Life has this incredible way of moving too slow when we are children and moving much too fast when we are adults; “adulting” is more than we bargained for. We spend our days working, relaxing, praying, cleaning, sleeping, and all the other “-ings.”
Oh, but how often we forget that we are also spending -- time, money, and resources -- on all that must be accomplished because school-ing, mom-ing, church-ing, wife-ing, and God-pleasing are all imperative to our human-ing.
Do we remember that our days are numbered? That we only get this one life and finite allotment of time to accomplish all that God would have for our lives? Hopefully we do not forget that we are spending each day. Time is something we do not get back, and I often wonder how well I am handling each second.
While I am not yet perfect (and will not be until I meet my Savior), I have learned a few things about managing time and resources specifically by learning how to manage money.
Value-aligned spending is an idea that applies to all of which I have already mentioned -- time, money, and resources -- but it really came alive for me personally when I applied it to my finances.
Nearly three years ago, my husband and I were deep in credit card debt (over $20,000). We made a combined income of $30,000 the first year we found ourselves in debt (2017). We also lost our jobs and had no cash savings during this time, so to say we felt helpless is a drastic understatement.
I started feeling conviction and realizing the complete chaos that the debt was bringing into my new marriage. I knew that something needed to change, so I started reading and listening to all that I could absorb about debt freedom, and we started toward our debt-free journey.
I am proud to say that as of mid-2019, we are completely debt-free, we give more than we have ever been able to, we save and invest 30% of our income, and we are living a truly blessed life because of it.
But what does any of that have to do with value-aligned spending?
Value-aligned spending is not a new idea, but I define it as how, what, when, where, and why we spend our money, and how that is unapologetically aligned with our core beliefs and values.
At one point, I realized that I was spending more time and money in the Starbucks' drive-thru than I was with my husband or on things I actually cared about.
Now don’t get me wrong; I love a great cup of coffee. But while I said that I valued my marriage and time with my husband, my bank account said I enjoyed that coffee much more.
Money management is not about deprivation; it’s about being intentional with every dollar you spend and knowing why you're spending it.
If your bank account tells a different story than your words, it’s time for a change. So how can we tactically align our budget with our values to create a value-aligned spending plan?
Here are three ways:
- Get clear about what it is you actually value. Take time to grab a piece of paper or your phone and write down all the things you genuinely care about in life. They don't have to be anything extraordinary in everyone else’s eyes, but if it’s something you love and appreciate, write it down! There are no wrong answers here.
- Take a look at your current spending and see how it matches up with your values. You can print out a copy of your bank statements and highlight where you spent money and categorize it from there. You can export your bank statements to a spreadsheet and calculate it that way. Or you can use a budgeting app like Mint or Every Dollar to track your spending for a couple of weeks then look back at it later. The point is to take an objective look at your finances and see if what you value and what you spend money on are in alignment.
- Spend money, time, and resources mercilessly on the things you value and cut out the rest. This is the fun part: Spend, spend, spend. I love spending money! I am a natural spender, but I am intentional with how and where I spend my money, and I can assure that it is being spent in accordance with what I value, and yes, that includes a great cup of coffee.
When you start spending your money in alignment with what you value and create a value-aligned spending plan, it will help you to spend your time in alignment as well. You will be able to spend incredible amounts of money on the things you love, but even more time with the people you love, doing the things you love, where you love.
This is the single best way we can honor God with our faith and our finances.