Every New Year's, my wife and I independently pick a word that we want to be a touchstone for ourselves for the coming year. Since I keep a daily journal, I often refer to it as I think about my day. I have chosen different words based on what was happening in my life — awareness, attention, gratitude, enthusiasm, et al.

I don't wish to pick a word for you, but let's explore the many facets of a particular word in our financial lives: want.

I want to feel secure about my situation. Wanting to feel secure involves honestly assessing where you are and describing what is missing. Some of us feel insecure out of habit, some have situational insecurity and some of us are in a tough spot. Understanding what will make you feel secure is not making a list of things; it is describing what those specific things will do for you.

I want to make sound choices. We have many clients who come into our office who feel like they have done something wrong with their money. They have put off things, they ignore their finances, they have more than they need but feel like they are in a prison of their own making. Financial planning is complex and simple. It is complex because it involves tax planning, estate planning, debt and cash flow management, investment decisions, charity. Each of these areas are fluid and they should be integrated. It is simple because the ultimate purpose of your money is to spend it or give it away according to your values. Start by defining your values to end up making better choices.

I want to feel OK about my spending ... if. If it doesn't affect somebody else, how you spend is your business, no one else's. We all grew up with rules about money that serve us and hinder us. If you simply look at what you want to own or experience, you may not be as conflicted about buying things for positional reasons or not buying things because you don't feel you deserve them. You may also feel less judgmental about what others are doing with their money.

I want to want what I already have. When we are always on to the next thing, we don't fully appreciate or experience what we already have. It is hard to be both present-oriented and future-oriented simultaneously. Make time for both.

I want to spend my life wisely.

Ross Levin is founding principal and president of Accredited Investors Inc., Edina, a fee-only wealth management firm. His Gains and Losses column runs on the fourth Sunday of the month.