We’ve heard it over and over again: stress kills. We’ve also heard, [over and over again] how money and finances top the charts when it comes to stress. Oh yes, and, we can easily add envy to that list. Whether that means coveting a neighbor as she drives up with her new top-of-the-line BMW or driveling over the photos your colleague just posted while on her two-week European vacation [gotta love social media], the possibility of envy is among us.
And of course, when you allow that envy to drive your decisions about spending money, you could be headed for financial trouble, [and perhaps the same kind of trouble the wannabe affluent neighbor may already be facing].
“Too many people get caught up in accumulating things and projecting an image of success,” says Brad Berger, author of the book Stop Trying to Keep Up With the Joneses – They’re Broke Anyway. Such people create an illusion of wealth because they live extravagantly today, but lack any coherent plan for tomorrow, says Berger. Sadly, yet too often, many let someone else’s values, rather than theirs, determine their financial choices and their lack of financial freedom.
“The secret to success is determining what you, not someone else, want to achieve and then figuring out what it’s going to take to achieve that,” Berger says. “Living in alignment with your values doesn’t automatically bring on the good life, but it becomes the foundation that guides future decisions about what you want to pursue.” In other words, this is what the road to stress-less living looks like.
Aside from aligning your financial choices with your personal goals and values, it’s vital to get your entire house in order. Yes, that means getting everyone in your home to agree and understand the importance of focusing on values and setting goals based on those values. This also involves planning and figuring out what the best investment strategies should be for today, and for the future.
You want to feel that, no matter what happens in the markets, the economy or the world, you will be on track toward your goals. Financial planning isn’t just about investing in the stock market, Berger says. You also need to manage risks, plan for retirement, develop a comprehensive tax plan and put in place a plan to take care of your family after you are gone.
And this dear reader, provides confidence and peace of mind to stop focusing so much on money and what it can buy, and instead hone in on the things that are more important. When we asked Berger for his final thoughts and advice toward living a stress-less life, he added, “I have learned that the accumulation of shiny objects does not lead to happiness.”
Photo by Andrey Yurlov