“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between
a man and the life he leads?” ~ Albert Camus
Are Your Spending Habits in Harmony with Your Values?
I thought my money habits were in harmony with my values. That is, until I encountered a monster sale at the Coach outlet store last week and almost forgot everything. I’m not really a “shopper,” fortunately. I dislike the crowds and bustle of shopping malls. Like most people, I have a limited amount of discretionary income and try to spend wisely. I love a good bargain and am usually willing to wait for a sale or to spend time comparison shopping until I find the best deal on something I need.
This time though, I was at the outlet mall to look for a dress for an upcoming event when I saw the huge SALE! signs at the Coach outlet store. I’m not really a fan of Coach products but stepped inside to see what they had. It was a feeding frenzy. They had a huge clearance section with bags for 50% off and were giving each person a coupon for an additional 40% off. Wow!
I took a look at the clearance items and found a computer bag that was covered with the Coach logo. A lady standing next to me proceeded to tell me how she has that exact bag and has traveled the world with it. She showed me all the wonderful pockets and features. I had come into the store to just look, but now I HAD to have that bag. The bag was a great “deal,” after all. With all the discounts, a bag that would normally cost almost $400, was now just over $100. A huge “savings” right?
Is A Sale Always A Good Deal? Not When It Compromises Your Values
But wait, what was I doing? I already had three laptop bags at home, AND I’ve never really liked Coach bags in the first place. I stood there in the store for a few minutes in a quandary. I could certainly buy the bag I thought, but as I was walking to the register, it hit me. Buying this bag did not fit with my values or the life I am creating. I don’t need a computer bag right now at all. I almost got so caught up in the frenzy of the sale that I allowed myself to forget what was really important to me.
I put the bag back on the shelf and left the store, feeling relieved. I knew I would have felt terrible when I got home if I purchased the bag. Buying the bag right now isn’t in line with my general values and goals of:
- Improving my health and fitness,
- Saving money for an upcoming travel experience,
- Replenishing my emergency fund, and
- Developing my blog and business.
Even worse, by spending money on a bag, I would have had to postpone the purchase of a juicer I was planning on as part of my health and fitness goals. The whole experience was a good reminder about the importance of having clarity around goals and values. Having this clarity prevented a harmless stop at the store from becoming a financial mistake that I would have regretted later.
Have you faced a similar situation?
Next time, here are 12 Questions you can ask yourself when you shop:
- What are your primary goals right now? Make a list.
- Does the purchase help you meet one of your specific goals?
- Is the purchase a true “need” or is it a “want”?
- Do you have the cash available for the purchase or would you have to charge it?
- If you have to charge the item, is it something that can wait until you have the cash on hand? Do you have a plan for repaying the charge?
- What does buying the item keep you from doing or buying? In my case, I would have been able to buy that juicer, and it would have delayed my savings goals.
- Do you have an emergency fund? Experts recommend having at least three months’ expenses in your savings account for emergencies.
- Will the item bring you joy or will it sit in your closet collecting dust?
- Where will you put the item? How will you use it?
- Are you feeling stressed or feeling a lack or limitation at the moment? If so, now is not the time to buy.
- Are there less expensive options available?
- What will happen if you don’t make the purchase?
These questions can help you gain clarity about WHY you want to make the purchase. Having clarity helps us align our money and our spending around our goals. This alignment helps create a greater sense of harmony in our minds and in our lives, making room for happiness.
What questions do you use to determine whether or not to make a purchase? Share your thoughts below.
Nneka, Working Mystic says
Your Money or Your Life is a great book by Vicki Robin to help you align your spending with your values. She does it in a very subtle way with 3 simple questions. Over time, you shift your spending so that you are more fulfilled. It really helps you to feel much freer. It was a game changer for me.
Nneka – thank you so much for the suggestion, I will check it out. Thank you for sharing!
I do ten to overspend quite a bit and a list like that could help me out some. I still don’t know how to cut back when I can rationalize every one of my purchases as a necessary item.
I know what you mean, it’s easy to do that. I hope these questions will help you develop your own guidelines. Thanks for visiting my blog!
Ann Smith says
Great tips, I really need to practice using these questions. Thank you!
You mean you didn’t buy the Coach bag? ;))))
I love Coach, only because I can’t yet love Prada 😉 but great post and what a deep and meaningful message, Monica.
I passed on the bag this time fortunately 😉 Thank you so much for your comment Farnoosh.