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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post might contain affiliate links.
Please be sure to read the Disclaimer Page.