It sounds ridiculous to pay $35 for a 45 minute spin class, right? It is hard to financial justify spending this kind of money when I can go for a bike ride for free. However, does this expense pass my Index Card Test?

What is an Index Card Test? In my purse I carry an index card that lists my priorities. If the financial expense or commitment aligns with these priorities, I give myself permission to move forward.

Here are the priorities on my current Index Card:

  • Be active and Healthy. Strive to work out 4x per week. Ride bike to school every day. Stay away from refined sugar & processed foods. Get outside.
  • Be present & fully committed. Focus on family, well-being and clients. Smile and have fun. Do not commit to anything without a measurable timeframe.
  • Commit all non-essential financial resources to remodel. No new clothes, home furnishings, etc., until remodel is complete. (We are adding a second story to our house, and it is expensive!).

The $35 spin class meets the first two priorities with flying colors. It fits being active and healthy. It is also very fun and makes me smile. It is 45 minutes long. When I am in the class, I am fully committed and enjoy the group energy.  But is this expense “essential”. No, it is not. So how can I justify it?

By really thinking about spending my money here, it makes me want it more. I want to feel inspired, and the way I feel after the class helps me focus on my priorities. This is my tipping point for saying yes to a 10 class pass for $280. If this expense still passes the Index Card test in five weeks, I can buy another one.

These priorities change over time. Previously, my index card had priorities like sticking to my budget, maximizing my Roth IRA and saving for vacation. Those are all on auto-pilot now.

What would be on your index card? Try writing out your top three priorities on an index card and carrying it with you. Consult the index card before making each financial decision. The tendency for instant gratification and consumption is strong. By having a physical reminder of what matters most, you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of success… for whatever is on your index card.