Thriving is living well at all phases of your investing life, whether you’ve just begun investing or you’re managing a large investment portfolio. Behavioral finance articles explore how making smart investment decisions and maintaining your peace of mind live happily together. Additional aspects of living well include fitness, relationships, and giving. The Thriving category offers insights and practical guidance for enjoying your life.

How to Set and Reach Financial Goals with Betterment

For many years, I have been resistant to the idea of setting financial goals; instead, I have opted to accumulate wealth so that I have the means to make purchases when needed. This wealth-building approach can be effective, and is certainly better than not saving, investing, and growing assets.

Still, there are at least a couple of shortcomings to general wealth building: 1) I’m not sure when my goal has been achieved; and 2) I’m reluctant to spend down the assets that I’ve worked so hard to accumulate, largely because I’m not clear about the purpose of my investments and the timing of withdrawals.

Goal setting can inspire me to save and invest, and make me feel happier and more secure about spending.

Donor-Advised Fund for Charitable Giving

Last year, I set up a donor-advised fund through Schwab Charitable. I established this fund to streamline the process of donating to a charity using appreciated stock. After opening this account, I’ve discovered unanticipated benefits as well as a few drawbacks.
Here are some things to know about a donor-advised fund:

Different Talents, Different Ways of Building Wealth

This summer, a female friend and I got together to ride bikes — something that we did together often, though generally with more people from our circles of our cycling companions. But this time, on a ride that started on a weekday morning and ended in the early afternoon, some of our buddies teased us about having to work and being unable to join us.

At one of our rest stops, we talked about the fact that we generated income through investing-type activities.

This experience made me wonder if too few people are investing for the long term and relying on current income to pay bills and make large purchases, whether for a new cycling gadget, an epic trip, or retirement years. I grasp that working in a traditional job doesn’t negate saving and investing for the long haul. But the inability to realize that others may have sources of income outside of a regular job cues me to consider that not everyone exercises their talents, interests, and inclinations in a way that’s conducive to accumulating and building wealth.

My Financial Goals for 2017

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve been thinking more and more about what I want to accomplish in 2017. This contemplation has involved considering my strengths and figuring out how to address my weaknesses.

What I’ve discovered is that while I’m great a few things (which has helped me tremendously), I need to broaden and update my talents. I often feel like Joel McHale’s character in The Great Indoors: I have experience and knowledge that could be helpful and inspiring to others but I’m not as adept at reaching people.

Still, I don’t want to abandon what I know. Instead, I hope to build upon my background. So, my goals include continuing to improve on my strengths, addressing areas of weakness, and expanding my knowledge.

Here are my goals:

Investing in Relationships: Thoughts on Making Choices

There’s a prevailing stance on relationships that I find both intriguing and disturbing. It starts with the idea that each of us is the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Where this leads can be beneficial or dangerous – depending on whether I continue to embrace loved ones who may (or may not) fully represent what I aspire to become or reject them in favor of pursuing relationships based on superficial and possibly meaningless measures, such as net worth or perceived business acumen.

There’s truth in the thought process that we’re affected by people with whom we interact regularly. There’s also value in the concept that we should intentionally invest in certain relationships and abandon others. But choosing who benefits from my relationship efforts and by what standard — without a proper guide — seems treacherous.

As a Christian, I wondered what I might learn from how Jesus lived and what he taught his disciples about relationships. I decided to start with the Gospel of Matthew and then build upon my knowledge. I’m not a theologian and I’m sure I have personal biases … but wanted to share what I’ve learned. Here are some thoughts on making choices about investing in relationships:

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