How To Increase Your Financial Bliss

by Millionaire Mommy Next Door on November 6, 2008

in Happiness,How To Guide

Everyone needs food, shelter and clothing. But beyond basic survival needs, there is an endless array of money-hungry possibilities that can consume disposable income. Many let money slip through their fingers without giving much thought to the big picture. We often buy the latest and greatest stuff simply because our neighbors do; so we can keep up with the infamous Jones family. Advertisers, the media and society influence how we spend.

But living according to your own personal values is the key to happiness and financial well-being. Once you’ve mindfully identified what truly makes you tick, your financial decisions can be guided into alignment with your value system. When you live (and spend) true to your values, you are bound to feel fulfilled, content, peaceful and happy.

You may value a beautiful home — so you spend generously on a home purchase and decorating, remodeling and furnishings. I may value freedom, travel and recreation above all else — so I don’t mind living in a more simple home. Perhaps you feel strongly that it’s important to protect the environment — so you’re willing to fork out more moola to purchase a vehicle that operates on alternative fuel. Your neighbor’s priority might be safety — so they drive a large SUV.

On the other hand, perhaps you are unconsciously investing in things that are not as important to you as others are. Financial happiness occurs once you figure out what is important to you and spend accordingly. Evaluating your key priorities provides a beginning structure for your spending plan– a budget that you’ll be enthusiastically motivated and happy to adhere to. Not sure what your top priorities are? Take a good look at your Treasure Map to a Rich Life — it will reveal important clues.

For purposes of illustration, I’m sharing my own list of priorities and values today. It’s been my experience that the ways in which we choose to think directly influences our actual behavior and in turn, our behavior powers our outcome. Therefore, note my choice of words that serve as affirmations such as “I choose to…” rather than “I wish…”.

My List of Priorities and Personal Values:

1. Family Relationships: I value spending quality time with my family each and every day. I choose to spend more time with my family than on any other endeavor, including my career. Therefore, I accept less income in exchange for more free time.

2. Friendships: I choose to have enough free time to nurture, maintain, and enjoy my friends. Again, I choose to trade income for free time.

3. Health: I value strength, energy, and longevity. I choose to take care of my physical self so that I am better equipped to do all of the things that I love to do. Therefore, I gladly trade money for organic foods and weekly massage therapy.

4. Fun: Life is a precious gift meant to be enjoyed. I choose to live an enthusiastic life; to enjoy my relationships, hobbies and interests; to laugh, smile and acknowledge my gratitude daily. Therefore, I choose to be a do-er, not a have-er.

5. Freedom: Freedom from money worries, serious health problems, stress, and time restrictions. I choose to be able to do what I want, when I want, where I want; and to be free from shoulda-coulda-can’t types of thinking. I choose to be free from the need to wake in the morning by the obnoxious bleeping of an alarm clock. Therefore, I choose to be my own boss and set my own hours.

6. Curiosity-Led Learning: I value a lifetime love of learning. I choose to pursue my own interests, and I facilitate the same curiosity-led learning opportunities for my daughter.

7. Environment and Sustainability: I believe that everyone has an individual responsibility to protect our natural resources. I choose a lifestyle that emphasizes sustainability over wasteful consumption. Besides, by owning less stuff, I have more money – and time – to spend on the activities that matter most to me.

8. Community and Compassion: I believe that each individual is an important and integral part of our world-wide community. I choose to feel and act compassionately towards others. Therefore, I am willing to work sans pay (volunteer) for the benefit of others.

When you review and revise your annual spending plan (aka budget), ignore the Joneses. Make sure that your plan reflects your personal values. By mindfully doing so, you’ll likely find that money can buy you happiness!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy @ Retire at 40 November 7, 2008 at 3:03 am

Interesting post. I know exactly what you mean since I have chosen that living in a smaller home is what pleases me most – less rent but also less clutter and less to clean (I’m still working on the less clutter part). When I move next time, I will also get a home of the same size but with a larger garden so I can grow my own vegetables.

Some other things I choose are:

* the environment since I walk/bike everywhere rather than use a car
* music and film over general TV
* time over money, since you can always more of the latter but not the former

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Dale November 7, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I just realized the reason I love your blog is because you and I share the same priorities and values.

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JB November 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Very true. Good points about unconscious investing. I’m coming to realize that I’ve been doing this myself, and the fallout has been appalling. I bought a home nine years ago. I didn’t have to; but it’s something that everyone else in my family has done, and they are all obsessed with remodeling them and turning the houses into the manifestation of their dreams. They are also all into canning, gardening, and beautifying their outdoor spaces.

So, once I had the money, I bought a house that was trapped in the 1970s and had a big empty yard brimming with potential. I envisioned yardwork, remodeling, and all the excitement my relatives were experiencing.

Shocker to realize: I don’t really like yardwork; I hate pulling weeds; I hate mowing the lawn (it makes me ill); if a plant requires much more than sticking it in the ground once (go, perennials!), I’m not interested and it will die; gutting and remodeling a room is fun the first time but annoying the second; and I’d really rather spend my time riding my horse in the woods, or knitting, or writing, or reading than to be up to my eyeballs in drywall or gardening. And canning? Grocery stores exist for a reason.

Then I lost my job in 2002. There’s more to the story that need not be told here. Suffice it to say that I just recently received a miracle that is allowing me to bring the house out of foreclosure TODAY so that I can sell it and I can enjoy the profits (rather than some bank). It’s going back on the market, and I’m rethinking my priorities. Perhaps renting isn’t so bad after all, if I ever need to go that route again. But I firmly believe that it was my need make that unconscious investment in something that was more important to others than it was to me that lead me to this point.

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Frugal Dad November 10, 2008 at 5:59 am

I enjoyed this post because it reminded me of some of the same things I find important, and have been reminded of while watching my mother fight a very serious medical condition and 60-day hospital stay. Funny how something like that can bring everything back into perspective. For the last two months I’ve thought and worried very little about money, outside of some concern for her financial future.

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San Francisco Financial Planner November 12, 2008 at 2:29 pm

When you are looking to save some money, I find it most helpful to list your expenses from the largest to the smallest. It really helps focus your energy on where you can make an impact. Too many people spend their time trying to shave a few dollars from the smaller items (which can be easy and worthwhile), but cutting one of your bigger expenses by just 5% could put a lot more savings into your pocket than things like packing your lunch twice per week. However, in light of this article and advice, listing your expenses in this way can help you see where your money is really going. Does your spending line up with your heartfelt values? Or is there a significant disconnect between your financial values and where your money actually goes?

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Vincent Scordo November 27, 2008 at 9:42 am

Nice post. I’ve been writing a personal finance and practical living blog for the last few months and I thought you would enjoy the following post on frugal living and my parents (who are immigrants from Italy and I think you would identify with in terms of personal finance habits):

http://www.scordo.com/blog/2008/10/what-you-can-learn-from-immigr.html

Best,
Vince

http://www.scordo.com/blog/blog

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