By Raya Reaves
I’m about to share a statistic that blows my mind. According to a 2016 study done by U.S. Bank, only 41% of people follow a budget. That means that more than half of people have no idea where their money is going. Without a budget, you can’t say for sure how your money is being spent. A budget allows you to be more intentional with your money and how it’s spent.
It’s very hard to be intentional with your money when you don’t really know the details around what is being earned, spent or saved. If you fall into the 59% of people that don’t follow a budget, I’m about to turn you into a believer! I’m sharing 6 easy steps to be more intentional with your money. This will allow you to make progress towards your goals and feel secure in your financial situation.
6 Steps to Be More Intentional with Your Money
#1 – Understand your situation
The first step to be more intentional with your money is to understand what your current situation looks like. Start by creating a budget. If the thought of budgeting terrifies you, then let’s take a step back.
Simply make a list of all the money you spend on a monthly basis on bills and necessities. Does your total monthly income cover that number? If so, then you know you have the ability to make progress in your situation, and now you can move forward accordingly.
If your total monthly income does not cover your monthly expenses, then you need to find additional means of income. At least now you know that you are behind every month – which could help explain why you are not feeling secure in your financial situation.
#2 – Think through every purchase
When you know what your situation looks like and you start allocating your income to the things that need to be taken care of, you can start thinking through purchases that are not included in your budget. Being intentional with your money means you understand how unbudgeted-for expenses can impact your situation. Whether you make the purchase or not, being able to think about it is certainly step one.
#3 – Client Tip: “What would Raya do?”
This is a common tip that quite a few of my past and present clients use. When they are out and about, tempted to spend money on something that wasn’t budgeted for, they stop and ask themselves “what would Raya do?”
They already know the questions I would ask them when it comes to making a purchase outside of the budget. Now, they get to keep my voice in their heads to help them make better spending decisions.
Whether you want to leverage me or some other finance professional, you can still use this tip to help you think through your spending. What would a finance professional do? Would a finance professional buy this shirt, knowing that they still have debt that needs to be paid off?
#4 – Leverage cash for spending
Sometimes, the temptation to spend can be too overwhelming to overcome. This is especially true in the early stages. If you can’t seem to keep your debit and credit cards in your wallet, then the solution is to leave them at home! Start using cash for all of your spending (with the exception of bills). This will make it harder for you to overspend.
#5 – Associate spending with your goals
When you’re intentional with your money, you are aware of how spending impacts your current and future situation. If you want to be more intentional with your money, start associating your spending with your goals.
Ask yourself, “does spending money on this thing help me reach my goals faster?” If the answer is yes, then it makes sense to purchase the thing. If the answer is no, then it’s something that won’t help you in the long run. Your goals mean something, material possessions don’t.
#6 – Practice gratitude for what you currently have
Wrapping us up is a very important concept – practicing gratitude. This is something that should be done in every area of your life. In terms of finances, appreciating what you currently have opens the door for you to receive more. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you’re able to appreciate what you do have.
As important as money is to our livelihood, it’s a shame that we aren’t always as intentional with it as we should be. If you start implementing any of the steps above, you’ll start feeling better and more in control of your finances. That is something worth working for!
Raya Reaves is the Founder and Finance Coach of City Girl Savings, LLC. Raya launched City Girl Savings in 2015 as a resource for women from all walks of life to learn about personal finance and money management. Raya teaches women how to create and stick to realistic budget plans to reach their financial goals. Raya resides in Austin, Texas with her boyfriend and two Yorkie dogs.
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