It is human nature to always want more than we have. Without that drive for more, no doubt economic development would come to a standstill and our lives would be much simpler. The combination of insatiable needs with limited resources means we have to make choices. To determine priorities it is first necessary to understand not what you spend but why. The motivation to spend comes from many different sources ranging from survival to security to pleasure and philanthropy. Money has a different purpose for everybody. Of course, the way in which we would like to be able to spend money often doesn’t match up with how we actually spend it or even how we think we spend it. In the words of James W. Frick ‘Don’t tell me where your priorities are, show me where you spend your money and I will tell you what they are’. For example, if you say travel is a high priority but most of your savings goes on fashion or gadgets, there is clearly a disconnect between your actual priorities and your desired priorities. In that case, something has to change. One way of forcing change is to think about where you would spend your money if you had no bills to pay then start working towards that as a goal. Paying for the necessities of life has to rank as a top priority, but of course needs and wants should not be confused. Once the necessities are covered, an emergency fund and debt reduction rank next, followed by goals relating to our stated priorities for the enjoyment of life. Juggling the balance between these areas is where the art of money management lies. Sometimes it takes a dark situation such as a life-threatening illness to discover where our true priorities lie.
There is a worldwide trend for investors to want to make a positive contribution to the world by investing in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. If you are passionate about the effects of climate change, the scarcity of food and water, and social or environmental policies in general, then you will no doubt wish to ensure that the companies in which you invest are going about their business in a manner that is consistent with your views.