Align Your Money With Your Values: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Align Your Money with Your Values

Align Your Money With Your Values: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Every person has limited resources, and it’s challenging to be intentional with how you distribute your time, treasure, and talent. Plenty of distractions try to grab your attention and your hard-earned dollars. Our question for you:

▶︎ Do you have a system to help you make better decisions on how to spend your time, treasure, and talent?


Sneak Peek!

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If you’ve seen the Pixar movie UP, you’ll remember the comedic gag where the dogs’ trains of thought are constantly interrupted when they see a squirrel. This is also known as “shiny object syndrome” where your attention is lured away by something exciting instead of remaining on your task at hand. It’s becoming harder to stay focused with today’s technology because of notifications, ease of access, cat videos, and people’s dread to become bored.

The purpose of this module is to provide you a way to identify what you value, then nudge you to remain focused on what you value, and also challenge you to make some S.M.A.R.T. goals to put your money where your values are.

First Off, What are Your Values?

Why identify your values? Well, if you know what you value, then you’ll know how to spend your limited resources better. If you know your values, you can ask yourself when faced with a decision, “does this reflect my core values?”

An example of how this worked recently was when my wife and I were planning our wedding. We came up with three core values for our wedding theme. The three values we identified were welcoming, personalized, and quaint.

When faced with decisions like which decorations to use, glamorous flower arrangements or simple ones using my grandmother’s vases, we reflected on our three core values. We chose the simple vases to reflect our personalized and quaint themes, thus saving more money as well as better spending our mental energy on other tasks. It felt nice not to chase shiny objects and remain focused.

You’re about to do an exercise to help you identify two sets of values.

Your Current Values

► Think of the best version of yourself and the person who you’re proud to be. What values does this person exhibit? How can you ensure that you continue exhibiting these traits?

If you want a little more help finding out your current strengths, we recommend completing the free resource: VIA Character Institute Survey

Your Aspirational Values

► Now think of the person you wish to become. Your current values exemplify your present best self. Identify which added values you can strategically implement in your life to improve over time. These are your aspirational values.

To find inspiration, think of your role models. Which values do they exemplify?

There’s a list of over 100 possible values for you to choose from in the upcoming worksheet. When you look at these values, keep in mind which values you currently exhibit as your strengths and which values you want to adopt in your life.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for:

S – Specific: you state the task you want to accomplish
M – Measurable: your progress can be tracked
A – Attainable: your goal excites you and motivates you
R – Realistic: your goal can be realistically achieved with your resources and time
T – Time-Oriented: you have a deadline for this goal

Instead of a goal stating, “I want to start saving more money,” an example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal reads like, “I will save $500 in my savings account in one month.”

S – Specific: you state that you want to save money
M – Measurable: you can measure if you have $500 in your savings account
A – Attainable: this goal is motivating you because of your desire to save money
R – Realistic: this goal isn’t too far out of reach like saving $10,000 in one month
T – Time-Oriented: you gave yourself a month deadline

Directions for Values Exercise

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet

Download the S.M.A.R.T. Goals worksheet to track your progress as you complete the values exercise.

1) Reference the List of Values page and circle words that naturally describe your current, authentic, and ideal self. Which words get your attention and best describe you?

▶︎ At the same time, cross off values that miss the mark for your current and ideal identity. Then keep whittling down your list.

2) Select your favorite four current values that you currently display in your life and you intend to continue being part of your identity.

▶︎ Establish a S.M.A.R.T. Goal to amplify this value with a trackable goal.
▶︎ Challenge yourself to position your money to reflect this value within your financial life.

3) Identify four aspirational values that you wish to improve. These aspirational values are ones to strive for where you can challenge yourself to live these values better in your life.

▶︎ Establish a S.M.A.R.T. Goal to amplify this value with a trackable goal.
▶︎ Challenge yourself to position your money to reflect this value within your financial life.

* If you’re having a tough time choosing your values, ask people close to you for feedback by asking them, “When you think of my personal values, what words come to your mind?”

Have Your Money Reflect Your Values

As you saw at the end of each value, you have an opportunity to make an additional commitment. First, you created a S.M.A.R.T. goal to exemplify your current values and your aspirational values.

But you also have the opportunity to go another step. Our friendly challenge to you: Position your money to reflect these values.

This is what’s known as a commitment device.

Many behavioral scientists study how commitment devices help people quit smoking, eat better, exercise more, and also save money. According to the journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steve Levitt, a commitment device is “a means with which to lock yourself into following a plan of action that you might not otherwise choose but that produces a desired result.

So as you complete the provided worksheet, increase the stakes to adopt these values in your everyday life. You can become motivated and creative with how you can have your money reflect your values!

New Habits are Formed

And before long, you won’t have to think about these goals as tasks because these behaviors can become embedded into your persona. Thus, you get to reflect your best self through your current values and your aspirational values!

This article gives you a glimpse of the “S.M.A.R.T. Money Goals” module. Access these personal finance modules and so much more by becoming an Essential Services client.

If you have questions, feel free to try the chat feature at the lower-left corner of this page or reach out via our Contact page.

Want to learn more about planning your financial future? You can visit the Our Services page to find the path that’s right for you.

Dan Andrews
Dan Andrews

Dan Andrews is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the Director of Estate and Financial Planning at Financial Planning Fort Collins. With unique experience working with members of generations X and Y, he has served clients of all ages and backgrounds since 2012. Dan enjoys a light-hearted approach toward Financial Planning to make the process more fun for clients. He enjoys giving back to the profession and the community. Dan has served as the Vice President of the XY Planning Network Diversity Committee and as the Public Relations Director for the Financial Planning Association of Colorado. To learn more, read Dan's blogs or the articles he’s been featured in.