Do Your Financial Habits Reflect Your Core Values?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 2 comments


In the business world, core values are important to shaping a company’s culture and vision. They will also dictate how the company will bring that vision to reality. But just having core values — even if they’re displayed in gold-embossed letters on the office wall — isn’t enough. Clients and customers will quickly notice if those values aren’t evident in a business’s day-to-to day practices, and it will affect both their brand perception and their financial success.

The same goes for us as individuals in all aspects of our lives, including in our personal finances.

Whether we realize or not, we all have core values. We may be out of touch with what they are or have a hard time articulating them, but they’re there. Not only knowing, but living out our core values (in this case, our financial values) has many benefits:

  • A stronger sense of fulfillment in life
  • Better emotional, mental, and even physical health
  • Greater confidence in our financial decisions

To live out our core values, we first need to know what they are.

What Are Your Core Financial Values?

If it’s been a while (or never) since you’ve put into words what makes you “tick,” what drives you to work hard every day, discipline yourself to save money, and make certain financial choices, the end of the year is a good time to take personal inventory.

If you aren’t sure where to start, a good first step is to look online. You’ll find lists of hundreds of the most common core values to get you thinking, along with plenty of quizzes. Emotional memories are also a good indicator of your core values. Think of the times you were most angered, most excited, most motivated, or most depressed about a money topic, and you’ll find plenty of clues. If you still need help, recruit a friend or financial coach to ask some leading questions or offer you some objective feedback.

Make Them Real

Listing your financial values will make them more tangible. If you end up with a large list, find common themes and highlight the central theme of each group (maybe financial freedom, retirement security, or giving). Then rank them by priority (I know — that can be hard!). Realistically, you should have between 5 and 10 top core values to focus on.

Evaluate How Your Values Line Up With Your Life

Go through your list and rank how well you’re currently living each core value on a scale of 1 to 10. And be honest, because you’ll benefit more from it. Next, identify which values aren’t lining up well with your actions and write down one specific way you can improve that.

Use Core Values to Make New Decisions and Evaluate Old Ones

Core values guide our actions, often unconsciously. Making them conscious and bringing them into the decision process can make a huge impact on personal satisfaction — and our financial outlook. Make a point to keep your core values within sight going forward, but also to look back at financial decisions you’ve made in the past. Do they align with your newly-identified core values? Are these things you can change, or at least learn from?

Just as it’s important for an entrepreneur drafting a business plan to articulate core company values, following the same process is beneficial to us as individuals. It will allow us to examine the values that are influencing — or need to be brought back into sync with — our financial habits. Only then can we be truly satisfied and successful.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • I really like the idea of making sure our actions line up with our core values. Super important to give them a name and make them real. When you have your personal values in line, most of your decisions are already made – you know what you’ll do when you face a tough choice. I also think money can be a source of energy for living out your values. Identify values > apply money > see progress. Thanks for a great read.

  • The topic of your article is really a food for thought. A lot of us pursue money to the detriment of our core value. Personally, I choose freedom over money. That is what gives me fulfilment.

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