Do you ever feel like your money isn’t supporting the things you value the most?
If you seem to have enough money but feel that your spending doesn’t give you a sense of fulfillment, then this could be the case.
That’s because when we create our budgets or cash flow plans, we often think about the day-to-day “needs” we have to address but don’t have a strategy for spending beyond that.
In a typical budget, spending categories usually revolve around wants and necessities from a material or consumer standpoint.
That could be:
Just to name a few!
But, if standard budget categories still need to be aligned with things that bring you fulfillment, you might feel a sense of emptiness or even frustration when you think about your money.
A Different Approach
If you consciously include your values in your cash flow plan, you will likely feel more satisfied with your finances. This increased satisfaction is not only good for its own sake, but it could help you reduce frivolous spending, allowing you to accomplish even more.
What things can you include in your daily spending that may be related to your values?
Values-Aligned Spending in Action
If you are ready to implement values-aligned spending in your daily life, there are several ways to go about it. First, we recommend taking a free values assessment online. The think2perform values assessment or the Barrett Values Centre are both fantastic and thorough options. These can help you to identify your top 5 – 10 values (or your family values if you want to take the assessment with your spouse or partner and compare notes).
Once you have developed a list of your core values, you can start to align your daily spending with those values. Let us look at a few examples:
One idea might be inducing education in your spending plan.
How can you spend intentionally on education if that is fulfilling for you? First, define exactly what you value about education. Is it a credential such as a college degree or professional designation? Is it learning a new skill? What about a greater understanding of a social issue?
Accomplishing your education goals could mean anything from saving for college to buying a few books (and then dedicating time to reading them!). Once you define it, you can quantify it, and make room for it in your budget.
Another value we often hear from clients is family.
Think about what it is you want for your family. It may be that you want to spend more time together. What does that look like exactly? Dedicating one night a week to a family dinner out? Have a family day once a month doing something special? Going on a nice vacation?
These items may not feel like extravagant spending, but instead, spending a small amount more consistently to help you incorporate your values into your daily life.
Valuing family could also mean that you want greater financial security for your family. You can accomplish this by increasing your savings to have a substantial safety net or cutting your total spending so that your family doesn’t feel the financial strain.
Another example might be that you value community.
There are many ways to incorporate your community into a budget that fulfills you. Local food pantries, community centers, and volunteer organizations can always use additional help and funds.
The Best of Both Worlds
There are also ways to reprioritize the way you live to encompass all your values more frequently. This might look like reorganizing your cash flow, or how you spend your money week-to-week, but it can also look like rethinking how you spend your time. Life is a constant cycle of reprioritizing and deprioritizing. We develop habits and systems that work for us in each season of life, but we rarely take stock of how we spend our time and rethink the habits that aren’t serving us anymore.
Think about how you spend a typical Saturday morning. Do you eat breakfast at home with your spouse or partner? Sleep in, and scroll through social media sites before starting the day? Go for a walk around the neighborhood? Run errands?
If you value family, education, and community, you could simultaneously prioritize all three values by rethinking your routine. For example, you could:
- Invite your adult kids to spend the morning with you (family) at the local farmer’s market (community).
- Get up early with your spouse or partner (family) and head to the local recreation center (community) to attend a group yoga class (education).
- Volunteer with your grandkids (family) at a local animal shelter (community) once a month.
- Ask your retired parents (family) if they would like to take a pottery class with you at the local creative arts center (community & education).
Even if we reorganize our spending to reflect our values, our #1 resource is often still being misused – time. Prioritizing your values in how you spend your money, and your time can positively impact your mental health and emotional well-being both now and into the future.
Creating a plan for your spending that aligns with your values isn’t difficult, you just have to be intentional about doing it. The simple reality is that most people don’t think about it.
Start by making a list of YOUR values, and then translate those values into spending – both time and money. When you begin your budget from this perspective, you may find that it ends up looking quite different.