Hear from Shane Tenny, CFP® professional and partner at Spaugh Dameron Tenny, LLC.
SHANE TENNY: I was recently meeting with a married physician couple to discuss their financial goals around retirement. We talked all around their expectations and desires for the future, possibly a vacation home, traveling more, starting new hobbies and time with family. I thought I'd listened clearly and tried to sum up what I'd heard from them by asking if they were really just hoping to improve their standard of living.
Yeah, they both agreed. When we stop working, we'd really just like to enjoy a better standard of living. And this phrase better standard of living is one that most of us can imagine saying to ourselves, or at least thinking when we're around people who seem happier than we feel.
However, the next day, after listening to a report on NPR, I was reflecting on the stress on our society and how our standard of living has improved remarkably over the last 40 years. And yet none of us feel like we have enough free time. Never have I met someone who's just to relax. A surprising percentage of our friends are taking medication to help them sleep or deal with anxiety or cope with depression from broken relationships. I can't remember the last time a client told me they felt like they had plenty of margin in their budget or too few commitments in their life.
In Charlotte, where I live, at least it seems we practically find our identity through busyness, by always being on the go to kids events or work or committees or church or the wide or traveling. And this is what really defines our standard of living more than the trips we take or the neighborhoods we live in. And when I begin to reflect on life this way, it made me wonder if, in fact, we really want to maintain this standard of living, or do we really want some things to be different in our fast-paced, affluent society?
It's easy to believe that standard of living and quality of life are the same thing, but they're not really our life. But we chase vacations or cars or new homes or private school to improve our standard of living. I think what we're hoping for is a deeper sense of happiness, deeper friendships, more time to think more and margin in our budget. But instead, what we often get is more stress, more bills, more exhaustion, and fewer real relationships.
While money can help make life more comfortable and avoid certain unpleasantries, it's the margin we create in our time, our finances and our relationships that leads to quality of life. Let me say it more succinctly Money may be able to help you grow your standard of living, but it is margin that leads to quality of life.
So as you seek ways to reach your goals of retirement or college for the children or a change in practice, you'll be more likely to find the quality of life you want by making plans not just for your money, but also for margin.
Shane Tenny is the managing partner of Spaugh Dameron Tenny. Along with hosting the Prosperous Doc® podcast, Shane has a true passion for behavioral finance, helping clients and audiences understand how to develop successful strategies based on their unique temperaments. An accomplished and highly engaging speaker, Shane is regularly interviewed for television and podcasts, is actively involved in the Financial Planning Association®, and contributes to industry advisory boards.