I donned my beach ready bikini (a white little number with a pink and green hibiscus pattern) and slipped into the salt-water pool. I did 24 whole laps, and I loved it.

But do I love it enough to spend money?

Photo: Heather Setka

My partner is an dedicated cyclist, and he has this joke: “How many bikes equals enough?” Punchline: “What you have plus one.” He recently bought a bike (through a layaway payment plan) to the tune of $5,000. It’s his dream bike. He even wrote me a letter about the full circle moment when he took this bike home. (I’d like to think it was a love letter to me. But, in truth, it was a love letter to his bicycle.) He now owns six bikes. That sounds like gluttony to me, but he’s also earned it.

How?

Well, he’s been cycling seriously since he was a teenager, and he’s on his bike every spare moment he can manage – whether it’s to ride to work or ride from Calgary to Thunder Bay (yes, he did that).

One of his greatest frustrations is when someone decides that he or she is going to make cycling a new hobby, and then subsequently purchase a top-end bike along with all the Lance Armstrong-inspired gear.

We were raised with similar values, and I understand his frustration. I learned early that you “earn” an interest with time, before you invest money in it.

As I was a kid, I cajoled my parents into letting me play guitar. When they finally said yes, there was  a condition. I had to try it out first. We borrowed a rickety squawkbox from my cousin, and I played it like it was a Takamine semi-acoustic. And then – after many months of practice under the watchful eye of a nun named Sister Hilda who fed me no less than eight cookies during each lesson – there was a guitar waiting for me one day when I got home from school. It was an acoustic Yahama from the Sears catalogue. I was elated.

I still have that now 25-year-old guitar. It remains one of my most valuable possessions.

My point: I won’t be rushing out to buy a $200 Olympian-endorsed swimsuit, swim goggles, and a nose plugs, or investing in a full-body wax any time soon.

Do I feel like a dork doing laps in my lounging bikini?

Yes.

Do I vehemently believe that you should feel like a dork at something for at least a few months before you drop a whole wad of cash on it?

Absolutely.

~HS

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