For the first time in eighteen months, I’m preparing to go on holiday with my family to a small seaside town in Wales called Tenby. In total, there will be 20 of us and it will be the first grand family outing for a long time. To say that my family and I, particularly my two boys, are excited would be an understatement.
After the way our social lives have been stifled by the pandemic, Covid has weakened its grip, allowing us to finally breathe again and enjoy each other’s company. But despite the restricted lifestyle we’ve all had to adopt, there’s one important lesson that I’ve learned - life is all about perspective.
Before the pandemic, a family outing would be something that I would have no doubt looked forward to. However, my excitement about the trip would be tame compared to what it is now, for I would simply be transferring my existing privileges to a different location.
To eat in a restaurant, to have a glass of wine at a bar, to laugh and share memories with friends and family without having to worry about strict social distancing measures - these were all taken for granted and as a result, we had configured a minimum baseline of what would make us content. Perspective.
But when Covid-19 struck, all of these liberties we once had were stripped from us, confining us to the mundanity of lockdown. Life was painfully simple, but the experience was also tremendously enlightening. My perspective had changed, tapering my baseline to a point where even just a socially distanced walk with friends was enough to get me excited.
By simply changing the way I look at life, I was able to gain more happiness from an activity that I once viewed as routine. Again, this is simply about perspective and it’s applicable to all areas of life. The reality is that if you lock yourself to a certain viewpoint, life will unravel within these tight parameters you confine it in.
This couldn’t be any truer when it comes to financial planning
Many people are very wealthy and could actually give up work tomorrow and set sail for retirement in a yacht. However, many choose not to and would prefer to stay in their routine, work and save money.
There’s nothing wrong with this but what I’ve noticed is that their spending habits have been shaped by a particular perspective that many people share in society - which is to work and – in the main – make financially responsible purchases.
It’s almost as if we cling onto our earnings more tightly because of the hours and sacrifices we’ve put in, making us reluctant to splurge money on the things we love most.
Just imagine winning the Lottery and compare it to being told that you have enough money to give up work. How would your mindset change? There’s a good chance that you’d be more inclined to indulge your winnings on expensive purchases purely because of the sheer luck of being gifted this tremendous fortune. A Rolex, a BMW or a villa in the south of France - there would be less guilt.
But what if technically you could afford these now, without the Lottery win? How would it feel to spend money in the manner of a Lottery winner, even if you’d earnt that money? It would probably feel very different. I have a wealthy client who absolutely loves cycling and has been wanting to buy a particular bike that costs £5,000. He can afford this bike multiple times over but hasn’t yet made this purchase because he’s hardwired to save and be sensible with his spending.
Don’t get me wrong - of course I endorse financial prudence but there must also be a balance and an awareness of how far we lean to either side of the spectrum. Being conditioned to only earn, save and invest are the shackles that’ll imprison us within a more restrictive lifestyle that we could absolutely avoid.
But by simply changing our perspective and accepting that our hard-earned money can also be spent on pleasures, we can remove these shackles and take more joy out of life. Similar to my family trip to Wales, all it takes is a willingness to view life from a different angle to gain more pleasure out of it.
Doing so will help us adopt better spending habits, make the most out of experiences and ultimately help us to live a happier life.