Get Rich, Be Generous

The stock market is off to a good start this year and, surprisingly, there’s not much drama in the financial news. So let’s get philosophical.

Does money help you accomplish your goals, or is money the goal of your life? Does money serve you? Or do you serve money?

It’s the underlying questions we often address when we do financial planning here in the office. Someone that can’t stop spending more than they make, ending up buried in debt, probably serves money. Someone that never has enough in their investment accounts, resulting in crushing anxiety during a downturn or pullback, might overvalue money. 

Our goal is to help people value money appropriately. Money is not the cure for all unhappiness. It is simply a tool we use to care for ourselves and our families. Like a car is helpful to run errands, or a house is there to provide shelter. If we overvalue these things and try to obtain meaning and purpose from them, they will disappoint us. Money should be viewed similarly.

So, what’s the first step to addressing the issue? Acknowledging that money may pull at your heartstrings too much is a great way to start. We all have to use money to handle the mechanics of life, so it’s easy to get caught up believing it’s more important than it is.

Another step toward valuing money appropriately is to… give it away. Being generous and giving money away helps prove that money is not the meaning of our lives (at least with the dollars that we’re giving away).

Is generosity included in your financial plan? It’s not in most financial plans. Here are some questions to start thinking about if this sounds interesting to you:

  • How much did I give away last year?
  • Who did I give it to?
  • How much did I put aside to be hospitable (also generosity) to friends and family? 
  • What people and/or organizations would I like to give to in the future? 
  • How much can I increase my generosity in future years?
  • What are some creative ways I can be generous? (House down payment, pay off a debt for someone, help someone start a side hustle…)

Thinking about where we can be generous helps us consider other people. This is a good thing because it helps us think of ourselves less. I know I’m making a case to help others here, but giving money away makes us feel good too. It’s science!

Scientists believe that being generous releases endorphins in the brain called the “helpers high.”

The Motley Fool wrote an article on it a couple of years ago called “It Pays to Be Generous.”

And Proverbs wrote about it a few years before that…

Proverbs 11:24-25

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Investments have done well recently. This has helped many people grow their accounts, some significantly. We are grateful for this and hope for continued success in the future, but being rich and living a rich life are two different things. Don’t forget to focus on the latter. 

True riches come from living a grateful, generous life.

Thanks for reading,