Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What do you value the most?

A few months ago I finished reading the book How to Manage Your Money When You Don't Have Any by Erik Wecks. It is a great read for anyone looking at alternative views on budgets and overall personal finance. Though I did not find in this book what I was looking for, it did give some really good points:

1) 4 things need to be secured before all else: Water/food, shelter, clothing and transportation, if transportation is a means of securing the first 3. In my case, it is. If I don't have a method of transportation, I can't go to work. If I can't work, I can't pay for food, shelter or clothing. It was interesting to have transportation portrayed as a necessary evil and not just tossed as the "cars are a waste of money, very expensive, very unnecessary" mentality. It also says that when creating a budget, these should be your top items and the first to get money allocated to them.

2) Another point was that we ourselves should judge what is important based on what we do, not just what we say. If we're buying a new pair of shoes (want shoes, not need shoes) instead of paying the electric bill, it should be clear that we're saying "the shoes are more important than paying the electricity bill". And if that is the case, so be it; just be ready to deal with the consequences. The book goes a bit too far, saying things along the lines of "you value buying a drink more than you value providing a better housing, better education or better food for your kids". I don't think it needs to be taken that far, and it's too harsh or too broad. But truth be told, there are plenty of people who do make that decision, knowingly or unknowingly.

By buying things that are not a dire necessity and possibly forsaking said necessities, you're practically saying "I value more going shopping than having electricity at home". That is a very scary thought, but it is what happens on a very daily basis. It is quite a harsh way to put it.

In my case, I'm saying I value taking a vacation more than I value getting a new car or getting out of debt faster. I value helping my parents more than I value paying off my debt or buying food, in some cases. I value paying for my certification exam more than I value getting out of debt.

There's no right or wrong answer. But if these statements do not align with what you think they should say, then try to balance the equation. Ways to do this is create savings goals, so that wants are already pre-paid from a separate savings fund and not taking away from a bigger, major goal, or a necessity.

Can you put your own actions into these terms? Think of a want you recently got that did or could've jeopardized your ability to meet a more important goal or need. I am quite thankful a lot of my wants are or can be covered with other savings' goals, but it does make you think a bit.


  1. I've never heard of this book and it does have a unique point of view. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. I think you can respect/honor your parents but also tell yourself that you need to take care of yourself first.

    I realize that it's too difficult for you to do that, but I hope you find a way.

    I understand in a way. Callous as I may seem now, I played the "dutiful daughter" and even cleared up a $500 phone bill for my mother, so it's not like I haven't been there. But over time I realized that I was completely screwing myself over and that she would never change.

    Even though I'm saying what you don't want to hear, I hope something sinks in.

    If you think about it logically, it's kind of scary. You would leave yourself stranded and unable to pay bills just to help your parents? Why? This is how it works, in my mind. People have kids and it's their responsibility to take care of those kids. The kids grow up and in my opinion, they don't owe their parents a thing.

    Anything parents get from their children is extra and not required at all. People choose to bring their kids into the world. You don't owe them anything. Bad parents are owed even less, and what your mother did is absolutely abhorrent.

    I know I'm a broken record here, but I'm really hoping that at some subconscious level it's going to sink in.

  3. It's funny because I just realized recently that we value vacations more than home projects. I don't know if that's good or bad, and we're certainly not prioritizing trips over needed repairs, but there are definitely some projects that got sidelined because we enjoyed ourselves. ;-) Food for thought, that's for sure.

  4. That's a pretty fierce reality check. We all need that once in a while. How we talk to ourselves is so predictive of behaviour. If we think "I deserve these shoes" versus "These shoes are more important than my other financial commitments" it certainly shifts your perspective on buying the shoes.

  5. I wonder if I can get my hands on this book. Saying what I value is a bit tricky but here goes.

    "I value the present more than the future"

    I think this could turn into a pretty interesting post. Thanks Tanner.

  6. Wow! I am so impressed Tanner. Thank you so much for your thoughtful review of my book. You nailed the heart of it. I really want people to do what they want with their money. It's just that I assume that people want food, clothing, and shelter more than they want a new handbag or a new car. The book is available on Amazon in the United States and elsewhere. Congrats Tanner on moving so far toward your financial goals. AWESOME! Keep going.