This month of love, all Tuesday tips are about investing. Last week was "Invest in You," and still to come are, "Invest in Others" and "Invest in God."

Invest in the Ones You Love

    If someone asked you, "who do you love?" chances are that in your top 5 you'd have: your spouse [or significant other], your parents, your siblings, your kids, your BFFs, and [of course] your dog but he doesn't really count for this [we all know you already invest a lot of spoiling his direction]. Investing in the ones we love can be difficult sometimes. Many think that "investing" requires spending money, it doesn't [at least not much as you'll see]. Spending too much money can cause entitlement issues as Dave Ramsey's daughter Rachel Cruze points out in the article "Spoiled or Blessed". If you read the article, a snippet from their upcoming book, you'll see that everything comes down to attitude - are your gifts given with thoughtfulness in love or just given because you're conditioned to or feel you have to? Here are some ways to show the ones you love that you care about them not because you have to, but because you get to.
1. Send a Handwritten Note, Just Because
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    I really can't tell you how much this means to someone to receive a handwritten note in this age of technology, but Discovering Hadley [the blog where I found the picture above] puts it this way:
"Is there anything more pleasantly surprising than going to the mail box expecting bills, solicitations, and maybe (if you’re lucky) a catalog from a company you like, and finding a handwritten note? We think not .. no matter how small, it can make your day or your week."
    If the person is someone you live with like a spouse or child, sending mail isn't practical, but Post-it notes are! I LOVE Post-its and have often used them around the house to leave Tyler little notes to let him know I'm thinking of him. I've also been known to sneak little notes in between his clothes when he leaves on a business trip. Handwritten notes are the perfect way to let someone know you're thinking of them on more than just holidays.
2. Mini Gifts, Just Because
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photo credit: Flax and Twine
    So, maybe you can't knit, but if you have any crafty bone in you, I promise people will love homemade gifts. Maybe baking is your thing? People love food, too. Use your gifts to invest in others. A lot of times, handmade is less expensive [and almost always more thoughtful] to give. Can't think of something to make - Pinterest is always a good resource. Reeeeally struggling with this one [ahem, guys]? Bringing someone their favorite Starbucks drink just because is a plus. Doing anything "just because" is a big deal. It's nice to know someone cares about you - no ulterior motives or strings attached.
3. Turn Off the T's
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photo credit: iStockphoto
    There's no better way to show someone that you're not invested in them, than by constantly being on your telephone, tablet, or watching TV. Turn it off! In a world overrun with technology, it's important to have some off time to connect with people on an emotional level. At our house, we have a no cell phones at the table rule. Meals are our time to connect with each other and go over the day ahead or reflect on our day's accomplishments together.
4. Remember Them
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photo credit: Google search "Calendar"
    Don't forget important dates for the ones you love! Keep a calendar or list of the ones you love that includes their birthdays, graduation dates, weddings, job interviews, etc.! Even if you can't be there or can't afford to send a gift, sending a nice text or note lets them know you're thinking of them and they'll appreciate it! From personal experience, I can tell you how much it hurts to have a family member forget your birthday or not show up at your wedding.
A Big No-No.
    Something not to do when it comes to investing in the ones you love is gift-giving as an apology. Many will disagree with me on this but here are my thoughts on it:
    Gift-giving as an apology conditions the recipient to think that they will get something every time you do something wrong and they may start to nit-pick and find new reasons to be critical of what you're doing that "hurts their feelings" [consequently running you out of money]. See the link above for the Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze article - this is one of those things that could result in a spoiled child or spouse or friend, and cause you to be taken advantage of. I'm not saying don't take your kid out for ice cream to have a neutral ground to explain to him why you missed his baseball game, I'm just saying don't take him to Toys-R-Us.
    Something to also think about: how sincere is your apology if you're handing over a new diamond necklace at the same time? Are you truly sorry, or hoping the monetary value and shininess of the gift will cause them to overlook your wrong-doing?
Planning Ahead
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    Above you can see how my husband and I plan ahead to invest in the ones we love and keep within a budget. Every month we put down birthdays and holidays that gifts should be purchased for. We also have an "extra" tab each month - money that can be used to be thoughtful unexpectedly by sending a card, or a mini gift, or extra cushion for wedding gifts, etc. The amount we use for each person is blocked out for obvious reasons, but our "extra" budget is only $10 a month. That $120 a year seems to cover most additional charges such as wedding and spontaneous gifts.
    The total amount we anticipate spending we take and divide by 12 [months] to see how much we should be budgeting per month even if it won't be used that month. The columns to the right ensure we don't forget anyone's special day or remind us that we already bought a gift for someone ahead of time.

    Investing in the ones you love - not just monetarily - is a sign of how much you care about them. Let them know you love and care about them often, not just around birthdays, holidays, and Valentine's Day. Be sincere in your giving and remember, you get what you give.

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