The 10 Things Exercise: Self-Evaluation Tool To Align Your Spending With Your Values

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The idea is to create a list of the top 10 things that you enjoy doing most on a weekly basis and compare that list with the top 10 things that you spend money on each month.

The goal of this exercise is to determine if your spending habits align with your most valued activities. Activities like these can help you reshape your lifestyle to something more desirable and consistent with what truly matters to you.

Many times, the largest barrier to achieving the things you enjoy most is the lack of time or money. This exercise is a tool people can use to address these barriers head-on.

Where We Got This Exercise:

This exercise came from Scott’s Rieckens’ Playing With Fire Book where Scott and his wife, Taylor, compared their list and realized that they both enjoyed the simple things in life that cost little to no money. These included going for walks, reading, listening to music, fishing, talking with family, and the most touching… laughing, playing and cuddling with their baby.

Ultimately, they saw that their spending habits did not reflect what they truly valued in life. This was the turning point where they began communicating more openly about money and began their FIRE journey together.

Who Is This Exercise For?

This exercise is a clearly great exercise for couples to learn a little more about their significant other and maybe get on the same financial and lifestyle page.

This type of reflection exercise is also good for anyone who knows they are not living the life they want and would like to work towards their goals.

Our 10 Things:

While my wife and I have been on this FIRE journey for a little over a year, I wanted to compare our 10 things list just for fun.

Who knows, we just might learn something about each other. These items are listed in no particular order.

Mrs. Flexcents List:

  1. Seeing my niece for the first half-hour
  2. Watching my niece express more mature emotions
  3. Baking and making smoothies with my niece
  4. Spend time with other family and friends
  5. Taking care of myself (Fitness + Beauty care)
  6. Drawing
  7. Eating dinner with my husband
  8. Watching Netflix with my husband
  9. Grocery shopping with my husband
  10. Attempting to get my shit together on the weekends

My List:

  1. Exercising and being physically active with Mrs. Flexcents
  2. Cooking and trying new recipes with Mrs. Flexcents
  3. Talking, laughing and just enjoying the company of family and friends.
  4. Playing with my nieces and nephew
  5. Enjoying home-cooked meals with Mrs. Flexcents
  6. Writing (Blogging, journaling)
  7. Reading
  8. Watching Netflix with Mrs. Flexcents
  9. Accumulating new skills and knowledge
  10. Helping my patients achieve their functional goals

I love that the short time we spend on Netflix each day ends up being on both of our lists.

Our Large Expenses In 2018

  1. Vehicle expenses: $6,500 between insurance, gas, and maintenance for 2 cars. We also paid for insurance and some maintenance on our parent’s cars.
  2. Health: $4,300 between Medical, Dental, and Vision. If it costs this much while we’re young and healthy, I’d hate to see what it’d be when we’re older.
  3. Supplements, gym membership: $700
  4. Restaurants: $2,300
  5. Vacations; $2,300
  6. Electronics: $700
  7. Groceries: $2,300
  8. Miscellaneous general merchandise: $1,400 This was actually an improvement compared to what I alone spent on Amazon the year prior!
  9. Cell phone: $2,900 for 7 lines. We were paying for two households. Since my siblings are now working professionals, they have been able to help out with the phone bill at my mom’s. Also, I began to seek reimbursement from my employer for my cell phone bill as I mostly use my mobile phone to manage my patients and coordinate with the rest of their healthcare team.
  10. Gas & Electric: $2,200 This averages to under $200 per month for our energy. Recently, electric rates have doubled and we’ll be switching back to our state supplier. I’m glad we track our finances or auto-pay would have just kept on paying.

We actually reflected on our expenses in the January update and are working to realign our spending with our values.

As much as we’d like to decrease our vehicle expenses, it seems like everyone in the house needs their own car for work or another reason.

We’ll need to control for Amazon purchases a little better especially since I wouldn’t remember what I purchased unless I go under my order history.

Our cell phone expenses should be greatly reduced this year based on changes noted above.

I’m glad that we did not spend much on entertainment as most of what we enjoy is free. However, spending nearly $200/month for restaurants is more than I’d like given that I enjoy home-cooked meals better.

This exercise proved useful and I already have some actions I need to take. I will need to make a note to compare these expenses next year!

Ready, Set, Go!

Want to start your own self-evaluation to improve your life?

Step 1: What 10 Things do you enjoy doing most each week?

If 10 is too many, go to your top 5 or top 3 things.

Is there something that you thought would’ve made the list but didn’t. If so, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how much time or money you commit to that item.

Step 2: Identify the top 10 things you spend money on each month.

Get creative, it doesn’t have to be about money. What about other barriers that prevent you from doing more of what you truly enjoy?

Maybe your environment is not conducive of what you want to do more often. Maybe you’re too busy spending your time and energy working and need to cut back on some expenses to regain some balance in your life.

Step 3: Create an action plan. Revisit your lists and action plan regularly.

Once you make the list, share them with me! I’d love to hear from you.

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