Every Wednesday there is a Money liftout in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers that has a profile of a prominent Australian. Their life stories are condensed into a couple of paragraphs before a section where they are asked a number of questions. Each person gets the same questions including one asking what has been their best investment.
There have been lots of answers involving houses bought in the mid ‘70s or shares in mining companies and even a couple of people who feel they have never really invested money. My favourite answer would have to be from a guy called Clive Hamilton who said his best investment was in the shares of a company that performed really badly. He sold them and used the money to take a woman out on a date. They have been married for many years.
I guess if I was asked this same question my answer would be the money spent on trips to Germany. I have been there four times, including the trip when my German wife, Claudia and I married there, and when we showed off our little chicken to the family just after she was born. They don’t speak much English and my German is scatty at best, but I have developed good relationships with my family despite the language barrier.
More importantly, my wife has been home regularly and our daughter has become a part of her German family’s life.
Yesterday we farewelled Claudia’s parents after a three week stay in Australia. Saying goodbye is always hard. Really, really hard. Especially when you don’t know when the next trip will be and how much our chicken will have grown up and changed in that time. It inevitably involves hugs, tears, an inability to speak from the massive lump in my throat and reciprocation from family members who rarely show such emotions.
The regular visits have meant that we feel quite close to our family, despite the distance.
We are really lucky to live in a time when contact with our European family is quick and easy (and free via email and Skype), and regular travel is do-able. It’s an investment in time, an investment in money and an investment in effort. And although they can’t be measured in percentages, the returns are great and will continue to be for many years to come.
What has been your best investment?