As culture shifts, so does language. “Intentional living” has been trending for a while. The concept is wide-reaching, but the core idea is quite simple: Our daily actions, when purposeful, can build to create meaningful, thoughtful futures. Or, to take it another way: Self-discipline equals self-care.
When you practice intentional financial living, unhealthy patterns are replaced by thoughtful, everyday decisions — eventually changing your trajectory. To do that, it’s important to understand your spending and the kind of financial future you want for yourself.
Spending follows values.
Take a look at your bank account and check it for spending patterns. That’s a quick snapshot of your values. Are they impulsive decisions? Are they seemingly endless debt payments? Or do you stand by each swipe of your debit card?
Once you assess where your money is going, think about the emotions and events that built those patterns. What sparked the debts and was all of the spending necessary? Was it a bunch of little things you let pile up? Did you spend to make yourself feel better in the moment?
Then ask yourself: Where do you want your money to go? College payments? Charities you champion? Well-padded retirement accounts?
To live intentionally, figure out your “why”
Deciding why you handle money the way you do is important. But it’s also important to look to the future. Think about why you want to change your patterns, and what you want to achieve as a result.
Having clearly defined goals gives you a north star, a guiding principle for your everyday spending. Will buying a pair of boots align with your goal of financial independence? If the answer is no, then step away from the boots. If you’re not sure, give yourself 48 hours to think it over.
Reasons to shift your habits
Changing your family’s financial legacy
Imagine the power of breaking a cycle, especially one that’s existed for generations. Whether this means saving for retirement or building a nest egg to pass down, the changes you make today create ripple effects — if big enough, they could even spark generational wealth.
Creating opportunities for life experiences
Value an experience-rich life above all else? With cash in the bank you can dive into opportunities as they become available. For example: If your goal is to go to Brazil and a great airfare pops up, having the resources to take advantage of it in the moment is a game-changer. To think about it another way, today’s careful planning can fund tomorrow’s spontaneous decision.
Feeling confident and secure in work and life
Imagine taking a job only to find that your values don’t align. If you’ve stashed an emergency fund of cash (four to six months of expenses), then you’re more able to make professional decisions based on your ethics.
Or maybe it’s even more personal: Do you lay awake at night stressing over finances? Envision a peaceful future where that weight is lifted. Then, adjust your habits to reach it.
Giving to causes that matter
Improving your world is a great goal. Whether it’s giving to a community organization, a church, or directly to those you see in need, it all starts with intentionally saving money for that purpose. It ends with beautiful acts of generosity.
Relieving stress at home
Want to get on the same page with your partner about finances? Hate getting into money arguments? Working together to establish clear goals, and sticking to them, can improve teamwork. But getting there starts with honest — and sometimes tough — conversations.
What do you both value? What is your “why?” as a couple? What is the life your family wants in five, ten, or 30 years? Once you identify that, you can help cheer each other on to reach it.
Make meaningful changes for intentional living
Do your investments, big and small, reflect your goals? What about your daily coffee — both for its impact on your wallet and the waste it puts in the landfill? Would you eat healthier and curb your spending if you packed your lunch? Are your retirement stocks in companies you support ethically? Have you checked?
Intentional living is simply another component of self-care. It’s choosing to value your future, as well as your present, each time you grab your credit card.