Carl Richards Values-Driven Budgeting

Carl Richards’ recent New York Times column on values-driven budgeting raises great questions about our money. Carl challenges us to ask ourselves, “How does our spending align with our values?”

At Tiller, we’re big believers that every dollar spent is a vote, and his values-driven budgeting strategy fits well with our view on money. Inspired by Carl, and with his encouragement, we’re excited to share the Values-Driven Budgeting template we’ve built with Tiller.

How to use the template

Carl first encourages us to write out our values. We include a space for writing down your values on the Welcome tab. It’s a quick exercise that comes from his New York Times bestselling book, The One Page Financial Plan. We recommend that you buy the book because it’s a great read; you can download the first chapter for free here. It will get you started on how to think about and outline your values.

Next, you’ll want to enter each of your expenses onto the Transactions tab. If you sign up for Tiller your transactions will be added automatically each day. Tiller allows you to securely link to your credit card, checking, savings, mortgage, brokerage, car loan, and other accounts.

This Values-Driven Budgeting template is focused on your spending only, so don’t worry about adding in your income data. We also recommend that you start with today and go forward rather than focusing on past spending.

After you have your transactions entered, begin the simple exercise of reviewing each transaction. Is this expense aligned with your values? Yes or no. For some expenses, deciding may be easy. The gift to a local charity might be a quick “yes.” The money you spent on an impulse purchase you never use might be a “no.” Other expenses, like a utility bill, may raise more questions. For these, we’d recommend giving yourself a pass and saying “yes” unless it’s a bill you think you could reduce or a bill with other options you might consider for meeting that need.

Check-in on your Values Dashboard

As you enter your transactions, visit the Values Dashboard and notice how much of your spending is aligned with your values. Can you reduce the spending that’s not aligned? Even for the spending that is aligned, is there a way to honor that value without having to spend? In his column, Carl gives a great example of a value-aligned expense that supports a friend; but he demonstrates that with some reflection, it’s possible to achieve the value and support the friend without spending money.

A 60-day challenge

Try to keep up with this exercise of recording your transactions, reviewing them against your values, and checking in on your values dashboard for 60 days.

Let us know how it goes. How much of your spending in the last month was aligned with your values? What changes do you want to make? Were you able to keep it up for the 60 days? Email us at, and we’ll share your anecdotes with Carl.