How many times have you bought an item of clothing, only to never wear it and then in the end pass it on, with an aching sense of waste and regret? How many times have you thought it’s probably better not to add up the money you have spent on Amazon on things you didn’t really need or even want in the end?
Each of us have a finite amount of money to allocate to our lifestyle, and once we’ve spent that money, it’s gone. How can you make sure that every single time you spend your money, you align your spending with your values?
Align Your Spending with Your Values
What Does That Mean?
What is this all about, and how will it ultimately help you to manage your money better? Well, what I believe is that when you align your spending with your values, you add a level of mindfulness to your relationship with your money that ultimately helps you to save your money for what really matters to you.
When you first start thinking about this, you’ll need to put each expenditure through a little test. Then after a while, this kind of thinking will become automatic and you’ll stay away from wasteful purchases and expenses.
Soon, you’ll have realized that you have more money available for those things that are really important to you – and you’ll live a happier, more fulfilled life as a result.
Any time you’re about to reach for your purse to buy something, ask yourself these three questions first:
Question #1: What Are My Values?
When you decide to align your spending with your values, the first step is to examine exactly what your values are. And to get to the root of this, you might have to ask yourself “What?”
What types of things or experiences bring you true joy? Is it spending quality time with your family or friends? Is it giving gifts and making others feel special? Is it helping your children with things they need to live a comfortable life? Is it indulging in a hobby where you truly lose yourself and get a rich sense of satisfaction and enjoyment? Is it volunteering your time and money to an organization that helps your community?
Ultimately, if you had more money and wanted to live a more fulfilling life, how would you spend it? I have a feeling it’s not on that outfit that you might not ever wear, but have just bought for that instant hit of gratification. It might be a trip with your family, donating to a charity that has special meaning to you or a really fun night out with your friends for some real “girl therapy”!
Question #2: Is Spending This Money Going To Improve My Life?
Once you have a sense of what your values really are, you’ll know more what brings you lasting joy. So the next question to ask yourself is whether spending that money is going to add positively to your life by mirroring your values or achieving some of your goals.
Is this outlay of money actually going to enhance your quality of life, or the quality of life of your loved ones? Do you really need to make that purchase, or are you doing it out of habit? Does that particular purchase make your life more fulfilling, or make the people you care about feel loved?
Question #3: Where Is That Money Better Spent?
Most of us have a habit of spending our hard earned money on some items that don’t necessarily align with those things that are most important to us. For example, maybe you have gotten into the routine of stopping through a drive-through to pick up a coffee while you’re out, and you don’t even notice the amount of money it actually adds to your overall budget?
Let’s say you stop for a coffee three times a week, and spend $5 every time. If you remove that expense, you’re going to save $780 a year. If you decrease it to a once-a-week treat, you’ll save $520.
I’m sure most of us can immediately think of something more meaningful to purchase with that hard earned money. I know that as a woman of a certain age, you’re bound to have things you could spend that money on that would be enriching for both you and the people you care most about.
What about saving for a cruise with the family? A trip to Paris with your daughters? A once-in-a-lifetime sporting event with your sons? A beach weekend with friends? Taking a mission trip? Finally checking some things off that long bucket list that too often gets ignored?
Why not transfer the money you would have spent on a meaningless habit to a special fund that you can watch grow, knowing that your efforts to align your spending with your values are really going to pay off?
Start To Align Your Spending with Your Values
A really thorough way to transition into this new way of thinking about money and your expenditures is to write those values down. Then write down a list of everything you’ve spent money on over the last month.
Get your credit card statements out. Look at receipts you absentmindedly tucked into your purse. Do all those expenses coincide with your values? Did you get a real sense of fulfilment from the money spent?
Now, if they were absolutely necessary expenses – of which there are just so many – could you have found a cheaper alternative that would have freed up some money for the special fund? Could a quick examination of your monthly outlays uncover anything that could be cut out, or decreased a little bit?
Just bringing this kind of conscious decision-making to your financial life can have untold positive consequences. Not only will you find that you have more money available for the things that really matter, but you won’t have that sense of shame or regret knowing that you’ve spent money, that in the long run didn’t contribute to a meaningful life experience and that you would have rather spent or saved elsewhere.
It can be hard to change your habits at first, but routinely asking yourself those three questions will help set you on your way. And if you’d like just a little more help, reach out for a consultation and we can help you find out how to align your spending with your values to help you live a more satisfying, rewarding, rich and happy life.