Each year you make hundreds, if not thousands, of choices with your money. And with each choice, you are directly and indirectly making a statement about what matters most to you.
When you choose a method of transportation, frequent a local farmer’s market, donate money to a charity, or make a contribution to your retirement plan, you’re making a statement about what you value. Think of it as your daily opportunity to vote with your values.
The critical question: are you seizing the moment and leveraging these opportunities?
Linking your values to your daily money choices takes practice and discipline. As such, it’s important to develop a roadmap to help guide your choices and ensure your values are front and center.
Start by reviewing your current money choices. Track your spending for 30 days. You can log your expenses using a variety of tools—computer software, mobile apps, online budgeting sites, or pen and paper. Don’t forget to track ALL of your money outflows—including cash, debit or credit card–and donations, investments, etc.
Then, compare your daily money choices to your values. Use the questions below as a starting point:
- What matters most to me in life?
- Do my money choices reflect my core values?
- How well do my money choices balance sharing, saving and spending?
- How do I want to use my resources to improve my future, the future of my family, my community, and the world?
- How might I need to shift my daily money choices to ensure they are congruent with my values?
For example, if spending time with your friends in nature is one of your top priorities, are your money choices supporting that value? Perhaps buying a yearly pass to your state park system will both increase and improve the time you spend with your friends.
When you identify and articulate your values you will fulfill some of your most important life goals. If saving money to buy a home or periodically take a vacation is important, then it is important to set aside money every month so you can realize the goal. Articulating your values helps bring clarity, ease, and balance to your money choices by helping you behave in a way that is honoring those values.
Once you’ve assessed the link between your money choices and your values, it’s time to create a roadmap that will help guide your future choices. If you are like most, a periodic reset using the questions above is both common and expected.
With practice and time, linking your money choices to your values will be a normal part of your routine.