Healthy Living on a Budget with Values-Based Spending

Healthy living can be expensive. Between gym memberships, fitness trackers, clothing, shoes, food, equipment, personal trainers, etc., etc., etc. – fitness can begin to feel like a forest fire burning a hole in your wallet. 

We know that caring for our bodies is an important part of maintaining both our physical and emotional health. Still, with the rising costs of almost everything, it can be easy to let your health costs slip into the void of “maybe when I have more money,” or “when I’m not in debt anymore, then I can afford to take care of myself.”

Here’s the great news – it doesn’t have to be this way. Your health is so incredibly important, and there is a way to stay healthy and still get out of debt, save money, invest, and more.

As an internationally recognized money coach and owner of Her First $100K – a money and career education platform – I’ve talked to just about every type of budgeter you can imagine. From big spenders to frugal savers and everything in between. And guess what? We’re not all that different. Each of us has a list of values that we care deeply about. Mine are food, travel, and a good houseplant. Since you’re with me here at Paceline, I’m assuming that one of your values is health and fitness.

So, how exactly do you maintain a healthy lifestyle AND stay in control of your money at the same time?? I’d like to introduce you to the mindset that has changed my life and thousands of others – value-based spending.

What is value-based spending?

Value-based spending is exactly what it sounds like –– it’s the idea of spending in alignment with the things you value. Above, I mentioned a few of my value-based spending categories (travel, good food, and plants). These three categories of spending are inherently built into my monthly budget, and I feel absolutely zero guilt for spending money on my newest green baby, a nice dinner out with a friend, or a round-trip flight to a fun destination.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still limitations here. The idea is that I have a portion of my budget segmented for these exact categories.

For you, these categories may be the same or completely different. Even the breakdown within categories might not look the same to others. For example, you and someone else may both have fitness as your category, but they spend freely on group classes what you might spend on a personal trainer or a membership at a nicer gym.

That’s the great thing about spending based on your values – they are inherently your own. Because – SPOILER – personal finance is personal! 

Why deprivation doesn’t work

“Ok, Tori – this all sounds great, but I’m in debt, and I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be spending any money on things outside of my absolute necessities until I’m out of debt.”

One of the most frustrating pieces of financial advice I hear is the idea of depriving yourself of even the smallest of joys in the relentless pursuit of a financial goal. Most of the time, you only end up resenting your job and even the money you make because you’re all work and absolutely zero play. We were not meant to live joyless lives, and we don’t have to just because one person says it’s the only way to do it.

You’re still working within boundaries when you’re using values-based spending. It isn’t just a free pass to drop cash you don’t have. Instead, it’s a space in your budget that allows you to enjoy the things you want to enjoy without the guilt and thus maintaining a healthy financial lifestyle. 

How to figure your values out and budget accordingly

There are several kinds of budgets out there, and I always recommend that you pick whichever one is best for you. If that’s a highly detailed spreadsheet broken down into several categories, rock on! If it’s an app that does it for you, you’re crushing it, too! I’m going to break down a really common budgeting method called the 50/30/20 method.

In the 50/30/20 method, you spend 50% of your budget on essentials (rent, utilities, groceries, etc.), 30% of your budget on non-essentials, and 20% of your budget on debt and savings.

In this system, your values-based spending is factored into your second category or the 30%. Once you’ve got that number calculated, you’ll be able to start working on your values budget. As a bonus, you can build these out as sinking funds (aka, savings a little every month that eventually adds up) for bigger one-time purchases, like at-home gym equipment.

During the first few months, it might feel strange to allow yourself to buy the things you love, especially if you’ve spent the majority of your life in a restrictive or scarcity mindset. Remember – you’ve budgeted for this! You can enjoy the things in life you love without ruining your finances or long-term financial goals. This is the heart of healthy living!

Examples of values-based spending categories

Having a hard time figuring out what matters to you? Here’s a helpful list to get started:

  • Travel
  • Family time
  • Vacations
  • Fitness classes
  • Personal trainer
  • Gym memberships
  • At-home gym equipment
  • Clothing (yes, workout clothes included)
  • Organic food
  • Fine dining
  • Date nights
  • Experiences (think concerts, theme parks, etc.)
  • Gifting
  • Donating to charity
  • Family activities

There are hundreds of categories to choose from, and the great thing about values-based spending is that it can change as you change. You may love spending money on the newest Lululemon collection one year and be perfectly happy with thrifting your workout gear the next. This system is built for the natural ebb and flow of your interests as you grow.

One of the things I love about Paceline is that it awards you financially for your healthy habits –– so you can spend even less on the things you value just by getting your heart rate up.

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