“A few days after I get paid, I’m counting down the days until my next paycheck because my account is getting low and I’m running out of money. I don’t know where my money is going.”
“Money is a major source of stress in my life. I don’t make a lot of it, so there’s no need to budget or try to save it.”
“I just got engaged, but I’m not sure if I can afford the wedding of my dreams.”
Do any of these situations sound familiar? You’re not alone! At some point in life, you may find yourself worried about your finances and trying to figure out how you’re going to make ends meet. It can be overwhelming and seem almost impossible to move past where you are financially. Don’t worry, there is hope and the possibility to turn your financial situation around.
You may be wondering, “How can I turn it around when it looks hopeless?” Start off by being more intentional with your money. What does it mean to be more intentional? Being intentional means you are deliberate and purposeful in your actions. You know what you want and you go after it. Your eyes are set on the bigger picture of what you want. Being intentional with your money simply means that you’re taking control of your finances by making the best decisions for your situation and taking action to reach your financial goals.
Here are a few ways you can be more intentional with your money.
The first step to being intentional is knowing your intent. It helps you to focus on your what or why. If you’re not sure where to start, take a moment to think about what you want and what’s important to you. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish with my finances?” or “Why do I need to be intentional with my money?” Is it to save for a down payment on a new house, save $1,000 for an emergency fund, pay off student loans, or become debt-free? Once you’ve decided what you want and what matters to you the most, create a plan and focus your energy on taking the necessary steps to accomplish your goal.
Once you’ve identified your intent, now it’s time to create a budget. A budget is an effective way to manage your finances. It gives you a blueprint for how you plan to be intentional with your money. It outlines your income and expenses to show how much income you’re receiving and how much you spend on expenses. Having a budget also shows where you can cut expenses so you can add more to savings or for the goal you’re trying to accomplish. It helps you to stay focused and on track with accomplishing your goal if you stick with it.
If you intend to build your savings for an emergency fund, vacation, or a new car, but you’re inconsistent with saving, setting up a direct deposit for your savings account is a convenient, secure, and safe way to build your savings over time. You no longer have to worry about making deposits, you’re less likely to spend what you’ve saved, and you’re excited to see your savings grow and getting closer to your financial goal. Set it up and let it do the work for you.
Do you make daily visits to a local coffee shop for your favorite cup of coffee or you grab a soft drink and a bag of chips every time you’re waiting in the checkout line? These purchases may seem small, but over time the costs add up. Impulse buying and mindless spending could bust your budget.
Most people spend money out of habit or spend without weighing the cost of the purchase. Be intentional about your purchases. Think about the effect it will have on your budget. Did you budget for it? Is it a need or want? Is this item a necessity? Do I have to purchase it now or can I wait to purchase it later? Our needs and wants are never-ending. The more intentional you are about your decisions and priorities, the more likely you’re to stay focused on your goals and what’s important.
We’re constantly bombarded with messages all around us trying to entice us to spend money. From Flash Sales, BOGO Sales, 50% discounts to once-in-a-lifetime offers, the temptation to spend can be hard to resist. You may tell yourself, “This is a great deal and I can’t pass it up. It only happens once a year.” You have to change this narrative if you want to be intentional with your money.
Yes, it may be the best sale of the year, but you have to stay focused on what’s important and what you want to accomplish with your finances. If the temptation is too much to bear, take the necessary actions to eliminate or ignore these distractions by unsubscribing to emails or scrolling past those tempting ads on social media. Do what you need to do to help you stay focused.
Being intentional takes time, focus, and patience. Once you know what you want to do and you’ve taken the necessary steps to move towards it, you can set aside time to reflect on the progress you’ve made. This is a good time to remind yourself of the big picture, to make sure you’re on target with your goals, and to make adjustments if needed. During your reflection time, ask yourself, “Does my action align with my priorities and goals?” or “What changes do I need to make to realign with my priorities and goals?”
Deciding to be more intentional with your money is the beginning of your financial success. Once you know your “why” and have identified your priorities, you become more deliberate and purposeful in taking action towards achieving your financial goals.