Money Is a Tool, So Stop Treating It as the Goal

This post originally appeared on Beyond Your Hammock.

“I want more money.”

“I need to save more money.”

“I wish I had more money.”

I hear these phrases all the time — and I’m guilty of saying them, too. While it’s natural to think this way, doing so only leads us to feel more stressed about money than we already do.

When we look at more money as the ultimate goal, we will never feel satisfied that we have enough.

But when viewed as a means to an end, we realize that we can afford anything.

When Is More Money Enough Money?

Money is everywhere in society.

That’s a fact, not a judgment. It helps us function daily.

Whether you use it to pay your mortgage or to cover your commuting expenses, money is essential for most people.

We also want those nice-to-have elements like travel and a social life, which — you guessed it — requires more money.

It’s not surprising that we focus on money all the time.

I’ve never met anyone who can’t generate a list of things they would spend money on if provided the means to do so.

From this standpoint, it’s logical to think that we must need more money to live a fulfilling life.

The challenge we face is actually wrapping our mind around the concept of “more money.” What does that mean and how do we know when we achieve “more?”

If you’re like most people, “more” won’t easily transform into “enough.” There’s always something else to chase after or want.

Which means if you just focus on more money, you will never have enough.

Stop Looking at More and Consider Your Values Instead

Just for a moment, let’s take “more money” off the table. Instead, take a look at your values and what you feel committed to. Here’s how.

Step outside your current financial circumstances and make a list of what you would do with $1,000,000 this week.

Would you pay off your house? Buy another one? Get your dream car? Go on an amazing ‘round-the-world vacation? Fund your kid’s college education? All of the above?

Great!

Now, make another list of what you would do with an additional $1,000,000 next week.

Maybe now you’ll buy a big boat. Or a beach house. (Or five beach houses.) Perhaps you’ll treat all your friends and take them with you on the next global vacay.

Once you decide what you’d do with your first couple million, imagine what you’d do with ten million dollars.

At this point, most people start coming up with answers like “travel the world full-time,” or “start a charity,” or “create the business I’ve always dreamed of founding.”

The point of this exercise is to help us clear our minds of the material items and instant gratification experiences that clutter our thinking when we view the world with a finite money supply.

Eventually, we will exhaust our list of stuff that we want.

In turn, that leaves us free to focus on what we’re truly committed to in our lives, beyond status symbols and things.

Once we have everything that we think we need, we begin to focus on what matters to us.

We focus on those things that give us the utmost satisfaction and leave us feeling content.

At this point, you can create a clear vision for how to use your money as a tool to achieve the most important things in life.

There’s Never an End to the Pursuit of “More”

Chasing more money is a futile journey that only leads us to stress and perpetual frustration. If your goal is more money, you’ll never have enough.

There is always “more” money to obtain to spend on “more” material and experiential things. You’ll never truly be satisfied if you think this way.

If you go back to your list that you created above, you can identify the specific goals that would actually make a positive difference in your life.

I guarantee that you won’t actually find “more money” anywhere on the lists you made.

Think about it: Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to add money to a list of things you would buy with a virtually unlimited supply of the stuff?

If that’s the case, why would you ever have “more money” as a goal?

Money Is a Tool, So Create Goals Beyond “More”

Money is a tool. If you can understand that it’s something to use to help achieve what you want, you can set more appropriate goals for yourself.

Those goals might be:

To reach financial independence.

To create more art, or to write a book.

To travel to all the countries in the world before you’re 70.

…or they might look completely different from these. That’s okay. There are no right answers, and your goals should be based on your values, priorities, and commitments.

Once you see what’s important to you, you can categorize and prioritize those goals. The next step is quantifying them.

How much will each goal cost you and by when would you like to achieve them? Is it possible to save enough money for each by the specified time?

If not, can you cut out some of the cost or extend the date? What if you dropped the lower level items on the list and simply focused on the high priority goals?

This process should show us a few things:

  1. We see what is truly important to us.

So, go ahead, free your mind of the clutter… and make room for what you truly value instead.

Written by

#FinancialPlanner helping 30 & 40-somethings build #wealth & think differently about #money • Top #FinancialAdvisor in #Boston • www.BeyondYourHammock.com

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