How to Be Intentional with Money
Financial freedom requires a clear vision, disciplined habits and commitment to a solid plan.
When you go to a high-profile concert, you’re in for quite a show. The band is flawless; the lead singer commands the stage with swagger and charisma; the backup dancers are in perfect step; and the sound and lights coordinate seamlessly with the performers to create an overwhelming experience. That doesn’t happen by accident — the performers have been intentional about planning every aspect of the show. There’s a lesson here: Having rock-star financial success requires learning how to be intentional with money.
A two-hour concert is the culmination of months of intense rehearsal, not to mention years of prior training. Every musical note, dance step and lighting cue has been carefully planned down to the tiniest detail. You have a great experience because the show’s producers intended you to.
The Secret of Intentionality
Nothing really great ever happens by accident — it’s always the result of planning, strategy, hard work and a clear vision. We call this “doing things intentionally,” and it can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your life’s endeavors. It certainly makes a huge difference with your money.
Real life rarely feels like a rock and roll show. Daily life contains a lot of tasks and hassles that aren’t exciting or glamorous. And we when we’re not intentional about pursuing the lives we want, the lives we have can become mundane or even chaotic.
This is certainly true in your finances. Learning how to be intentional with your money can make a huge difference in your journey to freedom. If you don’t have goals, and plans for your finances, you can earn a lot of money and still find yourself broke at the end of the month. You can work hard your whole life but come to the end of your career and without enough money for retirement. You can spend your whole life meeting your own needs and later regret that you didn’t give more to people who needed help.
Living intentionally means being conscious of your values, your purposes, your resources and your responsibilities. People who know how to be intentional with money make decisions that prioritize the things that matter most to them. It’s not always easy, but it does always lead to success.
If you feel like you’re treading water in your personal finances, there’s a good chance that you haven’t been intentional with the way you handle your money. To change that, here are five tips to help you learn how to be intentional with money:
1) Determine your values.
The things that we do with our money are indications of what we value in life. So you need to be aware of what your most important values are. Do you value education? Giving? Missions work? Convenience? Eating well? Traveling abroad?
Everybody has different values, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you know what you value most. That way, you can intentionally use your money toward the things that are most important to you.
2) Set financial goals.
Once you have identified your values, you need to set goals to translate those values into real-world actions. These goals can include getting out of debt, saving a certain amount of money for a home, investing for retirement, funding your children’s education, buying a new car or giving a percentage of your income to charity.
Your goals don’t have to be something you can achieve this month — some of these goals will take years to accomplish. But they give you a big picture of the things that you should be doing to help you find success.
3) Make a plan.
A budget is absolutely essential for winning with money. tweet this!If you’re going to reach your long-term goals, it will take series of short-term actions to get there. So you need to make a plan for how you’re going to spend your money this month in order to create progress toward your goals. In financial terms, we call that plan a budget, and it’s absolutely essential for winning with money.
This is also the place to examine life changes — such as finding a better job or learning a new skill — that might help you toward a goal.
4) Execute your plan.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road: A plan is only as valuable as the paper it’s written on until you put it into action. Plans only work if we execute them, and execution is often the hardest part. This means that just writing out a budget isn’t good enough. You actually have to live according to the plan you made.
If you’ve created a plan to further your education or get a better job, you have to take the steps to make those things happen, too.
5) Track and evaluate your progress.
If you’re trying to keep your spending in line with your budget, you need to have a way of keeping track of what you spend so that you’ll know how you’re doing. And if you have a savings or debt-payoff goal, it’s a good idea to watch your account balances to make sure progressing toward your goal.
In addition to showing exactly how you’re doing, tracking also helps you evaluate your success and determine if you need to make any changes. In reality, it’s rare for a plan to be executed perfectly the way that it was laid out. The messiness of life will necessitate some flexibility and adjustment along the way.
Learning how to be intentional with money
Living intentionally with your money is a lot of work, but it comes with a great reward. Nothing really great ever happens by accident. And if you learn to handle money intentionally, you’ll see really great rewards in the future.
If the idea of managing your money intentionally stresses you out, don’t panic. I have a great, free resource to help take the hassle out of it.
My video series “Stress-Free Finance” will give you simple, easy-to-follow steps to getting your a handle on your financial life so you can be intentional with money, stop worrying, get out of debt and build a better future.
Here’s a preview. To join, simply fill out the form just below the video.
Join me on this road to freedom, and let’s change our financial lives one step at a time.