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Modern personal finance is complex. Too complex, in many cases.

Financial complexity is often a barrier to good money management in ordinary households. It's easy to become lost in the details trying to figure out whether it's better to open a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, buy whole-life or term-life insurance, take out a fixed-rate or variable-rate mortgage, and decide how to allocate assets in a retirement savings portfolio.

Keeping finances as simple as possible fights against complexity. Practical steps include automating the movement of money from checking into savings accounts, similar to automatic withdrawals from your earnings into retirement savings at work. Establishing a handful of good money habits also helps keep complexity at bay.

Most important is looking at your financial choices and decisions through the lens of how money can best support your values, goals, desires and purposes.

"You need money for everything, yet money isn't everything," says Meir Statman, finance professor at Santa Clara University in California and a leading intellect in the field of behavioral finance in a recent interview on the podcast the Long Term Investor. "Money is money, but we all know money isn't enough when we look at people."

What matters is life well-being. Think family, friends, work, education, religion, health and society. These are among the life well-being categories Statman explored in his latest book, "A Wealth of Well-Being: A Holistic Approach to Behavioral Finance." The core idea motivating the book is helping readers reflect on what goes into their life well-being — what makes life worth living — leavened with insights on how managing money can promote your portfolio of life choices.

"I often note that the biggest risks in life are not in the stock market. If you want real risk, I say, get married. And if you want more risk, have children. People laugh because the point is obvious. Yet that point is regularly lost when we speak about financial well-being, neglecting life well-being," he wrote. "We need financial well-being to enjoy life well-being, but it is life well-being that we seek."

I found "A Wealth of Well-Being" thoughtful and practical. Research backs much of the advice, and I like that. The primary audience might be financial advisers, but Statman wrote the book clearly, and nonprofessionals can benefit from his challenge to turn personal finances into an "after-thought" so that we can spend more time nurturing our life well-being.

Personal finances and the good life should feed off and reinforce each other.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, "Marketplace"; commentator, Minnesota Public Radio.