Be Intentional

I recently attended a leadership training seminar at a local college.  This seminar was about managing the multi-generational workforce.  The facilitator covered many topics and I am not going to get into any of those details in this post.  He said many interesting things, but the one statement that made me think was that he said that we should always be intentional.

Everything we do should be with intent.  Our actions should have an intended outcome.  Our words should have an intended message.  Even our thoughts should be focused and have a purpose.

The purpose of this training was meant for workforce development.  The message can easily be applied into everyday life.  It is ideal for managing money.

Too many people just coast in life.  They walk around making noise and bumping into things.  By not having a plan, they will just land at a random destination.  What could possibly go wrong with that approach?

To be successful in all your affairs, practice being more intentional.  A great place to start is with how you manage your personal finances.  You should know the why behind everything that you do.

Savings

Do you know what your savings rate is?  You should be able to answer this question without giving it any thought.  Is it 10%, 20%, or more than 30%?  Your savings rate is the most important factor that will determine if you will reach financial independence or not.  It is also one of the rare aspects that you have control over.  Nobody can control what the S&P 500 will return this year, what direction interest rates are headed, or if there will be a spike inflation.  Everyone, however, can control what their saving rate is.

Spending

Your savings rate is directly impacted by your spending.  Do you just spend money without thinking?  Do you go to the mall, outlets, or online and buy things that you do not need?  If you want to change this trend, become intentional with your spending.  Before you buy something, ask yourself if you need it or truly want it?  If you must spend the money, did you shop around for the best price?  Is there a low-cost alternative to making the purchase?  Even if there isn’t a better alternative, at least you did your due diligence and gave thought to the purchase.

Debt

Does your credit card bill arrive, and you cringe when you look at your balance due?  Do you make late payments or just pay the minimum balance on your credit cards?  Do you know what your credit score is?  Do you know what your debt-to-income ratio is and what a healthy ratio should be?  Do you know how to calculate your debt-to-income ratio?  If you want to improve how you manage debt, take a more intentional approach.  Learn what your credit score is, identify if you have too much debt for what your income is, and ultimately establish a plan to get out of debt.

Earnings

I bet you know what your annual salary or hourly wage is?  You get a paycheck every week or bi-weekly, so you are reminded frequently about that rate.  Do you feel that you are underpaid?  Doesn’t everyone?  Maybe you are underpaid or maybe you are overpaid.  Before you ask for a meeting with your supervisor demanding a raise, you should do your homework.  Be intentional and research what the market rate for your position is based on your location and level of experience.  If you are under market rate, you might have a case.  If you are over market rate, but not satisfied, you might need to develop more skills or ask for a more challenging assignment.

Investing

If someone asked you what type of investor you are, could you answer them?  Are you a market timer?  Do you buy and hold equities?  Are you a passive investor who invests in a few different mutual funds?  Do you simply try to capture what the market returns with a total stock market fund?  Do you use value tilts?  Do you buy dividend stocks?  Are you trying to get rich by investing in Bitcoin?  You are free to decide how you invest your money, but you should know the why behind your plan.  Your approach to investing should be intentional.  Nobody knows what the future market returns will be, but you should at least know what you are intending to accomplish with your asset allocation.

Financial Independence

Do you know how much money you need to have in savings to reach financial independence?  To declare financial independence, the general rule is to have 25 years worth of living expenses in savings.  That is based on a 4% withdrawal rate that most financial professionals consider to be acceptable.  Do you know if you have obtained this milestone or how close you are?  Most people who reach financial independence do not get there by accident.  They live intentionally for many years.

Early Retirement

Do you have a target-date as to when you want to retire?  It might be next week, or it might be in 10 years.  If you have an established early retirement date, what are you doing to make that goal a reality?  Are you doing everything you can to maximize your salary and taking on side gigs?  Are you saving until it hurts?  Do you have the right mix of investments to both reach your goal and sleep comfortably at night?  If you do, you are acting in an intentional way.

Conclusion

The nice thing about being intentional is that you can start this process now.  Start by reviewing your current financial situation.  Can you answer why for all your financial decisions?

If you have a financial plan, use it as a guide.  If you do not have a written plan, write one.  That is a good starting point if you want to become intentional.  Review your plan for areas of your financial situation that might need to be amended.

Some fixes are quick, and others require time to implement change.  Moving forward, wherever money is concerned, ask yourself why before you make a final decision.  If you cannot answer why you are doing something, give it some thought and find out what your true intentions are.

This is just another example of how to improve your financial situation.  It provides a pause before you act.  Sometimes giving a decision an additional few seconds of thought can turn a bad decision into a good decision or a good decision into a better decision.

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6 thoughts on “Be Intentional

  1. Church

    I think this is going to be my new motto in life: “Our actions should have an intended outcome. Our words should have an intended message. Even our thoughts should be focused and have a purpose.”

    This training sounded amazing and can be applied to so many facets of one’s life, as you’ve laid out.

    Thanks for sharing this training, Dave! Well worth it!

    Reply
  2. Cooper The Millennial

    Great article Journeyman!

    I love the concept of being intentional!

    As wonderful as it is to be intentional about our finances, being intentional is a truly a benefit to all aspects of life. I would say it is one of the great “Life Hacks” out there.

    My wife and I were very intentional about our family and having children. As a result, we had four children before our 30th birthdays! Certainly we had kids young which presents challenges, but it also allows us to be “kid free” (in theory) by the time we are 48 which lines up with about the the time we go into FI. We are also very intentional about our time in the evenings and how we spend it with our kids.

    Goodness, so many benefits of being intentional!

    Reply
  3. Miguel (The Rich Miser)

    I agree, especially with being intentional with purchases. That’s one of my pet peeves, how we end up accumulating so much useless stuff in our homes. To combat it, I’ve found some success in training my mind to find pleasure in seeing ascending numbers in our bank account, rather than stuff in our house.

    Cheers,
    Miguel

    Reply
  4. Mr. Financial Freedom Project

    “Everything we do should be with intent. Our actions should have an intended outcome. Our words should have an intended message. Even our thoughts should be focused and have a purpose.”

    What a fantastic article! The above quote is a great takeaway. IMO, intentionality is one of the most under-appreciated elements of success in any area of life. Finances, fitness, relationships, parenting, the list goes on.

    “Too many people just coast in life. They walk around making noise and bumping into things. By not having a plan, they will just land at a random destination.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. The approach most people take to life reminds me of a bumblebee, which fits your description. Coasting through life just hoping the checking account stays in the black is no recipe for financial success.

    “Most people who reach financial independence do not get there by accident. They live intentionally for many years.”

    Another great quote. Great things simply do not happen by accident. Many people see success and covet it, but don’t see the sacrifice that went into creating that success. Financial independence for my wife and I came only after refusing the lifestyle creep that many of our friends embraced unknowingly.

    One of the major rungs on our ladder to FI was the intentionality that went into the process we used to purchase our first home. We reverse-engineered our home shopping budget based on a desire to pay as little mortgage interest as possible, achieve financial independence, and downsize to a single income household within a few years so we could start a family with one parent at home with the kids.

    We crunched all the numbers and determined we could pull off this trifecta if we were very intentional. We negotiated heavily with the seller to bring the price down to our previously established budget, then tackled the mortgage with quadruple payments to knock it out in just three years. That was the maximum timeline we wanted to wait to downsize to a single income and start our family.

    We were blessed that this plan worked to perfection, allowing us to escape the mortgage with minimal interest paid and reduce our income to invest in family. Our low living expenses in the absence of a housing payment set us up for our sprint to financial independence.

    Thanks for a great read!

    Reply
    1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and for writing such a detailed comment.

      I am glad that you related to the post.

      I am also glad that you are being intentional about your finances and reaching your goals.

      Great job!

      Reply

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