We all want to have money. The problem is that we can never save enough. We always want more. Saving money for the sake of saving money then, is not something worth valuing. I’ve started to change my thinking. Rather than value saving money, I now focus on setting financial goals that are consistent with the things that are most important to me.
We often struggle with competing values. For example, saving money or buying something that may help save time. This got me thinking, money is a means to an end. As such, money does not hold any value itself. It’s what we exchange money for that’s important.
Currency is Meant to Flow
Spenders know that buying things and sharing with others can be a positive thing. Savers, however, often feel pain as a reaction to seeing money go. But why is saving money so important?
Currency is meant to flow both in and out. It flows in as compensation for our efforts and out in exchange for goods and services. As someone who has always made saving money a priority, it was enlightening to come to the realization that I shouldn’t value saving money. Rather, I should use it as a tool to reach my goals.
Related article: ACT to Save Money from a Psychologist’s Perspective
What Are Values
Values are our “why” in life – they represent what’s important to us. Values are principles toward which we strive on a daily basis through specific behaviors. They are never fully satistifed or permentantly achieved. For example, you’re never done being a good friend, maintaining your freedom, or caring for the planet.
We work toward our values across time and situations through specific actions that we take. For example, by returning your friend’s call, exercising our decisions, or choosing eco-friendly packaging.
Examples of Values
Let’s take a minute to think about your personal values. There is no right or wrong answer. Which of these are most important to you?
- Having adventures
- Traveling the world
- Overcoming challenges
- Being comfortable
- Making new memories
- Having purpose
- Expressing your creativity
- Showing compassion
- Being dependable
- Contributing to society
- Maintaining physical fitness
- Being faithful
- Having integrity
- Maintaining hope
- Experiencing inner peace
- Being a present parent
- Showing love to your spouse or partner
- Sharing knowledge
- Openness to new experiences
- Caring for your family
- Providing a stable home
- Feeling safe and secure
- Caring for the environment
- Giving your kids a good life
- Being generous
- Supporting local business
- Saving time
- Being self-sufficient
- Having balance in life
Saving money can actually be in conflict with many of the things we value. For example, saving money can be at odds with:
- being a generous tipper
- paying slightly more to support local business rather than at a national super store
- buying more expensive eco-friendly alternatives to plastic
- the monthly costs of getting kids involved in different activities
- paying for convienence to save time
There are also times when saving money is consistent with one’s values:
- being self-sufficient and learning skills to do things on your own rather than paying someone else to do them
- preparing healthy meals at home rather than paying to dine out
- avoiding pre-packaged or individually wrapped items that cost more and create more waste
- building a retirement fund
- having “FU” money
- creating an opportunity fund
While saving money can help us to move in a valued direction (e.g., the freedom to leave a stressful job or retire early), it’s important to keep in mind the overarching value rather than saving just to hoard money.
Related article: Breaking Free from the Golden Handcuffs
Setting Financial Goals Consistent with Our Values
Values are what we find important in life. We are constantly working toward living a life consistent with our values; this is an ongoing process during our lifetimes. Goals, on the other hand, are specific actions we take. They are measurable and achievable. But it’s important that our goals be consistent with our personal values. They should be things we set to do that help us live the life we want to live.
Examples of Goals associated with personal Values
|Freedom||Creating a plan to be out of debt within a certain period of time|
|Adventure||Setting aside a certain amount each year for travel|
|Kids’ experiences||Enrolling each child in one activity|
|Buying local||Committing to buying your produce each week from the farmer’s market|
|Time with friends||Budgeting a certain amount for a weekly lunch|
|Health||Buy less junk food and more fruits, veggies, and whole grains|
|Fitness||Purchasing a pair of running shoes and sticking to the Couch to 5K Training schedule|
Related article: You’re Not A Failure, You Just Need SMARTER Goals
By focusing on saving money, we may lose sight of what’s really important in life. Rather than valuing saving for the sake of having more money, consider shifting your perspective. Remember your “why.” Then, set financial goals that help move us closer to what we really value.
What values are most important to you?