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How To (Finally) Outrun Your Financial Ghosts

What are your earliest memories about money? Often, these memories follow us well into adulthood, like some ghost from that past that we can’t quite shake off. One of my earliest memories about money was having my piggy bank smashed and my savings stolen when our house was broken into when I was a kid. That was money I’d worked really hard to save. However, I’d soon experience an even more painful lesson.

When I was in high school, my parents went broke. That had a profound impact on me. There’s no question that we went through some tough times after that. As a result, scarcity was an ongoing theme for me, even as I began to build wealth. No matter how much I had, I never thought it was going to be enough. I felt like I could never outrun that unhealthy ghost from my past. Like many people, my financial freedom came at a high cost.

How do you know when enough is enough?

Over more than 40 years in financial services, I’ve learned a lot about how our attitudes about money can impact how we choose to live. I’ve seen people carelessly spend away inheritances or fail to take steps to protect their income and assets for the people they love. More often, however, I see people who have adequate resources struggling to experience the freedom that their wealth could bring them—if they only let it.

Instead of using their wealth to accomplish the things they want most out of life, they’re afraid to tap into it. They’re concerned about not having enough to provide for themselves or their families, or afraid that it could all disappear one day. It’s not unusual for successful individuals and business owners to get stuck on a treadmill of sorts, amassing more and more money without knowing when it’s safe to stop. Achieving their professional goals often comes at the expense of living the life they had envisioned for themselves and their families. However, that’s a false choice that no one should have to make.

Finding your freedom

Getting past that begins with understanding that financial freedom is about more than money. It’s about finding your why and aligning your resources to pursue it. That’s why we refer to true wealth as “all the things that money can’t buy, and death can’t take away.” It’s the freedom to enjoy what makes your life meaningful: faith, family, friends, community, good health or whatever else really matters to you.

Achieving financial freedom starts with a holistic plan. The planning process will capture what true wealth means to you, prioritize your goals around it, and follow a disciplined approach and framework to execute against your plan. Planning also helps to remove all the “noise” you’re constantly bombarded with, from day-to-day market fluctuations to political and global economic events, to your brother-in-law or coworker’s well-meaning but ultimately misguided advice. All of this noise and conflicting information can lead to making decisions that don’t align with your strategy and don’t support your goals.

Your plan, on the other hand, is laser focused on helping you use your wealth as a tool to support the lifestyle you desire now and well into the future. The clarity and understanding that planning brings allows you to finally let go of any unhealthy attitudes or past relationships with money that have been dragging you down. With a holistic plan centered around your definition of true wealth and a team of advisors your can rely on, you can finally find your financial freedom.

To learn more about the role of planning in finding your financial freedom, download our free guide: Your Family Index Number: Defining Your Future with Confidence.