In 1943, an American psychologist named Abraham Maslow authored a paper titled “A Theory of Human Motivation” and introduced an idea that would forever change how we view and assess our development as individuals. Today, that idea is commonly known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a five-tier model of human needs—physiological needs (e.g., food and shelter), safety needs (e.g., physical and financial security), belongingness needs (e.g., interpersonal relationships and connectedness), esteem needs (e.g., self-respect and respect from others), and, representing the top of the hierarchy, self-actualization needs (e.g., personal growth and fulfillment).
Maslow believed that each tier was independent of the other and that a person could not satisfy the needs of a particular tier without first satisfying the needs of the tier below it. For example, a person couldn’t adequately address his or her belongingness needs before his or her safety needs. However, like many ideas in the fields of health and science, the interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy has changed over time. Many now believe the tiers are interconnected, meaning a person at a lower point in the hierarchy can still be impacted by higher tiers if those needs are neglected. For instance, a person’s journey to becoming financially secure could be more difficult without the proper relationships with friends and family and the encouragement and support that come with them.
As financial advisors, our focus is helping people live their best financial lives, but there’s much more to a person’s financial life than the dollars and cents. One’s relationships, sense of security, health, and more play just as big of a role. That’s why going through the financial planning process and crafting a financial plan tailored to you is so important. It places just as much emphasis on the qualitative, like your values, as it does on the quantitative. Do you want to spend more time with the people you care about? Do you want to ensure your lifestyle is protected? Do you want to improve your health? A financial plan can help you do all of that and more. Most people aren’t concerned with money for money’s sake. They’re concerned with money because of what it enables them to do, the freedom it provides.
As Morgan Housel wrote in his book, The Psychology of Money, “Use money to gain control over your time, because not having control of your time is such a powerful and universal drag on happiness. The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want to, pays the highest dividend that exists in finance.”
As you begin this new year, take some time, either by yourself or with a financial advisor, to reflect on how your financial life affects other areas of your life and vice versa. Chances are they’re more intertwined than you might have ever realized.
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