Elizabeth Kerr looks at financial vision, how to get one and the downsides of navigating life’s spending/investment decisions without it

By Elizabeth Kerr

Righty, welcome back to another exciting week everyone.

Please be seated and let’s clasp our hands together and perform three deep ‘Ohms’, please.

Ooohhmmmmmmmmmmmmm” – Ha! Just joking! I wouldn’t make you do that!!!

This week I’m writing about your vision, but I don’t need you to light candles and get on all fours to find it.

I’m talking about your financial vision – as in the yardstick you use to evaluate which spending opportunities you say yes or no to.

This is different from goal setting. Goal setting is what other people do.

No, if you’re interested in early retirement and financial independence, then you need to take it one step further than that. You need a VISION!!!

A path

Vision is the path between here in your present and your future. It gives your daily actions and habits some meaning and value.

A financial vision is the way in which you see money and its purpose within your life.

Why would anyone forgo spending money on something today if they didn’t have a financial vision for their future to keep them accountable?

Why would you bother following a budget without a purpose?

Why would you even bother working once you’ve got your non-negotiable needs met at all come to think of it?  

Just as you need to have a vision for your life, and seeing as money facilitates life in this era, then you had better have a financial vision to go with it. Is part of the reason we are a country deep in personal debt we all work until mid-60s because few bother to establish for themselves a meaningful financial vision for otherwise?

You see, there are so many spending choices we are presented with and investment paths you can take in your life. Having a vision gives you a template to evaluate all of these decisions by.

Looking at options

For example, say you want to reduce your working hours to part-time, but that will impact your vision of retiring in three years, then that’s a “no” to that idea obviously. Take a holiday or pay off your mortgage? Well, if early retirement in a debt free home is part of your vision then you can have all the holidays you want once that is done, so of course you are going to pay off your mortgage first. Invited to an overseas wedding but saving for a new house? Well, you’d better just send a card then. Vision clearly makes navigating your life’s spending decisions easier.  

Additionally, with vision you become free from comparing yourself with others around you and their approval is no longer addictive. Comparison is a slippery slope to jealousy, which will take over and control your spending if you can’t redirect yourself back to your vision. Zoning in on what you don’t have just makes it bigger in your brain and only someone with a sound vision can look jealousy dead in the face and say: “Bugger off. I’m good, thanks.”

Vision makes people appreciate what they have now. They enjoy their work, or at the very least are happy to endure it, and sometimes they go without stuff, because they know how their effort will make a tangible difference to their future.

Let’s take the old fable of the bricklayers as an example of what happens when you have vision and use it to motivate yourself.

There were three brickies working on a wall. Someone asked them: “What are you doing?”

“I’m laying bricks,” said the first.

“I’m building a wall,” said the second.

The last brickie exclaimed: “I’m building a great cathedral!”

Who do you think is going to produce the best outcome and work the hardest? 

Giving a reason

A vision gives you a reason for why you get up and work each day, over and above just paying for the bills. It makes the wincing through mind-numbingly boring meetings, fluffing the egos of your boss, working a public holiday or participating in that stupid staff development day all the more bearable.

If you don’t have a vision you will be handed one by expectation of those around you. Marketing and advertising professionals work really hard to give you a vision for their products, so without a vision of your own you’ll be suckered into the next feel-good tactic they use to manipulate you into buying what they’re selling. Add to that the overwhelming desire to conform and gain approval from your peers and you are just one free set of steak knives with your nutri-bullet away from the work-debt-work-die hamster wheel.  

Can’t seem to find a vision that gets you excited?   

It is my personal belief that a financial vision is one of the most important steps in any early retirement or financial independence journey. All of your investment strategy hangs off your vision so its worth the time to define it. The person who has a vision for just a few extra hundys to top up their govt super would have a different investment strategy than the one wanting to lead a nomadic lifestyle travelling the world by luxury cruise.   

A great place to start is by paying attention to what you enjoy doing the most with your time and ask yourself how you’d feel being able to do it whenever you like.

It’s your vision

Maybe getting on to the golf course while it is nice and quiet mid-week takes your fancy, or never having an alarm clock again, lots of travel or roasting your own coffee beans on your own self-sustainable lifestyle block surrounded by a bunch of grandkids? It’s your vision so go crazy!!! Why not make it part of your conversation with your kids? Obviously your spouse has a say in it too, but you could ask your friends for ideas, read blogs from the heaps of really cool people sharing their early retirement stories online, and take notes from Escape to the Wild (wed Tv3 @ 7.30pm).

Definitely take some time to holiday and rest with it, spend time with your God, basically get off your chuff and put the effort in to defining your vision because it is totally worth it!!! Don’t begin to think that how you live your life is detached from your financial vision because the two absolutely go hand in hand.

Our modern world is full of things that can distract you so the most valuable thing in the world today is your attention. If you give your attention to defining your financial vision, which then feeds your lifestyle design, then it becomes easy to say no to spend or investment decisions which would detract from your vision.

Once you have a vision make a point to revisit it every year, refine it and add to it and make sure your financial goals are working towards supporting it. A vision isn’t just a line in the sand – it is also a living testament, it is there to serve you and help you prioritise and organise your finances to get the most from your working hours.

If you’re a bit stuck with your vision why not ask the amazing readers here for their thoughts, or email me at Elizabeth.Kerr@interest.co.nz.