Money Isn’t Everything: 12 Values That Matter Most in Life

My grandmother said, “Poor or rich, money is good to have.” We need money to pay our living expenses and support who and what we care about most. Raising a family or taking care of our parents requires funds for health care, education, and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of life. It can help us make a difference in the lives of others through giving.

Without money to pay our bills or invest, we may fall short of achieving our life’s goals and having financial security, independence, and freedom. However, money isn’t everything, and there are valuable things money can’t buy. 

Money Isn’t Everything!

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Money isn’t everything. It has its limitations. Obsession over money and wealth is unhealthy, mainly when it controls your life. It may prevent us from simply being satisfied with our lives by comparing ourselves to others. Money matters because it is the tool we need in the absence of bartering. However, many things are more valuable and can help us achieve our full potential. Focus on those values that make you content. Review the values listed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization is the pinnacle of our self-fulfillment needs.

As individuals, we each have our list of personal values that give meaning to our lives. These values shape our personality, behavior, and attitudes. How often do we reflect on those traits that make us who we are? Less than we should. It is an excellent exercise to ensure you are going in the right direction. Since we serve as role models for our children, we must ensure we send the signals we want them to see. They are worthy of checking our values and beliefs, which make us tick.

1. Time Is A Precious Resource

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Time is money, but it is so much more. If there is inequality in money and wealth, we have the same limited time. You can’t borrow or lend time at any cost. Anyone who loses family and friends knows the tragedy of time running out. You can’t buy time unless you can pay someone to do a task for you, which may temporarily free you to do other things. But you can’t buy time in a permanent sense, no matter how much money you have.

Time is our most precious resource. As such, spend time with people you enjoy being with or doing what you most desire. Please don’t waste your time; use it in productive ways.  Think about daily accomplishments and whether you have achieved your goals. Like money, invest your time meaningfully. Find ways how to improve your time management skills.

2. Manage Your Energy Wisely

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Somewhat related to time is how we manage our energy. Energy affects our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We all have limits to what our mind and body can do. What is personal energy or power? It is the effort or strength you will devote to people, things, or challenges in your life.

There are people in our lives who are delightful. We get a good boost from spending our time and energy with them. Other people may deplete our energy through negative behavior or attitudes.  We may save time and energy by working remotely, but we lose the uplift from seeing people in the office. 

3.  Health Is Our Vital Asset

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We can’t take our physical, mental, and emotional health for granted. Yet, we often do this by not taking as good care of our bodies and mind as possible.  What is your health worth? Like time, it is priceless and precious. Eating healthy, exercising daily, meditating, and getting a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be hard. They are good habits to incorporate into your mental mindset. Even short daily movements can help you loosen up considerably.

Changing up your routine with excellent habits can be stimulating. I look forward to reading at night, playing music that fits my mood, and understanding my emotions better.

4. Family,  Friends, And Community

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We need our family and friends to validate us for their love, affection, and companionship.  The pandemic experience required us to social distance for safety reasons. However, we grew tired of the pandemic and staying apart from the people we love. Human beings don’t enjoy isolation. We thrive with other people who are essential in our lives. They contribute to our sense of belonging, comfort, and self-worth and add meaning to our lives.

Apart from family and friends,  your community and your neighbors are where you live and your colleagues at work. They matter. Work and community are spheres where you may meet new friends. We recently moved from a big city to a small town. Changing communities is an ideal time to meet new friends, but it can be slow but fun. 

5. The Right Life Partner

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Choosing the right partner you want to spend your life with is easier said than done. Only after years together can you look back and say you are fortunate to find someone to be with until you are old and gray. When you are in your 20s, how do you know if you both have the same interests, intellect, and standards?

You don’t. However, by loving one another and finding someone with who you can connect easily, learn from, trust, respect, and grow, you have the making of the right life partner. Expect that you will have differences, and some that will be very significant but learn how to compromise with each other. Challenges are in every relationship, but knowing how to deal with each of them matters. 

6. The Virtues of Work

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Consider yourself fortunate if you find meaningful work in most of your career. Every individual should explore what kind of work they most enjoy doing. For some, it is working with their hands to craft a tangible product. Many feel rewarded by helping others, while many prefer making lots of money to afford a luxury lifestyle. To each their own goals and the road to success.

Find challenging work that is enterprising and energizing. The virtues of working are plentiful. Work adds meaningful dimensions to your life besides compensation by learning new skills, and camaraderie, expanding your knowledge, and cultivating your career and reputation. 

7. Love of Learning

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“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Henry Ford

As a lifelong learner, you can look at the world with fresh eyes. Learning can be formal, informal, or casual. You don’t have to learn in the classroom to pick up knowledge. Most of our education comes from outside of an academic setting. Picking up new information or realizing an original thought can give new highs and optimism. Whether you are learning for a career, hobby, or personal growth, never stop learning.

Keep your brain healthy by finding activities you enjoy and challenging yourself. There are many online resources and ways to learn, like cooking, updating tech skills, fixing a car, working on crossword puzzles, writing better, and reading books you may have shied away from in high school. 

8. Protect Your Reputation

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“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  Warren Buffett

Your reputation is your brand, whether for a business or you. The importance of how your social circles, work, and family regard you must be protected. Reputation is your character and quality as judged by people. It forms the basis of respect and the currency of your worth. Cultivate traits like honesty, integrity, honor, and strong morals that should be in the workplace and your life. Manage your online presence for the quality of the character you are conveying.

The ruin of your reputation usually comes more quickly and efficiently than its establishment. It can be due to a lapse of ethical conduct or doing something legally questionable. Don’t post on social media without considering the potential negative ramifications that can be damaging and lasting.

9. Experiences Over Possessions

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Having wonderful experiences can top buying things most of the time for many. Unique experiences tend to be more memorable and pleasurable. Traveling by camel in the desert, ziplining, and whitewater rafting bring tremendous rushes to our adrenaline. 

Studies have shown experiences bring people more happiness than possessions. In a  study, psychologists found it wasn’t just the experiential purchases (money spent on doing) that provided more joy than material possessions (money spent on having). The joy of waiting in line for the experience gave participants enduring pleasure and consumption. Millennials are known for their preference for spending on adventures, but boomers favored experiences as well. 

10. Find Your Passions

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Passion is a powerful emotion defined as a strong enthusiasm or excitement about doing something. Your passionate interests are those topics, skills, or activities that excite you. Being emotional is often beyond a mere interest in something and can be an internal energy source. Like experiences, you’re engaged and engrossed in the activity or learning more about it.

Finding your passion in your job or career can motivate you to improve your performance. You don’t need to work in a position that directly aligns with your interests, but it can be beneficial if there is an overlap between your work and other activities. Being excited about interests outside of work can allow you to take a healthy break from your job, develop new skills, meet new people, and expand your personal growth in a more balanced way.

11. Gratitude and Empathy

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“He who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment on his debt.” Seneca

Expressing our thanks to all those we love and appreciate can help us live better lives—both the givers and the receivers of our gratitude experience many advantages. Our happiness rises, we feel healthier, stress declines, and it helps us cope with various negative emotions. Gratitude is our moral barometer and, when genuinely given, boosts our energy. Expressing gratitude is suitable for our finances as well.

Gratitude is on par with empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share another’s feelings. Having the ability to understand and share the feelings of another is empathetic. Scientists have linked gratitude and empathy because each plays an exact role in the medial prefrontal cortex  (MPFC) part of the brain. That part of the brain helps people set and achieve goals and contributes to a wide area of functions. Feeling grateful and empathic are enduring values that benefit the giver and receiver.

12. Financial Security

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 Still, we can’t ignore money as the value we share with those that matter to us. Financial security provides peace of mind when your income can cover your expenses after saving for emergencies and retirement. Economic security requires adopting good habits to support your lifestyle while working toward financial goals. Becoming financially secure means not worrying about credit card debt because you pay your bills in full each month. 

Money isn’t everything, but it is good to have. The importance of feeling financially secure allows you to have flexibility and freedom to control your life. Financial security means different things to different people, but it helps you enjoy the values in your life that matter to you.


Author: Linda Meltzer

Linda Meltzer (The Cents of Money)

Linda founded The Cents of Money, a personal finance platform to inspire you to manage your money better and realize financial and life goals. Linda wants to use her passion and financial skills honed by her professional experience as a ranked Wall Street equity analyst and business professor to help others get on the path toward building wealth. She has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, and more.

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