I stopped reading the majority of personal finance blogs in my RSS reader a few years ago. After reading blogs day after day for years I simply couldn’t find any new ideas that I hadn’t read or thought of before. I stopped blogging myself for this very same reason. What could I possibly say that no one had heard before? Honestly, I couldn’t come up with much. So I stopped writing and filled this blog with paid posts, because well, I wasn’t sure what else to do.
After awhile even the websites of amazing personal finance bloggers begin to feel stale and old. Most of the rules for accumulating wealth are simple. Increase your income, decrease your expenses and figure out how to invest the money you’ve saved. The blog ESI Money, which stands for earn, save and invest pretty much covers it.
So if that’s all you have to do than why don’t more people follow these principles? That’s a tough nut to crack, but I think that the majority of money management comes down to intentionality.
Before I begin let me say that not everyone can become a millionaire. I know there are may factors involved in the accumulation of wealth and some of those factors are out of our control.
If you are disabled, ill, paying for family members expenses or dealing with a devastating accident than you may not be able to climb the financial ladder or at a minimum you may not be able to climb as quickly as those around you.
But if you are making a half-decent wage and not dealing with unfortunate life circumstances than the odds are pretty high that there is nothing holding you back from wealth other than you.
To find the path to wealth I believe you need to live with intention. If you have an aim, a plan, a purpose, an objective, a target, whatever you want to call it, you are more likely to reach your goal.
Many of us live our lives from moment to moment without any real plan in mind. I recently had a conversation with a forty-year old friend of mine. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he wanted to travel. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he would consider moving to a new state. He said, “I don’t know.” I asked him if he had plans to switch jobs. He said, “I don’t know.”
The fact is that my friend wakes up every day and steps through the motions of life. He takes a shower, gets dressed, drives to work, parks his car, works for 9 hours, gets back into his car, drives home, eats dinner and goes to sleep. My friend is an amazing guy, but he does not have a plan. How many of us can say the same about ourselves?
In order to reach a goal you have to set one. If you want to attain wealth, retire early, travel the world, do whatever your heart desires, you have to set a course and follow it closely.
So what does living with intention mean when it comes to your finances? First, put your finances into auto-pilot. Begin contributing to a 401(k) through your employer. Let your money slide straight into your retirement account without ever realizing it’s missing. If you can do the same with automated savings accounts. Move money aside each month and see if you can live without it.
Second, avoid shopping whenever possible. If you avoid the temptation of brick and mortar and online stores you will keep more money in your pocket, period. If you want to buy something ask yourself “is this a need or a want?” If it’s a want, then think long and hard about your end goal and decide if the item you covet really needs to be purchased at this very moment.
If you find yourself wavering then tape a picture of your goal to your credit card. I kid you not, this works. If you want to retire early to a beachside retreat then tape a picture of yourself at the beach. If you want to travel the world, then print a picture of an airplane flying around the globe. If you want to stay-at-home with your children then add their beautiful little faces to the top of your credit card.
Now, every time you pick up that credit card to pay for something you will come face-to-face with your goal and that reminder may be all you need to place that credit card back in your pocket.
Third, avoid feelings of jealousy and envy. When you visit your friends luxurious home filled with beautiful furniture and tchotchkes remind yourself that your goal may be different from theirs. If you want to travel the world you don’t need a five bedroom house to live in. If you want to retire early you might hop into an RV and travel around the country. Again, remember to keep your goal in mind. Do your best not to be distracted by others.
Fourth, remember that people are more important than things. All of the things in the world don’t add up too much if you are alone. Focus your intentions on creating meaningful relationships with those around you. Fill your life with people who fill your soul and you will suddenly realize that you don’t need much to make you happy in this world.
Fifth, revisit your plan often. Track your expenses, search for ways to earn more income and try to remain optimistic about meeting your target. Every time you stop yourself from spending you will reach one step closer to the finish line.
Sixth, find those who will cheer for your success and pick you up when you fail. It can be difficult to talk about money with others, so search for an online community or blogger who can guide you. Over the years I’ve met many amazing bloggers who now feel like life long friends.
Lastly, once you apply the notion of intentionality to your finances you will find yourself applying similar principles to other aspects of your life. A lot of people talk about retiring early, but once they’ve met their financial goals they have absolutely no idea what they actually want to do with their lives.
Create a plan for your relationships, your career, your children, your passions and anything else you can think of. Set your goals and strive to reach them. I can only speak from personal experience here, but maintaining the goal to accumulate wealth played a huge role in my success with money.
I wish you the best in your future endeavors.