Do You Know Your Financial Values?

5 min read
Woman sitting at coffee shop working on laptop

A global pandemic can really make people think hard about what matters most. Especially when it comes to how we spend and save. 

For many people, addressing debt or saving for retirement remains atop the list of financial priorities. However, a growing number are also considering changes like working from home, changing careers, and redefining expectations in areas like travel or education—all of which can impact your finances. 

Getting a practical handle on your budget is a great idea, but knowing why you spend money can be just as important as understanding how you spend it. Our relationship with money is a longstanding, sometimes fraught relationship that few of us spend much time examining. And we aren’t often—if at all—asked to contemplate our values as it pertains to our finances. Sure, we might think we know “why” we’re saving or spending when there’s an immediate outcome in mind, but according to experts, identifying your financial values can help guide your decisions and behaviors across all money matters.  

What Is a Financial Value?

According to Thomas Brock, CFA, CPA, and expert contributor for Annuity.org, financial values are “the monetary principles and beliefs that are important to us. They motivate us, guide our decisions, and shape our behaviors.”

In other words, financial values represent the motivation behind your spending, like luxury, education, travel, health, and family or relationships.

Vicki Cook, the co-founder of Women Who Money adds a personal touch to her definition: “Your financial values align with your core personal values.”

Financial values aren’t always tangible concepts or people, they can also be anything we feel strongly about. A few values our financial experts say fall into this category include security, freedom, flexibility or spontaneity, giving to others, and living simply.

Discovering Your Financial Values

To get clear on your financial values, you have to be willing to ask yourself some big picture questions and then drill down with personal answers.  

Zoom out.

CPA and founder of personal finance site Money Done Right, Logan Allec, suggests taking a step back from money matters to discover what you truly care about. “You identify your financial values by first identifying your overall life values and then orienting your finances around them. Maybe you want freedom and spontaneity, to be able to do what you want whenever you want. In this situation, your financial values would, unsurprisingly, be financial freedom and financial spontaneity.”

Unlike what many choose to believe, financial values are very similar to personal beliefs, which means discovering yours may require some soul searching.

Reflect thoughtfully.

Brock takes a more direct approach, and encourages people to identify their attitudes towards money head-on and routinely checking in with your relationship towards money. 

“Ask yourself: What do you want to accomplish with your money? What does ‘financial success’ mean [to you]? How do you feel about saving and spending? Do you know where your money comes from and goes every month? Does budgeting make you feel in control or constrained?” 

He also suggests taking a closer look at your past financial decisions, both the proud moments and the embarrassing ones. Pinpointing your most and least favorite experiences with money can clue you in on the types of behaviors you prioritize. And so can noting other people’s financial decisions that inspire or frustrate you.

Make two lists.

Personal finance expert Chris Panteli, founder of lifestyle blog LifeUpswing, prefers to combine the two strategies, starting with a list or two.

“Make a list of things that are important to you. Put that list aside for at least 24 hours. Make another list of things that are important to you, but this time don't think of anything to do with money. When you're done, compare the two lists. What do you notice? If there is a disconnect between your financial values and what you actually do with your money, chances are you may be making a mistake.” 

This insightful strategy challenges you to look closely at your own priorities in life from multiple angles.

Putting Your Financial Values In Action

Deciding what’s most important to you is key to making a solid financial plan and goals. Your values indicate where you prefer your money to go, creating a path for your budget to follow. They can also help you identify and resolve any disconnects between your values and spending.

Create smart goals.

The first step, says Allec, is to set measurable goals for each financial value. “For example, if financial freedom is one of your main values, you may set a goal for yourself to invest 40% of your income every year so you can have the freedom to take a job you enjoy more, start your own business, or simply not work at all.”

Creating a measurable goal is just one aspect of successful goal-setting. According to the popular SMART method, effective goals should be: 

  • Specific: Say exactly what you want to accomplish and the steps you’ll take to get there.

  • Measurable: Add in the numbers so you can track your progress.

  • Achievable: Make your goal reasonable, based on your needs and situation.

  • Relevant: Tie each goal back to your financial values, so you know you’re on the right track.

  • Time-bound: Include a deadline for good measure, which will give you a reason to celebrate once you’ve accomplished your goal.

A great example of a SMART financial goal could be “I want to build a $5,000 emergency fund by the end of next year” or “I want to pay off an extra $200 a month in debt for the next 3 years.” 

Direct your spending.

For those who prioritize health and fitness, Sandy Yong, the award-winning author of The Money Master, suggests ways to move more money in that direction. “You may purchase a gym membership or fitness equipment so that you can stay active and healthy. Perhaps you would save up money to attend a week-long wellness retreat.”

Now spending based on your priorities may sound like obvious advice. But as Panteli said in the previous section, aligning your core values with your financial actions can be more complicated than it looks. Even if you value saving for the future, for example, it’s still easy to shrug off your budget or delay making some hard money decisions.

But knowing your priorities isn’t enough. You also have to make a plan for where you want your money to go and what you should avoid spending on. Choosing to prioritize health, for example, may mean skipping out on some of life’s other luxuries, like eating out often or buying a nicer car.

Find creative ways to save.

It’s really about having the mindset to ask, “How can I get what I need for less—and maybe even have room for a splurge once in a while?” says Lisa Thompson, a savings expert for Coupons.com.

Groceries, says Thompson, are one spending category that people tend not to look at too closely. Making grocery lists or buying in bulk and splitting costs with other families are just a few ways to save. Using cash for groceries can encourage you to spend less as well, because “you always see exactly how much you have available.” And, of course, so do coupons.

But saving creatively doesn’t just mean doing more with less. After all, you want to make that extra money work for you. According to Cook, you should invest anything you save because “even small amounts compound into much larger ones over time!” 

No matter what your values, having that additional cash will make meeting those long-term financial goals easier.

Your Values-Driven Future

There’s a lot still happening in the world today, and no one knows what the future will hold. Even as we look forward to a full pandemic recovery, now’s a great time to consider how you want to spend and save differently. 

You’ll be glad that you did. “When you’ve identified the financial values that really underpin your psyche, you can improve your ability to set and achieve your goals,” says Brock. “You’ll find it easier to prioritize, budget, and save, and you’ll feel better about the ways you spend and invest your money."

Because as we’ve discovered, financial values don’t just reveal why you spend. They reveal what’s most important to you, what you’re willing to work and save for, and how you can best live your life.

You May Also Like

Related Resource Center
Sticking to a budget can be challenging, but having a clear goal and rewards can help you stay on track.
Jun 27, 2024
4 min read
Person in blue shirt sitting at desk with notebook, laptop and phone
Are you making only minimum payments on multiple credit card and other debt balances? If you’ve got a bit of extra cash earmarked for debt repayment and need a little motivation to start paying those balances down, now could be just the right time to consider putting the debt snowball method into action.
Jun 26, 2024
8 min read
Having a money plan in place before you turn in your resignation can make the transition smoother. Learn ways to prepare your finances before you go.
Jun 25, 2024
5 min read
Young man relaxing in an orange hammock by a misty lake holding a cup of coffee, looking at laptop on his lap.
Soft inquiries won’t impact your credit scores, and hard inquiries can hurt your scores slightly. Here's what you need to know.
Jun 25, 2024
7 min read
woman on mobile phone image
A recent survey shows 60% of U.S. adults, including more than four in 10 high-income earners, are living paycheck to paycheck. How can we all get to a place where we’re empowered with our money?
Jun 25, 2024
5 min read
Related Impact
From groceries and diapers to Halloween costumes for pets, nearly 60% of American consumers prefer to shop online for everyday items that make life more convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable. And with rising prices showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, we’re pleased to introduce StackitTM from LendingClub Bank—a new browser extension that automatically finds and rewards eligible members with coupons and cash back for extra savings at more than 15,000 favorite online retailers.
Nov 13, 2022
2 min read
blog header stackit 765x430 v1-1
Even in today’s low-yield, high-inflation environment, it’s essential to keep a certain amount of money in an easy-to-access checking or savings account for things like daily household and emergency expenses, or to meet short-term financial goals.
Oct 2, 2022
5 min read
LendingClub Rewards Checking Nationally Certified as Trusted, Afforda
Since 2007, LendingClub has been on a mission to deliver a world-class experience to all our members. This month we took a moment to reflect on the more than four million members who have chosen LendingClub as their partner to help them reach their financial goals.
Apr 19, 2022
2 min read
Illustration of large number 4 and letter M made up of colorful, tiny illustrations of ethnically diverse people
In March 2022, we hosted our first quarterly webinar where we celebrated our one-year anniversary as a digital marketplace bank. 
Mar 6, 2022
less than a minute read
LendingClub completed the acquisition of Radius Bank in February 2021. At that time, in addition to the direct-to-consumer deposit business, we inherited a fintech partner program, and several lending businesses. As we reach the one-year anniversary of the acquisition, and in conjunction with the conclusion of a strategic review of our business operations, we have made the decision to discontinue certain businesses that don’t fit our mission.  
Jan 2, 2022
2 min read
Man in blue button up shirt and glasses smiling
Related FAQ's
We offer several ways for you to make your monthly auto loan payment, so you can choose the method that works best for you. A statement will be mailed to you every month that shows the payment amount and due date.
Nov 29, 2023
less than a minute read
LendingClub provides a year-end statement that summarizes your account activity, including how much interest you’ve earned and information regarding Notes tied to loans that have been charged off.
Jun 7, 2023
less than a minute read
Adding creditors to your balance transfer loan is easy.
Jun 7, 2023
3 min read
To qualify for a lending product with LendingClub Bank, you must...
Jun 7, 2023
less than a minute read
Applying for a lending product is fast, easy, and confidential.
Jun 7, 2023
less than a minute read
Related Glossary
{noun} A type of credit that allows the borrower to make charges and payments against a set borrowing limit, paying interest only on outstanding balances.
Sep 6, 2023
4 min read
{noun} The total annual cost to borrow money, including fees, expressed as a percentage.
Mar 21, 2023
3 min read
{noun} The amount of unpaid interest that has accumulated as of a specific date, either on a loan or an interest-bearing account or investment. 
Mar 21, 2023
4 min read
A debt that is written off as a loss because the financial institution or creditor believes it is no longer collectible due to a substantial period of nonpayment.
Feb 7, 2023
3 min read
{noun} An interest rate that remains the same for a set time, usually for the life of the loan.
Feb 4, 2023
3 min read

LendingClub Bank and its affiliates (collectively, "LendingClub") do not offer legal, financial, or other professional advice. The content on this page is for informational or advertising purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. LendingClub is not affiliated with or making any representation as to the company(ies), services, and/or products referenced. LendingClub is not responsible for the content of third-party website(s), and links to those sites should not be viewed as an endorsement. By clicking links to third-party website(s), users are leaving LendingClub’s website. LendingClub does not represent any third party, including any website user, who enters into a transaction as a result of visiting a third-party website. Privacy and security policies of third-party websites may differ from those of the LendingClub website.

Savings are not guaranteed and depend upon various factors, including but not limited to interest rates, fees, and loan term length.

A representative example of payment terms for a Personal Loan is as follows: a borrower receives a loan of $19,584 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 10.29% and a 6.00% origination fee of $1,190 for an APR of 14.60%. In this example, the borrower will receive $18,663 and will make 36 monthly payments of $643. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths range from 24 months to 60 months. Some amounts, rates, and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states.

For Personal Loans, APR ranges from 9.57% to 35.99% and origination fee ranges from 3.00% to 8.00% of the loan amount. APRs and origination fees are determined at the time of application. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates and fees are valid as of July 11, 2024 and are subject to change without notice.

Checking a rate through us generates a soft credit inquiry on a person’s credit report, which is visible only to that person. A hard credit inquiry, which is visible to that person and others, and which may affect that person’s credit score, only appears on the person’s credit report if and when a loan is issued to the person. Credit eligibility is not guaranteed. APR and other credit terms depend upon credit score and other key financing characteristics, including but not limited to the amount financed, loan term length, and credit usage and history.  

Unless otherwise specified, all credit and deposit products are provided by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. Credit products are subject to credit approval and may be subject to sufficient investor commitment. ​Deposit accounts are subject to approval. Only deposit products are FDIC insured.

“LendingClub” and the “LC” symbol are trademarks of LendingClub Bank.

© 2024 LendingClub Bank. All rights reserved.