When I first started managing my finances, I had only one goal – to retire early. Since then, however, my goals have evolved to include many others such as improving my (1) health, (2) relationships, (3) effectiveness at work and even (4) spirituality. You see, financial efficiency affects all aspects of life, and money can have a tremendous impact on our well being. Here’s what I’ve discovered on my journey so far.
Caring about money can lead to better health.
When you manage your finances, you maximize value. This means that you want your money going to the right places. For me, this meant spending less on junk food and more on healthy, organic foods. Sure, organic foods can be more expensive, but they can be even more valuable for their health benefits. Buying junk food on the other hand felt like throwing away my hard earned dollars.
What’s more, I began to find value in walking and biking over driving a car, especially after I discovered how expensive it was to drive. So in this case, my physical health improved in tandem with my finances as I saved money on gas and car maintenance.
Maximizing value can improve your relationships with others.
When you care about the value of your money, you also care about the value and efficient use of your time. For me, that means spending time with those that I truly care about, such as my girlfriend, friends and family. As a result, I focus both my time and money on activities that can be enjoyed together with others. Examples would include trips to the movies, annual zoo memberships, fancy hotels and nice restaurants. Consequently, I now spend less on video games, toys and gadgets, all items that I would’ve typically enjoyed by myself.
The desire for early retirement can make you more effective at work.
In the beginning, the desire to retire seemed to conflict with the desire to do well at my job. Over time though, I realized that the happiness and autonomy that I seek in retirement could be achieved even as I continue to work. So I became more proactive and sought out the assignments that I wanted as well as the people I wanted to work with. In addition, I got better at managing expectations, communicating with my colleagues and setting my own priorities at work. Accordingly, I’ve become more effective at my job and achieved more control over my life.
Preparing for retirement can boost your spirituality.
When you save for retirement, you inevitably think about what you want to do after you stop working. For me, this led to a reexamination of my life in the context of my Christian faith. In other words, I began to ask what God wants me to do with my life. Does He want me to continue working for a law firm, become a solo practitioner, or perhaps do something completely different such as teach children or volunteer at a hospital? Perhaps I could simply continue my current job and donate all of my future earnings to the poor. Or I could focus on pro bono matters for those who can’t afford representation. With money out of the picture, I imagine pursuing only work that would feed my spirituality.
While some may argue that thinking about money and retirement can lead to penny pinching and laziness, my own experience has proven the opposite. Caring about finances has led to better health and spirituality. And caring about the value of time and money has improved my relationships and boosted my productivity. Put another way, personal finance can lead to a happier and more meaningful life in ways that you may never have expected.