Dollars and Purpose: What does your money say about who you are?

May 16, 2024

By ldraper on May 16, 2024

Many of us share the same goal, to live a life filled with purpose and meaning. We take the limited time we’ve been gifted seriously and want to maximize our joy while positively impacting the world, and, more importantly, the people around us. 

In a life filled with distractions competing for our attention, time, and money, it’s become increasingly difficult to stay focused on purpose and meaning. To combat those distractions, my wife and I have lunch together every Monday to discuss our calendar and our lives, and to reframe the week ahead so that we might give ourselves a better chance of living it with purpose. This past Monday, we read through a study and one quote jumped off the page. “Don’t let your strongest desires get in the way of your deepest desires.” 

At first, I brushed it off; my strongest desires are my deepest desires…right? Upon thinking about it more, I uncovered many instances in the past week where my strongest desire wasn’t aligned and, in many cases, had prevented me from pursuing my deepest desires. Today, I want to explore money’s relationship with our desires and ultimately with our purpose and legacy. Money weaves its own complicated web in our life but I’m hoping with a little exploration and instruction you can be prepared to use it as a catalyst towards achieving purpose and securing your legacy. 

The Reality of Money 

When we boil it down, money is essentially an unrealized good or service. We acquire it by performing a good or service or by being a shareholder in somebody else performing a good or service. We in turn consume it by hiring a service or purchasing a good. Here’s my first insight: don’t conflate what money is with what it isn’t. It is not a stand-in for our own intrinsic personal value as humans. I believe that holding this concept in our mind will free us to begin treating money as a tool, not a measure of worth.  

Budget your Desires 

I work with two types of clients: those who keep a budget and those who do not. The majority of my clients are the first type, and, in my experience, I’ve found their lives to be more focused and less stressful. My second insight is that a budget is not restricting, it’s freeing. Your budget reflects your REAL priorities and enables you to spend freely on them. Spend extravagantly on what you love and be ruthlessly frugal on everything else. For example, I met a couple years ago who told me travel was their biggest passion, but when we explored their budget, they were spending just 5% of their annual budget on travel, with many multiples of that on their home, cars, clothing, and eating out. Their strongest desires had gotten in the way of their deepest desires. I’m pleased to share they right-sized those figures and often send me great pictures from their adventures.

Plan to Spend

“You can’t take it with you” is a phrase used often and one I am counseling an increasing number of my client families around. Our fear of running out of money often overwhelms our best laid plans and prevents us from maximizing its value while living. I wouldn’t describe a single family I work with as Scrooge-like; however, some become fearful of scarcity and are left hoarding money that should have been spent on their deepest desires years ago. Every time my team settles a particularly large estate, I am left with some pangs of sadness as I think about all the delayed gratification that family banked that will never get cashed in. My insight here is to work with a great advisor and construct a plan that is intended to maximize your money during your lifetime, even when accounting for an uncertainty. Reasonable projections and a dedication to a budget should allow most families the ability to “bounce their last check.”   

When we take away some of the stigmas around money, keep a disciplined budget that aligns with our priorities, and trust in a well-constructed plan for our future, I am confident that money will become a powerful tool utilized toward your purpose and legacy. Don’t let your strongest desires get in the way of your deepest desires. Have a conversation with your significant other and your financial advisor soon to ensure your money is reflective of your deepest desires.


The opinions and analyses expressed in this newsletter are based on Curi RMB Capital, LLC’s (“Curi RMB”) research and professional experience are expressed as of the date of our mailing of this newsletter. Certain information expressed represents an assessment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast or guarantee of future results, nor is it intended to speak to any future time periods. Curi RMB makes no warranty or representation, express or implied, nor does Curi RMB accept any liability, with respect to the information and data set forth herein, and Curi RMB specifically disclaims any duty to update any of the information and data contained in this newsletter. The information and data in this newsletter does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, investment or other professional advice. Returns are presented net of fees. An investment cannot be made directly in an index. The index data assumes reinvestment of all income and does not bear fees, taxes, or transaction costs. The investment strategy and types of securities held by the comparison index may be substantially different from the investment strategy and types of securities held by your account. RMB Asset Management is a division of Curi RMB Capital.   

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