During our lifetime we make a lot of financial decisions from where we live to how we dress to what we will have for dinner. Our values and goals often influence these decisions and could help us or hurt us financially. Lets talk about how you can use your values and goals to better your financial situation.
Values are the things that are important to us like personal qualities (honesty), relationships (family and friends), and things (car or home). Our values are unique to us and are often influenced by our personal experiences. Our use of money is influenced by our values as most people don’t want to waste time or money on things that they don’t value. Therefore, how you spend your money often reflects what you think is important. Some may value a trip with family so they might scrimp and save money to afford to go on vacation. While others may value how they look each day and spend all their money as fast as they earn it so they can wear the latest fashion.
Our goals develop from our values. Goals are things that you want to have or achieve in life. Maybe you want your own home or a new car. Your values help you to set and prioritize your goals based on which you want to achieve first. Your goals can be short term, things you hope to achieve in the next few weeks or months. Or long term, things you hope to achieve in the next year or beyond.
Goals provide the foundation for your financial decisions and help provide direction for how you use money. Once you set a goal, you need to develop a plan to get there. Your plan should be based on your personal situation and have a clear outcome and a deadline to achieve it by.
For example, if you wanted to save $1,000 over the next 5 months. You identified a goal, save $1,000, and you have an identified time frame, 5 months. But how much do you need to save each month to achieve this goal? Are you financially able to save the amount needed each month?
Once we set a goal and develop a plan we have to work the plan. Using the example above of saving $1,000 in 5 months, you would have to save $200 a month to reach your goal. So how does this goal influence your financial decisions?
Depending on how you are currently using your money, you may want to check for spending leaks – places you could save by making a small change. Do you currently eat lunch out during the week? An average lunch out costs about $11 a day. If you eat lunch out 3 times a week that equals $33 a week, the monthly cost of lunch out 3 times a week is $132! Could you take leftovers or make a sandwich for lunch to save money?
Do you have any other spending habits that could be preventing you from reaching your financial goals? Are you willing to ask some tough questions so that you can be more financially secure?
Sometimes making financial decisions are difficult. But studies have shown that you are more likely to save more money if you have goals and a plan. Additionally, you are more likely to feel better about your financial progress. Start making your money work for you! Take some time to set some financial goals and develop a plan to work towards them today.
If you would like more information on how to build a spending plan see the publication Building a Spending Plan: All 6 steps.