Lots of people say they believe very strongly in one thing, but their actions don’t support their words. Sure you really, really, want to have some money stashed away to go back to school, to buy a home, to have an emergency fund. But is what you’re actually doing contributing to your moving forward?
Here’s a quick exercise you can do to see if your money is going where you want it to go.
First, grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Now list what you consider to be the most important things in your life. Don’t think about it. Just write at least 10 things. If you get the first five quickly keep pushing yourself until you get to 10.
Next, look over your list and rank from 1 to 10 what you just wrote down. Don’t assume you wrote them down in the right order. Sure, a new car may have been top of mind and appeared first on your list, but when you look down the list what is more important, the car in position one or the thing you wrote in position eight.
Now, add one more category to your list in the number 11 spot. Call it “Oooops.”
Now comes the work. Pull out your bank and credit card statements for the past two months. Look and see where you’ve been spending your money. Has it been going to the things you value the most? If you can’t put it beside anything on your 1 to 10 list, it has to go into Oooops!
If you’re spending money on things that don’t really matter because that spending doesn’t jive with your overall values, you now know why you feel so dissatisfied about what’s happening with your money.
I’m often asked what I would change in my life if a) I could buy anything I wanted, and b) if I had significantly more money. My answer is always the same: Nothing. I’m happy with the way my life is right now. I’m very independent and it’s important to me to have the cash in the bank to maintain that independence. I also enjoy some very simple pleasures. I live in a little house in a small town, drive a four-year-old van, and buy all the tea and audio books I want. Since having savings is so very important to me, I save. And if anyone every tries to screw with me, I have enough FU money to tell ‘em… well, you get the picture.
If you align your spending with your values, you’ll have a much more of a sense of your money doing what you want it to do. Continue to spend unconsciously, continue to be unaware of what’s truly important to you, and you may always feel a disconnect between what you wish you were doing and what you’re actually doing.