3 Ways Identifying Values Can Positively Affect Your Bank Account
Have you ever purchased something and then were consumed with guilt and shame that you spent money on it? Or peeked at your bank account and were surprised at how much money you spent eating out or purchasing skin care products that month and instantly felt remorse? If yes, you wouldn't be alone, friend. Most of us use our money and spend without connecting the actions to something deeper in value. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but when we aren't connected to these actions, it can lead to mindless spending or purchasing things that really don't matter and elicit feelings of guilt and shame when it comes to our money.
What's the easiest way to shift this? Know the values for your life.
Why you should find your inner values.
Even if you aren't into personal development, this is an exercise everyone should do for their money game. What's the fun in buying something if you are ridden with guilt and can’t actually enjoy it?
Knowing your values for your life is one of the most important actions you can actually take for your financial health. Without these values, you set yourself up for spending patterns that don't feel good, and we want our money to feel good.
Identifying your values can be incredibly centering and comes with some added benefits that will positively affect your money.
When you know your values for how you want to live your life, suddenly you have a natural system for making decisions. Whether you need to make a choice between making upgrades to your home or moving money into your savings—your values will help you make the right decision. When making money decisions (or life decisions), simply ask yourself, "Is this in alignment with my values?" This question will guide you down the right path to making the selection that supports you and your life.
Get you back on track.
Let's be real here, we aren't going to be the picture of perfection when it comes to our money, and that isn't the goal. Life will pop up and, like in other areas of our life, we might find ourselves straying from our goals or the actions we know serve us well. When money is involved, one of the most effective actions you can take when you feel yourself getting off course is to simply look at your bank account and ask yourself if your spending is in alignment with your values. You will know your answer very quickly. If it seems your spending is never in alignment, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your values. Whether we want to hear this or not, our spending will show us what we are deeming valuable. Lean into that information so you can really question your values on a deeper level. This connection will be powerful for your money game.
Money often has a lot of emotions attached to it with two of the most common ones being guilt and shame. Frankly, these emotions are quick to put a damper on any purchase joy you might experience. In some instances, that might not be a bad thing, but we don't want buying and spending money to become a trigger to feeling guilt and shame. Although they aren't technically connected, we grow up associating them with each other. So in our adult lives, we have to unpack that a bit. Knowing your values and purchasing in alignment with your values is a huge step in detaching these two emotions with the physical action of shopping. Example: When "travel" with your family is one of your values, making that deposit on your family trip will most likely not feel as scary. In fact, it should elicit some feelings of pride and calm.
So how do you find your values?
Start with a list of values to choose from like this list from James Clear. A simple Google search of "values list" will send you off to the races as well.
- From that list, cull it down to 10 that speak to you, and then ultimately continue to edit them down until you arrive at five core values. Anything more than that is hard to focus. We want a clear set of values that we can use to live our lives and help us make decisions.
- Once you have that list, take a quick audit of the different areas of your life (your money, relationships, career, health, and wellness) and give yourself a score of 1 to 10 with 10 being "in complete alignment" and 1 being "no alignment at all" to see where you are. There is no right or wrong score. This quick exercise will show you the areas you might need to insert your values a bit more to help you make decisions.
- Remember: When we are talking about money, we are also talking about our time and energy. We need all three resources to live a balanced life. So as you are auditing your life and evaluating whether your money spending is in alignment, also consider your time and energy. If "health" is a value of yours and that translates to moving your body a few times a week, but that's the last thing you schedule for yourself and rarely get to it, you're out of alignment. If learning is a value for you and you haven't spent money, time, or energy in that area for months, you're out of alignment.
Make no mistake, these are all connected to your habits, but starting with your values so you feel a deeper connection to your why will make creating new habits and shifting your behaviors much easier.
Brianna Firestone is a Financial Education Instructor certified by the National Financial Educators Council. Her expert advice has been featured in Money.com, Real Simple, and Business Insider. Firestone received her bachelor's in theatre from Stephens College and lives in Denver, Colorado.