I’ve worked with a wide range of people along the way, from directors of multi-billion dollar companies to those struggling just to put food on the table. In doing so I’ve observed patterns that influence people’s experience of well being in virtually every area of life: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational and financial.
Through it all, I have had a fascination with the area of “financial well being”.
Financial well being takes into consideration more than just the material measurements of financial success. It includes how your beliefs, habits, hopes, fears and dreams around money and wealth play out in your life-experience.
Financial Well Being: The Inner and the Outer-Worlds
To me, financial well being isn’t just about how much money you make, how much money you save or invest, or what your balance sheet looks like. Financial well being is something that must be assessed by looking at both your inner and outer worlds, and discovering how you navigate the inner and outer when it comes to money.
The Outer-World of Finances
The outer-world of finances is the world of the material, the world of “things and stuff”.
In the outer-world you can keep track of how much money you have coming in and going out, and you can see, touch, taste, smell or feel the things and stuff that you’ve acquired, sold or given away.
In the outer-world there are financial laws and principles that everyone is affected by, similar to the laws of gravity or thermodynamics. Outer-world laws around financial well being include principles like, “To build wealth you must…”
1. Have a means of generating income (Typically through products, skills or services that add value to others, and that people want and will pay for).
2. Spend less money than you make and save the difference (10% is a good start).
3. Invest a portion of what you save to take advantage of compounding interest.
4. Continue to save and invest until the income generated by your investments matches or exceeds the income that you make through your products, skills or services (and supports the lifestyle you want to live for as long as you live).
5. Contribute some portion of your income to help others.
Mastery of the outer-world of finance is elusive to many because they either:
1. Don’t generate enough income to pay for their expenses plus save a percentage.
2. Generate enough income, but spend all of it without saving or investing.
3. Spend more than they make, and accrue debt that doesn’t help them generate more income.
The people that I know and work with who are incredibly wealthy all have a very methodical, almost “boring” approach to wealth-building. They simply follow the laws of the outer-world of finance and they don’t deviate from them.
Of course there are varying degrees of sophistication when it comes to investing, and those who study more and do more due-diligence learn how to mitigate the risks and take advantage of the many opportunities that can compound the interest on their investments much faster.
This is precisely how the rich get richer.
The Inner-World of Finances
The inner-world of finances on the other hand, is the world of the immaterial, the world of “feelings and perceptions”. This is where your beliefs, and your psychology around finances really come into play.
In the inner-world your subjective experience is the key factor.
How do you “feel” about your current financial situation for example?
Are you proud? Are you ashamed? Are you scared? Are you excited? How much is “enough” money? Do you feel “worthy”? Are you inspired, frustrated or indifferent about finances?
Inner-world laws around finances include principles like:
1. You have a financial “thermostat” based on your beliefs about money, which controls the base and ceiling for how much you make and keep.
2. Money is a way to document an exchange of energy, and pieces of paper (in the past backed up by precious metals, but now just pieces of paper!) or digital blips on a computer screen are how we keep track of the exchange of this energy.
3. How you feel about money, and how much money you make is largely a result of your conditioning and culture (which is why your financial circumstances are typically very similar to your closest peer-group).
4. The experience of “abundance” is not a result of finally having “enough”. The experience of abundance comes first, then the floodgates to “more than enough” really open.
Why Uncertainty, Discomfort and Financial Well Being Go Together
The universe is constantly changing and expanding. Nothing stays the same. Yet, people tend to want almost absolute certainty when it comes to finances! People want to make the “right” choices. They want to avoid risk. They don’t want to lose their money. They want a “sure thing”.
The dream of winning the Lottery is a great example of how people’s desire for financial certainty and a “sure thing” plays out. The idea of hitting a mega-jackpot and never having to feel uncertain about money again has incredible allure.
People also tend to want comfort. Not only do people want a sure thing, but they they want it “right now!”
This desire for instant gratification and comfort is what credit card companies take advantage of, and in most cases it is what spirals people into the opposite state they are hoping for – into a state of extreme discomfort.
The truth is, the people who make the most money understand that the most money is made during the times of highest uncertainty! They do their homework, pay attention and wait for opportune times to buy low and eventually sell high.
The wealthiest people also make “wrong” choices much of the time. But they are wise enough to know that not every investment is going to yield a great return, and that often they will lose. So they diversify and use different vehicles – some riskier and some more tame – to ensure a net gain over time.
Merging the Inner and Outer Worlds of Finance
To experience financial well being you don’t need a lot of money. You just need enough to support the lifestyle you want to live, while at the same time feeling a sense of freedom and gratitude. After all, you can have millions in assets and live in fear, guilt or resentment – a state of financial “illness”.
So what can you do to increase your financial well being? Here are some ideas for merging the inner and outer worlds of finance:
1. Pay yourself first. Always take at least 10% off the top and save it before you spend any of the money you make. This builds your sense of self-worth and self-discipline, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can actually save.
2. Raise your financial IQ. Nobody is going to do it for you. You must learn about the world of finance. Start reading the financial section of the paper. Watch the financial news. Take some courses on finance. Learn the language and you will begin to demystify the financial realm and feel more confident.
3. Get in the game. Once you start both saving and learning more, opportunities will open up. If you don’t have any money saved, don’t expect investment opportunities to show up. With some savings and education you get yourself in the game.
4. Talk to wealthy people. Who do you know who is financial free, happy and generous? If you don’t know anybody, then start looking! A person who is truly wealthy wants to help others lift themselves up, and when they have time they’ll happily give you a hand-up (not a hand-out). A financially-well mentor will change your life.
5. Take a look at your peer-group. Proximity truly is power. Who do you hang out with? Are they financially “well”? Love your friends and family, and at the same time branch out to ensure that you are spending more time with positive, grateful and generous people. Their wealth consciousness will rub off on you.
6. Examine your beliefs. Write down all of your beliefs about wealth and money and ask to share them with someone who is financially well. Their feedback will show you exactly where your limiting beliefs lie.
7. Start now. Don’t wait for “someday”. Start saving 10% and never stop…ever.
Find out more about Dr. John Amaral D.C. and learn how to create and sustain well being by visiting wellbeingcenter.com