March 2023 | Money makes the world go round
Not surprising because money makes the world go round.
However, things get complicated if you also believe that money is the centre of the universe. That is why seeing a desire for greater spirituality at the top of the list of wants and needs was so encouraging.
Can you reconcile the pressures of money with greater spirituality? Yes, I believe so, as long as you have a good relationship with money that doesn’t put money at the centre of the universe.
Money, spirituality and happiness
I don’t think it is stretching a point to equate spirituality and happiness, as both stem from letting go rather than holding on or getting more. However, if you accept this premise, it is worth reflecting on research into money and happiness as a proxy for spirituality.
The first research papers into the connection suggested that money did buy happiness up to an income of around $75,000 (£62,500). However, the research showed that once your income was sufficient to cover your core outgoings and debt repayments, any additional income had a minimal impact on your happiness.
However, my colleague Robin Young at Northstar Financial Planning in New Hampshire recently drew my attention to new research into the money and happiness connection. This new study, which explored the issue in considerable depth, concluded a linear and rising relationship exists between money and happiness, even for incomes beyond those that cover core expenditure.
The new research found that money and happiness are linked to commodities and possessions. However, money does not impact the happiness that evolves from relationships and friendships. Happiness (or spirituality) in this arena tends to come from the strength of our communities, not the money we earn.
The money-spirituality relationship
I have long argued that there is a relationship between money, happiness, and spirituality. Indeed, this is the theme of my book, Right Money, Right Place, Right Time, described by Justin Urquhart Stewart, founder and chairman of Seven Investment Management in the UK, as “the most comprehensive explanation and guide for financial planning I have ever read.”
In this wide-ranging, personal book, I advocate treating money as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Using perspectives from life coaching and financial planning, I describe how to always have the right money in the right place at the right time to live and breathe, find freedom, and transform our lives and the lives of others.
The focus on money as an end in itself, where money becomes the centre of the universe, has blighted the relationship between money and humanity. People who think personal finance is about maximising investment returns have missed the point of money.
Instead, I advocate developing a sound and mature relationship with money to enable you to always have the right money in the right place at the right time, to find room for spirituality and happiness and live meaningfully and purposefully by making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Your relationship with money
A relationship with an individual is founded on exchanging ideas and feelings. However, you can’t do this with money. The concept of a relationship with money sounds a bit nebulous, even if you launch expletives at your bank account when you see that you are overdrawn again.
The first couple of decades of my working life were dominated by money. I went from bonuses to broke and back, and my life was dominated by greed, fear and shame.
However, when I met George Kinder – described as the father of financial life planning – I began to see money in a friendlier light. So I started working with the Kinder Institute of Life Planning in the US, becoming the first Registered Life Planner in the UK and driving the concept of “money maturity” to develop a solid relationship with money.
George’s book, The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, is revelatory. Not only does it help you build a relationship with money by developing maturity around money. The book – the whole practice of money maturity – creates a more spiritual approach to money and life.
You can better understand your relationship with money by reading my and George’s books. Indeed, if you are determined to live more spiritually and meaningfully by making a difference to others, you should read these books. They will help you address those niggling issues around money that may be holding you back. While emphasising your internal relationship with money, neither book neglects the importance of money practicalities such as budgeting, cash flow, saving and debt reduction.
Score your money maturity.
Get an initial idea of your money maturity with this short quiz I developed for clients, based on George Kinder’s Seven Stages. Although the outcome of this assessment is a score, its real purpose is to set you thinking about your relationship with money and the broader aspects of money that you may not necessarily be aware of in your day-to-day life.
Score yourself on the truth of each statement. ‘Very true’: 5; ‘Somewhat true’: 4; ‘Undecided’: 3; ‘Somewhat false’: 2; ‘Very false’: 1.
- Innocence: I no longer live by childhood beliefs, thoughts, stories etc., recognising that they are invalid and misleading.
- Pain: I don’t feel recurrent pain around money, or envy of others with greater wealth than me, or anger at having to work for a living.
- Knowledge: I have identified my financial goals, assessed my financial resources and planned my finances; I review frequently.
- Understanding: I know that issues around money must be dealt with within me and that successfully understanding myself will lead to a personal transformation.
- Vigour: My life is profoundly purposeful and energetic. I have passions and goals and the energy to act on them, and my money is a help, not a hindrance.
- Vision: My life is not centred on myself alone; I have a keen interest in the wider community to which I offer my resources and talents.
- Aloha (grace): I give out of kindness or compassion, not out of self-interest or in the expectation something will be returned to me.
Add up your score (a higher score indicates greater maturity). Don’t concentrate too much on your total score. Instead, look at the areas in which you scored well and celebrate these. Then, ask yourself how you can use your skills in these areas to improve those areas in which you scored less well.
You will have probably picked up a slight change of emphasis from this and the February Newsletter, stemming from the responses to January’s research questionnaire.
It seems you still want to learn the fundamentals of personal financial management. I know from my long experience in the financial services industry that this aspect of personal finance takes second place to the sale of savings, investment and loan products, so it is no surprise.
However, I also sense a strong need for help developing a better relationship with money, which makes room for a more meaningful and spiritual life and shifts the emphasis from material wealth to generosity of spirit.
To this end, I draw your attention to a review of personal financial literature I compiled a few years ago. I identified fifteen books that addressed the deeper, more emotional side of money and reviewed each. This is published on my personal site, Words Not Deeds. Click the button below to read the reviews.
Finally, after taking the advice of those far more experienced in marketing than I am, you will see a gradual switch back to my personal brand, Jeremy Deedes, and away from specific product brands. Of course, this does not mean that programmes such as Living Money and Crazy for Change will be discontinued, but they are on the back burner.
Instead, I return to my roots as Jeremy Deedes, a life and financial coach specialising in providing skilled help to empty nesters who want to build diverse wealth, achieve impressive personal aspirations, and bring new meaning and greater spirituality into their lives.
With best wishes,
References and acknowledgements
Deedes, Jeremy. Right Money, Right Place, Right Time – Personal Finances to Transform Your Life and Secure Your Future. Rethink Press Limited, 19 Jan. 2015. (See also https://wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/rmrprt/)
Deedes, Jeremy. “Really Useful Books about Money (and Other Helpful Resources).” Words Not Deeds, 12 Dec. 2016, wordsnotdeeds.co.uk/money-books/. Accessed 2 Mar. 2023.
Kinder, George. The Seven Stages of Money Maturity : Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life. New York, Dell Publishing, 2000.
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so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.
What do you think?
Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.