Values-Driven Budgeting

Carl Richards Values-Driven Budgeting

Carl’s 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

When you start with Tiller, you’ll be asked to securely link your bank accounts. Tiller supports credit card, checking, savings, mortgage, brokerage, car loan, and other accounts.

For this Values-Driven Budgeting template, we recommend linking your spending accounts (e.g., perhaps your credit card and checking accounts).

Carl first encourages us to write out our values. This is 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.

Now begin the simple exercise of marking each transaction in your new Tiller Sheet. 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.

Your easy homework

Then each day (ideally) or several times a week, visit the dashboard. How much of your spending is aligned with your values? Can you reduce the spending that’s not aligned? And 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.

Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear about your own spending. How much of your spending in the last month was aligned with your values? What changes do you want to make? Email us at, and we’ll share your anecdotes with Carl.