If you’ve never explored what your Core Financial Values are, this is a simple exercise to get us started. This list is a starting point, don’t limit yourself.
Step 1: Define your values
Out of this list of words cross out anything that doesn’t immediately resonate with you. Then go through the list several more times eliminating until you are at 3 to 4 core values.
Please notice that these are personal values and purposely eliminated the word “Family.” If you, like many people, have family at the top of your list think about how the personal values can support your family.
For example, my family is supported by my value of independence. My daughters will tell you I’ve often said, “It’s not my job to take care of you. It’s my job to teach you how to take care of yourself.” When they were 10, even though I was on a limited income, I made sure the girls had financial incentive to contribute to the household and earn their allowance. That also meant letting them choose what to spend their allowance on. I tried not to squash their spending choices.
- Future generations
- Giving back
- Personal fulfillment
- Risk -taking
Looking for more inspiration? Check out Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead List of Values.
Step 2: Define your possibilities
Write down a long list of possibilities, or goals, of how to spend your money. Think, “What if I just received a large chunk of money? What would I do with it?” The exact size of a check I’m purposefully leaving up to you because it’s more about what you believe is large. That being said, make it something you can imagine achieving, not a multi-billion-dollar lotto ticket.
Your list of possibilities might include items like:
- a retirement fund
- pay off debt
- bucket list travel
- a new home
- a new car
Step 3: Pair up your values and possibilities
Now next to each of your values see which of your values “fit” with your possibilities. For instance, a value of security would connect to owning a home or being debt free, but it wouldn’t immediately connect with travel the world or a new cell phone every year.
Note that there is no correct answer for each possibility/value pairing. One person might have a new car matched with security because they are worried about the safety of public transit. For another that new car might mean being ecologically sound because switching to a hybrid means lowering their environmental impact. For me all I care about in cars is that it’s reliable and gets me where I need to go. I might have a Lexus, but don’t give a damn that it isn’t the newest model.
Step 4: Fill in the details
Finally envision your perfect experience and how those goals support that vision and your values. Examples below:
- My home is in a quiet, safe neighborhood. The common areas are welcoming gathering spaces. Each room could be utilized as a comfortable sleeping space for extended stays. Because it has rental units attached, it is a self-sustaining property that allows my work income to be applied to other goals.
- My travels allow me to connect with people and cultures that I didn’t know existed. The “Raw Travel” perspective means I have a hub in a neighborhood without agenda. This platform gives me more days on the road and I’m so glad there is no schedule to keep that might stress me out.
Step 5: Identify what isn’t important
With this process you will be more likely to shrug off the expenses that can detract from your true vision and values.
For example, I’ll pick on technology since that really doesn’t resonate with me. Getting a new phone every year or two might work for someone, but I see that is as $1,000 per year (plus activation fees) that I could use for something that is important to me.
Your next step will be to create Margin (the difference between money coming in and money spent) that will allow you to reach goals that may have seemed out of reach.
Check back for exercises coming soon.