I recently read a great article by Joe Morgan CFP who is an adviser in the US on achieving Financial fulfillment.
What Exactly is Financial Fulfillment?
Financial fulfillment happens when we are entirely in control of our finances, using them to achieve what we want in life. It’s a state of mind that comes from financial success and at the same time, requires us to live up to our financial responsibilities.
The three seemingly easy steps to financial fulfillment are clarity of your goals, resources, and strategies available to you. Understanding your current resources is fairly straight forward, what do you earn, what do you have saved up, what do you owe, what are your monthly commitments etc. Understanding the strategies available may not be so simple, well to be fair, some of them are, paying off consumer debt such as credit cards and store cards, having at least a months living costs saved as an emergency, these don’t take much knowledge to know what to do.
Our challenges usually lie in the clarity of our goals. We have more choices than ever before in the modern world. So many that we quite often get stuck in just choosing where to start.
Successful goal achievement is a #behavioural trait and the most successful chase goals that drive them towards something rather than away from something. It might be the same goal, but the motivation behind it is a determining factor in the successful achievement of that goal or the reason the goal was never achieved at all.
Once we know where we are, where we want to be, what resources and strategies we have available, the next step is to exert our control over finances. Making sure that we’re no longer paying interest on loans we don’t need, on credit cards we retain and that we can start to see the impact our actions are having towards the achievement of our financial goals.
Once we are in control of our finances, the choices we make day by day about finances become crucial to our financial fulfillment. Trade-offs between what we want today and what we want for ourselves in the future become real and obvious and our challenge is often to be driven enough by our goals that the short term distractions don’t have any power over us anymore.
What Gets in the Way?
Life. Once we reach the point of acting intentionally, life can and will get in the way. How specifically? Well, here are some things to take into account.
1. We are not fully equipped to make the best financial decisions for ourselves. Financial options are very technical (and boring) in nature and require a great deal of knowledge about taxes, historical performance, and other industry stuff.
2. None of the nitty-gritty ins and outs of finances are taught in school. Even if you have a specialized degree in finance.
3. We don’t learn it from our parents because they didn’t know much more themselves and likely weren’t interested in discussing financial failures with their kids.
4. We don’t talk about this with our friends either. Finance may be the last taboo subject in society, and even when we do broach the subject, conversations are short and not very helpful.
5. Perhaps worst of all, the financial community has incentives that work against you. Almost the entire industry is built on product sales instead of true advice. Even “financial advisors” are mostly just insurance or investment product salespeople in disguise. And this is all blessed by the regulatory system that oversees them. It’s just the way it has always been.
As a result, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of financial advice. Think about any recent financial conversations you’ve had, and I bet they revolve around a minor tactic or trade that, in the grand scheme of things, probably won’t make a difference. But it does make a difference to Wall Street – they get paid when you make a change to your finances, not when you move toward financial fulfillment.
Now It’s Up To You
How are you feeling now about financial fulfillment? Your answer should be better, good, or even great because now you know how to make it happen and you can do this.
So, to wrap this up, let’s do a quick recap:
1. The first step on your way to financial fulfillment is to clarify your goals, resources, and strategies.
2. When financial topics come up, do your best to react with thought and intention. There are no financial emergencies. We only create emergencies when we act outside our own values.
3. Know that there is help. You are not alone.
Understanding the value of financial fulfillment is important for kickstarting your journey. In doing so, you will be able to confidently strive for clarity, control, and intention in your financial life.