How much does money matter to you?
You have probably seen that TV commercial with the sensible people walking around with big 7-figure orange numbers under their arms. They “know” what their number is—it is a specific amount of money they need to have saved by the time they retire to ensure they can live the way they want once their work days are over. The losers are those who have no idea what their number should be. They don’t have a plan. They just “throw money at it and hope something good will happen.” None of us wants to be that loser. But I confess that commercial makes me anxious because I am that loser. How about you? Do you know your number?
I agree that we should be responsible with our financial future. We should be wise about our impending loss of health, competence, and energy so that we can afford reasonable care and maintain quality of life during the final phase of life.
What other values are important to you?
I have found, however, that other values beyond financial security have dominated my life plan. My time, for example, is a critical and limited resource. I don’t want to have to work more than 40 hours a week in order to reach my number. I have been determined to spend my evenings, weekends, and generous vacation time with my family and friends. I took 10 years off of full-time work while my children were small because I wanted to be home with them. My number has to be something I can reach within that lifestyle.
Our family values for quality education and life experiences for our children have also been primary determiners of what I do with my money. Growing my number has to take a back seat while spending on tuition and rich life experiences including international travel as a family. These things are more important to me than retiring to two homes and daily rounds of golf.
We recently met with a young couple who are on a very fast career track, making as much money as possible, as fast as possible. They are waking up to the idea that they don’t want to work so hard anymore. They think they have enough stuff already. A bigger home looks like a bigger headache. Two homes seem ridiculous in this day and age. They want to have children and quality family time. They engaged us in order to have a conversation that starts with their quality of life and ends with their financial planning rather than vice versa. Smart kids!
I’m curious about how you are thinking about your number. What role does financial planning have in shaping your future? What values other than financial comfort and security influence your life plan? What is your starting point?
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