Everyone knows that money can’t buy you happiness, however a lack of money can be debilitating – rising credit card debts, a mortgage that never goes down and that feeling of never being able to get ahead can be demoralising.
Where is the balance? How can we find that place where we feel in control of our finances, neither ignoring nor being obsessed with them? How can we find a sense of financial wellbeing?
We need to accept the importance of money in our lives. Avoiding it and imagining it will take care of itself is a recipe for disaster. It takes time and effort to master money and we need to focus on actions and habits, not outcomes. By doing the right things the rest will take care of itself.
We live in a society which defines us by our consumption. For many of us the more “stuff” we have the better we feel. We need to acknowledge to what extent we have accepted this idea, albeit unconsciously. We buy stuff to look good, to acquire status, whether it’s houses, cars or holidays. Is that what really matters? Take a look at your expenditure and decide what is essential.
Ask yourself the right kind of questions
What makes us smile with a sense of fulfilment? When do we feel most at ease? Answering these questions honestly requires courage. Think of a time when you felt happy. What were you doing? Who were you with? Where were you? The answers may surprise you and yield valuable clues about what really matters to you. Maybe it’s not driving your Rolls Royce Corniche with the top down in the South of France. Maybe you’d be happier in the back garden with a good book. Understanding more about what you want can help to create productive change in your life.
How can you do more of what makes you happy? Ignore the rational excuses – haven’t got time (I bet you have), need to pay off the mortgage before we breathe (really?). What does a sense of freedom feel like for you?
This is the beginning of thinking for ourselves and creating our world, not one that has been sold to us by advertisers or perceived social pressures. There is no better time than now, when the world has been stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of us unexpectedly have time to think about how we want to be when this crisis is over.
Where to start
A good place to start is with Your Money or your Life or if you want the fast track with a Summary of the book’s main lessons. One of the ideas that I found really powerful is working out how many hours work a particular purchase might cost me. By working out what I earn each hour I know that buying a jacket for say £150 is going to take me a day’s work. Do I want it that much? What else could I do with that money? Which, of course, is another way of asking: what else could I do with that time?
Time is our scarce resource, finite, unknown.
Nicholas is a Worcester based Financial Life Planner with Financial Life Plans