There are many benefits of intentional living.
After all, intentional living is about living by your values and clarifying what matters most to you.
How can that not be helpful?
But what may get overlooked is how intentional living can improve your financial journey.
Let’s see how this works.
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1. Intentional Living Balances Present and Future
A goal like financial independence can take a long time.
So it’s essential to maintain balance in your life as you save and invest for your future self.
Otherwise, you’ll give up or declare it isn’t worth it.
Don’t sacrifice everything today for an uncertain tomorrow. That’s one of the biggest and well-deserved criticisms of the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement. You can become so focused on your future life that you forget to live for today.
An example of this is staying in a job you hate. A better strategy is to focus on the present and find a better job, or at least one you can tolerate.
Maybe you have no other reasonable options, and I know that feeling all too well! In that case, do everything you can to make your current job as tolerable as you can. Focus on your life outside your job and spend even a half-hour a day working towards changing your situation.
If you don’t enjoy your day-to-day life as you work on your long-term goals, it will be easy to quit.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and the present moment is all we know we get. Don’t waste it by focusing only on the future.
Intentional living helps you keep your balance by focusing on the present moment even as you do the work to improve your financial future.
2. Intentional Living Makes Planning Easier
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
– Alan Lakein
Planning for your financial future is a tough task. It can require a lot of energy because planning isn’t fun for most people. It requires self-discipline to take the time to sit down and create a budget or craft an investment plan.
But intentionally considering a life that expresses your core values can give you the energy you need to create that plan. Creating a financial plan is non-negotiable to achieving financial independence. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but you do need one.
Why is a financial plan so important?
Because if you rely on motivation to achieve financial independence, motivation depends on emotions, and emotions are notoriously fickle. Your emotions and whether you feel motivated aren’t a solid foundation for building your future.
But a plan gives you a solid foundation, and it can help you stay on track.
Most people are interested in financial independence because they want more control over what they do with their lives and how they spend their time. Planning brings that “ideal” future life closer to reality.
Visualize how it will feel to live a more intentional life.
For example, if your current job isn’t fulfilling, consider why. Is there something you’d rather be doing, something more in line with your values?
Do you want to:
- Make the leap from employee to entrepreneur?
- Take time off to figure out what’s next in your work life?
- Have the option to work less, part-time, or not at all?
Answering these questions and visualizing that future can give you the fuel you need to start planning for it.
3. Intentional Living Makes the Journey Enjoyable
So goals and planning are of critical importance in our financial independence journey.
And you’ll want to create goals aligned with your values. But, don’t focus only on the goals.
Because with values, you have control over their expression. With goals, you can’t control the outcome.
Here’s an example. My goal for this blog is to have lots of eager readers, and I can work towards that goal and take action to move the odds in my favor, but I can’t control the outcome. However, by doing the work, by writing for this blog, I’m expressing some of my top values—the part I do have control over.
I learned the difference between goals and values from The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris. Here’s a short video to demonstrate.
This is especially true when your goal is financial independence. The journey towards that goal is long, so look for ways to enjoy it along the way. Don’t become so fixated on financial independence (the goal) that you forget to live for today (expressing your values).
For most of us, the stupid car breaks down a lot. We are thrown off course for most of the journey, which brings us to the next benefit of living intentionally.
4. Intentional Living Provides Resilience
Resilience is when you can bounce back and pick yourself off the floor when life punches you in the face.
It gets you back on track and back to your plan when you’re thrown off it.
So when the market crashes, you stay invested, remembering your plan was to invest for decades. You avoid panic selling and locking in your stock losses.
When you experience income hits, you don’t give up on your financial plan. You may hit pause on saving money, but you see it as a pause, not a full stop. Or you might adjust your expenses. You figure out how to replace the lost income, then keep going.
When large, unexpected expenses come up, you take a deep breath, stay calm, and figure out what to do. (Hint: having an emergency fund is essential here.)
Focusing on your values builds resilience on your path to financial independence. It keeps you going despite the obstacles we all have on our path in life.
5. Intentional Living Puts You in Charge
When you have a clear idea of your values, it’s easier to make better decisions.
You make decisions consciously, versus letting your emotions push you around and tell you what you want to do or buy at the moment.
You can use your values as a compass to decide which decision will lead you on a path to achieve what you want in life.
Intentional living makes it easier to resist marketing and advertising designed to separate you from your money. Instead of letting marketers push the emotional buttons that get you to buy, you ask yourself if the purchase is aligned with your values.
If it is, great. Buy with confidence.
If not, you can resist the marketing messages without feeling like you’ve missed out, and you save your money in the process.
Because no matter how much you earn, you won’t have what you need for your future if you spend too much of it. And if you lead your life on autopilot, it’s very easy to spend it all.
6. Intentional Living Offers Options
Intentional living busts the myth that you need to spend money to be happy. After all, things provide only fleeting happiness. Because of the hedonic treadmill, the high of a new purchase doesn’t last.
But when you live intentionally, you realize you don’t need to pay money to be happy. Instead, by seeing that happiness results from satisfying your core values, you can reduce reliance on money to meet them.
For example, if you value adventure, do you need an expensive vacation? Nope, there are probably plenty of things to explore right there in your backyard. It’s easy to overlook ways to satisfy our values that may take a little more creativity or effort versus handing over a credit card.
When you break the link between spending money and happiness, you give yourself the space needed for frugal living. If you attempt to live frugally without this, the odds are your resolve won’t last. Frugality on its own will feel like deprivation, and who wants that?
Think of how tough self-control is. It’s easy to spend, to get into debt, and it’s a big problem for many people.
What if, instead of relying on self-control and discipline, you made a promise to spend intentionally? Would it be easier if you promised to measure everything you buy against your values?
For example, if you find yourself pen in hand, loan documents in front of you, staring intently at the line for your signature, review your values first.
Do you really want to take on more debt?
If you value financial freedom, you’ll put the pen down and walk away.
You can spend less and save more by making spending decisions based on values and not using money as a happiness crutch.
Intentional Living is a Lifelong Journey
The benefits of intentional living work together to make your financial journey easier and more pleasant.
By focusing on a life that expresses your values, you’ll have the energy to create a financial plan and stick to it.
Intentional living enables you to focus on what you can control, allowing you to enjoy life more—right now.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash