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  • Writer's pictureAnn J. Shubert, CFP, MBA

Your Best Financial Decision Is About More Than Just Numbers

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

When you’re making a big financial decision, the numbers are only half the answer. Without considering your values the picture is incomplete. Dealing with money, it’s easy to pay attention to the math, what the calculations tell us, because the decision usually starts with numbers.

  • How much money will that new home cost?

  • How much could I make if I invest a certain way?

  • How much money do I need to retire?


Making any financial decision, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the numbers are telling us. If you make a financial decision expecting a result that’s not likely to actually happen, that’s a good thing to know. For example, if you want to have a certain lifestyle in retirement, but to achieve that, the amount you’re saving now requires that you make 30% per year in the stock market, you are very likely to be disappointed when retirement day comes!


"It’s okay to pick the road that you believe will lead to less money, but more happiness."

But much of the time, there are a range of choices that all result in outcomes that would be financially acceptable. So how to choose? The numbers will tell you the likely financial outcome in each case, how much your measurable assets like investments and property will be worth in the future. But that’s only half the answer. Because money isn’t the true measure of success in planning for your future. Building and living a life filled with the things you value, the things that make you happy, should be your goal. You must not let the tyranny of the numbers overwhelm what is important to you.


If you have enough saved, perhaps you could donate to charity during your lifetime, and enjoy knowing that your money is helping others now, rather than donating the money in your will. You could decide to live on less in retirement so you can stop working sooner, maybe do volunteer work or just to take a breather before moving on to whatever is next. Maybe that bigger house that has room for your studio is worth cutting back on other expenses to make the higher mortgage payment. So long as the numbers say you haven’t gone over a cliff financially, your values should guide your choice.


The numbers may point you down one road as the “best” financial decision, but that may not be where your satisfying and meaningful life is found. So be sure to look at the whole picture when making big financial decisions, not just the half that fits neatly in a spreadsheet. It’s okay to pick the road that you believe will lead to less money, but more happiness.



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