Everyone needs food, shelter and clothing. But beyond basic survival needs, there is an endless array of money-hungry possibilities that can consume disposable income. Many let money slip through their fingers without giving much thought to the big picture. We often buy the latest and greatest stuff simply because our neighbors do; so we can keep up with the infamous Jones family. Advertisers, the media and society influence how we spend.
But living according to your own personal values is the key to happiness and financial well-being. Once you’ve mindfully identified what truly makes you tick, your financial decisions can be guided into alignment with your value system. When you live (and spend) true to your values, you are bound to feel fulfilled, content, peaceful and happy.
You may value a beautiful home — so you spend generously on a home purchase and decorating, remodeling and furnishings. I may value freedom, travel and recreation above all else — so I don’t mind living in a more simple home. Perhaps you feel strongly that it’s important to protect the environment — so you’re willing to fork out more moola to purchase a vehicle that operates on alternative fuel. Your neighbor’s priority might be safety — so they drive a large SUV.
On the other hand, perhaps you are unconsciously investing in things that are not as important to you as others are. Financial happiness occurs once you figure out what is important to you and spend accordingly. Evaluating your key priorities provides a beginning structure for your spending plan– a budget that you’ll be enthusiastically motivated and happy to adhere to. Not sure what your top priorities are? Take a good look at your Treasure Map to a Rich Life — it will reveal important clues.
For purposes of illustration, I’m sharing my own list of priorities and values today. It’s been my experience that the ways in which we choose to think directly influences our actual behavior and in turn, our behavior powers our outcome. Therefore, note my choice of words that serve as affirmations such as “I choose to…” rather than “I wish…”.
My List of Priorities and Personal Values:
1. Family Relationships: I value spending quality time with my family each and every day. I choose to spend more time with my family than on any other endeavor, including my career. Therefore, I accept less income in exchange for more free time.
2. Friendships: I choose to have enough free time to nurture, maintain, and enjoy my friends. Again, I choose to trade income for free time.
3. Health: I value strength, energy, and longevity. I choose to take care of my physical self so that I am better equipped to do all of the things that I love to do. Therefore, I gladly trade money for organic foods and weekly massage therapy.
4. Fun: Life is a precious gift meant to be enjoyed. I choose to live an enthusiastic life; to enjoy my relationships, hobbies and interests; to laugh, smile and acknowledge my gratitude daily. Therefore, I choose to be a do-er, not a have-er.
5. Freedom: Freedom from money worries, serious health problems, stress, and time restrictions. I choose to be able to do what I want, when I want, where I want; and to be free from shoulda-coulda-can’t types of thinking. I choose to be free from the need to wake in the morning by the obnoxious bleeping of an alarm clock. Therefore, I choose to be my own boss and set my own hours.
6. Curiosity-Led Learning: I value a lifetime love of learning. I choose to pursue my own interests, and I facilitate the same curiosity-led learning opportunities for my daughter.
7. Environment and Sustainability: I believe that everyone has an individual responsibility to protect our natural resources. I choose a lifestyle that emphasizes sustainability over wasteful consumption. Besides, by owning less stuff, I have more money – and time – to spend on the activities that matter most to me.
8. Community and Compassion: I believe that each individual is an important and integral part of our world-wide community. I choose to feel and act compassionately towards others. Therefore, I am willing to work sans pay (volunteer) for the benefit of others.
When you review and revise your annual spending plan (aka budget), ignore the Joneses. Make sure that your plan reflects your personal values. By mindfully doing so, you’ll likely find that money can buy you happiness!