Last month when I sat down to read my copy of Jason Vitug’s “You Only Live Once,” I was left with some questions and pondering to do. This is great because I love books that make me think, yet I wondered if some of my pondering was due to recent changes in my own life. Parting with an old friend, my beloved fur child showing me that life is delicate and my accomplishments in my career that leaves me so rewarded at the end of the day emotionally, yet financially I’m just starting to get where I want to be.
I am grateful for everything in my life, above and beyond. I always feel reflective right before my birthday because this is when I tend to reevaluate where I am in my life, personally, professionally and in between. One thing I would like to back to is putting my financial house back in order. While my first year of going back to school was financially okay, I took a huge hit this past year. I’m not proud of it, but I can admit a few months I was living paycheck to paycheck because my emergency fund seemed it just wouldn’t rebuild itself. Once it was rebuilt, it came shattering down in less than three days and I am still paying off a vet bill. Although life financially has been everywhere, it could always be worse and I am thankful I have been kept in favor. It could always be worse and it pays to remember that.
Part of getting my financial house in order has to do with my spending. When kept in check, I’m able to save all the money and pay off my debts with wiggle room in the bank. When left to my old ways, I treat myself way more than necessary and let my laziness kick in. I’m extremely lazy and will happily eat out. I also have no problem drowning my night owl sorrows in the mornings with Starbucks. But, am I really spending on my values, as Jason’s book suggest? What are my values and does my spending reflect that?
My values change from time to time, but I can narrow it down to a primary few: education, health, people and security. My BF laughed and said everyone values these things but do they really? If you value feeling secure, do you have tons of savings for a rainy day? What about health? If you say you value health, do you really if you are eating cheeseburgers through the drive through?
Education is something I grew up with and is instilled in me to be important but even when I took time off on my own to discover what really mattered, education was always on the front burner. My mother and father both valued education although they only had some community college classes under their belt and not any formal degrees. My mom took a lot of law classes in her hopes to become a paralegal before she became chronically ill but had an insane passion for reading as did my father. His classes were more of a sales and business background but he always stayed busy reading the newspaper and watching CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather. Seriously, I was the only teenager who probably thought Dateline was cool. I think my father consistently consuming the news helped develop my love of true crime which I later turned into a criminology and criminal justice degree.
Health is something that has only become important to me as of the last few years so I have to backtrack to fix mistakes, although with time it’s getting better. I’ve always had chronic asthma and fought anxiety but my late twenties came with a slew of health concerns. I discovered I had severe scoliosis which answered my lifetime questioning about why my posture was so bad and why my back actually hurt when I tried to stand up properly. I also have battled ongoing mental health issues which I know were always there but I can no longer hide like I used to. Paying for chiropractic care and a therapist is something that is always on going in my budget and neither is cheap.
I love people and animals, even though that wasn’t always the case when I was younger. The people part, not the animal part. I’ve always been a cat lady. One of the reasons my career in the non-profit sector has been so successful is because I sincerely love helping people better themselves and their lives. I love finding resources people need and connecting the dots, especially youth. I love my friends because I don’t have a huge family and while I have reconnected with my dad, it’s hard sometimes because he is still trying to break bad habits and thought patterns. He’s only human after all. I love people so it’s hard for me to really give up on someone. I also love meeting new people and learning about their culture which is why I love traveling so much. I like seeing how other people live and what they have experienced because I know my way is not always the right one. And my cat brings me so much joy, on a daily basis, I can only continue to provide for him the best I can.
And, although this is the value I probably spend the least time thinking about, it’s the one I should spend the most on, security. Security is probably all the not so fun stuff goes under, such as car insurance and rent but it’s what puts a roof over my head and provides with the opportunity to provide an income to pursue my other values. I honestly sleep better at night knowing there is money in my checking account and I am able to provide for myself through multiple income streams that I have set up. But, security is the one that stresses me out the most. I need to save more for retirement, save a bigger emergency fund and just save more in general for other things that I put off but need to do.
Looking this over, I can say my spending is align to my values, just not all of the time. I wonder what it would take to get to where my spending was in line with my values 100% of the time or if that is even possible. While I’m not sure it’s possible, I would love to try to find out in the upcoming year.
What do you value and how does your spending align with it?