The Start of Personal Fianance Isn’t About Money

Anyone new to learning about all this personal finance stuff would easily think it’s all about doing a budget, saving and having an investment plan after reading just about everyone’s personal finance blogs. Actually the very start of all personal finance has nothing to do with money. Shocking isn’t it?

The true start of all personal finance is identifying your goals and values. After all without identifying these the rest of what you do doesn’t have any meaning or direction. If you are saving, then why? If you are investing, then why? If your budget isn’t working, perhaps it is because you have no motivation from a lack of a goal. After all a budget isn’t supposed to limit your spending, but rather direct it to things you deem important. Values and goals provide the ‘why’.

The issue for most people is we live in such a material based society that they have a hard time identifying their values from their stuff. So when you mention the world goal, they tend to automatically think in turns of more stuff. For example, someone’s goal might be I want a vacation home. Yet in the reality is some of the most satisfying goals that come with some values don’t require any stuff at all.

For example, I personally value freedom. I love to be able to do what I want and when I want to. There really isn’t any single thing I want to buy that represents it, yet because it is a value of mine I have the goal to retire early. That provides direction to my savings, investing and provides direction on how I spend my money (or budget).

Yet one value isn’t enough. You will lose interest in your plan and get bored. That is why you need to identify at least five values that you can use to define your goals. Then with these goals you can actually create a life that is truly fulfilling and meaning to you in every way including how you spend your money (and even if you have your values, check in once in a while to see if they have changed).

So what are some values, I’ve included a list below of values and some related goals, but feel free to add to it by sharing your idea in the comments.

Values:

  • Freedom – could have the goals of self employment, early retirment
  • Family- spending more time with the kids or extended family
  • Marriage – going out for dates more and spending more time together
  • Fun – travel, games, playing, exercise
  • Excitement – learning a new language and then taking a trip to that country
  • Health – losing weight, eating better, exercising more
  • Growth – learning by taking classes or reading, expanding your skill set to new things
  • Love – for your family, spouse, pet, communtiy, planet or perhaps yourself
  • Spirituality – mediation, church, praying, reflecting on your life
  • Security – from sudden death and accidents or even just the car breaking down

By identifying what really matters to you, you can transform your life from dull joyless routine to what you are meant to be doing to make each day to make your life worth living. Personal finance in the end isn’t in the end ‘just about money’ it is rather ‘using your money as a tool to ensure you have the most enjoyable life possible.’ You need to make it personal otherwise your missing the point.

5 thoughts on “The Start of Personal Fianance Isn’t About Money”

  1. This theme of values is echoed in David Bach’s series of books, for example Smart Couples Finish Rich. I think it’s a fantastic concept. My fiancee and I have gone through the process, and I have given the book to two other couples I know. Makes a great wedding gift!

    Values can change over time and so your goals might as well.

  2. Nobleea,

    The concept comes up in a couple of different books, but I don’t think it’s explored too much sometimes. Hence the post. Good point that your values will change over time.

    CM,

    I’m aware of that problem and I accounted for it during my early retirement calculations. But thanks for the heads up.

    Tim

  3. Absolutely true! Each thing you spend money on (even “spending” it on saving) is a choice over something else. You have to know what you value to make these choices and be happy with them.
    Sometimes, though your goals are not just things you are running toward (freedom, fun, excitement). In saving for retirement, I’m buying myself away from a job that no longer makes me happy.

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