Money Can Buy Happiness When You Spend on Your Values

spending passions values

Value-based spending is exactly what it implies. It’s focused spending on the things, services or experiences that add the most value to our lives. That’s something very different for everyone, but the point is the same – optimize your spending on the places that mean the most to you.

For me, this includes important things like fitness (instruction and gear), healthy food, good wine and a generous amount of hair products (please don’t judge). I honor these things because I’m passionate about looking and feeling my absolute best. It’s important to me. I don’t over spend, but I don’t question the dollars that go to these expenses because the happiness payoff is huge in my mind, as it’s supporting my personal values of health, fitness and looking my best.

Money CAN buy happiness: Spend on the things you value. Be frugal with all other expenses. Click To Tweet

I also value my time, so I pay for a house cleaner, workout in a home gym and chose not to travel too far on the weekends.

Someone else may find the idea of a house cleaner or a three-figure visit to the hairdresser to be a huge waste of time and money. I can respect that. But I probably wouldn’t spend money on the things they value either. We’re all unique snowflakes with vastly different ideas about what’s valuable and brings us joy and what’s a complete waste of time and money.

value-based spending

This is why the theory of “keeping up with the Jones’” is so ludicrous. In theory, the Jones’ are investing in what they think adds value to their lives, so why on earth would you compete with their personal interests? There is no Jones out there with the same ideals, values, and interests as you, so why look beyond yourself as a measure of what’s important to accumulate?

If there’s a single message I hope to convey through my work with Funding Happy, it’s that focusing on value-based spending will bring the most joy, satisfaction, and quality of life to anyone who intentionally practices it.

How and When to Quit Something

quitting like a boss

Our culture sees quitting as such a negative. To quit is to fail. To persevere against all odds makes you a hero.

I disagree. In fact, quitting might be just what you need to do in order to move on to bigger, better things.

The when and how of quitting:

Consider quitting anything that’s not in line with the person you want to be or the outcomes you wish to attain. If something isn't serving your goals and desires, if it’s not aligned with your values, let it go. Click To Tweet

If you’re struggling to decide whether or not you should quit something, simply ask yourself: is this thing I am doing in line with who I want to be and what I want to create? Does it serve the person I’m trying to be? If it’s not, why you’re doing it? To what end?

If your answer tells you that your commitment is:

  • not in line with who you want to be
  • devoid of true meaning in your life
  • only being done out of obligation…

then it’s time to let whatever it is your stressing over, go.

That may require some difficult conversations, life changes or canceled commitments, but if you don’t say no to the things that aren’t meaningful to you, then you’re saying no to the things that are.


Don’t base your decision to quit on sunk cost.

Sunk cost is the idea that you’ve already invested a substantial amount of time, money or energy into something, so you feel compelled to see it through. In some cases, this is a great motivator. I openly admit that I would have ditched my first and only fitness competition and half-ironman had I not invested boatloads of money and training into the process. I knew, come hell or high water, that I would finish that goal because the idea of leaving money and sweat on the table was unbearable to me.

But what if it’s a failing business venture that’s not working out (despite your best efforts) or a relationship that makes you miserable, but you’ve been with the person for so long, you can’t imagine life without them? That’s when it’s time to have an honest talk with yourself and consider what you’re potentially leaving on the table if you don’t quit. You could be saying no to potential income from other work opportunities or the partner of your dreams by staying the course on a sinking ship.

Think of it this way – if you didn’t quit the first romantic relationship you ever had, you may have married that person. If your first love was anything like mine, that’s a frightening prospect. Personally, had I not left a startup that was draining money and energy from me for two very long years, I would never have found my new job that offers great life balance and a generous paycheck.

I’m not suggesting that all difficult situations should be immediately ditched without a second thought, but I do think we stay longer than we should in situations, businesses or other commitments that don’t serve us because we don’t want to let ourselves or others down by quitting.

Want to be confident about quitting?  Know your values.

There are certain things I’ll never quit:

  • Working out
  • Eating clean
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Writing

These are the functions that support my core values of looking and feeling my absolute best, having strong connections with the people I love and creative self-expression.  These things are everything to me, so I’ll never give up on them.  But with that said, I may quit training for a race I’m not ready for, ditch writing a blog that’s not getting any traction or distance myself from a relationship that’s draining or negative.  As long as I’m still focused on my core values, the activities that support them can change as often as they need to.

If you’re struggling with the idea of quitting something, but you’re beating yourself up about the idea of being a “quitter”, it’s time to stop.  Cliches like “winners never quit and quitters never win” are just platitudes.  They’re not intended to provide wisdom to guide the important day-to-day decisions in your life.

Now with that said, if you have a habit of not following through on commitments you make to yourself or others, that’s a different story.  Lack of follow through is a habit that will hold you back from getting where you want to go in life.  It can debilitate your career and make you lose credibility with the people around you.  It’s a fine line between quitting for the right reasons and not following through when the going gets tough.  Only you can decide what side of the line you’re standing on.  The best way to decide where your decisions are leading you is to ask yourself how quitting or not quitting will impact you 5 and 10 years down the road.

Sidebar:  One of the best books I’ve ever read (I mean, ever) is Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.  It’s a game-changer that will help you gain perspective on what’s important and what’s not.

Please share this with someone who’s struggling with the idea of quitting something.  Very often it’s a random message from nowhere that helps to put things into perspective.  


How to Buy Only What You Truly Love

There’s a woman I follow on social media. She’s beautiful, very fit and perfect in that Pinterest kind of way. She has an idyllic life. Gorgeous husband, cute kid, big house, a couple of dogs, great friends… all the things we crave.

But that’s her social media self. Theoretically, I know she still wakes up with bed head, bad breath and probably gets bad gas like the rest of us. She’s perfect on Instagram, but in real life, she probably has all the same frustrations, insecurities and drama that the rest of us deal with. Theoretically, I know this.

But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be like her. And not the real her who has anxiety and farts, but the social media her who always looks perfectly put together, super skinny and has a warehouse full of workout leggings in her giant walk-in closet.

I love her leggings and some weirdly naive part of myself thinks that if I can just buy the same leggings she has, my life will be just like hers.

I’m going to say this again, just in case you think I’m nuts – theoretically and intellectually I know her leggings won’t make me her. They won’t make me perfect. They won’t even make my Instagram pictures look better, which I really wish they would.

Those pants represent all the fake perfection I kill myself trying to attain even though I know in theory I never will. It doesn’t exist.

I don’t fault this woman for taunting me with her social media perfect life and outrageous legging collection. She’s doing what we all do. She’s presenting the illusion of her perfect self and I continue to buy it, hook line and sinker.

minimalism, shopping

But, back to the yoga pants.

There’s a point in my not-to-distant past where I would have bought the pants without giving it a second thought. I can afford them, I know I’ll get good use out of them (honestly, I do live in leggings) and certainly I “deserve” them. But in the back of my mind, without the self-awareness to acknowledge it, I’d be buying the pants because I want to be like her (the fake her) more than because I need // want // love them. That makes me think of most of the clothes I buy for similar reasons. There are little hopes attached to each garment, just hanging there like a price tag, only the price is my own self-worth that gets a little kick in the ass every time I buy something to become something or someone I’m not.

Beware of attaching unrealistic hopes to your purchases. Things rarely make you richer, smarter or fitter. Only you can do that. Click To Tweet

The good news is that this realization has had a profound shift in my online shopping habits. I’m less inclined to head to my favorite .com shop for a little fixer upper garment that will somehow bring me closer to my idealized self. I’m not saying I won’t buy leggings again (oh, hell no), but I’ve become aware of an unconscious thought pattern that has resulted in a self-destructive habit. So the next time I buy something, it will be because it’s beautiful, functional and will serve my life in some way (yes, leggings do this for me).

So how to avoid this trap of shopping for your idealized self?

  • Don’t own excess – If I buy new leggings, I’m also prepared to give away an old pair.
  • Constantly question your purchases – Do I really need new leggings? (No)
  • Don’t give meaning to possessions – Owning a drawer full of leggings doesn’t make me a different or fitter person. No amount of Lululemon will make me any stronger, faster or leaner than I am right at this moment. Only I can do that. Clothing has nothing to do with it.

I’m curious if this idea rings true for you, too? If you have a closet full of barely worn clothes, then like me, you’ve probably been shopping for a version of yourself that doesn’t actually exist.  At least now you’re aware of it.