Five Steps to Put Your Money Where Your Values Are


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By Linda Katz

This past sweltering Saturday was too hot for the beach and even the park.  In search of shade, I instantly gravitated to the Garage antique market in Chelsea for the buzz I get by peering into dusty glass cases--a strange choice considering the city's concrete holds heat far more efficiently than easy bake ovens.    Anyway, as I was about to descend into the bowels of this great parking garage turned weekend flea market, I had to ask:  do I really need another flea market find?

 I am addicted to vintage silver jewelry.  Some people buy art to decorate their homes.  Since I feel most at home in my own skin, I buy jewelry to adorn myself.

YET, while adding to my collection feeds my sense of creativity and is a reflection of my authentic self, I had an epiphany:

I don't need any more necklaces to feel complete.  At this stage of my life, (and I think it was way more than the heat talking)  buying a new chain is not the missing link for what I need.   This (albeit beautiful) yoke around my neck will not make up for my missing values.

Not even amethyst will feed my need for meaningful relationships; and while I will have fun wearing 'it', it won't add fun to my life.

Because there is one thing I know:  values, are the ginzu knife of life: personally, professionally, and financially.  Like a beacon, values shine light on what is most important.  Meeting our values leads to satisfaction, to happiness.  Unmet values are simply unmet needs and lead to conflict (think about relationship arguments!).  We look to meet our needs with short-term fixes like chocolate and shopping.  Both of which are wonderful, but don't satisfy the hunger.  Only meeting your values leads to complete satisfaction.

So what's a girl to do?

Simple:  Identify your values then take action to fill them.   Click on this link to find what's most important to you.  Read the directions carefully and think only of yourself - not your partner, parent, or even pet.  There are no right or wrong values.

Once you've identified your values, it's time to take action.  Here are 5 steps to get you started:

1.  Write out your top 5 values.  Clearly define them in your words.  This is important.  For example fun is one of my top values, but fun for me is not necessarily fun to you.  That's okay.  Keep this list in clear sight and for easy reference.  I revise and add to my definitions at least 3 times a year:  my birthday, Jewish New Year, and New Year's Day.

2. Identify which values are currently being met.  Be honest.  You can devise your own system by using checks or percentage for how much that need is met - or if it is being met in one area of your life but not another.  Using fun as an example:  do you have 75% fun at work but 10% in your personal life?  If none of your values are being met in any real way, don't be alarmed!  It's not unusual.  Most of us don't get our needs met, thus validating one reason why we over spend.

3.  Identify one area of your life to have your needs met.  Since the focus of my blog is finances, let's start there.  Write out your values (again) and record how much money you spend to meet each value.  Back to fun and my love of jewels:  Notice I spend more than I will admit here but get no value satisfaction back.  When I put this on paper, I have redirected that money for spending time with friends or for doing activities to meet new people.  I'll admit it's easier to buy a necklace (or shoes, or...) which is why so many of us spend on stuff.  Just remember even the greatest shoes will never fill your value for creativity or loving relationships.

4.  Set a plan to match money to get your needs met by directing allocated funds.  Write this down and keep on your phone or on the wall or at best, both.   Before you spend, identify which unmet value is urging you to splurge.  Cut out or cut down spending on people and things that don't meet your needs.  I admit to having 'friends' who are not particularly fun: I now insist we only do free things together.  I know it sounds harsh, but I deserve to put my money where my values are and take care of myself.


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