Does Your Spending Reflect Your Values?

You should spend money on the things that are important to you. With that being said though..does your spending reflect your values?

Either way, I bet I don’t need to convince you that this is an important topic to read more on.

Recently, my sister texted me and asked if my daughters and I wanted to join her and her oldest daughter on a quick trip to Vegas to see a Cirque Du Soleil show.  Having had a recent convo with my hubby about the mid-progress laundry room rehab and just returning from a girls trip to Palm Springs, I told her I’d better check and get back to her.

My husband asked me what my goal was. My answer? To experience as much as we can, whenever we can….within reason.

I mean, I didn’t retire from my 9-5 full time plus role just to sit in one place all the time. I desired the freedom and flexibility to go and do, along with of course, the pursuit of a career that I’m passionate about.

So, that surprise trip is booked for a few weeks from now – don’t spill the beans.

Let’s talk about spending.

  • What should YOU spend money on, and does your spending reflect your values?
  • How do you prioritize and differentiate the necessary spending?
  • What should we be planning on for increased costs with inflation?
  • Lastly, what does MY family spend money on?

Let’s start with what YOU should spend your money on

What are your values, and does your spending reflect your values?

Clearly, I value adventure. It’s on my top five list!  

Each of us (and our family unit) has values that resonate and speak to who we are and how we want to live our life. Authors and friends, Keith Miller and Teresa Miller-Weston spoke to my client group a few months ago around the creation of a life plan and centering ourselves around our values. They have an excellent exercise in their book ‘Wide Eyed Wisdom’. I encourage you to pick up a copy!

Once you have identified your values/family values, you can align your spending with your values. 

Value Based Spending Examples

It makes sense that my family spends more money on travel than perhaps another family.  But, you may have a value of knowledge and spend a lot more on books, courses and education than I do. 

Perhaps you value beauty of all varieties and you’re willing to spend more on art for your home, or products/services to beautify yourself or those things around you.  P.S. I think you’re gorgeous already!

You catch my drift here – we all can have different values, and even if they are similar or the same, that interpretation can be different.

My adventure value could also come at a less expensive price tag with backpacking through the Gorge, kayaking every lake and stream nearby, and eating at hole in the wall shops with no reviews.  You do you.  It goes without saying that you can also spend from nothing to everything on a value.  It doesn’t have to cost money, and it doesn’t have to be extravagant to fit into your values. In other words, our values can fit whatever our budget, whatever that is.

When you spend in alignment with your values, your heart sings.  You’re in the zone of doing what feels right to you!

When you are using money outside of your values i.e. not using it for the things that matter most to you, you’ll feel a burn that you can’t quite put your finger on.  

Ever wonder why you’re feeling discouraged or aggravated paying off debts and not having enough wiggle room for the things you WANT to do?  That’s a sign you’re out of values alignment – even with your money.

My suggestion? Scratch your values itch in a free or inexpensive way, while tackling debt payments head on, and quickly, so you can get back to doing more values-based spending.

If you’re in the boat of not having enough money each month to cover all of your expenses, you need to start by taking a step back and prioritizing.

So, how do you go about prioritizing the necessities? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

Priorities List

Cover your ‘Four Walls’.

  1. Food is first on the list. Groceries, not restaurants. Feed your belly with nutritious food, and avoid the drive-thru and delivery.
  2. Shelter. This is your rent or mortgage payment. Maybe you need to consider a roommate or a change in housing situation. Cover the roof over your head.
  3. Basic Clothing. Yes, of course – cover up all of your parts, and have the things you need to work and send your kids to school. You can do this very inexpensively with gently used items if need be. (This is a traditional four walls entry – I don’t prefer it. I’ll give you my alternative below.)
  4. Basic Transportation. Get to and from work to make the money. It may be a pass for public transportation, not a car payment.
  5. Utilities is my switch up for basic clothing. I want you to keep the power and water on. Notice I didn’t mention the cable or cell phone bill. You may need to cut the subscriptions and ditch the high cost cell coverage for cheaper alternatives.

Establish an Emergency Fund.

You’ve heard it before..you NEED to be able to fund your own emergencies. So, after the basics – prioritize getting a starter emergency fund of $1,000….or even $2,000, depending on where you live and what some of your typical emergencies entail. If you’re debt free (except a mortgage), I want you to put MORE money in here (like 3-6 months worth of expenses kind of more). Pick a nice round number and get to “spending” into your savings.

Ditch your Debt.

“Spend” money paying off your debts, as quickly as possible so you can begin spending more money on those enjoyable items aligned in your values. Again, I want you to think about – does your spending reflect your values? I don’t think debt is a value, so get rid of it.  Enough about that here, this blog is about SPENDING. 

If you want to talk more about debt, you can check out these blogs:

Debt is a four letter word: Debt Payoff Plan

Client Financial Success Story-Lee and Ann: Hopeless to Hopeful

Does your spending reflect your values? Let's dig deeper into your spending, what you truly value, inflation, and how it all ties together.


Of course I want you to invest! Done with debt and post emergency fund, it’s time to load up that retirement account, kids college funds if you wish, and more.  

This is also the point that you really start letting loose on more spending in those areas of value to you.

Expenses and Inflation in 2022

What can we expect with expenses and inflation for 2022?

Lord only knows. But..more money on the basics for sure, and when the basics cost more, companies have to charge more to cover their expenses. This means the non-basics will also start costing more too.

  • Utility bills are higher.
  • Fuel costs are through the roof.
  • Groceries are more expensive.
  • Save money where you can.
  • Batch your trips to just run all errands in one swoop.
  • Meal plan so that your groceries are less expensive.
  • Turn down the heat, or switch off the lights.
  • Shop around for insurance and cell coverage, and get your utilities (power and natural gas) on equal pay.

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Now it’s my turn

Where do WE spend money?

I reviewed our annual 2021 budget and surveyed the overall spend. I found these to be our top expenses, and took a look at the projections for 2022.

Let’s skip talking about taxes, okay? It’s a high line item for us – even more so now as we’re both entrepreneurs. Uncle Sam takes his fair share.

Basic Expenses

  • Mortgage payment, obviously coming in hot.  Likely everyone’s highest monthly payment is with housing.
  • Utilities were a close second for us when bundled together. I still feel like we shouldn’t be spending as much in electricity as we do….is someone leaving the lights on?!
  • Insurance will be a much larger ticket item for us in 2022 with health insurance costing a pretty penny, beating out utilities.

Values Based Spending

  • We spent about 15k in travel and home improvement projects last year. These are priorities for us, and although may not be quite as high this year – still in the budget!
  • We saved a bundle of money towards our saving goal last year-my records show $44k. We will plan to put more money towards this big goal this year too – we’re on our way to paying off our house!
  • Retirement contributions were our top line item this year after taxes. I’m not mad about this at all. Our future is getting funded!

Line Items

  • Travel has a line item in our budget. It’s a staple.
  • Health has always been a line item, but I’m amping it up in 2022 with more support to get me to a new baseline. I only have this one bod, and I want to treat it well.
  • Giving is a monthly staple for me, both through my business and personally.
  • Amazon has handled too much of our money. I want to redirect some of our Amazon spending to local outlets when possible.

I leave you with this; get clear on your values, and really consider – does your spending reflect your values? Make sure that your spending is in line with those values. Hang on tight for inflation, and enjoy the things that you don’t have to spend any money on at all…the people around you.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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