5 Steps to Spend in Line with Your Values: Using ACT for your money

Check out my latest financial therapy video on how to apply acceptance and commitment therapy to your money. Transcript below:

Are you feeling like you are spending money on shit you don’t care about? Watch the video above, or check out the steps below, and I’ll give you the exact exercise you can do to spend in a way that feels right for you.

If you look at your spending at the end of the month and feel like you are flushing money on stuff you don’t need, I’m here to tell you how you can shift that so you can spend on the things that matter. I guarantee that practicing this will help you feel good about your spending habits. 

First, let me break down what ACT it. ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy. The idea is that when we live our lives aligned with our values, we feel better about ourselves.

5 Easy Steps to Spend Money in line with your Values

  1. Write down the five most important values in your life (example: empathy, freedom, love, health, and sustainability).

  2. Look at last month’s spending.

  3.  Highlight or write down the 2-3 areas where you spent in a way you aren’t proud of (fast food, parking, clothes).

  4. Reference your values and see if they match up. If they don’t, there is a good chance you feel conflicted or guilty when you spend For example, if you value health and love, your money would probably be better spent taking your partner rock climbing instead of buying another drive-through meal. Or if you value sustainability, maybe you could shift your spending from a parking pass to a bus pass.

  5. Shift your spending toward the things you value. The goal isn’t to spend less, though you might, but to spend in a way that feels more like YOU.

What areas are you going to shift your spending towards to align with your values? Or are you going to shift some spending away from a certain category that doesn’t match up with your values? Let me know in the comments!

If you are getting stumped on values, I have a free download full of values you can reference to practice the exercise I reviewed in the video. Here’s a free worksheet to help you find ways to line up your spending with your values.

Video: CBT For Your Money Mindset

In my financial therapy sessions, I often pull techniques from other evidence-based therapy methods. One that comes in handy quite often is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Click above to watch the financial CBT video, or read on below to learn how you can apply this method for your mind-money balance.

Transcript Below:

What if a technique for re-framing your thoughts existed? In this video, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.

If you are looking for a proven technique for reframing your thoughts, Cognitive Behavioral therapy or CBT does just that. When it comes to our money, often our beliefs or thoughts are the things keeping us from achieving our goals. I’ll walk you through how we can use CBT, a proven intervention for anxiety and depression, and apply it to your money worries.

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a type of therapy coined by Aaron Beck and David Burns that asserts that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related. They way you think impacts how you feel, and how you feel changes the way you act or respond to something. This can lead a person to feeling like they are in a downward spiral. In CBT, a person works on reframing or changing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for a better, more positive outcome, or as I like to say, “spiraling up.”

Let’s try an example.

  • Thought, “I’m socially awkward”

  • Feeling: Nervous, anxious

  • Action: Avoid attending a neighborhood BBQ

A therapist would ask you how you’ve dealt with similar situations in the past, and encourage you to look at the thought realistically and objectively.

“I feel nervous and anxious and it’s making me worry I’m socially awkward. At a recent work party, I did feel nervous at first but after connecting with others in my department, my worry wore off and I ended up having a good time. Instead of avoiding this BBQ, I can try and find someone I know to go with me.”

Let’s do one that is money-related. Here’s a money one:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money.”

  • Feeling: guilt, shame loathing

  • Behavior: spend money quickly when I get paid

Using CBT to spiral up to a positive or neutral place, we’d say:

  • Thought “I’m terrible at saving money;” becomes “I haven’t been great at saving money but it is important to me to have a little cushion in case of an emergency”

  • Feeling: apprehensive, excited, nervous

  • Behavior: move $100 to savings account before spending money

You can go in any order-work on your behavior first, see how it impacts your thoughts and feelings, etc. It doesn’t matter as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected.

I’ve linked a free “spiraling up” worksheet for you! It provides a summary of what I’ve talked about in this CBT video so you can practice framing your thoughts in a positive way so you can stop spiraling down.

Please let me know in the comments below how you will use this technique. Will you start by un-spiraling a negative thought? Maybe changing a bad behavior.? Drop it below! This is the first video in a new series called Tips from a Therapist. I’ll talk about different therapy techniques and how they apply to your money.