A hamster in a wheel.
Have you ever watched a hamster running in a wheel? All that running, all that effort, day after day after day … But the poor little critter never really gets anywhere. 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. And then, first thing Monday morning, we’re back on the wheel, and the whole thing starts over again. Many folks just keep repeating this cycle, over and over, until they finally retire. They think that stepping off the wheel just 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. In the meantime, they don’t enjoy life much.
How much is enough?
These are all persuasive arguments that keep people on the wheel. And 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 your focus in your work and in your financial planning is just having enough money, you’ll never feel like you have enough. But for what? 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 you retire. In my experience working with clients, it just transitions into a new, related worry: “Am I going to run out of money?” Again, that “someday” gets pushed back in favor of super-conservative living. You might not be working any more, but you’re still just chasing after money.
The wind in your sails.
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 key to living a meaningful life and 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. This holiday season, I challenge you to start 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Due to industry regulations, comments are not permitted on this blog. If you would like to contact the author, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.