“Know what you own, and know why you own it.”
“When in doubt, check if your actions are aligned with your purpose.”
― Azim Jamal & Brian Tracy, What You Seek Is Seeking You
The past week has given all of us a great deal to think about. We are experiencing civil unrest unlike anything we have seen since the 1960’s. It calls in to question the values that each of us holds. Values are a funny thing. We often state them, but whether through lack of conviction, lack of focus, or being overlooked for convenience, we often allow our actions to fall out of line with our values. I feel there is nothing more powerful than to live a value-driven life and we will take a look at how we all can be better at it in this week’s Inside Look at Building Towards Wealth.
There are two types of capital we have at our disposal, our time and our money. We have 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of money to spend. I can think of no better way to allocate those precious resources than in alignment with our values. To live in a way that allows us to marshal all of our assets to follow our own personal “North Star”.
I have been guilty of it myself. I have stated what my values are, wrote them down, and then allowed my actions to drift in another direction. We only have to look at our checkbooks and our schedules to see what it is we really value. What are we spending our limited resources of time and money on? These are the values you are living in.
We cannot control the rate of return we will earn, when we will need to spend the money, or how long we will need to live off it once we retire. What we have much greater control over is how much we spend, what we spend it on, and how we invest the capital that we save. We will make educated guesses about those factors out of our control but, they are only that, guesses.
There is no stronger service that I can provide than to help my clients get their sources of capital into alignment with their values. It can be to encourage them to spend more on experiences, increase support for a charity, or to get to a point that they can move away from their 9 to 5 and follow their dreams earlier than they previously thought possible.
One of the more exciting developments in aligning investments with values in the area of ESG investing. If you want to read about the history of ESG investing click here. ESG investing is widely understood as the integration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment processes and decision-making. If those are values that you hold dear then you can align your capital with those values.
Morningstar did a great review of ESG portfolio performance here. Their conclusion was “Across multiple tests, we’ve found that investors can build global portfolios tilted toward high-scoring ESG companies without compromising return.” It is important to remember that all investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful. For specific assistance and to determine if ESG investing is right for you, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.
Today, you can also have investment portfolios that are constructed based on a variety of faiths, environmental, or social issues. You can exclude everything from fossil fuels to private prisons to tobacco and just about anything between. Whatever the value, there is probably a way to put your capital behind it.
I’ve written before, here, that I have never met anyone who wants to do a Scrooge McDuck style backstroke through a pile of money. What I have found is people want control over their destiny. The control that capital can provide. How much more powerful is the situation if you get that control while being in total alignment with your values?
This brings us to our other source of capital, our time. As I wrote here we often don’t value our time appropriately. Often, we step over the proverbial dollar to pick up pennies in the way we allocate our time. Even more important, is our time being spent in alignment with our values?
There are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second. How are we using our time? We all need our time to relax and unwind but does dead time fill too much of our schedule or are we doing more for our family, our education, or whatever value we hold dear.
As I look back on our checkbook and schedule over the past I can tell you what our family values are. We spend on experiences, not things. We look to live a comfortable life but are much more focused on saving for ours and our children’s future. Being able to allow our children to have the resources necessary to succeed in this life and enjoy it is more important than the new car or fancy clothes. Eating healthy is important and taking care of our physical and mental well-being is essential. We donate to the causes we believe in, civil rights, fighting homelessness and fighting climate change amongst others, and support our friends and family in theirs. We focus much more on the people around us than the things.
I can also tell you it was not always this way, but that through a concerted effort by me and my wife we have brought things into greater alignment. It also doesn’t make our values the right ones, it just makes them ours.
We only have so much time and money at our disposal. Life can be hectic and we start to lose sight of what we are spending our resources on. More and more of our capital leaks out over time if we do not pay attention. Now is a good time as any to make sure you are in alignment. Ask yourself the question, are you spending your capital on things that do not reflect who you want to be? If the answer is yes how can we go about fixing that today!
I hope you are all are doing well and please reach out if I may be of service.