How to Align Your Spending With Your Values

How To Align Your Spending With Your Valures
Stefanie O'Connell
By: Stefanie O'Connell
Updated: July 24, 2014
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I think we’d all like to believe we spend our money in a way that reflects our priorities and values, but so many of us continue to rack up unnecessary charges in the form of clothing, booze and vacations while putting off paying down our mortgage, student loans, etc.

Do we really value these trivial fleeting things more than the roof over our heads?

If you’re looking over your finances and finding your spending doesn’t reflect your top priorities, it might be time to reassess.

1. List your priorities in descending order.

  •  The bare bones basics (food and shelter)
  •  The support categories (heat, hot water, electricity, transportation, insurance, etc.)
  •  The day-to-day tools (phone, Internet, etc.)
  •  Life expenses (doctor visits, basic personal care products, etc.)
  •  Business support expenses (resume printing, web hosting, classes, etc.)
  •  Social expenses (gifts, correspondence, dinners with friends, etc.)
  •  Luxuries (new clothes, massages, vacations, etc.)

This is just an example, so prioritize your list in the order of your priorities.

2. Compare your list with your actual spending.

Take a look at your pattern of expenses for the last few months. Have you included everything? Has your spending reflected the order of priorities you’ve outlined?

This exercise can illuminate important areas of your life that you may be neglecting in favor of other more trivial expenses.

“Be true to yourself by 

keeping your spending in line.”

3. Find the balance.

It is important to find a balance in what you value and how you allocate money to it.

If a huge percentage of your spending is going toward luxuries at the expense of other categories (life expenses or day-to-day tools), perhaps it’s time to take a look at how you can come back into balance.

4. Remember we all have different priorities.

Did you purchase a new pair of cute shoes before paying off the dental cleaning you charged to your credit card last month? That’s fine if you value your style more than your health.

No one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t value above anything else (although they may have strong opinions). Just be true to yourself by keeping your spending in line with the priority of the values you’ve laid out.

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