Being Intentional brings Personal Finance Success

I’m wrapping up the “10 Things” series with a post (in two parts) that should hopefully bring it all together.  Most of what I’ve shared already in this series has been one of three things: a specific tool, method, or guideline for having success in personal finance.  The ideas I shared in Part 1, and below in Part 2, are really more about changes that need to happen within you, not something you need to go do.

As I said earlier, I’m not a psychologist/philosopher, nor am I well versed in the subject.  However, please allow me to attempt to articulate the two changes that took place within me, in order for me to begin to have success in my personal finances.  Nothing new here…it’s just what worked for me.

Alright, on to change #2…

Change #2: Being Intentional

The second of the two changes that I made was being more intentional with my life.  To do this, I had to let my daily choices be a result of my previously set goals, not spur of the moment decisions.  In other words, once I knew where I wanted to go (established savings, freedom from bad debt, and home ownership), my daily decisions (both big and small) were all pointed towards helping me achieve those goals.

What’s so hard about this, PT?  Well, at each of those decision points there is usually more than one voice present with an agenda.  Not just your own.  Without realizing it, we make our decisions (or don’t make them) based on the voices of others.  Going through life letting others make your decisions will only take you where THEY want you to be.  You’ve got to be intentional.

So, here are some specifics to help you be more intentional:

Know Your Intent (Set Goals)

Simply put, to be intentional, you must know your intent.  Sounds dorky, I know.  However, getting to know your intent is the best part of this whole “success in finance” series.  Everyone could benefit from stopping for a moment and thinking about where they want to be in the future. Dreaming is fun!

Take the next step and formalize this process by writing it down or getting on the Web and bloggin’ it up (like PT).  However you do it, just make sure you know what you want out of life from a financial standpoint and that those goals are listed somewhere for you to refer back to.

Tune Out the Others

It’s easier to be intentional when you remove the unwanted messages that are bombarding you on a daily basis.  These are those other voices I was referring to above.  The “average person may see 5,000 ads a day.”  That’s crazy.  Don’t be a sheep like everyone else who’s listening to these 5,000 messages.  Tune out all the noise so you can clearly see your intent and make YOUR decisions.

The quickest way I’ve done this is to turn off the TV, cancel the catalog subscriptions, stop the junk mail, avoid the mall, and fill my life with other activities.  You don’t have to eliminate all of these at once, nor all the time, just be aware of where the other voices are coming from and choose to tune them out.

You Make the Decision

Lastly, once you’re armed with your “intent” and you’ve tuned out the “other” voices, it’s time to make your decision.  Making your own decisions will allow your true intentions to be realized in your life.

A Quick Example of Being Intentional

As an example, let’s take credit card applications.  Think of all the places you’re asked to sign up for a credit card: at the retail store, at the gasoline pump, at the bank, in your junk mail everyday, at the sporting event freebie table, etc., etc.

You get the point.  If you signed up for a credit card every time you were offered one, you’d have a mountain of cards.  The only time you should sign up for a credit card is when YOU WANT TO based on your previously set intentions, not someone else’s.

Final Thoughts

I’m convinced that these two things (taking ownership of my life and being intentional with my decisions) were, and still are, KEY to bringing success to our personal finances.  Hopefully these points have given you an idea of how you can essentially get more control of your spending, saving, and debt reduction.  Good luck.

The Rest of the Series…

#1 Track Your Regular Monthly Expenses
#2 Pay Off Your Credit Card Debt
#3 Get a Job!
#4 Contribute to your Employer’s 401(k) and Get That Match!
#5 Put Your Savings in a High-Interest Savings Account
#6 Track Your Net Worth and Set a Goal
#7 Automatic Savings and Bill Payment
#8 Live a Frugal Life
#9 Buy Your Home the Right Way
#10 Part 1: Take Ownership
#10 Part 2: Being Intentional

Photo: by heymynameispaul

Last Edited: November 29, 2011 @ 11:09 pm The content of is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, FinCon CEO, and husband and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.


  1. Thanks PT for this series, it’s been really informative. Even though I’ve been doing all right, I know there are some areas I need to improve in, this helped me see that.

  2. @Dana – Hey, I appreciate the comment and the kind words. Yes, it’s a continual learning process…I really could start a *new* 10 Things series today about the things I’ll be learning over the next few years.

  3. I’m at a cross roads in my life, and even though I’ve been tracking and budgeting my earnings and expenses for years, I just seem to be putting along and getting further into debt. Job changes, divorce, child expenses, ect. Your 10 Things Series, is honest, not just another article you say “yah, yah, too”

  4. @Tanya – Thanks for the kind words. I hope you’re able to see some progress in 2009.