Taking personal finance to another level by looking at it from a more holistic view.
How has the past year been for you? I’ve done a lot of reflection on myself and how I want to further evolve when things get a little more normal for the coming year (fingers crossed)!
One thing I personally learned is about life and recognising that money is just a tool. We must make sure we use it correctly in order to work towards financial wellness.
“People first, then money, then things.” – Suze Orman
Reflection on the path to financial wellness
The stoic path to wealth mentions that the fear of losing all our wealth is creating a monster inside us and therefore turning the chase for wealth into fear of losing it. This eventually turns money into our master and we’re enslaved by fear until we almost lose touch with ourselves.
There is a saying “Money is the root of all evil”. But in actual fact, the full quote is “the love of money is the root of all evil.” It’s the greed for wealth that is bad as it can corrupt minds, and the need to keep accumulating more and more is the real issue.
Money is not the end goal
Personal finance is not about the money we have or about creating more wealth. Its main purpose should be more holistic, ie. leading the life you were born to lead, no matter what your financial status is.
You’ll see money in a different light if you began your career with a student loan. Even before starting your career, you’ve already created a load of fear by accumulating a large amount of debt.
This results in your mind becoming clouded with thoughts of the repayment of loans first and pushing aside all other goals or dreams. I personally experienced it as a child; teachers kept telling me to finish school, get good grades, go to university, get a degree and get a good paying job. As a child I thought that was the dream, but it didn’t turn out the way I imagined it would as a child.
We were repeatedly told this fairytale, and subconsciously I believed it. But now that’s not the case. How can we take a holistic approach around our personal finances and take back control of our life? Believe me, we’re not meant to suffer through life constantly worrying about paying bills.
Reflecting on your childhood dreams
Have a goal in mind. You already knew what you wanted when you were a child. In fact, there’s a good chance you were so good at it. Try asking your parents or other close family members what you were like when you were around the age of 9 to 12. It’ll give you some insights about your strengths and your childhood dreams.
I grew up observing how passionate my parents were and how they were willing to give their all to their career. At the end of the day, my parents still had time to spend with us and go on a little vacation once in a while. It was a nice balance. That’s currently what I want to strive for – a balanced life between my career and family.
I’m not saying I don’t want to be rich (who doesn’t), but it’s not my main focus right now. Between juggling two young kids, my husband works long hours because he enjoys the work he does. Even though in my opinion, he deserves to be paid better, it matters less.
There’s been a string of financial decisions we made that may be a sin in the personal finance community focused on accumulating wealth. But we needed to make those decisions to get to where we need to be in life. Our goals were bigger than wealth accumulation.
Using my finances to find peace
We can never be free. I believe there’s no such thing as financial freedom. This is because I realised just when I thought we were “free”, something would suddenly hit us like a bomb and I would think “Here we go scrambling again”.
Getting married is expensive. Staying married is expensive. Having kids is expensive. I remind myself of my battles daily. If my needs are covered, I am willing to forgo some of my wants. How precious and priceless is the laughter of a child?
Just do you
It‘s terribly hard to maintain a balance and I personally struggle with this on a regular basis. Turning off the work switch and being present was a difficult process. Being frugal and being disciplined in managing our budgets has a big impact on our long term finances.
But this just makes me exhausted. There’s no point stressing about maximising my savings or the future so much that I forget to be present. The goal is not the money – it’s my life. I’m not going to kill myself just to keep striving towards this illusion that my future will be far brighter if I continue maximising my savings and investments.
I choose to enjoy every step of the journey instead, without mentally burdening myself. Use your wealth building experience to create happiness for yourself and inspire others to do the same. Remember it’s not about the numbers and figures in your portfolios, but what you do with the money.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.” – Epictetus
Move from survival mode to thriving mode. Choose not to be trapped in the illusion of not having enough. You’re enough! If you’re in survival mode, you’ll trap yourself in the rat race. Therefore, there’s no room for helping others and all you’ll think about is how to make yourself better instead of the community around you.
This article was originally published on Smart Investor, Malaysia’s leading investment magazine.