A few weeks ago, I listened to an awesome podcast with Miranda Marquit from Planting Money Seeds on personal finance and growing your wealth. The interviewer asked her, “What is the biggest mistake people make in personal money management?” She replied, “Failure to prioritize your purchases and failure to spend according to your personal values.”
She went on to explain that, as a society, we spend a lot of money trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” with our purchasing, and ultimately, a lot of these purchases do not bring us any personal fulfillment. Listening to this podcast, I was intrigued by the concept, but was initially thinking, I really love to travel, so I’m going to spend less money on eating out to prioritize my next vacation instead.
After the results of the election came in early Wednesday morning, I started thinking of this podcast interview in a new light.
If I am being completely honest with myself, if Donald Trump had been elected president two years ago, I probably would have felt a slight dismay, and then moved on with my life. As an upper-class white woman, I am one of the classes of people that has the least to lose from his presidency. However, I recently married a non-citizen man who has a lot to lose, and it’s made me completely reevaluate things.
I woke up Wednesday morning bawling hysterically at the news, but I know I felt approximately 0.00005% of the fear that other minorities have felt from the racism in our country. After a lot of reflection, I realized I was not doing anything near what I personally could to prevent myself and others from feeling this way. I was moved to invest as much as I can to make sure that I have done everything I possibly can to keep others in our country from ever having to feel this way again. (I think Chelsea had a similar revelation around her personal contributions to the organizations that matter to her, as we read in The Things I Am Remembering So I Do Not Lose Hope.)
Even though I have always held strong convictions against racism and sexism in our country, I was not prioritizing my money when it came to fighting and preventing these things. As an upper-class citizen, money is one of the biggest weapons I have when it comes to making my voice heard, and I have not been exercising it. The one positive that I have taken from this week is a real motivation to “put my money where my mouth is.” Many of you have probably already realized the importance of where we spend our money, but when I sat down to contemplate what I wanted my money to accomplish for me, it became very apparent that I was spending on things that didn’t matter to me on a deeper level.
The first thing I did, after deciding what organizations I wanted to support (I loved this article by The Cut), was to study my budget. Over the last year, I’ve fallen into the blogger hole and been convinced that I need a lot of expensive clothing that I probably don’t, thanks to highly-staged Instagram pictures. Cutting out one-fourth of each month’s clothing budget for me is about $1,050/year that I can donate to one of the organizations in our country that promotes equality. For me, this is a small part of my disposable income, which I am able to repurpose into giving to the people that know how to do good things with it.
This is the amount I’ve chosen, because it is the number that works for me at this time. I recognize this won’t be the case for everyone. Also, this is by no means an ode to stop spending on things that make me happy, but hopefully I can start slowly shifting my financial priorities so I am able to make an impact on the issues that matter to me on the deepest level. I have also read several articles that talk about matching what you spend on Netflix, Spotify, Ipsy, and other subscription services each month as a donation, and cutting something else back. By making this a part of my monthly budgeting process, I will continuously be reminded of the things that are important to me that we still have to push for.
Maybe for you, it’s something else entirely that resonates with you when you look at re-prioritizing your money — a different organization or cause near and dear to your heart. What are your goals? What are your values? What do you want your money to accomplish for you? What are some small changes you can make in your budget that better align your spending with the world you want to live in?
Chloe is currently working for one of the most corporate organizations in the world, and loves it. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, and they love to travel as much as possible.
Image via Unsplash