What do you want from your life?

At first glance, this may seem like an obvious and easy question. Yet give it some thought and it becomes the big question and one that is always changing.

Those who have spent time contemplating what they want to achieve in life, and considered how they will use the limited time and resources available, will know this to be a challenging but essential question to answer.

Without this focus, you may find yourself in later life filled with regret. Realising that you are the one in control will ensure your money is working for you, in a way that fits your life.

Most people don’t realise that active control over their money and the choices they make with it go a long way to defining the quality of their life.

The function of money in society is to act as a medium of exchange between providers of different products and services, allowing you to consume them at times suited to you, and as a store of value so that we do not have to spend your money immediately at the point of earning it.

Yet at a personal level, your money is not an abstract, functional concept; it has a purpose.

The purpose of money is to help you live the life that you want to live.

This purpose incorporates our basic needs such as feeding, clothing and housing ourselves and our family, and ensuring there isn’t too much life at the end of our money long after we have stopped working.

For most of us however, it goes further than this.

Relative to most of the world, we live in a free and prosperous society. Money can therefore be used as a tool to provide increased comforts and conveniences, explore the world, fund our ideas, creativity and innovations, and provide us with the power to obtain the freedom and abundant choice which this world offers us.

Money is the middle man between your dreams and bringing them to life.

Managing your money properly will put you in control of your time, freeing you to pursue those things that are valuable to you today, and helping you craft the life you would like in your future.

But it is not all about money.

You also require clarity of purpose.

If you are without a clear idea of what you truly want, and if you neglect to prioritise those things that are important to you, if you lack clear direction; you will find it difficult to make the correct personal and financial decisions.

You see, money is a strange beast. Our relationship with money is even more bizarre. Individually and collectively, we appear incapable of managing our relationship with money.

Some should priotise supporting their family, yet squander their earnings buying things they don’t need, ending up in a spiral of debt.

Others spend their lives chasing money and find themselves financially well-off (and sometimes rich), but realise they are incredibly poor regarding their quality of life and happiness.

Some view money as the root of all evil, and forego the benefits of money, mistakenly blaming the messenger (money), for the actions of people.

Many who are financially successful become estranged from friends, lose loved ones from lack of attention, and become detached from their family due to lack of time. You, therefore, have to question whether they are successful at all?

Some can never quite earn enough of it. Others earn plenty but just can’t seem to keep hold of it.

Some chase dreams in dubious investments, losing their shirt in the process. Others remain fearful of things they don’t understand and miss out on huge sums that can be obtained from sensible and patient investment.

In these scenarios, people have failed to remain in control of their money and their life. Either financial factors have not been considered in full, or personal factors have taken second place to financial matters. Both routes lack the wisdom that comes from balancing your choices between personal and financial ones.

There’s little point seeking to become the richest person in the graveyard, and conversely, it is foolish to leave yourself short of money, stressed out and squeezed into frugality and poverty.

Nearly all of us don’t have the right amount of money; it’s either too much or too little (but clearly having too much would be preferable).

The first step on your path to prosperity is to get an understanding of what you truly want and how much this might cost you; now and in your future.

By Mark Underdown

Financial Coach, Small Acorn Money

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