Whether you are satisfied or not with your financial and life satisfaction largely depends on whether you are spending your money on things that support your values.
The word “satisfaction” describes a feeling of fulfillment or contentment. Its meaning is relative and often dependent on each person’s definition of success as applied to specific areas of life.
Therefore, in the area of finances, satisfaction is more of an emotional issue than a practical one. That is because our sense of satisfaction is highly subjective and greatly influenced by our attitudes and beliefs. As a result, the degree to which we feel satisfied with our financial lives is based on a unique and personal interpretation of our own financial needs and circumstances.
For example, one person can feel grateful for an annual income of $100,000 while another person will feel disillusioned and deprived at this same level of income. In addition, one person can be very comfortable carrying an ongoing credit card balance of $5,000, while another person will feel stressed out until his or her credit card balance is zero.
Also keep in mind priorities can change over time and affect our feelings of satisfaction. A person can live with disorganized financial records for years with little concern, and then one day become frustrated with the disorder and think, “I can’t live this way anymore!”
Keep in mind that those who feel dissatisfied with their financial lives are often unsure of the source. For instance, an individual can know intellectually that they are financially independent, and yet the fear of economic vulnerability can persist on the emotional level. Others strive for and achieve wealth, but feel little gratification from their accomplishments.
However, the foundation for making positive change in our financial lives is awareness—the freedom and enlightenment that comes from first assessing our individual levels of financial satisfaction, and then recognizing the unique and personal circumstances, behaviors, and attitudes that impede our sense of financial well-being.
Like satisfaction, the meaning of “values” is subjective and unique to each individual. In a nutshell, our values reflect what matters most to us as individuals.
When trying to define our values, we often think in terms of principles or standards that we consider important such as “honesty,” “loyalty,” or “altruism.” We also tend to think of values in terms of what we as individuals hold most dear such as “my family,” “my faith,” or “my health.”
Our values are also those intangibles that keep us motivated. Motivators vary from person to person, but examples include recognition, achievement, knowledge, contribution, creativity, spirituality, challenge, adventure, harmony, and so on.
In addition, our values define the purpose for our activities and the criteria we use for allocating our personal resources of time, energy, skills, and money. When there is incongruence between our values and the way we “spend” those resources, we experience inner conflict or dissatisfaction.
In Everything You Know about Money is Wrong, Karen Ramsey wrote:
In personal financial management, the place to begin is to adopt a realistic perspective. Money will only improve the quality of your life when it is used with clarity. Only when you learn to spend money in concert with your underlying values—things that you most deeply care about—will it become a tool for creating a more fulfilling life.
Therefore, to achieve higher levels of life and financial satisfaction, your objective will be to clarify what is most important to you. Next, allow that understanding to guide your interactions with your financial advisor and provide a framework for your financial goals.
Always remember that financial and life satisfaction evolve from a clear understanding of the nature, influence, and importance of your values. Your sense of well-being will multiply when you clarify your priorities and make choices in life that align with what is most important to you.
Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP