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Life Dividends

The other week when I announced I was back to writing on the blog, I talked about wanting to write about a new topic: Life Dividends.

So what are Life Dividends anyway?

Life Dividends are the skills, habits, and hacks you learn and apply to your life.  These actions provide benefits both in the moment as well as continued benefits in the future.

They are the 15 minutes of reading you do before bed.

The extra payment you make towards debt.

Even your morning walk you take to begin the day.

Every action we do each day plays a role in our overall happiness and fulfillment in life.  For some actions, the effect is minimal. Others, however, play a much bigger role – such as figuring out ways to help cope with stress or improving your health and fitness.

Much like financial dividends, investing in only one Life Dividend skill, habit or hack isn’t going to magically create a remarkable life. But over time, as you begin to switch more and more your monthly, daily, or even hourly actions to more productive Life Dividends, the benefits begin to compound and you will begin to see a positive change in your life.

The thing most interesting about them? They can be both financial and non-financial in nature. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

Sometimes Life Dividends are financial…

I first started thinking about Life Dividends when my wife was pregnant with our daughter. I always wanted to be a good father but once the reality set in that I was actually going to become one that I realized I needed to begin preparing myself to achieve it.

I didn’t want to be the father who always worked long hours, sacrificing time with my family. I lived in that world growing up as my parents struggled to find the balance between providing for and spending time with the family. I didn’t want to endure the stress of trying and failing to find the balance between my work and family life.

So we made a change to our financial life to help prevent it from happening: We made extra payments on our student loans.

And you know what happened? Those extra payments led to us paying off our student loans in less than 5 years (with over $36k coming in the last 18 months).

What started as a little action (an extra $100 towards our debt) snowballed into much bigger results – results that helped us feel financially secure when our daughter was born and helping relieve financial stress from our life.

 

Sometimes they are not…

While the first Life Dividend I experienced had a financial theme to it, Life Dividends do not have to be financial. In fact, you may discover that a majority of them aren’t related to your finances at all (at least not directly).

I have shared in the past that I often battle stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, triggers can range from something as simple as needing to make a phone call or having a lot of work assigned to me in a short timeframe. While it has approved throughout the years, it still affects me on a weekly basis.

After listening to many podcasts, I realized that meditation might help me slow down and control my anxiety and stress a bit more. It might be able to bring a little more happiness in my life.

So I gave it a try. I started meditating using apps like Headspace and Calm.  I would wake up in the morning and sit down and dedicate a little bit of my morning to focusing on myself.

While this is still a work in progress, I’ve discovered that it helps. On days where I take the time to meditate at least 10 minutes in the morning, I find myself more willing to let things go and not let stress and anxiety overtake me.  Does it always work? No – but it does bring me a little more happiness and calm during the day and that is all I need to get the snowball moving.

Takeaway

While we normally think of dividends in a financial sense, Life Dividends don’t need to be financial. Life Dividends are those little actions we take to try and make life just a little bit better; a little bit happier. They can range from paying down debt to reading 15 minutes every night. Whatever they are, developing these skills, habits, or hacks can help you create a remarkable life.

Over the next few months, I will be focusing on different Life Dividends and running experiments with them in my life. The goal is to make life more enjoyable as we push our way towards financial independence. It takes a lot in life than just investments to successfully complete the journey to financial independence and Life Dividends can be the key to helping us get there.

Do you have any Life Dividends in your life? How have little actions led to big results in your journey towards financial independence and your remarkable life?

13 Comments

  1. I have not tought of some action as life dividends but you are right, they are the non financial dividends in our life. My life dividenda would be having time with my kid is one of my life dividends. I need to work hard to make enought for the family but when I have couple hours with him, it’s the best time of my life.
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    • Thias Thias

      That is a great dividend! I have to agree that any time I get to spend with my daughter pays off huge in my life!

  2. Thanks for this post. The LD that comes to mind is allowing my gf to help me declutter my apt. Still a work in progress, but I actually have actually manageable bedroom and living room, and I don’t feel as bad as I used to ,squeezing by certain areas that used to have so much junk.

    I also struggle with anxiety, and had tried meditation actually do few yrs ago. It definitely seemed to help, but I didn’t stick with it. I’m thinking of picking it back up again as a tool to help deal with days that I know will be stressful.

    On the financial side, taking the time about a year ago to look more in depth at my investments, allowed me to see the merits of a DGI strategy, and take the steps needed to properly follow it. As a result, dividend growth is happening, and the path to FIRE has never become more clear.

    Great post!

    • Thias Thias

      We have been working on decluttering our house as well and it has made a big impact in our life. We need to keep working at it but I love the impact it has made so far!

  3. I love the concept of “life dividends”! I struggle with insomnia, I think because of stress. I know that a lot of it is stress/anxiety, but when I make it a point to make sure to move my body (walk to work, dance, take a hike) not only do I sleep better, which leads to my stress/anxiety levels going down. It’s like a dividend that keeps giving! I have been thinking about meditation-thanks for mentioning the apps that you’ve had some success with!

    • Thias Thias

      Awesome! Good sleep always makes a big difference for me so being able to find ways to sleep better is always a good LD!

  4. Nice calling it that way. I actually have some of them in my goals post for 2017. I believe most people have things like this, but that doesn’t mean they have a name for it or are even aware of it.

    Still, nice name for them. And good that you proactively think about it.

    • Thias Thias

      They are a bit more common than people realize but it is important to bring some attention to them because they can pay off so huge over the long-term.

  5. I’m glad you’re back. Meditation is a Life Dividend that I share with you. I use the Calm app as well. Another Life Dividend I have is just maintaining healthy eating and exercising habits.

    • Thias Thias

      Healthy eating and exercise is a huge one – Still working to try and implement it a bit more in my life.

  6. I like the idea of life dividends! It’s so unique. I suppose something I call a life dividends is the lack of stress and the abundance freedom I have at my job to enjoy my son and allow my wife to stay home with him. He makes me smile a ton and really I have more joy with my wife now than I did when we both worked. Wish she would have quit sooner!

    • Thias Thias

      That is awesome! It is always amazing the impact of having the freedom to have someone quit a job for the family. My wife did it for a year after my daughter was born and it made a big difference in our stress and happiness levels.

  7. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and increase you happiness, and Mindspace is a great start.

    It’s amazing to me how many people will invest hours each week in an exercise routine for their body, but won’t invest 10 minutes in exercising their mind. And trust me, if you’ve never tried meditation, you have no idea how much of a mental exercise it is!
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