Have Your Priorities Passed The "Why" Test?

Budgeting is all about aligning your money with your priorities—the things that matter most to you.

It seems like that would be the easy part—I mean, it’s what you want!—but getting to the heart of the matter isn’t always cut and dry. Sometimes it requires, digging deep, and pushing hard on the why.

Last week, I shared about how my wife, Julie, finally after years and years—decades really—of always overspending on groceries and having me nag her about it, had a revelation about her priorities as it relates to grocery shopping.

Today I want to share another example of uncovering a core priority and an exercise you can do to be sure you understand the heart of your priorities.

When A Priority Is Hiding In Plain Sight

I had a friend who, like me had a lot of kids, and they just loved going to the movie theater. Their family just really loved the whole experience—the popcorn, the sodas in those little carriers, the anticipation of the previews. This was their thing and they loved it.

But boy was it ever expensive! They were spending a ton of money, and it started to bother him. So, I asked him to tell me about the movies—that experience. Well, he outlined the popcorn and the carriers and the food and they loved the smell and they loved the anticipation. I asked why.

“We like being together. We like having the experience together. We’re all laughing together.” I said, well why? “Yeah, it’s just a great family experience, where we’re all bonding and we can talk about the movie later on. The next day we’re eating dinner, I remember this part. That was so funny or this was interesting.”

I said why again. “I guess just because we are bonding and making connections.”

Examine The “Whys” Behind Your Priorities

And then I could stop asking why because we’d uncovered the root. Did they love going to the movies? Yes. But the movies themselves were not what they valued most; it was shared experiences, together as a family.

We brainstormed some ways they could achieve this same sense of bonding and connection without spending so much money. 

You might have different “whys” behind your movie-going, and that’s great! No judgment, just, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” The exercise is just that, asking why until you are sure you’ve hit the heart of what matters most to you. 

I want you to do this with each of your categories. Ask yourself why—five times. Why do I spend my money here? Answer it, ask why again. Answer it, ask why again and so forth. Do it five times and you’ll get to the core. I’d love to hear what you discover!

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