Financial planning is about creating a clear path to your goals in life. When thinking about the future it is important to challenge any assumptions and aim high.
For many this will mean giving thought to what happiness actually means to them, for some it will require looking again at the things that make them happy.
It is essential to take time to understand what you want from life. Only when you have a good understanding of this are you better placed to answer the crucial question: how much is enough?
Obviously the answer to that question will be different for everyone. For some it may be a number but for others it will be an ideal. As often with planning, the real value comes from the time spent considering the answers. Clarity brings wellbeing.
Can money make me happy?
For some people the pursuit of money is a life goal, for others money seems to have no relevance beyond providing essentials. Most of us are somewhere in between.
It is fair to say money does not bring happiness on its own. Research has shown how the accumulation of wealth for its own sake does not increase our sense of fulfillment.
More accurately it could be said that having enough money to do what we really want creates happiness.
The lottery winner survey
Back in 1979 researchers in the US studied 22 major lottery winners and 29 paralysed accident victims. They sought to understand if happiness is relative to circumstances.
In the study participants were asked about levels of happiness before and after their life changing event.
We may reasonably expect the lottery winners to be happier than the accident victims, or even (based on famous cases) for some of the lottery winners to be less happy since receiving a windfall.
In fact the results were more interesting – the people from either group who said they were happy before the event said they were happy after (following a period of adjustment). Those who were unhappy before were unhappy after.
This is partially because of that annoying tendency we have to get used to the things that once made us happy.
Maybe the most important lesson from this research is to suggest just how bad people are at predicting what will make them happy.
This is particularly true when it comes to money: a shorter commute would make most people as happy as a 40% pay rise.
In order for wealth to create wellbeing we need to 1) know what we want 2) have clear objectives in life and 3) to understand our true motivations.
From my perspective planning is a process, not an event. A financial plan is a snapshot of your life at that point time. The important task is to regularly take stock of progress, review the plans and adjust as necessary.
“I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable”
If you wish to discuss how any of the above relates to your circumstances, please get in touch and we will be happy to assist.
Chartered Financial Planner