Money: it impacts so many aspects of your life. How you handle it, save it, and spend it can say a lot about you.

Ask yourself: “What’s important about money to me?1

I have asked this question to thousands of people in the last 20 years. Every answer is unique.

Understanding how you feel about money is the first step in an effective financial plan to create the life you want.

It’s not about the money – it’s about your life.

It’s different for everybody, but there are some common themes in how people feel about money, and what it means to them in both their everyday life and in regards to their long-term goals.

For example, money offers security and peace of mind to a lot of people. It was a common thread in the answers of many women I spoke with in particular. Having a large security nest egg, owning safe investments, and feeling secure about your future tie in with that feeling of financial security. It means you don’t have to worry about money. You can focus on your life.

Some people associate money with fun and happiness, because it means they can afford to enjoy life and make memories that honestly often include spending a bit of money. You do have to be careful not to overspend. Having more money than you need for your long-term goals means you can spend on memorable experiences.

Still others describe that money, for them, means freedom. Financial freedom, and the freedom to do things they enjoy or are meaningful for them. People in this position may think about money more than others, because they want to be sure to have enough of it to cover the basics and also have some freedom and flexibility in spending. This makes some people aggressive in investing, but a good financial planner can steer those looking to make a little bit more in the right direction.

Then there are those who tell me that, for them, money is important because it leads to feelings of confidence. Confidence in yourself, and confidence from others in the form of respect. People who feel more confident when they have money are often a little more careful and patient with how they spend or invest it. You can get a quiet confidence from knowing your finances are in great shape.

Those who link respect from others with money may strongly associate having the best of everything and the highest quality in their clothes, houses, cars, etc., which all cost money. They want higher levels of respect from people in their lives. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments and spending your money on things sometimes. You can gain more respect when you use your money wisely than by looking like you have money.

Finally, similar to freedom, there are those who feel that money is important particularly because it gives you independence. With money, you’re not beholden to or burdening anyone. There’s a lot of power in that.

There is an entire online community of people looking for independence. It is called FIRE – financial independence, retire early.

Of course, no two answers are alike when it comes to how people feel about money and how it’s important in their lives. But most people want the same things from money: security, freedom, and, if possible, the ability to buy the things or experiences they want.

A financial plan that does not look at your emotional values related to money is just a bunch of numbers. Once you understand what’s important about money to you, you can learn to use money to make your life fulfilling.

An effective Financial Plan is a Life Plan – your roadmap to the life you want.

It’s not about the money – it’s about your life.

 

 

Ed

 

1 Based on the book, “Values Based Selling” by Bill Bachrach.

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