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How To Be Intentional With Your Money

How To Be Intentional With Your Money

For a lot of Americans, personal finances are often a source of stress and hardship. Inflation has cut into our budgets, subscription services add up far too quickly, and debt is at an all-time high. Impulse and habitual spending can be fun, but it can also be a drain on your bank account, in both the short and long term.

One way you can help keep your budget under control is to be more intentional with your money. What does that mean, exactly? In short, it means aligning your spending, saving, and investing habits with your long-term goals and core values. Rather than spending your money on a whim and feeling out of control about your finances, you make conscious choices about your spending and help bolster both your financial well-being and quality of life.

Being More Intentional with Your Money

So why does intentional money management matter? What are the benefits?

First of all, this method of money management can help get you out of debt and help you achieve greater financial freedom. This, in turn, can do a lot to reduce your financial stress — not only from having fewer bills and unnecessary expenses, but also because the expenses you do have are either necessary, or working toward a goal or fulfilling a value that’s near and dear to you. This also allows you to build your wealth responsibly by supporting political, environmental, or personal causes.

And that brings us to the heart of the matter. Ultimately, intentional money management is about living authentically — not being beholden to debt, impulse spending, or out-of-control finances, but well and truly taking charge of your own financial future. 

So how does all this translate to actionable steps you can take? Let’s delve into some practical steps toward being more intentional with your money.

Set Some Goals

This is likely the most important step in intentional money management. Sit down and make some short-, medium-, and long-term objectives for your financial future. This could be anything from retiring to becoming debt-free to having a little money in your savings account.

Get On the Same Page

If you have a partner or spouse who’s in this with you, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page. Going over (and agreeing upon) goals and methods is critical to avoiding stress and financial setbacks.

Know Your Value(s)

Just as important as having goals is having a guiding ethos behind them. Think about what you care about most in the world, whether it’s the environment, political ideals, or just the well-being of yourself and your family, and let that inform your decisions.

Track Spending

Another critical part of intentionality is tracking your progress. So many individuals and households have difficulty tracking their expenses (especially automated ones) that there are apps to help people find them in the first place. It really pays to go through your spending history, identify patterns, and identify weak spots so you can work on eliminating them. Needless to say, some budgeting software would come in very handy here.

Review and Adjust

Finally, as with any set of long-term goals, it’s a wise move to occasionally stop, evaluate your progress, and change up your strategies as needed. Flexibility is crucial to success, and finding out what doesn’t work is every bit as important as finding out what does!

Expenses You Can Manage Intentionally

At its core, intentional money management means being mindful of every spending choice you make — the voluntary expenses as well as the obligatory ones. It means that when you come to a decision about whether to spend money, you ask yourself whether it aligns with the goals and values you’ve set for yourself. This might mean anything from investing in sustainable companies to choosing cheaper car insurance to going completely carless.

Here are some of the more common expenses you can be (more) mindful about:

Consumer Products

When choosing what kind of products you buy, pick products that line up with your values, whether that means shopping cruelty-free, green, eco-friendly, free trade, or any number of other criteria.

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Paying down debt is one of the best ways to bolster your financial stability and well-being. Develop a payment plan to tackle debt systematically and avoid getting into further debt. It’s not just good for your bank balance and credit rating; it will also lower your stress levels.


Allocating a portion of your income to the causes you believe in can pay off in a lot of ways: it brings a sense of fulfillment, makes the world a better place, and (bonus) is tax deductible.


Much as you might choose consumer products that align with your values, you can also invest in companies the same way: companies with environmental or social factors, or those dedicated to progressive hiring practices or sustainable operations.

Voluntary Expenses

Cutting down on impulse purchases and subscriptions that you don’t need is good for your budget and frees that money up for other, more important things. Get rid of those streaming services you’re not using, or sell the second car that’s just sitting in the driveway. You might even consider downsizing your living space or making other significant changes in your lifestyle.

Long-Term Goals

Just as cutting certain expenses is part of being intentional with your money, so too is including certain expenses, such as saving for a vacation, house, starting a business, traveling the world, or some other large and long-term goal. This is one of the central appeals of intentional money management: putting your money toward a worthwhile purpose!

As a final note: it’s easy to get in a negative mindset about money, especially when the economy is rough and margins are tight. But one of the benefits of being intentional with your money is cultivating a positive, empowering outlook about your money, making it work for you and your goals instead of feeling like you’re always in need of more. This can be a challenging place to get to, but the rewards are worth it in the end.

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