‘Money doesn’t bring happiness’ is something we all are used to hearing. Some say this to be seen as a grounded person and most say this because they haven’t mastered the art of intentional spending. In today’s post, I want to talk about intentional money management which should help you reduce overwhelm associated with money and spend it in the right places.
One common misconceptions that I see around budgeting is that it restricts you from spending. Intentional budgeting simply means spending the right amount of money in the right places. It helps you in cutting down on things that serve you nothing and spend more on places that bring you joy.
Two years ago, I left my hometown and came to the city for higher studies. Leaving home gave me the biggest reality check and I realized I needed a strong system for money management. I was on the path of intentional living at the time and I decided to infuse my intentions in by budgeting system. I want to share this with you in this very post.
Intentional Living and Money Management
If you have been around for a while, you know that I am following the path of intentional living. If you want to know what intentional living actually is, read introduction to intentional living. Also, if you want to start your own journey, read Getting Started with Intentional living.
Intentional living is basically living with purpose. When I say purpose, I don’t mean an ultimate purpose. Doing everything in life for something you care about and value is what intentional living stands for.
Living a fulfilled life means earning and spending money and that is undeniable. Most of us run behind making more money to bring more happiness. I am not saying that money doesn’t bring happiness but I have a different view.
“It’s not how much money you earn that brings you happiness, it’s how you spend that money that truly brings you happiness.”
Spending money intentionally, which means on things that you value and care about, will bring you happiness. This is such a simple concept to grasp, isn’t it? Most of us understand it but fail to implement it. This can be achieved with intentional money management system.
Intentional Money Management System
This system can be implemented in 4 steps. Let us look at each step one by one.
Step 1 – Auditing
Just like big companies have their big financial audits, you need to get your personal financial audit. Now you don’t need extensive softwares and accountants to do this audit, you just need a few documents and a dedicated notebook.
- Download and print your statements (credit card, savings account, etc)
- Divide your expenses in 3 categories
- Variable – Living expenses (groceries, medical supplies etc)
- Variable – Lifestyle expenses (movies, restaurants etc.)
- Besides every expense, write down if it was worth it or not.
This is just an eye opening audit which will help you understand where your money goes, is it negotiable or non-negotiable and was it worth it or not. With this audit, you are now in the mindset to get to the planning phase.
Step 2 – Planning
Now we start off with the fun part – planning. Intentional money management can be done by creating a master budget. A master budget is guide that you can use while making your budget for each month.
Master budget will help you prioritize your expenses while looking at your income. Every month will have different budgets because of various reasons. For example, in december, you will need a budget for christmas gifts but in July, you will need to budget for a road trip.
You can create a master budget in 3 steps
- Know your fixed expenses
- Estimate your variable living expenses
- Budget your debt payback
- Make a budget for emergencies (medical, repairs, gits, etc)
- Make a budget for your dreams (house, trip, car. etc.)
- Calculate what is left for your lifestyle expenses
- Adjust it in your master budget
This will enable you to payoff your debt, live your dreams, be prepared for your emergencies and do all this without overwhelm. You can get a finance planner designed with these guidelines on my etsy shop. Check it out by clicking here.
Step 3 – Tracking
Once you have your master budget in place, make monthly budgets and track your expenses. Tracking of your debt repayment, saving installments and emergency fund installments is very important to know how much money you have for what reason.
This finance planner has separate monthly budget and tracking sheets for your convenience.
Step 4 – Reflecting
This is a step most people fail to adhere to. Reflecting on how you did that month, are you on track and where do you need to improve is crucial to start the next month on the right foot. My finance planner has a reflection sheet that will help you stay in the right mindset.
How to stay on track?
You may start your intentional budgeting journey this month and fall off track in a few month. This happens to all of us because we are all human. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me stay on track.
- Quarterly audits. I like to have a personal financial audit before the start of every new quarter. I just had one yesterday before entering in the final quarter for 2018. Pro tip – Schedule your audits in your calendar and have the notification email on.
- Scheduled shopping. When I feel like I want to buy something that is not a necessity, I put it in my shopping list. I schedule the last weekend for every month for my shopping spree. Since I have limited money left on month ends, I end up buying only the things that I love and are reasonable.
- No credit-card. I don’t use my credit card on a day to day basis because I don’t believe in spending the money I don’t have. Make it a point to use credit cards only where necessary.
I hope these tips help you in your journey of intentional money management. If wan to connect, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have any tips you want to share, drop it in the comments below!