You are ready to start being a more savvy spender – congrats! No more throwing money left and right. No more surprising bills to pay, as you’re ready to know where your money is going. Understanding where your money comes and goes will allow to you have more control over your finances, simply because you’re keeping track of it now.
The first step is to determine your core values.
…wait, what? What does that have to do with anything?
My friend, your core values determine EVERYTHING. From what gets you out of bed in the morning, to what you spend your money on, to how you choose to live your life, all stems from your core values.
Determining your core values can help you figure out not only what you are spending your precious time and money on, but WHY you are making these choices. And if you find that your choices do not align with your values, you can set up your budget to more accurately reflect your values down the road, so you can be happier with your financial choices.
To figure out your core values, I would recommended doing this core values exercise from TapRoot to determine what your core values are.
Once you have your list of core values, take a look at a month’s worth of spending – pull up your credit card statements, receipts, and any bills you pay. Look at your net worth – your savings, any investments you may have, your debt, and what you currently have in your checking account.
Now compare this with your core values. How does it make you feel?
Are you happy with your spending choices, as you feel it aligns well with your values?
Do you feel guilty about some of your spending habits, as it seems to go against what you find that you value?
Does this make you feel shocked, and maybe a little disturbed, about certain things that you spend your money on?
As James W. Frick once said: “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”
So now that you have your core values, you can start aligning your spending and your lifestyle choices with your values. To give you a jumpstart, I’ll give you my core values and my spending habits as an example:
- Using time wisely for making a difference.
Instead of sitting around watching hours of TV and movies, I use that time to dedicate to others. I volunteer weekly with my church and with a local charity. I write on this blog, in hopes to educate other allied health professionals (like myself) how to get a hold of their finances and live financially free.
When I realized how many TV subscriptions we paid for monthly, and since we don’t watch a lot of TV or movies, we opted out of almost all of those subscriptions. We also don’t have cable. And since we don’t value these things, the money that would go towards this can go towards something else we value.
2. Building community.
Not gonna lie, a bulk of our spending goes towards local breweries. But we’re okay with this. We budget for this because we love craft beer! But we also love getting together with friends and having great conversations with them. Every time we go to a local brewery, we meet up with friends and end up having an amazing time with them, sharing an ice cold beer. Money well spent, in our opinion.
When we needed to tighten up our budget a little more, we opted to purchasing beers to-go and liquor from Costco, so that we could invite our friends over to hang out with us and enjoy local beer and hand-made cocktails from the comfort of our home. It almost always ends up as an exchange, as our friends typically bring over some sort of alcohol as well. Buying alcohol from the store is cheaper than at a brewery or a bar, but you can still enjoy it just as much (if not more) from your home.
We also love to do FREE activities. We’ll invite friends to go on hikes, beach days, or game nights with us. We have participated in a couple of local Meetup groups for outdoor and sports activities.
The advent of COVID-19 also opened up a great way to build an online community through Facebook groups and other various ways. Many influencers have their own communities that they have built, such as Frugal Friends Club BFF, and Paula Pant’s Afford Anything Community.
3. Manifest happiness.
When I looked over our spending habits and where our money was, I actively sought out what made me feel not happy and worked on those areas. For example, we used to eat out a lot. But I noticed that we ate out at a lot of chain restaurants and fast food on repeat. That didn’t make me happy. After reflecting with my husband, we found that when we cook together or try a new local restaurant, that brought us more joy. We found our spending to increase in our groceries, but decrease in our fast food and restaurants. And when we looked back on our choices for eating out, we were happy that we got to explore new places and support local businesses.
I used to be a member of a rock climbing gym. I loved going to the gym, challenging myself on harder routes, and meeting up with my friends to climb with them. But once we all moved to different cities, and I signed up to join another gym, I realized I more enjoyed the time spent with my friends, versus actual rock climbing itself. Soon I was running more, weight lifting at my communal gym, and doing yoga and pilates videos at home with my dog sleeping beside my mat, and I found that those activities brought me more joy. So I said goodbye to the monthly gym membership.
4. Demonstrate loyalty.
I take loyalty seriously, especially in my relationships. I try my best to be loyal to my family and my friends in every way possible: I don’t cancel plans that we’ve made, I connect with them as often as I can, and I support them in any way I can when they need me.
When a family member is ill, I change my budget around so I can use that money to fly home and spend time with them. When a good friend of mine is getting married, I make sure to allocate time and my budget to make sure that I can be in attendance of their special day. When a group of friends decide to take a weekend ski trip, before I commit, I make sure that I budget wisely for this getaway.
Sometimes this means that I need to decrease spending in other areas. But this is okay with me, because being loyal to my family and friends matters to me as a core value of mine.
5. Give appreciation.
I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, and a friend. I appreciate all the relationships I have made with my family and my friends. When it comes to gift giving, I make sure to allocate money in my budget to show them my appreciation. Whether it’s buying them a coffee on our coffee date, or a gift card to a local restaurant near their home, it is important for me to budget for these gifts, even if this means that I may have to decrease spending in other areas.
I am also a Christian. My church helped me through a lot of my mental health issues, especially during COVID-19. A part of my monthly budget allocates funds to my tithing to my church. Not only does tithing show my appreciation for God, but it also shows my appreciation for my church and all they have done for me.
If you would like to align your values with your spending, and want one-on-one mentoring in your finances, let’s work together to help you on your personal finance journey! Click here to sign up for your FREE 20 minute consult.
Note: I am not a certified financial advisor/planner or a certified financial analyst or a CPA or an accountant or a lawyer. Remember, I am an allied health professional, just like you! This website/blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult with your financial advisor(s) regarding your personal finance, investment, and tax matters.
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