Return on Investment vs Return on Life

Is money an objective or is money a utility? The way we answer this question can determine how we live our lives.

The illustration below shows a hamster on a wheel, chasing after money. If our money philosophy is to see money as an objective then this is how we will live our lives, chasing to make as much money as we can and accumulating things that show that we have money.

All we will talk about is money and return on investment, unfortunately this leads to a dead end. Everyone is a loser in this game, we will be comparing our return to some index or another fund and eventually we will be the loser.

This is a race we will never win as there is always someone who has something bigger and better than what we have or just more cash. Here money is the endgame, and it’s exhausting.


If we see money as a utility, then we are playing the return on life game and in this game, everybody can be a winner. The question we ask ourselves when we use this philosophy is, are we using money in a way that’s improving our life.

In this game money is a utility that we skilfully manage in order to navigate where we want to go in life. Like in the illustration below, we use money to “sail” to where we want to be in life. Here our conversations are not about returns and other things which we cannot control, but about how we manage your resources to get you to where you want to be. This game gives us certainty and clarity.

This may seem odd coming from a financial planner but the reality is that all the money in the world will not guarantee that we live a fulfilled life so you need to make sure that you are having conversations about what those things are that will contribute to you living your best life with what you have.

What is more important to you, ROI or ROL?

Dirk Groeneveld, Certified Financial Planner

t. 083 261 9287