This is the most intentional way to spend money. I know I use the word “intentional” a lot… including in the title of my new book, Intentional Children.
That’s because intentionality means mindfulness. When you’re being intentional about the things you bring into your home, put into your body, and spend your money on, you’re going to see a change in your finances overall.
This is a challenge of sorts — an actionable idea you can try.
You can do this for a time period, like a week or a month, or you can commit to doing this from now on for all your future purchases. It works well either way. And it can be fun.
We spend too much money on things we don’t even think about.
So this is a way to stop that.
Basically, you’re going to track everything you buy, just like you would when you start budgeting, but you’re going to actually talk about every single purchase.
If you’re married, find a good time for your spouse. If you’re single, find a good time for yourself. Once a week, sit down and do this.
Track each purchase. Then look back on every purchase at the time you set to do so.
Now ask yourself these questions about everything…
1. Should You Buy This Item?
The first question lets you know if you need this item at all.
Sometimes we get in spending patterns and habits, and it runs so deep we don’t even think about what we’re buying.
Even if you feel like this isn’t you, try it for a few weeks and see if you really are intentional with every purchase.
2. Is There a More Cost-Effective Way to Buy It?
For home items and clothing, could you get the same thing from a thrift store, online marketplace, or elsewhere online for less money?
For food, is there a better way to buy? Do you know about the farmers markets, food co-ops, butcher shops, and other local places to buy? Can you get your food online for less?
There’s likely a “best spot” to buy everything. For example, one grocery store may be cheaper than the other on certain items. Once you do the research and shop around, you’ll quickly learn where to buy what. This isn’t about going to five different stores and spending all day shopping; it’s about taking the time to learn where to go for which thing and planning your days in advance to get the right things from the right places. It takes time at first, but it pays off in the end.
3. Is There a More Quality-Effective Way to Buy It?
Is there a better version you should be buying? Again, think food. The local markets and shops may have a higher quality version of locally sourced foods.
If you keep buying clothing that doesn’t last, look for a higher quality brand that may cost more upfront, but likely costs less over the long haul.
It pays to spend more on quality, whether for your health or for your wallet. Or both.
Apply This to Everything
A healthy budget is just like a healthy diet. Being intentional and mindful about what you’re putting into your body is going to automatically lead to better health. If you’re intentional about the things you’re spending your money on, you’re going to spend less and spend on the right things… improving your financial health. In both cases, intentionality and mindfulness improves your quality of life.
This challenge and the above questions apply to more than your daily purchases.
Apply this to the bigger things too.
Should you refinance your home? Perhaps you need to sell your home. Or maybe it’s time to stop renting and buy a home (though right now, mid-2021, isn’t a great time to buy).
What about your car? Are you making car payments? Do you need the car at all? Or maybe you should sell it and buy an older, more affordable car?
Think about your cell phone plan. When was the last time you evaluated that? There are so many options for cheaper, no-contract phones now. It doesn’t make sense to keep paying those high prices for the same service.
Think about your life insurance and health insurance. Is there a better way to do it?
What about your debt? Are you being intentional about paying it off? It doesn’t matter which method you use to crush your debt, if you’re implementing an intentional plan, you’re going to crush it. If you’re paying extra here and there on this and that, you’re never going to get out of debt.
Keep this thought process going. It doesn’t have to end here.
Evaluate everything you spend money on for at least 30 days. Let me know the results below!
Want a harder challenge? Try the 30-day no-spend challenge.
Want more? Read these:
- Conscious Spending: It’s About the Little Purchases and the Big Wins
- Emotional Spending: Don’t Find a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem
- Smart Spending: 18 Things You Shouldn’t Be Cheap About
Further Book Reading
- Dollars and Sense by Dan Ariely & Jeff Kreisler
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz
- Payoff by Dan Ariely
- The System We Use to Pay Our 5 Kids for Work Around the House
- The Media Threat: How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
- 8 Minimalism Books to Help You Declutter Your Entire House
- 47 Things You Weren’t Taught in School (That Our Kids Need to Know)
- How to Travel Light With Kids (A Comprehensive Guide)
- When Should Your Kid Have Their Own Phone? A Real Conversation
You CAN Raise Money-Smart Kids!
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