Aligning Your Financial Plan With Your Values

Many people are discovering that their financial journeys are even more fulfilling when they align their financial plan with their values. These investing, spending, and giving strategies could help you grow your nest egg while also putting your values in action.

  1. ESG investing

These investment funds contain companies that make positive Environmental, Social, and Governance impacts while also creating sustainable returns on investment. Some investors also use ESG as a strategy to invest a portion of their portfolios in specific companies that they feel rank highly in these areas or exhibit other important corporate values beyond just profit.

If you’re interested in ESG we can review how your current portfolio aligns with these values. We do, however, caution folks against making broad judgements about specific investment sectors. For example, if you have strong negative feelings about large tech companies, we can dig a little deeper and find innovative, investible companies that are trying to improve their industries.

  1. Charitable giving

Does an annual holiday donation to your local food bank fill you with good cheer? Establishing a long-term charitable plan could make giving back a year-round source of fulfillment. Most charitable and nonprofit organizations offer recurring donation options that charge you monthly or annually like any other bill. Talking to your family about working important causes into your household budget can make those donations feel more purposeful and rewarding.

Charitable giving can also help to make estate planning a more positive process. Setting aside a portion of your hard-earned assets to help others in perpetuity builds a real legacy that will inspire your heirs and your community for generations.

  1. Local shopping

The single most powerful tool in your financial plan is your household spending. And while we often talk about the importance of budgeting to make sure you’re hitting your saving and investing goals, you can also put your values to work by being more intentional about the money you do spend every month.

This is especially true as we begin to emerge from pandemic lockdowns. As it becomes safer to shop in your community, consider making a few less bulk delivery orders from big box retailers and spend a bit more at your local grocer or farmer’s market. Swap out a couple fast food meals every month with carry-out from a local restaurant. Often these local options are a bit more expensive. But as long as these purchases fit your budget, think of the extra cost as an investment in businesses that keep your community working.

  1. SMART money goals

It’s important to remember that some of our most cherished values are less global and more personal. Perhaps the importance of higher education is a value you want to put in action by planning for your child’s college tuition. Perhaps you value living within your means and you want to pay down your credit cards this year.

Setting SMART money goals works for values of any size. For example, let’s say you value family time, and you want to start saving for a post-pandemic vacation:

Specific – We’re going to Florida for the 4th of July!

Measurable – I’m budgeting $5,000 for this trip.

Attainable – We can use money we saved from our cancelled 2020 vacation.

Realistic – I can safely put an extra $500 per month into this vacation fund.

Timed – By the end of June, I’ll have the $5000 saved for this trip.

Of course, whether you want to take a vacation or set up a financial plan, planning ahead is always the “smart” strategy. Let’s talk about the values you want to incorporate into your Life-Centered Plan in 2021.

Also, feel free to check out our 8 Point Financial Planning Checklist.

Is How You Use Your Money Aligned With Your Values?

Is How You Use Your Money Aligned With Your Values?

By Mike Desepoli, Heritage

A hamster in a wheel.

Have you ever watched a hamster running in a wheel? All that running, all that effort, day after day after day … But the poor little critter never really gets anywhere, does he?

Many of us feel the same way about our money.

More specifically, we feel that way about the work we do to get that money. We spend forty hours every week on a wheel, running after a paycheck. And then, first thing Monday morning, we’re back on the wheel, and the whole thing starts over again.

Many folks just keep repeating this cycle, over and over, until they finally retire. They think that stepping off the wheel just isn’t an option because they have bills to pay, college expenses to save for, and a dream to be “financially set” before retiring from work. It begs the question if he we use our money is aligned with our values.

How much is enough?

These are all persuasive arguments that keep people on the wheel. And the hope is that someday, you’ll be able to stop running and enjoy the fruits of all that hard work.

Unfortunately, more often than not, “someday” never comes. If your focus in your work and in your financial planning is just having enough money, you’ll never feel like you have enough. There’s always another dollar to chase, another way to economize so that you can save more.

But for what? Is having more and more money, in and of itself, something that you really value? Does having more make running on the wheel worth it?

You might think that this “never enough” mentality ends once a person retires. In fact, it just transitions into a new, related worry: “Am I going to run out of money?” Again, that “someday” gets pushed back in favor of more saving, more super-conservative living. You might not be working any more, but you’re still just chasing after money.

The wind in your sails.

At the end of the day, your money is not the shore we’re sailing for. It’s not the sea you’re sailing on. It’s not even the boat you’re steering.

Your money is the sail. It’s the tool you use to get where you want to go.

And the wind in that sail is your values.

Just like a good sailor learns how to maneuver the sails to catch the most wind, aligning what’s most important to you with your financial resources is the key to successful financial planning.

So instead of asking yourself if you have enough money, or if you will run out of money, ask yourself a better question:

Am I managing my money in a way that’s improving my life?

We don’t want you just to “have enough money.” We want you to live the best life possible with the money you have.

That starts with thinking about what’s really important to you. The people whom you love. The causes that are dear to your heart. The activities that keep you feeling fit and full of energy. The hobbies that put your unique skills to their highest uses. The opportunities for learning and self-discovery that enrich your understanding of the world and of yourself. The wisdom that you will pass down to your children and grandchildren so that they live their best possible lives as well.

We believe that aligning your financial plan with these values is every bit as important as analyzing your tax situation or managing your investments. Come in and see how our interactive tools can you help plan for your whole life and get more from your money than just more money.

For more resources to help you align your money with your goals, and increase your return on life visit our video library.