Does money give you a feeling of comfort and joy, or is it a source of anxiety and stress?
When you hear the term “money”, what does it mean to you?
Much of our mindset when it comes to money is affected by what we want it to provide in our lives.
What would you like money to provide for you?
Let’s start by assessing what we value, which will unlock what we desire to do with the money we’ve earned. What you value will influence the way you use money as tool, so let’s determine which values feel like the most natural fit for you.
What are your core values?
We need to understand what our values are before we can create an intentional savings and spending strategy. If our financial strategy isn’t built with our values in mind, we will often find that our spending habits are out of alignment with our bigger goals.
Each of us has a different financial mindset and comes from a unique economic background and upbringing. All of these factors have influenced our values, which determine how and why we save, invest, and spend money the way we do.
If you were asked to create a list of everything you value, it could probably stretch across multiple pages. Right now, we’re talking about your core values, the ones that actually drive your money decision making.
Here are the most common values we’ve seen among our mimble users.
Nate, one of our mimble users, told us that he primarily used money as a tool for freedom in his life. It provided “opportunities to do what you want without feeling tied to something else, like a schedule or a job.”
Nate’s bigger goals are to have enough money to travel to Japan and to start charging more for his graphic design services so his side hustle can become a more significant part of his income.
Brenda, on the other hand, said money represented “the freedom to pursue hobbies that [she] is interested in.” Her big dream is to move to Bend, Oregon, so she can go biking, skiing, and snowmobiling—exploring her newfound freedom.
What ties both of these examples together is their core value of freedom. Even though it’s manifested in different ways for Brenda and Nate, they both look at money as a tool to provide freedom for their lives.
If you have a core value of freedom, you may find yourself dreaming about:
- doing remote work that allows you to work from your laptop from various locations
- studying abroad or backpacking around the world
- going back to school or relocating
- selling much of what you own to live modestly but spend more on experiences (#vanlife, anyone?)
All of these dreams are related to freedom, but there are ways to infuse more financial freedom in your life without having to relocate or transition careers.
One way to create more financial freedom in your everyday life is to create a “freedom” fund in your budget. You can set up a short-term savings goal within your mimble account and start transferring a small portion of your income to this open budget. This helps you reach your goals responsibly and set up healthy patterns of saving before spending.
The “freedom” fund gives you the confidence and freedom to spend your money on what’s inspiring and joy-causing. It may be a plane ticket to your friend’s destination wedding, or a live show with a group of friends.
The great part is that you’re free to choose what to do with it after you have been intentionally saving for the past few months. This is one way to satisfy your core value of freedom while being intentional with your financial strategy.
Even though money can be seen as a tool for freedom, it can also be used for stability and security. That’s the beauty of creating your own financial strategy. You are able to decide how money will be used and what to do with the money you allocate.
If you have a core value of stability, you may be more focused on:
- paying off your student loans and consumer debt as quickly as possible
- stopping rent payments by buying a house
- getting ahead with your retirement accounts so you can retire early
These factors are true for some of our mimble users. Denise, a self-proclaimed “money hoarder,” says that she feels like she’s falling apart if she doesn’t have stability.
She also told us that she has intentionally built a community of friends who have the same money values, saying, “Even with friends, I tend to limit the time I spend with frivolous people.” Her savings strategy looks like saving 10% of her income for long-term goals and 20-30% on mid-term goals, like buying a house in the next year.
Denise is a great example of someone who uses money for stability, but it wasn’t always that way. After maxing out three credit cards when she was 18 years old, she spent the next six years paying back her consumer debt. It’s not surprising, then, that this experience caused her to view money as a source of security.
Frank views money as a tool for stability, but for different reasons. He says, “Money is a source of stability, allowing you to achieve a certain comfort level while affording the lifestyle you want.”
Most of his savings are contributed to his retirement accounts because he wants to retire early and comfortably. His next big savings goal is to buy a home that he can turn into an asset while renting out the basement.
When money is a tool for stability, it’s smart to create a list of your big savings or investment goals so you have them all in one place. Then you can break them down into bite-sized amounts to help you start paying toward each goal on a month-to-month basis.
Seemingly lofty goals feel more attainable within your current financial situation if you take the time to determine what feels like a “doable” contribution. No matter if it is $100/month or $1,000/month, you’ll move closer to your long-term vision with stability and security in mind.
Another tactic is to create an emergency fund, which is the best friend of any stability-minded saver. We recommend saving a 3- to 6-month cushion for essentials (like rent, utilities, food, etc.), to be used only in emergencies.
Much like the core value of financial freedom, using money as a tool for flexibility can help young professionals who are spontaneous and love non-traditional schedules. Flexibility is not only about the monetary value of your lifestyle but also how much unscheduled time you have within each day.
Many people who look at money as a source of flexibility highly prioritize a work-life balance. What our user, Aaron, said about how money helps his lifestyle really resonated with us: “It’s an opportunity to take advantage of life’s greatest experiences, like living abroad or traveling.” He also said that with more flexibility, he would use the extra time to learn photography and skydive.
If you have a core value of flexibility, you may be dreaming about:
- starting a side hustle that allows you to work on passion projects during your most productive hours
- negotiating more PTO (paid time off) during your next job performance review
- never having to worry if you’ll be able to join your annual family reunion vacation
- becoming self-employed so you can set your own schedule
- taking additional time off during maternity leave to stay home with your newborn
- picking up night or online classes at a local college to help you advance your career
- living modestly now so you can retire early and work on social benefit projects you care about
Flexibility can manifest itself in different ways, whether it be through what you spend your time doing or what you can spend your money on. It’s an extremely strong motivator for young professionals who are looking to take control over their schedule and lifestyle.
Many of our users said experiences, such as traveling to new countries, were more important than material things, like having the largest house on the block.
It’s not that one is better than the other, but we are seeing more people use mimble as a way to infuse flexibility and freedom into their overall financial strategy.
Auxiliary to the core value of stability, we also see the value of financial support becoming more popular among our users.
We admire Lucy for her dream of supporting nonprofits she’s been following for years. If money were no object, she said, “I would give so much money to organizations until everyone was out of poverty and didn't have any economic anxiety anymore.”
While that is a substantial goal, she works toward it every month by saving a small portion of her paycheck to give to local charities for which she volunteers. Lucy is living out the value of financial support.
Another user, John, valued the concept of supporting causes he believed in, but wanted to get there in a different way. When asked about this, he said, “With more money, I would attain a PhD to give back by creating structures that enable ability to pay it forward.”
John and Lucy want to give back in distinct ways, but they both value the financial support that money can provide.
If you have a core value of support, you may find yourself desiring:
- having enough financial security to support your parents in retirement
- paying for your kid’s (or kids’) college so they don’t have to take out student loans
- freely giving to charities and organizations you feel passionate about supporting
- getting higher education to obtain a raise in order to better support your family
When you have a goal to financially support someone or a cause you believe in, you may be tempted to push it to the backburner because the goal itself feels too large.
The first step is to choose the goal you care most about and your timeline for reaching it. If you are saving for your child’s college, your savings strategy will be more aggressive if your child is already a teenager as opposed to if you are planning for a future family.
Think about all the factors that are going into your bigger vision of financially supporting something you believe in, and start making smaller steps toward that today to build those habits and your confidence that you, too, can make a difference.
What can money provide for you?
This question is worth taking a deep dive into, whether you jot down your thoughts in a journal or discuss it with a friend over coffee. You could even use it as a jumping off point to start creating a financial strategy with your partner or spouse.
Figure out which core value resonates most with you: Freedom, Stability, Flexibility, or Support. There is no incorrect approach, as long as you are working toward the goals that you value most. Each value can help you discover what you want to use money as a tool for and what it can provide.