Since Thanksgiving dinner will be on the table sooner than we realize, we thought it appropriate to address how your financial freedom is directly linked to the level of gratitude you have about life. This was spurred on by a reader who said: “OK guys, I’ve enjoyed reading your columns these last several months and I like the connection you make between my money and the importance of having meaningful conversations about it with my loved ones, but what the heck? Financial freedom and gratitude –– how do those concepts mix?”
If you turn back the clock a decade to 2005 you will remember the economic boom when seemingly everyone was prospering. By 2008 those days were long gone. Almost everyone was affected with lower portfolio values, and some had to delay retirement and work a few more years. For everyone, it should have been a learning experience.
If we accept the fact that we can’t control what our investment returns will be (month-to-month) and focus solely on what we can control (how much we actually save for the future) we free ourselves from worrying about investment performance. We should not stress over the market on a daily basis. Doing so can cause some people to avoid saving anything because they get focused exclusively on the short term.
Here’s an alternative view. At the end of the month when you get your paycheck and see that you saved 10% into your retirement plan, be thankful you made progress towards your future. Ideally, you should do this month-after-month! As illustrated in the graphic, embracing the reality of uncertainty and doing what we can control based on the knowledge and experience we have in the moment, can bring us a freedom that many of us may have never experienced.
Let’s not get caught up with keeping up with the Jones’. Rather, let’s focus on the good things life offers –– family, friends, health, and purposeful living. It’s this relative perspective that should help us realize we should be far more THANKFUL for the good things that do happen in life. Having this focus will make you more aware of the many blessings we do experience each day and the goodness that comes from it.
So as you walk, drive or fly toward your turkey dinner later this month, we have one wish for you and your loved ones –– that if you focus just a little bit more on gratitude this Holiday season, you just might improve your financial freedom. Happy Thanksgiving!