People tend to think of money as the goal. They chase higher salaries, and focus on finding the “best” investments. It’s true; both can be effective ways to increase wealth and impact your mental or emotional well-being.
A higher-paying job means more responsibilities and pressure while chasing the “best” investment creates a high-stakes game of chance. In the end, is more money really equal to a better quality of life?
We challenge you to rethink the importance of money in your life. In fact, more money shouldn’t be your end game at all. Instead, consider it the means you use to obtain what matters most: personal fulfillment and satisfaction.
This is a challenging mindset shift to take on, and balancing your financial life isn’t always easy. So, how can you prioritize living for today while saving for the future while feeling financially fulfilled?
Let’s dive in.
- Money is the tool to achieve your goals, not the goal itself.
- Focusing on a goal rather than an abstract concept gives your money purpose and drive.
- A mindset of financial abundance is key.
- Impulsive spending is detrimental to long-term financial wellness and satisfaction.
- Giving your investments a purpose creates a holistic, goals-based strategy.
First, Forget "Enough"
Enough with “enough” already!
It’s easy to get caught up in the myth of having “enough.” In reality, there is no such thing as “enough.”
It’s not a number you can achieve; it’s a myth that nearly everyone has been sold. But, whether you realize it or not, the idea of chasing after “enough” has influenced the way you behave and approach money.
Instead of focusing on obtaining “enough,” think about what you need to be content and feel fulfilled. Set your sights on a goal (or several) like saving for retirement, paying off debt, traveling, buying a home, etc.
With your goals in focus, you can determine just how much is needed to make them happen. Now, instead of a concept like “enough,” you have some clear numbers to follow—and we can definitely work with numbers!
Goals in hand, you’re feeling much clearer about what your money is doing for you and how it's working to better align with your values and priorities.
Actively Shift Toward Financial Abundance
How you think about money has real impacts on how you use and interact with it daily. Your mindset regarding your wealth stems from several influences. Consider how your parents viewed money, your family's financial difficulties growing up, where you were raised, what your friends were like, how your spouse views money, etc.
Understanding the reason behind your relationship with money is a key step in making intentional adjustments where needed.
Your views towards wealth likely fall under one of two camps: scarcity or abundance.
Scarcity: You always feel like there’s never enough (there’s that word again!). You constantly stress about covering your bills, feel fearful about the future, and are unsure about your ability to save.
Abundance: You’re content that you have what you need. You have a clear vision of what your money is doing to help you achieve greater financial wellness. Your goals are set, and you’re progressing towards them.
Needless to say, feeling financially fulfilled requires a mindset of abundance. But how do you get there?
Once you have your goals laid out, get a good look at your cash flow. What’s coming in every month, and where is it going? It’s tough to face your bank statements and credit card bills, but they give you the greatest indicator of your monthly cash flow.
First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge that the way we’ve been conditioned to think about savings is inherently backwards. Often, we’re trained to think about saving as an afterthought. It comes behind covering debt repayment and other daily expenses. However, if you truly want to feel financially abundant and secure, you’ll put “paying yourself” first. Set a clear savings objective based on your unique future goals. These could include an emergency savings, retirement, etc.
Then, you can think thoughtfully about where else you want your remaining cash flow to go.
Identify all recurring bills and debts, including mortgages, car payments, student loan payments, utilities, streaming services, gym memberships, etc. If, after paying yourself first, and tallying up your lifestyle expenses, you find that there’s a negative balance you may be in a position where you need to trim some of your spending. This is where assessing your spending can help you to ensure you’re aligning your finances with your values. For example, if you want to prioritize travel but have a hefty car payment eating into your cash flow, you might look at trading your vehicle in for something that costs less and still gets you from Point A to Point B.
Knowing you can pay yourself first, while still covering your debts and having money leftover for lifestyle spending can help you to start feeling financially abundant.
Remember to be realistic and kind to yourself when building a budget. Make room for fun stuff like eating out or entertainment, and be forgiving if you aren’t perfect at sticking to the numbers every month. Following a budget takes practice, time, and a lot of patience. But finding a good balance is important for meeting the immediate need to enjoy your money while being cognizant of future goals.
Align Spending With Values
Remember when we all watched Marie Kondo ask, “Does it spark joy?”
Consider using the “Kondo method” with your money as well. Just because you can afford to do or buy something doesn’t necessarily mean it will spark joy.
Instead of buying more material goods just because you can, consider spending intentionally on things that lift you up. For example, if you’re a travel bug stuck at home during the pandemic, it’s safe to say a trip would be a well-intentioned use of your money.
The point of having money is to give you options, and it’s up to you to choose the choices that make you feel more fulfilled.
Be Wary of Impulse Spending
What we’re trying to avoid here are the perils of impulse spending. Everyone’s done it, and an impulse-buy every now and then is just fine. But a chronic case can be detrimental to your financial wellness and feeling of fulfillment.
Impulse spending takes away intention, relies on gut feelings, and offers short-lived elation. While these can provide immediate gratification, they don’t help achieve long-lived wellness.
We talked above about the importance of setting goals and using them to fuel your savings habits. Just as your savings should tell a particular story, your investments need to as well.
When you give your investments purpose, you create a holistic strategy designed to address and achieve your goals. Investing without a goal is like driving without a destination; you need to know what you’re working toward and what success will look like.
Saving for retirement, for example, will look different than saving for your kid’s college expenses. Each goal has its own timeline, investment vehicle, and dollar amount. Understanding and accounting for this allows you to save and invest with purpose.
Finding Fulfillment in Your Financial Life
Above all else, you look to lead a life of happiness, fulfillment, and success. Aligning your wealth with your values gives you the power to make impactful financial decisions for the rest of your life.
Here at AVID, we’re passionate about identifying and prioritizing your goals and making a plan so that you can start living your ideal life. If you’re excited to create a better balance, reach out to our team today.