Scott Sonenshein, Management Professor at Rice University, gets it right when he points out that people often misunderstand how money relates to their broader life goals:

People often misunderstand that their relationship with money and how they manage their personal finances don’t exist in isolation of their well-being and the pursuit of their life goals. Since money is a component of our well-being, and a means to supporting our life goals, it warrants careful consideration. […] Too often we mindlessly chase after money (and lots of other things too). Sometimes the pursuit of more money might lead us astray from a meaningful goal, such as having enough time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, or the pursuit of a deep interest, such as learning a new language or how to play an instrument. There are even times when we’re so focused on accumulating money that we miss opportunities to do things that would bring us real pleasure, such as a barbeque with friends or a playing a recreational sport.

This is something we talk with our clients about every day. In fact, helping people understand where money fits within their broader objectives and values is one of the greatest ways a financial planner can help, and this is why it’s a critical part of our own financial planning process. Again, Sonenshein, is spot-on when he says that “The best way to figure out the role of money is to reflect on and define our life goals.” This is important because it not only helps one have a holistic view of money, but it also can drive important tax, investment, retirement, and estate planning decisions. In short, everything in financial planning begins and ends with an understanding of one’s personal values and goals.