Now that we’ve spent time on the bookkeeping side of money let’s talk about the emotional side.
What we know, is the more we align our lives with our values, the better we feel. This concept directly applies to our money. In my financial therapy work with women, I often hear things like money is “tacky” “gross,” or “greedy.” I hear things about women feeling powerless over their spending, feeling overwhelmed by it, or not knowing how to use their money in a way that feels good for them.
Spending, saving, and investing in line with our values helps us to feel more balanced in our financial relationship. By shifting our money in line with our values, it can lift those uncomfortable feelings associated with our money. I’ll provide examples for each area, and will also include a money affirmation that you can try out on your own.
How to Align Your Values & Money Habits
Let’s start with spending.
If we are spending like crazy on take-out meals, but value sustainability, we probably don’t feel great about it. A way to shift spending money on food, while adhering to our beliefs on sustainability, would be to meal-prep at home. That way, you have the quick convenience of take-out but aren’t accumulating paper and plastic waste, not to mention the environmental cost of driving to/from your favorite take-out joint. If you love clothes, and find yourself swiping your credit or debit card on fast fashion, does that match up with your values? You may be better off spending more money on fewer high-quality pieces, or shopping a local consignment store for unique finds.
Affirmation: I control my money; my money does not control me.
Let’s move onto saving.
How can a person save in line with their values? This one is quite simple. Most of us have our savings account in some sort of bank. Great. Check out that bank’s values. Most banks have a mission statement or list where they re-invest. If those line up with yours, perfect! You are all good keeping your savings accounts right where they are. If not, and you value community, you may be better off moving your money to a local credit union. Another great option is an online savings account. There are some great ones with lower fees and higher savings account interest rates that may speak to you.
Affirmation: I am aligned with the energy of abundance.
Money and spirituality can co-exist in harmony.
Lastly, let’s talk about investing in line with our values.
Investing mindfully and aligned with our values is a tricky balance to strike for many of us. On the one hand, it is essential to put your money where your beliefs are. On the other hand, if we only invest only in things that precisely align with us, we may not be looking at a diversified portfolio. I often recommend doing the bulk of your investing in something like an index or mutual fund. That will do the diversifying for you. If you’d like to do some other investing outside of that, there are plenty of ways to do so. Remember, the FDIC does not back investments, so only invest money you are comfortable losing outside of your retirement vehicle. Below, I’ve listed out some ways you can invest mindfully.
Affirmations: I release all negative energy over money.
I use money to better my life and the lives of others.
Investing directly into your community. This is the same idea as purchasing goods from a local, small business; you are keeping your dollars in your community, thus helping keep wealth, income, and jobs in your community. You can do this by purchasing local real estate, lending to a non-profit, or investing directly in a local small business. More firms are popping up that are dedicated to helping you invest in your community. They usually have the words, “community capital,” or “conscious capital” in their mission statement. If you can’t find one, you can reach out to your local business development group or community coalition to see if they can point you in the right direction.
Investing in specific, small companies that align with your values. This has become so much easier with the accessibility of crowdfunding. Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are some of the most well-known if you are interested in learning more about investing in start-ups.
Value-based or Socially Responsible Investments:
Investing in more prominent companies that adhere to the same values that resonate with you. This could be companies who value gender equality, don’t test their products on animals, or use alternative energy. It could also be investing in companies who employ workers with questionable work environments. These used to be trickier to find, but now most large brokerage firms have tools that allow you to screen out or in companies to your liking. Some companies have already created mutual funds that they deem “socially responsible.”
There you have it! Now you know how to spend, save, and invest in line with your values. I hope you can apply some of these techniques to help get your mind and money in balance.
Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, is the founder of Mind Money Balance (@mindmoneybalance)and the first financial therapist in Michigan. She brings financial literacy to women in an empathic, easy-to-understand way that unravels internalized barriers to feeling amazing about managing money. With a background in mental health research and psychotherapy, she thrilled to offer these unique, and much needed, services in our community. As she is aware that her services aren’t accessible to all, she also volunteers with Circles of Washtenaw County, a program with the goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty.