When we tire of chasing the so-called American Dream and begin seeking financial independence we often look at how we can cut our spending, to increase savings, start investing or pay off debt. This usually results in making some sacrifices. Some short-term and some for the long-term. But before you go determining your budget, be sure to consider your values.
There are varying opinions in the personal finance community on what sacrifices, if any, are a must. What things you should never spend money on and what investments you must make.
But let’s face it, there can’t be any specific rules to this journey, just general guidelines. Because, after all, we’re coming from different situations and going to diverse places.
“The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.” ~ Jacob Lew
As I embark on my less stuff, less waste experiment, I want to make it clear I’m not preaching that you should do the same. I am merely asking you to consider how and what you spend your money on to understand if you can make any improvements in your financial life.
Perhaps you’ll discover you’ve started spending money on things only out of habit. Or maybe you’ll find you aren’t spending enough on the things most important to you.
Do you consider your values when spending?
I don’t spend money at hair or nail salons, or on fancy clothes. Some may think I’m sacrificing and would never follow suit themselves. However, for me, not spending on those things is not a sacrifice at all because I don’t highly value them.
While I do surely value my appearance, I’m perfectly happy cutting and coloring (shhh!) my own hair. Of course, it may look like I DIY it, but I’m okay with that.
If you do value freshly styled hair, polished nails, and fancy suits, however, I sure as hell won’t judge you. Just as I hope you won’t judge the amount of money we spend on organic food and golf, (and craft beer.)
Consider Your Values and Sacrifices
Have you taken time to consider your values? Do you spend according to them? Or are you sacrificing what is important to you for a few extra dollars in your investment account?
Too much sacrifice on the things you value may lead you to resentment and cause you to veer from the path you’ve set out on to improve your financial health. It’s easy to do. But I urge you not to give up but to be more mindful of where your money goes and ensure you spend it in the right places. Where it is right for you.
John and I started on the path towards financial freedom almost five years ago. Through the years our values have subtly changed. The same may be true for you. Perhaps it’s time to check your map to ensure the journey you are on is not only financially beneficial but joyful too.
“One of the great arts in living is to learn the art of accurately appraising values. Everything that we think, that we earn, that we have given to us, that in any way touches our consciousness, has its own value. These values are apt to change with the mood, with time, or because of circumstances. We cannot safely tie to any material value. The values of all material possessions change continually, sometimes overnight. Nothing of this nature has any permanent set value. The real values are those that stay by you, give you happiness and enrich you. They are the human values.” ~ George Matthew Adams
Can a mindful no spend challenge help you flesh out what you truly value? I hypothesize so. What feels like a real sacrifice, as well as what doesn’t, should be a clue.
It’s All So Personal
What’s a sacrifice for me, may not be a one for you. What you value may not be relevant to me. And even if we do hold the same values, we will still spend our money differently. But so what anyway. It’s not our job to judge each other.
Instead, let’s encourage and support. Let’s teach, motivate, and share. And be willing to experiment and learn.
So, in borrowing the words from my friend, Mr. Groovy – “What say you?” Let me know what you think.
Do you spend according to your values?
Or are you sacrificing on the things you love too much? And if so are you experiencing any discontent?
Will you try spending more mindfully?
Check out this great post from Mrs. Farmhouse Finance, Is Mindful Spending The Antidote To Financial Burnout? for another take.