Living My Values in 2017

This is normally the point in the year where I contemplate the upcoming year and what financial goals I want to accomplish. This year, I’m switching it up a bit. Instead of writing SMART goals, I’m going to talk about my values.


No debt. I am pretty strongly against debt. I’ve never had student loans or credit card debt. I aggressively paid down my mortgage. One of my strongest financial values is to maintain this status with the only debt in the household being the mortgage on the condo. My husband is absolutely on board with this plan. His student loans are long gone at this point and neither of us have ever maintained a balance on a credit card nor do we plan to start doing so.

Save for retirement. Other than my first year out of college, I have contributed the maximum I can to all retirement vehicles available to me. I plan to continue that going forward, though it does look different from year to year and from job to job.

Spend consciously. I don’t practice extreme frugality, nor does my husband. Instead, we consider purchases for a reasonable duration of time before committing to them. We buy reduced stress. We buy a non-financial lifestyle that brings us joy. We naturally don’t spend our entire incomes, which results in a large gap between our spending and our incomes and thus results in a high savings rate.

Security. I value financial security above so many other pieces in life. I plan to keep one year’s expenses in cash at all times. Any funds available beyond eliminating debt, saving for retirement, and one year’s expenses will be invested in a taxable investment account, per my Investment Policy Statement.


Home. Loving my home is so key to my mental health. Living in a home that brings me joy, that I want to go home to, that I want to hang out in, is so important to me. More important than travel.

Possessions. Thanks to Stylebook, I’ve been buying clothes more strategically. We’ve also been working on drastically reducing the amount of stuff we have in the condo, which has been a continual work in progress and I’m sure will be for a while. Trying to be more conscious of what comes into the apartment is also helpful here. Both my husband and I have parents that are minor hoarders and so living with less has been a point of growth and learning. I had no idea it wasn’t normal to keep everything you had ever owned in your life…

Style. I like having clothes that fit my body, no matter how much my body shifts around. This seems to go against the grain of the personal finance blogosphere, but I get enjoyment out of a closet that I like and that’s worth something.


Learn. It’s really important to never stop learning and to push myself to stretch my mind. Having a career as a tech professional is not the only answer to this. My Master’s program has been great for this. What does learning and pushing myself mentally look like after my Master’s program? If I’m not learning or not enjoying my job, then what’s the point? I have enough savings now that it’s becoming more and more difficult to put up with a job that gives me minimal fulfillment.


Keep moving. I have a monthly average steps goal of 10,000 steps per day. I find that the closer I get to that figure, the happier I am overall. Getting outside is such a stress reducing factor, no matter the weather, even if certain types of weather make it less enticing to spend time outside.

Practice joy. I’ve always been a naturally critical person. In 2016, I started to practice contentedness with where I was in life and to find the positives in situations where really there didn’t seem to be any. I have an exercise where I write in a joy journal all of the pieces in my life that currently bring me joy. I’m always surprised at how many there are, even while I’m incredibly stressed out over something else. Practicing joy has helped me in so many ways.

Water. One of my projects this year was to start drinking more water. I have not always been the best at staying hydrated, but I’m finally making progress. I set my goal to drink 64 oz per day and I well exceeded that in the summer and since then, have been getting pretty close most days. My husband and I have noticed that we don’t drink water nearly as well when we’re traveling and my body definitely feels different as a result, so that’s something we plan to be more conscious of on our next trip. I’ve also made some minor diet shifts that made a huge difference.


Support. In a way, this comes back to spending consciously. I have a variety of charities that I strongly believe in and love supporting their causes, as does my husband. It also means supporting other people in their learning and growth.

Relationships. In addition to movement keeping me happier, so does a certain level of social activity. There’s a careful balance between too little and too much and it’s so easy to fall on the side of too little when we are busy with our own lives, families, and careers. My relationship with my husband is central to my well-being, as well.



12 thoughts on “Living My Values in 2017

    • So far, it seems to have reduced the anxiety around not having a 401(k) to contribute to at the moment and I think it would have reduced some of my anxiety around not meeting some of my 2016 goals.

  1. Great goals for 2017! I started drinking more water a couple years ago and now it is second nature. Gives me a reason to get out of my desk chair more often during the day too.

    • When I was working full-time, I had it timed to drink one 16 oz bottle of water in the morning, one 10 oz cup at lunch, one 16 oz bottle in the afternoon, and then two 12 oz glasses at home. Getting it into the routine was key, as was making sure my glass/bottle was never empty of water! Do you have a standing desk? I find that helps to keep me moving a bit more too since it removes part of the “getting up” barrier.

  2. “We buy reduced stress.” I love this. That’s the point of it all, isn’t it? I guess some people enjoy being stressed, but it’s never been something that I’ve enjoyed.

    I also agree with your thoughts on home and community. While I don’t think it makes much of a difference where I am living, I do think having the stability of one place where I can get involved and generally be happy goes a long way in living a content and satisfying life.

    Best wishes for ’17.

    • Best wishes to you as well in 2017!

      I don’t think it’s that people enjoy being stressed, but often that they don’t put a cost on their time. I know that’s what it was for me when I would find the cheapest possible way to get somewhere. For example, bringing your lunch to work costs you groceries and the time and energy spent creating, packing and remembering the lunch, which isn’t free.

      • I think there are definitely certain people who actually do thrive off of stress. But what you say about needlessly adding stress in the form of not paying attention to the cost of your time makes a lot of sense.

  3. Nice switch up! I like the idea of mapping out your values so that you can be accountable to yourself when your choices don’t reflect them. Wishing you an awesome 2017!

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