For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
These are some of the most well-known words that Jesus ever uttered regarding money. Your money and your heart are travel companions. What you value (where your heart is) is where you will put your financial resources.
If that is true, what does your budget say about your values? If we aren’t careful, our spending habits could unintentionally reflect different values than those that we profess. Take a moment to reflect on what your treasure’s current location says about your heart.
Are You Organized?
Do you even have a budget? If you’re going to take personal stock of Jesus’ words, then you need to know where your treasure even is in the first place. A good budget will show you how much money you have coming in and where it is going each month. If you don’t know those two things, then organization must not be one of your top values.
Gather your credit card and bank statements from the past few months and take stock. How much money are you putting toward cars and transportation? How much money is going toward your house each month? How much do you give away? How much do you spend on vacations each year?
You can get a rough idea of how you’re spending your money by looking at past statements. However, just looking at a couple of months of expenses can cause you to miss some big things, like an annual vacation or major car repairs. It would be best to start tracking your income and expenses each month as a regular practice so that you can see how your spending evens out over the course of a year. There are many great tools available online to help you do so.
Are Your Values Clearly Defined?
Have you ever taken the time to stop and define what your values actually are? Most people really haven’t. Take a moment a prioritize the following spending values:
- Minimizing debt
- Charitable giving
- Gift giving
- Protecting your family
- Saving for the future
If you’re married, it’s not enough for you to just define your values. You and your spouse both need to search your own hearts to determine your personal values, and then come together to establish values as a couple. You may have different priorities initially, but you will need to learn to work together as a cohesive family unit. Compromise may be required in order to establish family values that both of you can buy into and fully support.
What Does Your Budget Value?
Once you have a budget and a prioritized list of values, it’s time for a comparison. Are the two in alignment?
You may say that education is more important than travel, but if you’re only putting $100 a month into your children’s 529 educational savings accounts and spending $10,000 a year on travel, then that’s not really accurate. Your spending habits show that you value travel more than education.
Or perhaps you say that you don’t believe in debt and that’s a top priority. Are you aggressively paying down your mortgage? Or is the extra mortgage payment just what’s left over after you’ve spent all you want going out to eat and having fun?
Just because you don’t like debt doesn’t mean you can’t ever step foot in a restaurant. The key is to find a balance that truly reflects your stated values. Placing a high value on saving for retirement doesn’t mean you have to put all of your money into your 401(k), it just means that you should make sure to get your 15% in at the beginning of the month before you go shopping for new clothes.
How I Can Help
It can be difficult to reconcile your values and your budget in the most efficient way. There are so many different financial products and investment opportunities out there that it’s hard to know which ones are best for you considering your own unique values.
If you value wise stewardship, you should work with an experienced financial professional who can point you in the right direction and help you truly align your values and your budget. If you don’t already have a trusted financial advisor, I would love to help you. Email me at email@example.com or call 800-491-4508 or click here to book your free introductory meeting.
About ClearVista Financial
ClearVista Financial is a faith-based independent financial services firm providing financial planning and retirement planning to pre-retirees and 401(k) plan participants. Founded by Mark Trice, ClearVista strives to help people find financial balance in their lives and spend their lives well. As a Certified Kingdom Advisor (CKA®) advisor, Mark provides professional guidance while also incorporating biblically-based financial management truths into ClearVista Financial’s advisory practice. ClearVista Financial has offices in Austin, Brownwood, Temple, Houston, and Waco, Texas. Along with serving clients in Texas, the team also works with individuals in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Washington, West Virginia, and Virginia. To learn more, visit www.clearvistafinancial.com or connect with us on LinkedIn.