calculator and spreadsheet with pen

b&b 213: Back to Basics – Aligning Your Spending With Your Values

In this second back to basics show Pam and Dyalekt revisit the spending values matrix and discuss the importance of aligning your spending with your values. Dealing with money is emotional and Pam and Dyalekt encourage you to think about how you spend your money and how it represents what you value. 

Music Featured in this Episode:

Spending  by Isis Hmyoi

Values by Plane Jane

Nostalgia by Matrix P


Episode Highlights:

Pam: Money is emotional and it is often personal finance that tries to take the emotion out of it which makes no sense because money is a representation of how we’re feeling, of how much we feel that we are worth. Money is very much a manifestation of all of these emotions. Which is why it is very important to have a conversation about how to spend in a way that aligns with your personal values.

Dyalekt: Dealing with money is a very emotional thing. People who want to separate us from our money have a great understanding of that. If we don’t understand our emotions other people will play our emotions and play us for money. 

Pam: Money represents energy. You earn money by expending energy and by sharing energy with other people and having that exchange. When you think about money as a representation of energy, then you want to have that reciprocal exchange of it giving you energy back. If the things you are spending money on are not energizing and recharging you then what are you doing?

Pam: That is why it can feel so deflating to look at your expenses and track them and feel that you didn’t want to spend money on that. It can feel like a mistake, like you did something that was wrong when the reality is, it is a matter of examining where your spending happens through a different lens.

Dyalekt: As marginalized people of our various backgrounds we are taught to make sure that we get our heads above water and just continue to tread water. It is important that no matter what stage we are in that we still think about next steps, where we want to go, and the opportunities we still have. 

Pam: Let’s start with the Basics. These are the expenses that you have committed yourself to. You learn what that number is and you set it aside. What is nice about the basics, you can put that away and move on to the variables: the details and the nothing.

Pam: The details are the things that feed you the most emotionally. These are the things that we tend to feel more guilty about because they’re what we remember spending money on and actually give us joy; these are the things that we actually do value. Once you have taken care of your basics, the next thing to make sure you put money, energy, and times into is figuring out what your details are and spending money on those details in a way that actually feeds you.

Dyalekt: Identity is really important to self efficacy. If you don’t have a sense of identity you can’t really do anything. You only become a pawn to what other people want you to do. You feel stuck, emotionally and physically. 

Pam: The details are the things that we first think to cut because they’re the things that we actually remember spending money on. Then you end up spending this money in the nothing.

Pam: The nothing represents the things that you don’t even remember buying. These are the things where you’re not going to recall it off the top of your head right now. This is why we encourage you to look through your transactions and make a note of things that you don’t remember buying. This is where you can really figure out what you can cut in a way that doesn’t affect your identity or energy. Usually what ends up happening is the spending in the nothing is spending out of convenience or habit.

Dyalekt: This is spending money on things you don’t necessarily value. These things that are not a part of the world that you want to create for yourself but advertisers, simple apathy, or tiredness will make these purchases available to you. We often exchange our money for even temporary boosts of energy. 

Pam: Spending money does feel good in the moment. Spending money gives you a momentary feeling of control even if everything else around you feels like chaos and out of control. Sometimes a lot of the reason why we spend money is because in this moment we can say, I am going to do it because I can.

Pam: The details are things that you spend money on but if it’s not something you end up enjoying because you feel guilty spending money on it then it is also not replenishing your power because you spent all of this energy feeling guilty and feeling bad that you did it. If you give yourself permission to spend more money on these details then you will be surprised on how much less money you spend on the nothing.

Pam: The word budgeting and the concept of it is really misleading. Really what we are asking you to do is to track and assess. And to continuously assess what is sneaking in to your spending, what do you need to take out of your spending, and what do you need to change. There is room in the spending value matrix for your values to change based on the situation you find yourself in.

Pam: The yes box is where your values come together. It practically translates into a savings account. This savings account is a place for you to pay yourself first. It’s a place to think of your savings as a bill. One of the great things I’ve heard about savings is that saving is not an amount it is an action. We get tied up on how much money we do or don’t have in savings when the reality is we just need to figure out how to make savings a habit. Saving is an action verb, it is something that you do actively, it ebbs and flows depending on where you are in your life. If you know how to save and can give yourself this habit to be able to do it then if you have to take money out of savings its not devastating. 

Pam: With the yes box we encourage you to open a savings account separate from your checking account at a different institution, if you want to get fancy. Start setting aside an amount of money that you know you can afford on a regular basis. Start putting that toward your yes box so that you can start taking care of your future self and start working toward your goals.

Pam: How do we practically apply this to our lives? This is a work in progress, a never ending assessment of where your money is going. These convenience habits can really sneak up on us. Companies have gotten really good at making it easy for us to buy stuff.

Pam: When it comes to tracking your expenses and getting closer to aligning your spending with your values only choose one or two habits to change. A lot of budgets ask you to put together these budgets and then to completely change your spending habits at the same time that you are just trying to figure all of this out. What happens is that every new change you make, every habit that you have to rebuild or build takes willpower, energy, and decision making until it feels like it’s second nature. We don’t want you to change everything at once. Think about what’s the one thing that you can change, track and monitor that you feel will make a big enough impact for you to be motivated to do the next thing.

Pam: Ask yourself, did that work? If it didn’t work don’t assume that it is your fault or that you did something wrong. All of this is an experiment, especially in the beginning. There is no wrong thing to try. It is all about trying things and deciding what works for you and what doesn’t. 

Pam: As we change, so do our values. As we get older, new things come into our lives,  as our lives become more complicated, as our life situation evolves so will our budget, so will our spending, so will our values. The spending values matrix is not meant to be a static thing. It is meant to grow and evolve with you. We want you to think about the matrix as something that you use as an ongoing way to assess whether or not your spending and your values are truly aligned.