What Are Your True Values? Take the Quiz!
Discovering your true values is an important step towards realizing your financial goals.
Why are values tied to money? I am frequently reminded of this quote attributed to Joe Biden:
“Don’t tell me your values, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
Over the course of the day we are faced with dozens of micro-decisions, many of them financial in nature:
Why do you regularly stop at the neighborhood coffee shop? It’s a caffeine fix for sure, but maybe you also enjoy the exchange with the barista who knows your name and will remember if you don’t stop by.
Why do you frequently purchase small treats or toys at the grocery store for your child? You don't want to spend the extra money, but maybe you do because you work long hours and don’t get to spend much time with your child and you want to show your love.
Why do you purchase expensive handbags? Maybe it’s because you want the outside world to know that you are accomplished and worthy.
And all these come down to your true values, whether you realize it or not.
Your values are never wrong
What did you learn about yourself? What are your top three values?
After taking this quiz sometimes my students will say, “Oh no, my values are wrong!” What? There is no such thing as a wrong value. My sense is that they make this claim because they feel that the values that they identify – like sports or social activities or personal appearance – won’t get themselves closer to their financial goals of building an emergency savings account or buying a home, and therefore they are wrong.
I contend that all values are right, and that it is important to name them in order to reach your financial goals. Why? Because if you do not name your true values, denying their rightful place in your psyche, they will sabotage your plans to get ahead over and over again.
Your values and your budget
So what do you do? You must give your values a rightful place in your budget.
Here’s a success story for you: My colleague once had an ambitious student who wanted to purchase her first home (in expensive Boston no less!) and she really liked going out to the dance clubs on the weekends; it was part of her identity. But clubbing came with a price tag – clothes and cover charges and refreshments and rides home – that was straining her ability to save for her home. But she really valued her social activity.
So did she quit going to clubs cold turkey so that she could save the down payment for the home? And would that have worked in the long run? No and no. She knew that over time she would “cheat” and spend her savings to go out, and then feel demoralized about her choice.
This industrious student had her cake and ate it too, just in smaller bites. She set up a “club budget” alongside her down payment savings goal. She gave herself a set amount each month to spend on the clubs and once that money was gone, so were her clubbing days for that month.
And you know what? She is a happy home owner today.