What Do You Truly Value Most?

by Kevin on June 15, 2010

Last weekend I read an article by photographer Ken Rockwell called How to Afford Anything. It is a great read and speaks to how he has always been able to purchase items (camera equipment) that were expensive but something he valued greatly.

It really got me thinking…

What do you truly value?

Do you spend your money on what is most important to you?

Do you spend your time on what you truly value?

We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

C.S. Lewis said it much better than I ever could: we are far too easily pleased. While he definitely meant in a Christian/religious sense I’m going to use it here for finances.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

– C.S. Lewis

What we say: We say we value the safety of an emergency fund.

What we do: We save a little, stop, then take a big vacation.

* * *

What we say: We value retiring early at age 50.

What we do: We don’t learn about 401ks or Roth IRAs. We stick our heads in the ground and hope everything just gets better without any action from us.

* * *

What we say: We’ll cut back on our budget to move toward our financial goals faster.

What we do: We go out every weekend and drop $75 per weekend on social drinking.

* * *

You get the point.

So how do we resolve this issue? How do we prioritize what we truly value, then go after those valued things without second thought? I don’t have all the answers because I fall into traps that are similar to what I wrote above.

If you have any ideas on how we can get better at this, or maybe you struggle with this too, leave a comment and let’s get a discussion going.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

In the long-term, we value emergency funds, debt freedom, and early retirement, so we fund those goals before we even pay our bills. In the short-term, we also value big vacations (like cruises and Curling tournaments in other states), so we fund the fun accounts before we pay our bills too. For our day-to-day living, we value having biweekly house care and lawn services, so those are in our living budget.

To successfully have everything we value listed above, we do stick to our budget like white on rice. If we splurge a little too much in one area (like food), we simply don’t use all our budget in another category (like joint fun money). This system keeps us on track and enjoying life now while planning for retirement 25 years down the road.

Jason Zandri June 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm

As a person that has been saving for retirement since he was 20 (and I am 41 now) I would like to share some thoughts.

I was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma at age 22 and needed surgery to remove the benign tumor from the nerves from my right ear to my brain.

So at an earlier age than normal I had to realize my mortality.

I still believed it was important to save for tomorrow but to also do something for today.

“An armored car was not going to follow my hearse” is something I fondly repeat to people. “Plan your life like you’re going to live forever but live it like it might end tomorrow” is another.

You need to do both within your means.

So with that I plan my savings – a certain percentage of my salary to my retirement (longest term); another percentage for long term expenditures (car, major maintenance on my home, etc); another percentage for my kids future well being (I have four all under the age of 6); and a final percentage for short term major expenditures (e.g. a vacation).

I also have money set aside for the monthly expendatures – the mortgage, every day bills, taxes, insurance etc.

I put money in my wallet for frivolous things each week. A cup of coffee when I am out just because I want it. Another USB thumb drive because it’s on sale at a great price (I have a dozen but can’t resist a bargain and I know I’ll use it). You get the idea.

When I get “found money” – an unexpected bonus, overtime, side work, what have you, I ALWAYS spend that on something that I want. I wasn’t planning on having this sudden money; unless I am in dire straits I see no reason to double down on a bill I might be carrying for one or two extra months when I could enjoy it for a want (not a need).

“Retiring early at age 50” means many different things to different people. I am passionate about my work (Information Technology) and about the town I live in (Wallingford Connecticut). When I can retire my mortgage (on track for 48 years old) and I can come up with a solution for medical insurance for my kids I may retire from my “job” but I will be engaged in something.

What’s the old saying? “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I could do that from 55 or 60 to the day I die.

“We save a little, stop, then take a big vacation.” Pick an amount you want to save over 12 or 24 months – when you reach that milestone save some extra and take a big vacation. You deserve it for working hard and reaching that goal. Better to do it while you can – you never know when you might be physically or economically unable to do so in the future.

If you’re cutting back on your budget to move toward your financial goals faster but have a concern or feel guilty about dropping $75.00 on social drinking then you need to either cut back to every other or third week and / or consider loosening your goals up a bit.

These are just my thoughts – your mileage may vary.

Thanks for the space and for taking the time to read my opinion.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Jason, I love what you are saying. I don’t want to retire at 50, find out that my joints hurt too much, and regret not vacationing sooner. The trick is finding the right balance to enjoy life now and in your retirement years.

Golfing Girl June 17, 2010 at 8:42 am

I value family and security, so we’ve spent the last 6 years climbing out of debt, saving 6 months in our emergency fund, and put together a budget where I could stay at home after having our second child. I think we’re definitely putting our money where our hearts are. We drive older, paid for cars, care nothing about fashion, and have a modest home we hope to pay off well before the 15-year mortgage time table (yes you read that correctly, we have a 15-year mortgage).
“Friends” who resent me for staying home drive leased luxury cars, do not fund their retirement accounts and eat out many times each week. I stopped trying to give them advice (even when solicited) long ago.

Russell Jemalh Hogan July 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I value no debt, personal and economic freedom. I focus on making my payment to my house and investments automatic so I do not have to make a personal decision. Then when I do spend money left over, I ask my self if I am paying in cash and will this purchase move me closer to freedom or just a temporay pleasure that will last a day or so. I hope this helps;


YourMaster August 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm

everything will work itself out with the economy
without needed to do anything or take action

once the disease called liberalism/0bama is removed from the USA in 2012

he is the hearse,,,, and he is driving this nation over a cliff.
and the armored car… are the people that aren’t dumb enough to follow him. Bwahahahaha

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