Financial columnist: The bottom line is not who you are
Your bottom line is considered to be the sum of your financial assets less your liabilities, also referred to as your net worth.
Many people misconstrue net worth as self worth. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stuff does not equal significance. It is what you do with those resources that will define you.
It is my calling to walk people through the complexities of their financial terrain, and I am tired of the financial services industry making it more difficult. I abhor the commercial with number-clad people — a bold, brazen token of their identity. Life is not defined by a number — whether it is your portfolio size or your age.
The YouTube video of the 96-year-old yoga instructor is a perfect example. What has dictated that a large pot of money entitles us to a life of ease? Why are we supposed to work our tails off until 65 or 66, then sail off into the sunset with a cocktail in hand dressed in white linen?
Retirement communities have been developed founded on a mirage that happiness is realized through continuous leisure. I warrant that mindset is well entrenched in our valley as well. Money in and of itself is not the problem, it is our attitudes and utilization of it that can be unhealthy. We shroud heartfelt contentment and true joy with short-term bliss in the continuous pursuit of the next “fun” hit.
It can become an addictive, endorphine-producing cycle that is ultimately hazardous to our psyche and souls. I have read the studies, heard the stories and witnessed the sad results. We anxiously await the next generation of iPhone, but are we as expectant and excited about the next, greatest version of ourselves? How are you going to invest the rest of your life, no matter your age?
Don’t get me wrong — we need to have fun and enjoy all that life has to offer, but is it to be our only pursuit? What is valuable in your life? This may include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, businesses. Next, what is priceless in your life? I wager the list looks different. Which one do you want to devote your resources into cultivating, protecting and growing? What kind of enduring legacy do you want to create?
In Victor Frankl’s “Man’s search for Meaning,” he develops the idea of the individual. You are the only one of you that exists. You are unique. There is only one chance, and there cannot be a repeat performance. Also, the concept of singularity. Now is all you have. This moment will never be repeated. There is meaning in every moment. You are an integral part of a beautiful mosaic, and if your piece is missing, it will be noticed. How do you make the most of the time you have? If you use your money wisely, it will support you in creating significance, meaning and relevance. But money in and of itself cannot do that for you.
What is your perspective on life? Are you here to serve or be served? Which will bring greater, long-lasting fulfillment? What type of engagement (either paid or unpaid) will bring meaning to you and value to others? What are the guiding principles on which you base your financial decisions? What are the processes do you go through to determine the direction you want to take. What are your priorities? Laying them out leads to consistent behavior. Finally, what is your plan?
Take the time to delve into assessing your true bottom line. Once you get clear on that, the financial elements will make more sense and can be arranged to provide the underpinnings of a joyful, profound journey through life. Join me as we do the math of the heart and change the conversation around money.
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. Her office, Wealth By Design LLC, is in Basalt. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.
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