Shortly after completing today’s post my 6 yo daughter came down stairs dressed like a yard sale in purple socks, bright green leggings and a multi-colored top that had seen better days. I had to bite my tongue not to comment beyond a positive remark that she sure looked bright and beautiful. What, you may ask, does this have to do with investment? Here’s the truth of it. We must get beyond thinking in terms of pieces of paper being the only legitimate means of deciding value. In my the case of my daughter’s attire, letting her dress herself is an investment in her future independence.

My girls can make applesauce, help build bee frames, plant tomatoes, and sew on a button. They can whip up a batch of granola, use a fire extinguisher, perform CPR and make cookies from scratch. Lest you think they are little house on the prairie prodigies, I must add that my two youngest are adopted and both have serious special needs. We just never believed in limiting what they were allowed to try. We spent a lot of time on therapy but an equal amount letting each do things we could have done ourselves in a lot less time and with a lot less aggravation. The investment was in their self-esteem and future competence.

My husband is taking classes in furniture making and bee keeping and I am taking one in knitting. investment. He volunteers at the food pantry. Investment. We helped a neighbor stack his wood. Investment. We go to church. Investment. We walk a neighbor’s daughter to school so she doesn’t have to pack up her toddler each morning. Investment. We put in a piece of ourselves and withdraw good will and sense of community. We become more competent. Our children will be productive members of our families rather than the recipient of society’s largess.

As I watch our economy crumble, I am aware that the worst may be yet to come. The dollar may fall and the deficit rise but my investments will continue to pay real dividends in the ways that really matter.