One of the biggest difficulties in talking about money, whether it’s how to manage it better, how to make more, or simply how to save some of it, is that the focus inevitably becomes on your money. You begin to look and assess:

“How much do I have”

“How much more can I get”

“Do I have enough for my future”

However, while it may seem out of character for a site with “money” in the title, it’s important to realize that money is not the endpoint. Instead, it’s a tool for you to achieve the goals, values, and desires that are inherent in your life.

You may want to not be a burden to others when you’re old and so wish to set aside some for retirement.

You may want to experience the cultures of the world and so spend more than others on travel.

You may value knowledge and choose to fund your’s and your kids’ education.

You may find it important not to be reliant on a job and decided to build your savings up to become financially independent.

It’s not about the money. Money isn’t your endpoint but the beginning point of accomplishing what’s important to you. In fact, some of the things you value don’t require money at all and it’s important to take stock of them as well.

Spending time with your family is free.

Appreciating nature is free.

Knowledge formed from books at your local library is free.

Many, though not all, hobbies or entertainment can be done in some way for free.

So, even in the midst of discussions on money, it’s important to realize that it’s not the endpoint. The point actually is, what are you trying to accomplish in life? What is truly important to you?

Once you figure out the answers to these questions your journey with money begins there. You must now reconcile what you say is important and what your bank, credit card, and savings accounts tell you is been important to you.

The fact is, we get sidetracked, distracted, or detoured by expenses that are not part of what we say we value in life. Some of these are simply unavoidable, such as maintenance for a car that gets you to work so you can get a paycheck. But, some of them are trading our values for convenience such as funding our daily lunch eating out rather than packing a less expensive lunch and saving the difference. Hey, if eating out is your “thing” and you value that hour a day of solitude or some time with your coworkers munching at your local greasy spoon, by all means, go for it! But, if it’s become a budget leak that is zapping your resources from what’s truly important to you, it may be time to reconsider.

The fact is, we all have a limited amount of money and an unlimited amount of options to allocate it to. There will never be “enough.”

So, it’s not about the money it’s about what’s important to you. When’s the last time you considered the important things in your life? When’s the last time you listed out what it is you value and looked at how you’re aligning your resources with those things?

Money has a tendency to flow to the convenient rather than the important.

Your job is to decide what’s important to you and make sure it’s those things that are getting the limited financial resources you have in life.

So, spend some time in the next few weeks considering what’s important to you, what are the things you or your family value. If you notice some of them compete with others, it’s ok, sometimes values live in tension with each other. But, take an honest look at where your resources are going compared to your list of important things. Then, take the time to consider how you can better fund those things that are truly important to you and use your finances as a tool for your values.