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.
4 thoughts on “With Intention Comes Wealth”
You know I am loving that you’re back writing for yourself again to some degree. I’m not sure why my husband and I don’t have much in the terms of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, but it’s certainly served us well. We’ve maybe spent aimlessly in previous years, but we still had a decent savings rate because we generally don’t spend money on expensive crap. Hopefully we can pass on that confidence and “lack of care,” if you will, to our son, because it’s been such a big deal for us.
In a world where everything is just within reach I also hope, beyond hope, that my children will learn to think before they spend their hard earned money. I hope that we lead them by example.
I’m trying to figure out how to pass on our philosophy on not needing everything that everyone else has just because you don’t have it – that’s been a toughie. JB is very acquisitive and wants an abundance, and we aren’t going to entertain that, but I don’t want to just foster a feeling of lacking in zir instead of teaching zir to embrace having less as a good thing. I don’t know how to help zir make that transition. I’d love any suggestions you might have on how you communicate that to your littles!
Oh this is a very good topic.
I spent much of my lifetime thinking about frugality in terms of “lacking” and “deprivation” where I should have thought about it more in terms of “wise decision making.” Rather than thinking “I can’t afford” something I now see it as “I’m choosing not to buy it.” I’m trying to teach my children to focus on the latter.
I talk to my children a lot about the value of an item. Not in terms of dollars and cents but rather in terms of joy. My children and I review their toy stash every month. We look at all of the toys on the shelf and ask “are you playing with this,” “When was the last time you played with it” and “how do you play with it?”
The last question focuses on whether or not the toy can be played with in multiple ways. For example, blocks can be used to build a bank, an airport, a track for cars. Some toys are multi-dimensional which leads to greater creativity and greater joy. We talk about these aspects of play so my children can make better buying decisions in the future.
I ask my children to weed out the toys they don’t play with and they go with me to the donation center where we give them away. Then we talk about how much we paid for a toy and what we could sell it for now. (Usually nothing.) This works well for my older son who is seven. We talk about better ways we could spend our money or things we could do as a family that don’t cost any money at all.
We do the same when we return from a friends house. If we come home and my kids say “I really want ‘x”” we talk about how often they would play with that toy and whether or not they have a similar toy. Then we talk about our imaginations and try to figure out how we can invent our own version of that toy or play an imaginary game that would produce the same feeling of joy he felt at a friend’s house.
I often redirect to free play. I get my children talking about the fun they have when they play “lava” and jump on cushions to avoid touching the ground. Or how much more fun it is to build a track out of bricks rather than using a prebuilt one that only goes in one direction.
Ultimately we play in ways that do not require much stuff. My children are happy to shoot baskets, play pirates or build new creations with the same set of blocks we’ve owned for years. I often point out the fun we had with very little supplies.
I hope they learn that abundant joy is much more valuable than abundant stuff!