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Every morning before I run, I need to have a cup of coffee.

When I’m at school, I down my caffeine jolt in front of the computer, checking up on daily headlines and blog posts. When I’m at home, my morning cup o’ joe is delightfully accompanied by a conversation with my mom, who is usually awake at least a half hour before I am to help my brother
get out the door for high school.

My mom and I chat about all sorts of topics from family matters to dream-worthy vacation destinations.  This morning, after fumbling with our Keurig coffee machine and plopping down at the counter with a mug of coffee, my mom brought up the word “investment.”  She is reading a book called Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear, which has made her more aware of the implications behind certain words and rhetoric.

“I know you think that you spent a lot of money at Anthropologie yesterday, but you should look at it as investing in your wardrobe,” she said.

I just looked at her.  I had certainly spent over $400 of my summer earnings on new clothes.  Granted, I had wanted those clothes and I will definitely wear them, but I didn’t invest in them – at least, not in the traditional sense of the word.

She continued to explain that the word “spend”suggests wastefulness, while “invest” implies that I will get a return on my money.  The return, however, doesn’t need to be economic.

So, anytime I feel a rush of happiness from wearing one of my new sweaters or jazzing it up with a new skirt, I am attaining the returns on my investment.  When I am proud of my appearance, I know that my investment has paid off.

The same concept of spending versus investing can be applied to other aspects of life as well.  I don’t spend money on organic produce; I invest in nutrition.  I don’t spend time exercising; I invest in my health.  What each person chooses to invest in is a personal choice, but overall, I don’t think there is a more worthwhile investment than an investment in yourself.