In today’s episode, we’re tackling the second key variable to financial success: intention.
Episode #002 of Beyond Finances is all about making intentional decisions with your money and in your life. We explain what it takes to be intentional, how to think through financial choices both big and small, and how this whole process hinges on understanding what you value.
Jump into the episode here, or check out detailed show notes and takeaways below:
Our Favorite Shareable Moments & Takeaways
- It’s easy to get caught up in what you think you “should” do, and societal pressure or pressure from friends and family can often get in the way of making intentional choices for yourself.Awareness of what you don’t know you don’t know is critical. Check your blind spots.
- Unless you question the accuracy of your own beliefs, you’re not going to be set up to make high-quality decisions. Be willing to be uncertain!
- PAUSE and THINK before you act. That allows you to consider a wider range of options, so you are better positioned to choose the one that’s best for you (instead of blindly charging ahead with the first thing you thought/felt/wanted).
- If you truly want to be financially stable and free, you need to have these conversations often. Make intentionality your habit.
- Financial planning is so valuable because you get to dig into the real numbers to see the potential outcomes. It allows you to run projections on different scenarios and see what works and what doesn’t, from a realistic financial perspective.
Further Reading & Resources Mentioned in the Show
- Further reading on “the 5 whys” problem-solving strategy: The 5 Whys Process We Use to Understand the Root of Any Problem, via Buffer
- Being intentional with your choices often goes hand-in-hand with creating balance with your money and your life. If you need a refresher on this concept, check out Episode #001: How to Balance Spending Today with Saving for Tomorrow, via Beyond Your Hammock
- Get more details on how we made an intentional budget (and how much we spent) for our wedding: Here’s How Much I’m Spending on a Wedding — and Why, via Beyond Your Hammock
- Check out James Clear’s helpful list of 50 Core Values (via JamesClear.com)
- This post dives into the details of the numbers behind the decision to buy a home, and illustrates why it’s important to not only consider what you value… but also to get grounded in the financial reality before making big choices: How Much Home Equity Are You Really Building? via Beyond Your Hammock
Full Show Notes
0:38: The greatest thing about this topic of “intentionality” is that it’s really simple. (Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy). Being aware that the way we use our money is often a choice that we can exercise some power over is important to understand.
0:51: Being intentional starts with understanding what you value. Where do you want to spend money? Do your choice make sense for you?
1:15: What “society” says you should do often gets in the way of making intentional decisions.
1:26: It’s easy to get caught up in what you think you “should” do.
1:58: That being said, being intentional does not mean automatically do the opposite of what society says you should do or what you think you’re supposed to do! You just need to stop and think about what you’re doing and make a mindful choice. Make sure your decision aligns with your values.
2:34: Asking “why” is a good first step to digging into intentional decision-making.
2:46: When you start asking why and start looking at where beliefs and feelings are coming from, you give yourself a chance to broaden your perspective; you have a better chance of seeing what all your options are before you select one for yourself.
3:20: Also — don’t just stop with asking “why” once! Use the 5 Whys strategy to get at the root or heart of your belief or feeling.
3:50: Core components of making intentional decisions include having all the information from multiple perspectives, digging into “why,” and evaluating the origin of your beliefs as well as understanding where your feelings about a situation or decision are coming from (so you can make sure they’re valid and based on fact… or question them if they’re not).
4:06: What’s an intentional decision, anyway? We look at a simple (and more complex) example to give more context.
4:47: The combination of more visibility + more popularity makes the idea of entrepreneurship (or “solopreneurship”) an example where it’s really easy to get caught up in the “shoulds.” With everyone talking about how you gotta quit your 9-to-5 and be your own boss! as “the right way to go,” it’s easy to BELIEVE it’s the right choice for you… when it might not actually be a good fit for your life at all.
5:18: Awareness of what you don’t know you don’t know is critical. Check your blind spots.
5:27: This is why it’s really helpful to share, talk, and ask questions before you make a big decision. Don’t make your decisions in a complete vacuum. Talk to people who have been through it; talk to experts; do your own research; seek out dissenting opinions.
6:06: Know the opportunities, the risks, the threats — know what you would do if you do fail or things don’t go your way. If things don’t work out, then you’ll have a plan that you set before you got emotional or got tied up in the moment that you can follow.
6:33: Back to “why” — don’t forget to ask yourself why are you interested in the choice you’re considering? Be aware of your biases! What do you believe about your choice, what do you think you’re going to get out of it, what are your preconceived notions? Then challenge those beliefs.
7:02: How willing are you to bet on the validity of your beliefs? By introducing uncertainty (of your own knowledge) into the equation, you start thinking more logically and realistically. Question your own certainty; don’t be so positive you’re right and someone else is wrong.
7:26: Unless you question the accuracy of your own beliefs, you’re not going to be set up to make high-quality decisions.
8:12: This process for thinking through decisions can be applied to a lot of other big financial things in your life, like having a wedding, buying or leasing a car, buying or renting a house.
8:28: You can also apply it to the little stuff you do often, like going out to dinner.
8:39: For those little things, it might help to ask yourself, “what’s the purpose” of that thing you’re about to spend on. What are you trying to get from the experience?
8:54: Look at what you spend a lot of money on every single month. Understand what the value is that you’re getting from the experience — or notice if you’re not getting the value you want from it anymore.
9:07: Knowing what you value is an integral piece of being able to make an intentional decision. It’s one thing to be intentional; anyone can make a clear decision. But that doesn’t mean a clear decision = the BEST one for you. Understand the reasoning behind your choices, and your spending.
10:28: That concept of, “what’s the value here?” is useful in making financial choices. When you first get an urge to do something, instead of just doing it, stop and think: why do I have this urge? Once you understand the reason, you can then decide whether or not your action aligns with the underlying motivation — or if there’s another option to satisfy that want in a way that better aligns with your values, your goals, your budget, etc.
11:40: The point of all this? PAUSE and THINK before you act. That allows you to consider a wider range of options, so you are better positioned to choose the one that’s best for you (instead of blindly charging ahead with the first thing you thought/felt/wanted).
11:52: …and yeah, this might sound like a lot of thinking, and that might not be part of your normal process. If you truly want to be financially stable and free, you need to have these conversations often. Make intentionality your habit.
12:20: When your normal process is Intentional Decision-Making, then you create the freedom to occasionally say “screw it,” and just do whatever you want without thinking — and without bad financial consequences, since 9 times out of 10 you’re being more mindful. The money is there to spend when opportunities arise, because you weren’t mindlessly blowing it all along the way.
13:09: Intentionality is important. But it doesn’t have to be this all-consuming thing that takes over your life. (Goes back to that whole “balance” idea in Episode #001!)
13:15: If being intentional becomes a habit for you, it becomes easier to practice and you become more efficient at thinking intentionally. The more you put yourself through the process, the more you’re in tune with what you value and what’s important to you. It becomes very easy to quickly decide what fits and what is right for you, and what doesn’t fit or what’s not right for you.
14:07: What about big decisions? Like how much to spend on a wedding? We discuss how we made intentional choices about our wedding — and how much we spent/saved/budgeted for the big day.
14:42: We not only thought about the finances. We thought about how we wanted it to feel (instead of getting caught up in what traditionally you’re “supposed” to do with a wedding). We focused on what was important to us. We wanted to extract maximum value for minimal cost. As a result, we created something super unique — and the event turned out perfectly.
18:40: Another way being intentional plays into things (and how you can be intentional with your money): if you know you have something you want to achieve with your money, if you know you only have so much money to work with… then you have to make some choices about what you can and can’t spend on during the period of time you’re working toward your goal. You need to recognize that if you spend on X, then you have less to put toward the more-important Y.
19:23: It all comes back to what you value, what’s important to you, and what matters most.
19:41: How do people figure out what they value? That’s not necessarily obvious or apparent to everyone! It takes work to understand what you value; you have to know who you really are to identify what you really value.
20:14: The best way to find what you value — or at least to start? Consider pulling up a list of core values and identify what resonates most with you! We used James Clear’s core value list when we first did this exercise.
20:34: There are 50 values on this list — but we’re talking core values here, so you’ll only have 3-5 core values.
21:04: If you have a partner or spouse, do this exercise on your own first to get your personal values as an individual. Then go back through together and see if you can come up with a list of values you share as a couple.
22:55: We’ve been looking at the subjective stuff so far. What you value is completely subjective and varies from person to person. But intentionality has objective components, too.
23:17: You’re gonna need to get grounded in reality. You can know something is right for you — but if that thing doesn’t align with the current reality you’re working with, that has to be weighed into your decision-making.
23:31: One good place to get grounded in that reality? Look at the numbers. This is where financial planning is so valuable, because you get to dig into the real numbers to see what the potential outcomes could be. Financial planning allows you to run projections on different scenarios and see what works and what doesn’t, from a realistic financial perspective.
23:45: An example? Buying a house. People get caught up in the emotions of it, and just what they want. But you can’t ignore the numbers.
24:15: We’re not anti-house. We promise! Our major point is too many people rush into the situation and don’t make an intentional choice with this ENORMOUS financial decision.
24:52: The numbers aren’t everything. But they sure do count for something… especially when they uncover some misinformation you might otherwise believe about major financial decisions. Don’t ignore the numbers.
25:38: Keep in mind that “getting grounded in reality” and looking at the numbers is probably not looking at the latest headlines and what talking heads are saying on TV. These are not good sources of objective information and data because media outlets have bias, and tend to spin stories in one direction or another.
26:49: None of this is necessarily easy or simple. But there is a process you can use to make better decisions for your money and your life. And the next step in that process? We’ll cover that in the next episode of Beyond Finances. Stay tuned for Episode #003: Focus on What You Can Control.
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