Toward What Ultimate Purpose Should Your Financial Goals Aim?

At McKinley Carter, we accept as “true” the notion that, without help from other people, we suffer and ultimately die – and that the most reliable way to secure help from others is to help them first.

The financial strategies we explore with our clients, therefore, always consider how those strategies will impact our clients’ relationships with the people and causes they care most about.  All things being equal, financial strategies that strengthen personal relationships are likely to produce the most happiness, even if they don’t necessarily produce the most money.

This is not to say that people don’t, on average, get happier with more money.   Though for decades, research supported the assessment that once household income rose above a certain middle class level, “happiness” levels did not rise, the most recent research suggests that research was flawed, especially when satisfaction is measured instead of happiness.
However, despite such research suggesting that though on average happiness/satisfaction levels rise as income levels move toward affluence from middle class, it is quite clear that wealth is wholly insufficient for any particular individual to end up checking the “I am very satisfied with my life” box in a survey. 

We, therefore, always anchor our work with clients in conversations about what it means to live a good life.

Historically, cultures have looked to wise elders for specific guidance on what it means to live a meaningful life, but over the past several generations, this source of wisdom has been complemented by rigorous academic research.  This long read cites both sources of authority…