It is important to keep in mind that cultural messages have a profound influence on our money beliefs.  Intellectually we can disagree, but subconsciously these messages can affect how we feel about money.  Therefore, true financial freedom is more than having a lot of money; it is being free of money myths and notions that influence our money attitudes and behaviors.

For example, there is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Money can’t buy happiness.” However, what money can “buy” is options—more alternatives to choose from as you design the life you want to live—now and in the future.

The authors of Invest in Yourself: Six Secrets to a Rich Life say it simply and directly—”wealth is having more than you need, and poverty is having less.”  Now and in the future, “poverty” will limit the number of choices you have regarding housing and location.  Poverty will narrow your health insurance and health care options.  Poverty will also limit the ways in which you can assist your children and aging parents when they have needs.  The examples are endless.

On the other hand, “wealth”—having more than you need—puts you in the driver’s seat of your own life.  You get to pick the lifestyle YOU want—whether your choice is a luxury apartment in the city and all the excitement that metropolitan life can offer, or a modest farm house in rural America where you practice “simple” living and explore the art and science of organic gardening.

Wealth will also give you more options in the way that you respond to the “bumps” in the road of life including health problems, disability of a loved one, or a catastrophic event such as flood or fire.

And last, but certainly not least, wealth will offer you more freedom to explore your potential.  Are you still longing to earn that degree, live in a foreign country, or take art classes from a master?

How about the unfulfilled dream of an idealistic 20-year old to join the Peace Corps? Idealism can burn just as bright at 50, 60, 70, and beyond.  What are the causes that resonate with you?  The possibilities are endless—child safety, the environment, literacy, the arts, animal welfare, equality, homelessness, medical research, and so on.  YOU know what you really care about.  The bottom line is this:  Wealth will give you more opportunity in your retirement years to invest your time, energy, and money in the ways that matter most to YOU.

To get the most from what you earn, spend, give, save, and invest, it is important to view money for what it is—a tool.  Think of money as a tool for (1) helping you to achieve your goals in all areas of life, and (2) meeting the challenges and grabbing hold of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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