How to Get Started with Values-Based Budgeting

Your spending can be a great indicator of your values. If you want to align your money with your priorities here are some thoughts that can help you start.


If you want to know what someone values, the saying goes, just look at their bank account. Money tends to go where our heart is.

So how does your spending reflect your values? If you’d like to be more intentional about your spending — and experience more contentment in your life — it might be time to try values-based budgeting.

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General budgeting allows you to plan ahead, ensuring you can cover your expenses and savings plan before you spend additional money. Value-base budgeting takes this a step further, giving the process more direction and empowering you to apply your values when planning how you’ll use your money.

When you’re more intentional about how you spend, you’ll not only feel prouder, you might also save more by cutting back on spending that doesn’t enhance your life or align with your values.

Start values-based budgeting now, and give yourself the gift of looking back at this year’s spending without regret.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

1. What did you spend money on this past year that seems wasteful?

When you review your spending categories, does anything unpleasantly surprise you? Maybe you spent $500 on movie theater date nights, but only remember two of the films. Or maybe you bought clothes you don’t wear or have thrown away. If so, learn from those mistakes, and consider how you can avoid those purchases this year.

2. What did you spend money on that makes you feel happy and proud?

Maybe you regularly donated to a local charity, ticked a country or two of your travel bucket list, or bought plane tickets to visit your grandparents. Take note of the expenses you feel are worth it that you wouldn’t hesitate to make again.

3. What do you most value?

Narrow down your top priorities as much as you can. People often value things like their relationship to God, their families and friends, travel, or a specific and meaningful hobby. Try to understand what brings you the most fulfillment.

4. How can you adjust your spending to reflect those values?

If your top priorities are God and family, for example, consider reducing or eliminating spending that doesn’t directly support these values. Run all spending through these filters. If an expenditure doesn’t enhance your relationship with God or your family, is that really something you should be spending money on?

Get (and stay) on track

Many of us start with great intentions—especially at the beginning of the year—only to get wrapped up in day-to-day life and forget our goals. If you want to make values-based budgeting a priority, consider kicking it off with the Ready, Set Goals! challenge featuring Jon Acuff, available exclusively in TogetherTM by brightpeak.

Avoid straying from your value-based budget by scheduling monthly check-ins to review your spending and determine if it still aligns with your values. Don’t use these sessions to shame and blame, but simply to get back on track.

If you’d prefer a more real-time option, stay on top of your spending by using budgeting tools such as the IlluminateTM app, which integrates with TogetherTM. By doing so, you’ll not only find more harmony in your financial life, but can better ensure that your budget supports your values.