Make plans to make your am­bi­tions hap­pen

Central Leader - - OPINION -

Fi­nan­cial fail­ure is a blight on fam­i­lies.

Strug­gling to make ends meet isn’t the end of the world, but it does make life harder and of­ten in­creases worry.

I men­tion this be­cause one of the great myths around money was blown apart re­cently, a myth I al­ways had mixed feel­ing about.

It was the myth that poor peo­ple are happy and the rich are mis­er­able. Well, it turns out that while there may well be happy poor peo­ple, and there are cer­tainly many happy mid­dle-in­come folk, you’d be hard pushed to find an un­happy mul­ti­mil­lion­aire.

Re­searchers in the United States re­cently reached three big con­clu­sions:

Richer coun­tries are hap­pier than poorer ones

When you’re poor, find­ing $10 makes you hap­pier than it would a rich per­son

Dou­bling your in­come de­liv­ers a roughly equal hap­pi­ness boost for a mil­lion­aire and a pau­per.

What does this mean for the likes of you and me?

It does not mean you should chuck in your char­i­ta­ble work and sim­ply strive to make fab­u­lous amounts of money.

Sat­is­fac­tion and hap­pi­ness come from many as­pects of life, not least know­ing you are mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion and be­ing a de­cent hu­man be­ing. Some­thing of that is shown in the cor­re­la­tion be­tween hap­pi­ness and national wealth.

Or­di­nar­ily, richer coun­tries are hap­pier, but the very rich­est coun­tries are not al­ways the hap­pi­est ones.

New

Zealand,

bless

its cli­mate, beaches and sense of de­cency, scores highly for hap­pi­ness even if it falls well short of the top of the rich­est coun­try ta­ble.

But the re­search in­di­cates that any­one who thinks money is unim­por­tant, is fool­ing them­selves.

But how do you give your fi­nances the pri­or­ity they de­serve?

It’s not al­ways easy, es­pe­cially if you’re not earn­ing that much.

In my house­hold, we have some­thing of a fam­ily phi­los­o­phy – that ev­ery gen­er­a­tion should be hap­pier, wealth­ier and bet­ter ed­u­cated than the last. The great thing about this ap­proach is that it is a long game, and bar­ring war, plague or famine, gains can be made by ev­ery fam­ily, even ones faced by lu­di­crously high house prices.

Like ev­ery­thing in life, it re­quires plan­ning and putting ef­fort into the ac­tiv­i­ties that are likely to get the next gen­er­a­tion the gains my mum and dad’s brains, ap­pli­ca­tion and fi­nan­cial pru­dence helped de­liver to me.

For me that means pri­ori­tis­ing the ed­u­ca­tion of the next gen­er­a­tion. I want to be hum­bled by my chil­dren’s achieve­ments.

If there’s a dis­cre­tionary dol­lar to spend, we try to ei­ther save it or spend it on ed­u­ca­tion or some­thing that gen­uinely makes us hap­pier and keep frit­ter­ing cash away in check. It means hav­ing a wealth and sav­ings plan and one that in­cludes think­ing of sav­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion rather than spend­ing for this one.

My aim is for the kids to leave univer­sity with no stu­dent debt, not to run out of money be­fore I die and to leave chunks of change to the kids or pass through any wealth that comes down to me.

Life is a long and rocky road but with­out plans and am­bi­tions, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial ones, it would feel like there were no sign­posts to fol­low.

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