Welcome back to 12 months to get good with money, a series of bite-sized steps to take over each of the 12 months of the year to get good with money slowly. Let’s recap the past few months:
In January, you made a budget.
In February, you made savings goals.
In March, you separated your savings accounts and learned about automation.
In April, you made a plan for your taxes.
In May, you learned the general concepts of investing and did research on the investing vehicles that are available to you.
In June, you created your investing plan.
In July, you made a plan to spend less and save more.
In August, you made a plan to earn more.
It’s September, and the goal this month is more related to feeling good about your money.
When we talk about getting good with money, we give the basic information on budgeting, saving, investing, debt payoff, etc. And those are all extremely important concepts to understand and make decisions about– that’s why I’ve personally been presenting them for the past few months of this program!
But what we often overlook is how to create a positive mindset around money. That’s why so many personal finance bloggers and influencers who are reaching insane goals still find themselves stuck when it comes to things like dealing with unexpected money obstacles or even spending money, in small or big amounts, even on things that would add immense value to their lives.
A great example of this is a famous YouTuber, Graham Stephen, who is a multimillionaire in his twenties and makes videos about personal finance, often focussing on frugality. Despite his wealth and success, he still shares often that he struggles to actually spend even relatively small amounts of money, even on things that are clearly good purchases for him. I don’t know about you, but that scares me. I don’t want to become a millionaire who’s afraid to use money to improve or enjoy my life.
Being good with money is one thing, but FEELING good with money is a whole, entirely separate beast that can be much more allusive. So, what does it take to feel good about money?
There’s a lot that goes into this. Lucky for us, the I think getting good with money management is a fantastic place to start working on our money mindsets, because having true understanding and control of your finances over time is a huge factor in creating a positive money mindset.
But today, I want to focus on a specific aspect of feeling good about money, and that has to do with aligning your spending with your values. This could also be called intentional spending. I talk about this all the time when it comes to my own finances, and I wanted to dedicate a post to this idea specifically and give you a goal related to this idea.
The most frequent subject I talk about values-based spending with tends to be sustainable purchases: for me, that means avoiding fast fashion altogether and buying clothes only secondhand or from sustainable companies. It also means things like avoiding plastic when I can, or buying products to replace single-use items. But I also think about this in terms of the companies I’m supporting. When I did my no-spend November, I noticed that I was frequently buying from big restaurant chains instead of local restaurants that were just as good, ould keep my dollars circulating in my local economy, and could probably use my support more.
So, clearly values-based spending applies on the level of voting with your dollar and using your consumer power to create change based on your values. But at the same time, intentional and values-based spending can also be done in terms of giving yourself permission to purchase something that will improve your life, even in the smallest of ways. For example, if I say I value education, I shouldn’t feel guilty or wrong about paying for online classes in something I’m interested in.
The same thing can apply in so many realms: maybe it’s giving yourself permission to buy less processed foods at the grocery store, even if it means spending more money, because you value your health. Maybe it’s budgeting for gifts or donations, because contribution and generosity is important to you. Maybe it’s something as simple as allowing yourself to buy lunch out once a week on your break, as a ritual or treat for yourself after packing your lunch for four days.
The beauty of aligning your spending with you values is that no one can tell you what your values are– you are the only person you justify your purchases to. It’s also amazing because not only will you start to feel less guilt about the right purchases, but you can actually feel good about them. It’s the reason I feel good about being different than so many personal finance influencers when it comes to spending more on rent or dining out– because, along with my money plan, I am fully aware of how much spending in these areas has improved my life.
So here’s your goal for the month: look back at all of your spending for the past month (this should be on your budget, but even if you’ve fallen off of doing your budget, you can do this step by looking at your bank statement). Take a very critical eye to each and every purchase: how did that purchase make you feel? Was it a worthwhile purchase? Did buying the item/company/product align with your values?
It’s a simple but powerful exercise. If you continue thinking about each purchase and taking a moment of pause before buying things, doing this exercise will become a natural part of your consumer process and ultimately make you feel more confident, balanced, and mindful with your money.