Last month, I shared a stage with some very accomplished women at the 2019 Forbes Women’s Summit, which Vanguard co-sponsored. These impressive women are affecting the future of business, politics, and media in a big way.
My panel discussion focused on leading with purpose. As we spoke, I was struck by how the theme of “purpose” extends to our financial lives.
Money expresses what we value most in life
My background is in financial planning. As you might imagine, it involves some math—calculations that seem to have a “right” answer and many wrong answers. Which is ironic, because when it comes to money management, there are infinite numbers of “right” answers. It’s really a series of trade-offs.
All of us want to be purposeful when it comes to money. As humans, we attach a great amount of meaning to money—how we earn it and how we use it. In my travels, I’ve met people whose “money purpose” is to:
- Gain self-sufficiency and financial independence.
- Leave money to a cause that’s close to their heart.
- Ensure children and grandchildren have opportunities they didn’t.
- Create something new—a business, a product, technology, or art.
- Experience everything the world has to offer.
None of these money purposes are “wrong”; they’re just different and highly personalized.
Have you ever thought about your money purpose? If not, that’s unsurprising. Money views pass down between generations, and many people aren’t conscious about what’s behind their saving, spending, and giving patterns. And of course you may not have one single purpose; it’s likely that it’s a balancing act among different goals.
Let’s talk about money more often
Another reason money purposes can be so undefined is that (because they’re ultimately about values and not about math) they’re open to judgment. As a result, it’s hard for a lot of people to talk openly about money (and many of us were raised not to discuss it in polite company!).
But younger generations, raised on social sharing, are increasingly bringing money conversations into the open. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Financial planners need clients to be clear and honest about their intentions for their money and about the values most important to them. Financial advice that’s perfect for one person may not work for someone else.
We’re all CEOs
When we work with wealthier clients who want to involve their families in money matters, one of the things we encourage them to do is to put a stake in the ground with a family mission statement.
That’s a technique that should be used by everyone: As one Summit speaker noted, we’re all the CEOs of our homes, making critical decisions and trade-offs every day.
So now I’d like to hear from you: What’s your biggest “money purpose,” and how do you live it every day? What have you sacrificed to live your purpose? And how does knowing your purpose make money management intentional?
- All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.