Money is not the most important thing in life, but we cannot live without it. To demonstrate its importance, in relation to all the other areas of our life, I want to contrast the immediate impact that money has on us as compared with five other very important areas of our life.
The drawing below illustrates a wheel with six important areas we must all balance if we are to have a happy life:
To see how balanced your life is in these six important areas, rank how well you are doing in each of them, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being almost perfect and 1 the very poorest. The goal is to improve the weak areas so that they balance better with the strong areas of your life, thus ending up with a round wheel.
In the example below, how do you think the person is doing? It looks like life is going to be a bumpy ride because his “wheel” is way out of alignment.
To be successful in life, we all need to keep balance in these six main areas. You can argue one or two of these areas may not be important to you, but some of these you will conclude are very significant aspects of living a successful life. I want to make general observations relating to all six areas using only one criteria: the time it takes for us to get hurt by not improving in that area.
Mental: It is important to study and learn and become more capable of helping people with whatever life skills we have acquired — a college education is helpful in making more money. In all our daily activities, we need to manage the ability to learn and grow. If we don’t put forth effort to grow intellectually for six months or longer, let’s say, no problem, but long-term over 10 or 20 years can be. Our intellectual growth will determine how capable we become at helping other people and earning a living.
Physical: If we do not exercise our muscles and heart, they will become weak to the point of death. In all our daily activities we need to manage eating healthy and getting our bodies some exercise. If we don’t work out, don’t eat right, don’t get proper rest, we probably won’t end up in the hospital within three months but neglecting our physical health for five years or more limits what we can do over the long haul. We probably won’t die right away from this neglect but later down the line it will mean we will be greatly limited, especially when it comes to making money.
Family/Home: Let’s think about the importance of our family and home. To have a happy family we must be there for them. Families give us joy and happiness. If we get so busy we don’t spend time with our spouse for six months, we probably won’t end in a divorce, nor will our children be running away from home, but it will not be a desirable home life. We desire to go on vacations and have fun but along with the fun comes daily struggles, which teach us to love and serve each family member, even if that requires more of our time than we are prepared to give at times. Neglecting relationships will destroy families, over time.
Spiritual: Same thing happens with spirituality. If we don’t work on having a relationship with God or a higher power or read faith-promoting literature for six months, we may not have gone plum-to-hell, but we are certainly not heading in the right direction. This leads to self-centered behavior over time and can cause depression.
Social: And what about social contributions? We can serve in the local Boy Scouts, or Cancer Crusade, or read to children in a handicapped school. There are so many worthy activities to make a meaningful contribution in our communities. If we choose not to help for a year or two, our neighborhood will not likely come knock on our door and ask us to leave. However, over 20 plus years we will have become locked in our own little world and not part of the bigger picture that can surely add joy and happiness to our life and the life of others.
Financial: The last of the six areas of importance in our lives is finances, or money. Let’s assume you lost your job and in three weeks you will no longer receive a paycheck. How quickly will you feel the pressures of housing, food and transportation costs? Unlike the other areas of our life, finances have an immediate impact on how well we are doing. We cannot got even three months without getting this area of our life under control if we are going to stay on top of things and have the strength and opportunity to work on the other five areas.
My point is not that money is more important than mental growth, physical fitness, family relationships, spirituality, or social contributions. However, the lack of money (and the proper management of that money) will have the quickest impact on your life! If you don’t workout for three months, your body does not get weak so fast as to send you to the hospital. But, if you don’t have money for three months, every other area of your life will be adversely affected. For example, how spiritual will you feel if you don’t make the house payment? You may feel panicked and depressed rather than uplifted and full of hope. What kind of family pressure will there be on you when there’s not enough food in the house or when you can’t afford to register your teen for a soccer team?
The solution to the quick and sudden impact of having no money is implementing a system to manage your money. A proper money management system will teach all the following: how to control spending, thus creating surplus that can be set aside for emergencies, job lay-offs, paying down debt and even planning vacations. A system for managing money allows us to predict so many things, not the least of which is a quality retirement.
What happens when we don’t have a system? Consider U.S. Census statistics: The average household earns $55,000 a year. The bread winner of that household works about 40 years. This allows an employee to earn over $2,000,000 during their working lives. But consider this, Census statistics show that the average person reaching retirement age has less than $60,000 of any kind of asset, including equity in a home. How does $2,000,000 come and go through our fingers and we only have $60,000 left to show for it? Not having a personal money management system is the answer.
I encourage you to get a good principled-based money management system and live it. Everyone can do this. Changes may be in order. Money Mastery’s program can help because it is based on 10 time-tested principles that anyone can apply. Living these principles will guarantee that you can get on top of your finances. Here is the same Wheel of Life looking through the 10 Money Mastery Principles.
Notice that money is in the center? Not because it is the most important but because it has the quickest impact on all other important areas of our lives. Get a money management system and be at peace, strengthen family relationships, afford higher education, go to the best gymnasiums, and serve in many responsible positions in your community. Leave a quality legacy of your life.
Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Using a principled-based personal money management system will ensure you will have the time and the money to affect your life and the life of others in the best possible way.