Have you ever watched a hamster running in a wheel? All that running, all that effort, day after day after day… but he never really gets anywhere, does he?
Many of us feel the same way about our money.
More specifically, we feel that way about the work we do to get that money. We spend forty hours every week on a wheel, running after a paycheck. The next thing we know it’s Monday morning, we’re back on the wheel, and the whole thing starts over again.
Many folks keep repeating this cycle, over and over, until they finally retire. They think that stepping off the wheel isn’t an option because they have bills to pay, college expenses to save for, and a dream to be “financially set” before retiring from work.
How much is enough?
The hope is that someday, you’ll be able to stop running and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work. Unfortunately, more often than not, “someday” never comes.
If the focus of your work and your financial planning is just having enough money, you’ll never feel like you have enough. There’s always another dollar to chase, another way to economize so that you can save more.
Is having more and more money, in and of itself, something that you really value? Does having more make running on the wheel worth it?
You might think that this “never enough” mentality ends once a person retires. In fact, it just transitions into a new, related worry, “Am I going to run out of money?” The “someday” gets pushed back in favor of more saving and more super-conservative living. You might not be working anymore, but you’re still just chasing after money.
Money is a Tool
At the end of the day, your money is not the shore we’re sailing for. It’s not the sea you’re sailing on. It’s not even the boat you’re steering.
- Your money is the sail. It’s the tool you use to get where you want to go.
- And the wind in that sail is your values.
Just like a good sailor learns how to maneuver the sails to catch the most wind, aligning what’s most important to you with your financial resources is the key to successful financial planning.
So instead of asking yourself if you have enough money, or if you will run out of money, ask yourself a better question:
Am I managing my money in a way that’s improving my life?
We don’t want you just to “have enough money.” We want you to live the best life possible with the money you have.
That starts with thinking about what’s really important to you. The people whom you love. The causes that are dear to your heart. The activities that keep you feeling fit and full of energy. The hobbies that put your unique skills to their highest uses. The opportunities for learning and self-discovery that enrich your understanding of the world and of yourself. The wisdom that you will pass down to your children and grandchildren so that they live their best possible lives as well.
Aligning your financial plan with these values is every bit as important as analyzing your tax situation or managing your investments. Make sure you consider the big picture and keep your money aligned with your values.