As graduate students it can be particularly hard to align our spending with our values because sometimes there just isn’t enough money to go around. However, it is still important for us to be conscious of our spending habits and how these align with our values. This is particularly important as you are creating or revising your budget.
Here is a simple process for aligning your spending with your values:
- Make two columns.
- Begin by listing the top ten things that you value in the first column. Don’t think too much about it, just write out the first things that come to mind. Your list can include specific items (house, new computer, saving for Italy, etc.) and/or more abstract values (adventure, philanthropy, art, friendship/love, etc.). Having trouble listing your values? Check out this resource.
- In the second column, list the areas in which you spend (housing, dining out, clothes, travel, etc.) in order from highest to lowest spending. You can also do this with individual purchases, by putting different purchases on the same line as the value that they correspond with and see if the amounts match up.
- Compare the two lists. Paula Pant suggests that you ask yourself: What opportunities am I missing as a result of the way that I am spending my money? What does my current spending say about me?
- Depending on the disparity between your spending and your values, you might choose to restructure your budget around your values. While it can be difficult to organize all of your spending around your values as a graduate student, you might try this with your discretionary spending. For more information on budgets check out these articles on creating and maintaining a budget.
- This list of values can also come in handy when you are making a purchase. Every time you consider purchasing something, ask yourself if it lines up with your values.
While it may be difficult sometimes, establishing good spending habits now can have a big affect on your future spending habits. So, why not begin aligning your spending with your values now when you have just a bit of extra cash and begin forming the habits that will guide your spending later when you have more discretionary cash?
Join the Conversation: What are your ten values?