DOES MONEY MAKE YOU HAPPY?

DOES MONEY MAKE YOU HAPPY?

This has been a hotly debated topic in numerous studies over the years. In some ways it can add happiness and in some ways it can’t.  Here are 4 reason’s why it can’t make you happy. `

1)      Studies have shown that there is an association between money and happiness up to about $75,000 per year in household income as this covers your basic needs of food clothing and shelter.  Above this amount, there is no significant correlation between happiness and money.  The challenge is this is a national average.  If we live in a high-income neighborhood and we see our neighbors with cars we don’t have or perhaps we can’t give our children the experiences other neighbor kids are having, then we can feel deprived relative to the people around us. This is a phenomena call “relative deprivation”.

2)      Money worship. Believing money will make you happy or that money will solve your problems has a bit of a downside. Studies by Dr. Brad Klontz have shown that if we have these beliefs, we are most likely to have a lower net worth, higher credit card debt in an attempt to buy things to make us feel better about ourselves. The more intensely we believe that money will make us happier, the more likely we are to sabotage our finances.

3)      The happiness treadmill.  When I ask a client who makes $50k how much would make them happy, they’ll say $75k.  If I ask a client who makes $75k how much would make them happy they’ll say $100k. For many, there is the thought that if they make more money, they’ll be happier is referred to as the ‘hedonic treadmill’.

4)      Happiness baseline. We all have a happiness baseline from which we don’t often stray too far. For some of us is genetically hardwired and for some of us it’s conditioned by life experiences and for most of us it’s a combination of the two. While there is a natural ebb and flow on how we feel day to day based on what’s happening in our lives, there is a tendency to drift back to our happiness set point.

We will often see that people who have achieved high levels of success that they have always dreamed of and have carried the belief that money and success will make them happy and when they finally achieve it, they quickly realize that they are still themselves and it didn’t change themselves, their family, and their relationships. When money and success was the primary goal and they dig a little deeper and discover that it doesn’t give them what they truly wanted, many struggle with finding true meaning in their lives.

The goal is to be as happy as you can be right now by paying close attention to the love and beauty that exists around us.  If you can achieve happiness in your current situation, then you will be able to make the most when money does come into your life and you will be able to use to improve your overall level of happiness.  “GRATITUDE IS THE FOUNDATION FOR ABUNDANCE”.

 

What are your Core Values?

When I cam across this whole concept it was staggering to me to think that I had lived most of my entire life not really clear about what MY core values were.  I lived a life I thought I was supposed to live…. after all, this is what everyone else was doing.  Don’t get me wrong, it has been an incredibly fruitful work life, but there were A LOT of tradeoffs along the way….. many of those tradeoffs I was not even aware of until later in life.

The Core Values process is designed to lay a foundation of thought about what words (and in turn visuals) best reflect who we are as a person.  More than just what’s important to you, the challenge is to come up with a handful of words and definitions that begin to talk to who you are as a person. We leverage the questions asked in the initial questionnaires around your first experience with money.  It’s a simple drill down exercise resulting in a handful of words and definitions that YOU come up that best speaks to who you are.

It’s these core values we then leverage to adjust our behavior towards healthier financial habits, becoming a conscious consumer, and creating plan around your long-term goals and objectives.

It’s a process that should constantly be revisited as your values will change and evolve over time. “Change is guaranteed, progress is not”. E

5 Tips to Hiring a Financial Coach.

  1. Check their qualifications.  What training have they had, what’s their financial background. You want to make sure that the person your hiring has the experience and background to help you with your finances and provide you the information to make the best decisions for you.  They should also have their financial house in order. Ask them about their own financial success.
  2. Check their skills and training to make sure they have the specific skills to help you.  If you have a bit of debt, it may involve more work around income and expenses.  If you have a high net-worth, your focus may be on real estate acquisitions, investments or better understanding life insurance. They should have experience with investments, real estate, insurance, estate planning and taxes.
  3. Do you feel comfortable with your financial coach?  Money is a very challenging subject to talk about. If you’re going to hire a coach to help you with your money, you need to feel comfortable about being 100% honest and open about your situation.  You will not be able to make progress if you cannot be 100% open with your coach.
  4. Ask for testimonials and references.  This is not a yelp review industry. Talking about money is an incredibly intimate subject.  Ask and speak with client references to see how their experience was and whether or not they felt they received value out of their process with the financial coach.
  5. Understand how your financial coach is paid. A financial coach should NEVER be paid selling your 3rd party products like life insurance or investments or paid to manage your assets (this is a true financial advisor role and they must be licensed through the Securities and Exchange Commission-SEC). The fee should be a lump sum or monthly payment for coaching services only.

The last point I would like to bring up is that if your financial coach is helping you only with budgets and savings goals, this is something that easily attainable from YouTube or taking basic accounting classes at your local college.  The experience with a comprehensive financial coach should include better understanding your relationship with money so that you create long term, sustainable behavioral changes.

A healthy balance sheet is much more about our relationshipwith money and less about the nickels and dimes.

What is Your Money Story?

Our money stories are rooted in our first experiences with money and continue throughout our adult life. This big-picture view of our experience is what Bari Tessler refers to as your Money Story (The Art of Money, 2016). Most of us have  personal events, habits, and stories that have informed our views on money and what it means to us.

With most clients, the response I often hear is that, “my family never talked about money.” However, as we know,  children are very perceptive, so whether money was discussed or not, the children have gathered an understanding of money from how their parents talk (or don’t talk), think, and act about money. Were there fights about money? Was there a lack of food in the cupboards? Was Mom or Dad   working all the time (and perhaps complaining about that)? There are a host of different issues that shape our perspectives of what money is and what it can do.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH MONEY?

The following list includes some common sayings we may have heard and absorbed as children, which may  have laid the foundation to how we feel about money today:

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • Money is the root of all evil
  • I’ve never been good with money
  • Too much week and not enough paycheck
  • Rich people are greedy
  • Budgeting means cutting back

When we acknowledge these early memories and bring them into clearer focus, we can then choose how we want to incorporate them into our lives. Our financial identity is fluid and subjective and it can be changed and updated and any time.

Many of these ideas  can appear in our Money Stories. While these  simple sayings seem harmless, most often they create a program in our head as a young child that can inform our adult financial outlook and behaviors,  and in some cases make our subconscious not even want money.

TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR MONEY STORY

Everyone has a money story, and it’s time to learn more about it. Here’s a quick exercise I use with my clients to get them thinking about what values and ideas may have informed their adult financial situation.

1)      Visualize and write down your first experience with money

2)      Map your money story to patterns, emotions, and beliefs

3)      Share your story

4)      What parts of your money story would you like to change?

As we visualize our earliest memories of money and what it meant to us, we then want to connect the dots with the past and the present (mapping). How do these money stories show up in your self-talk, your relationships, and in your behaviors? And finally, what new money beliefs would you like to develop? What does your future look like with this new belief system?

As a financial coach we walk through this process, looking at how these beliefs can be limiting, and how we can free ourselves. This is important work that  dovetails some of the  core values exercises, to help us gain a clearer picture of what shapes our behaviors. Looking into the past can lay the foundation for our future goals and objectives.

What are Money Challenges?

Are you stressed or worry about money? Do you argue about money with your partner?

You are not alone. Studies show that 3 out of 4 Americans say money is the primary source of stress in their lives. This stress  can show up as overspending, not making ‘enough’ money, carrying too much debt, financial crises, or not saving enough for the future.

WHAT ARE CHALLENGES AROUND MONEY?

Money challenges show up as negative financial behaviors. These behaviors evolve from our beliefs about money, and are based on past financial experience. Often these form when we are quite young, whether you realize it or not. These experiences could have been your parents fighting about money, a lost investment, or even someone coming in to bail you out of financial difficulties. Whatever the experience is, if there are a lot of emotions involved (as there often is with money), it can form the foundation for negative financial behaviors. MONEY AND RELATIONSHIPS

An unhealthy relationship with money can show up in our relationships with others. This may include financial dependence on others, or financial enabling others financially, which often hurts both the giver and the receiver (perhaps some  parents out there experience this with their adult children?). Other unhealthy behaviors might include acts of financial infidelity where you hide money or spending from your partner.

MONEY WORSHIP

Money worship involves using money or even accumulating possessions to satisfy our emotional needs. These include overspending, hoarding or compulsive buying (ie:  shopaholics). Workaholism is another one we see too often these days–  an experience that I have had. For 25 years I chased success in the form of financial wealth. This lead to some financial success, but it had a devastating effect on my health, happiness, and relationships.

MONEY AVOIDANCE

Money avoidance is under-spending or extreme risk aversion as we sabotage our ability to make money. There is also financial denial which is ignoring our financial concerns like putting our bills in the drawer and not opening them up or archiving emails from collectors (as some people do with letters from the IRS or student loan collections), or ignoring  our bank account so that we don’t have to see how much money we have in the bank.

RESOLVING OUR CHALLENGES AROUND MONEY

Identifying our first experiences with money is the first step to changing our behavior. The next step is to recognize when our money stories arise for us – what events allow these events to show up in our life?   This gives us  an opportunity to acknowledge them, get curious about the motivation behind the actions or feelings, and change them into healthier habits.

As a financial coach I help you through this process; identify your money stories, the core values at the base of our behaviors around money, and help you create a plan that is in alignment with your goals and objectives.