Do you know your ‘Return on Life’?
When people start thinking about financial planning, the types of questions that come to mind include “How much do I save or spend each year?” and “Will I have enough money to retire?”
These are natural questions to be asking. We expect our money to help us feel safe, especially as we grow older and start thinking about retirement.
Here's the thing. If you view your savings and investments only as numbers on a page that you're trying to nudge upwards, do you ever really reach “enough”? You could always be saving more. You could always be investing more. You could always be spending less. But does doing so make you feel any happier?
Your financial plan should be a vehicle that takes you where you want to go. If your goal is “having enough money”, then your plan, and the life it provides you, will be stuck in a cul-de-sac. You'll find yourself trying to justify every minor and major financial decision as you circle around and around wondering if you “have enough”.
That's not a trip that's going to make you feel secure. It's not likely to make you feel happy either.
You may know how much money you have in the bank, or the size of your portfolio, but do you know your return on life?
Here's a new question you could be asking about your financial plan: “Am I getting the best life possible with the money I have?”
Instead of focusing exclusively on the traditional return on investment (ROI), people are starting to focus on their return on life (ROL).
There are three broad areas to consider when thinking about ROL:
• Your wellbeing. This encompasses your return on leisure, health, and relationships. Are you enjoying your life? Do you take time to do the things you want to do, see the places you want to see, and spend time with the people you care about?
Are you able to take care of your health without financial stress? Do you check your health regularly with your doctors? Do you eat well and exercise regularly? Are your relationships with friends and family affected by money matters? Are you and your spouse in sync about household spending?
• Your progress. This looks at your return on work, residence, achievement, and learning. Does your work give you satisfaction? Do you feel energised by your work? Do you feel like your home is the right place for you? Are the costs of your residence easily managed? Are you able to fund your needs and pursue your aspirations? Are you effectively using your finances for you or your children/grandchildren's education? Are you engaged in lifelong learning?
• Your freedom. This relates to your return on purpose, autonomy, and security. Are there causes to which you'd like to devote more of your time, energy, or money? Are you using your money to free up your time and allow you to do things you want to do? Do you have time to attend to the things that mean the most to you? Are you confident about your financial future? Are you comfortable with how your financial resources are invested?
By exploring these areas, you'll have a good sense of how satisfied you are with your life and your finances, whether you're getting the best return on life you can. Adopting an ROL perspective is a great way to achieve life satisfaction and to know that you are using your money to live your best life.
• Jason Cook CFP®, RICP® is vice-president, Investments at BF&M. For more information on BF&M's financial planning approach and services, contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 295 5566.