This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

-James W. Frick

“Show me where you spend your time, money and energy and I’ll tell you what you worship…”

-John Wimber

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

-Joe Biden

Basically many wise men have said it many times – nothing speaks more about who you are and what you are up to better than what you spend your money on.

And please add to this body of knowledge what I have to say about it – I can tell you who you are going to become if you tell me how you spend your money.

It’s that easy.

If you got a pay hike at your job or started earning more from your work, not much, but just Rs. 30,000 per month, how will you spend it?

Take your time, answer it.

Will you start investing the money in financial instruments?

Will you buy a new car? With 30k per month EMI you could buy a decently high end car. A BMW or Audi. Is that a childhood dream?

A lot of my friends will buy a car because it will show that they have arrived in their career. It’s a powerful signal to the world that you are doing well. Very satisfying, at least for a while.

You could invest in a property. Most people from my parent’s generation will do that.

You could spend it on amazing holidays, to travel around the world. You can have several luxury holidays in a year with that, stay in 5 stars around the world, or backpack for months.

You could save up the money and after a year or two you will have a bit of savings, which you could then use to fund a sabbatical. You could also take the plunge to start a new business, or your own chamber or practice.

I know people who will take that money and straightaway spend it on some high end gadgets. iPhone X. Maybe a Bose sound system. Other stuff like that.

Here is what I would do though, tell me what you think about that. These are not hypothetical things. I have actually done these.

I will invest in hiring a career coach if I did not have one. I have had a coach for more than 1 year now. I always set goals with her, and the goal is usually to double my business revenue within a few months. I have doubled my business revenue twice with the help of my coach. I do the work, of course, but having someone to guide me along, and work out the strategy is priceless.

If I already had a coach, I will invest the extra money towards hiring a personal assistant, or a man friday, who would take away my admin work and free up more productive time. I have a personal assistant. The number of hours this frees up for me, and the peace of mind it gives me is incredible. I would rather have a personal assistant than a BMW.

I once considered buying a high end car. Who doesn’t love the validation that comes from it? Here is what I found on research. I need to have a significant budget for repairs and upkeep. I will always be worried about another scratch or another dent. It will take away time, money and freedom. What do I get in return?

I decided that it was not worth it at all. I travel by a second hand tiny bike I bought from OLX. Even if it gets stolen, I will not blink and get another. Peace of mind. Terrific mobility. I can get around massive traffic jams in Delhi. And I save a lot of money on transport that I can now spend on what I really care about: growing further!

But I spend tens of thousands every month on expensive online courses, books and workshops.

This does not mean that you should not aspire to buy a BMW or Ferrari. By all means, do so if that is what you care about. I am just saying that it shows a lot about what you prioritise, and where you are headed in life.

But if you care about growth, and tell yourself that, are you investing enough in it? If you are not, all the talk and willpower and genuine interest is no good.

You don’t need 30,000 to start. That was just to illustrate the point. You can start with 1000 or 5000 per month, depending on where you are in your life and how much you can afford. But are you spending a decent part of what you can afford on your growth?

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If you have already grown quite a bit in your life, this question is even more important. It takes more and more investment to grow once you have already gotten somewhere good. Are you going to grow further or plateau hereinafter?

Constant growth requires constant investment, and that requires extra money, time and resources that you do not need to spend.

I once had a chance to see how the famous designed Sabyasachi Mukherjee invests in himself and his brand. He earns in millions. But he spends a huge chunk of his money on growing his brand (I don’t have any real number but relying on guesswork here). He spends on travelling the world to discover new trends, brilliant art, and new influences. He spends tons of money on PR, events and collateral. You will find it hard to imagine how much he pays to professionals, from stylists to photographers. He only hires the best, who usually charge 10 times more than the next best.

He spends on branding like nobody else, and it is no wonder than he has a brand bigger than everyone else.

I am nowhere close to that, nor am I in a business that works quite the same way. But I am inspired by the sheer size of investment in growth. It’s incredible. Just having a sense of it opened my eyes and expanded my horizon to new possibilities.

Will you travel to a new country just to see if you could come across new work opportunities that people in your city are not yet thinking about? Discovering new trends in technology or law firm business models? I know law firm partners who do that every six months.

I invest quite a bit of money in financial instruments and I am likely to keep increasing that investment, but I do not like the amount of uncertainty involved. I invest with long investment horizons into mutual funds. I try to take risk, because without that there are no rewards. However, I do try to diversify them as much as I can.

However, no matter how much I invest in financial instruments like mutual funds and bonds, I invest a lot more in myself, every single month. I invest back into my business. I know these two investment opportunities better than anything else and anyone else, and I am able to control the outcome best.

So I have a fixed percent of my income that goes into financial investments, but I make sure that there is another big part that goes into personal development.

Same with my time. If I spend all my time on my day job, I will not grow as fast as I wish to grow. In fact, when I look back, I see that I haven’t grown as much as I could have in the last 10 years.

Growth really accelerated as I increased my investment of money and especially time into my personal growth.

Similarly, when I started my first job at a law firm, instead of indulging in conspicuous consumption as many of my peers did, I focussed on paying down all my educational loan as fast as I could, and creating a small savings after that. That allowed me to start my own business without worrying about paying back debt and I had 3 months of living expense in the bank.

That was magical. That was freedom.

What can change your life? Here is what. Spending on the right thing and saving for the right reasons. When your money decisions are driven by purpose and guided by wisdom, your life is bound to change once and for all. The challenge, however, is to do it again and again. As you reach one level in the game, you have to play for the next level.

The area of challenge for me now is to learn how to invest in organizational growth as much as I invest in personal growth. I am still learning about it. Will share as I make more progress.

So if you made 30,000 bucks extra per month from next year, what will you spend it on? And what does that say about you?

Be honest. Do share your answers with me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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