Value-Based Budgeting

Value-Based Budgeting: How to Budget Your Money and Time According to Your Values

couples and money value based budgeting Jun 17, 2021


Most people hear the word “budget” and instantly cringe. Budgeting usually feels restrictive, like it will keep you from having any fun or buying things you really want. In reality, a budget is neither good nor bad. It’s simply a tool you use to make sure your money goes exactly where you want it to go. You set the destinations.


If you have internally cringed or cried at the mention of a budget, it’s time to shift your thinking from restrictive budgeting to value-based budgeting.


What is value-based budgeting?


Value-based budgeting is all in the name. It’s purposefully planning how you’ll spend your money according to your personal values. The method you use for your budget isn’t all that important, as long as you can stick to it. The focus of value-based budgeting is on choosing to spend your money in a sustainable way that aligns with your values.


What is it exactly that you want money to do for you? What do you value? It’s crucial to get clear on the purpose of your money before you dive into your budget. 


Budget Your Needs First


The first place to start with your values is your needs. Every human values having a roof over their head, running water, food in their belly, and transportation. Your basic needs should come first in your budget. Take care of bills and basics first before deciding how you’ll spend your leftover money.


How to Budget According to Your Values


Figuring out your values takes some serious thought and reflection. A good place to start is by going over your previous spending habits. What do you naturally spend a lot of money on? Ask yourself if you’re happy with the amount your spending on each category or what you wished you would have spent the money on instead. Evaluating your previous spending habits can be an eye-opening experience. You may find some areas you really value how you’re spending money and wouldn’t change. However, there may be other categories of your spending that aren’t really serving you and could be better used elsewhere.


Think about what you’re always talking about doing with friends and family or what life improvements you’re always thinking about. Is it the expensive fitness classes that get you excited to work out? Or a trip you’ve always wanted to take? Maybe it’s new business clothes because you value feeling more confident and authentic at work. Investing in a retirement plan is even an example of spending according to values. If you value being financially secure in your later years, you purposefully put aside money now.


Values don’t necessarily have to be all about money. Think about what you value as a human being:


  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Traveling or new experiences
  • Self-care/ mental health
  • A fulfilling career
  • Hobbies or personal interests
  • A comfortable home
  • Personal growth and happiness


When you align your spending with your values, you may find you don’t need to spend as much money as you thought to achieve the things you value most. 


Budget Your Time


What does time cost? For most people, you trade hours of your time for money, and you use that money to buy goods. So if you make $25 per hour and buy a new pair of shoes for $100, those really cost 4 hours of your time. When you make purchases, think about how much of your time you are trading for that purchase.


It makes sense to think about trading your working time for money, but don’t forget about all the other tasks that require your time to run your life and your house. What is the value of the time spent cleaning the house, making schedules, picking up kids from school, cooking dinners, and organizing family functions? These working hours are so important to think about, especially when talking about finances and budgets as a couple. Just because some hours aren’t paid traditionally doesn’t mean they aren’t vital to the household time budget.


Your time is valuable. How you spend your time is just as important as how you spend your money. Think about the value of your time, both monetarily and emotionally. When you look at your budget and finances with the added perspective of time, it gives you a clearer picture of how your budget aligns with your values. If you never have time for the things you value, it may be time to look at your budget and your financial life with this added perspective. 

Perspective of Value


Take some time to think about what you value doing with your money and your time. When you think about your budget as a tool, you realize you can use it to bring more value and happiness to your life. A slight shift in perspective can change your attitude toward budgeting from one of stress to one of purpose.


If you’d like to explore your money values in more detail or talk about value-based budgeting, I’d love to hear from you.


Photo by Eunice Lui from Pexels

Questions: email [email protected]

Mariah Hudler, MSW, MBA, CFT-I™ is a therapeutically informed financial wealth & wellbeing coach. She works with individuals, couples, families, entrepreneurs, groups, and organizations to make Wealth & Wellbeing a joyful part of life.

Disclaimer: This blog is for education only. Please consult with a qualified professional when you have any questions about your personal financial, tax, or legal situation. Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional advice.

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