I was reading one of my favorite debt-reduction blogs, I've Paid For This Twice Already... today, and paidtwice mentioned The Prioritizer. The Prioritizer is a tool created by CNN Money to help folks focus on their financial goals.
It works very simply--you enter up to 15 goals in the boxes (long-term or short-term), and the Prioritizer pits them against each other in various ways, with you having to choose not between all of them, but just between two of them at a time. Once you've made all your choices, it spits out a ranking of which goals you have indicated are most important to you.
Seems like something we shouldn't need a tool to help us with, right? For me at least, not really. It's very difficult to look at a list of things, all of which I want, and rank them. Much easier to pick between two things. So I decided to try it.
First, I listed some goals. I went back to my 43 Things list to remember some of them.
The 12 goals I came up with were:
- get a Ph.D.
- get Lasik surgery
- see Gustav Klimt's paintings in person
- donate more to charity
- pay off my student loans
- work for myself full-time
- publish writing
- have my photo taken by Karen Walrond
- start my own dog rescue
- move back to Oregon
- build a retirement fund
After going through the exercise, the tool told me my priorities lined up like this:
- move back to Oregon (100)
- travel (90.9)
- pay off my student loans (81.8)
- work for myself full-time (72.7)
- see Gustav Klimt's art in person (63.6)
- get Lasik surgery (45.5)
- build a retirement fund (37.9)
- donate more to charity (34.8)
- start a dog rescue (28.8)
- have my photo taken by Karen Walrond (25.8)
- get a Ph.D. (18.2)
- publish my writing (0)
There are definitely some surprises here. The first two are what I expected, with moving back to Oregon being my #1 long-term priority and traveling in general being the most important way to spend money I can think of right now (though my actions don't necessarily line up with those priorities). The rest, though, is interesting. I had no idea that getting a Ph.D. would rank so low, or that build a retirement fund is more important to me right now than donating more to charity or starting a dog rescue. And publishing writing might as well just drop from the list completely, since I rank it behind everything else.
I don't know how much this list will change the way I spend money, but it certainly gives me a new way to thinking about some things. So what about you? Try it and see if you are as surprised as I am.