This site is all about managing finances. I try my best to give you information all across the financial spectrum that educates you and empowers you to win with money.
Today I’ve got a bit of a different perspective for you. We’re still talking money, but there’s something that we’ve noticed in our marriage as we’ve continued managing finances well. Not every benefit of being financially wise comes with a dollar sign attached to it.
Money Affects Everything
One of the reasons I’m so passionate about personal finance is that literally everything in your life is attached to money in some way. Money impacts the goals you set, the relationships you have, and the amount of security for the future you feel (or don’t feel.) The job you have, the place you live, the lifestyle you lead, are all affected by money. Therefore, if we can get that part of your life healthy, then that health can be contagious and spill over into other parts.
Our efforts of managing finances well began from the moment we got married. We had $28,000 in student loan and credit card debt, and committed from day one that we wanted to be free.
We got to work planning out our goals. We established that we wanted to be debt free in our first two years of marriage. I knew it would be extremely tough to do on our income, but it was possible if we were willing to make the right choices and sacrifices.
Then we laid out our plan. We put together a budget with each new month, making sure that we were getting the most mileage possible from each paycheck. Over time, we watched that remaining balance creep lower and lower until finally, after 23 months of scratching and clawing, we were debt free!
The financial benefits of debt freedom were and are totally amazing, but the non-financial benefits we have experienced through this process are equally awesome.
Along our journey to debt freedom, we understood that we weren’t going to just wake up one day debt free. The only way it was going to happen was if we were intentional about making it happen.
What we underestimated was the impact on our intentionality in other areas of our lives that would happen because of the change in our financial behavior. It wasn’t long after we’d become religious about budgeting that we started noticing how much time we were wasting.
Contrary to money, time is a purely non-renewable resource, and I didn’t like the thought of wasting any of mine. Once we’d trained our brains to think through the details of budgeting our money, we applied those same mental muscles to managing our time.
We started establishing a date night every week in advance so that neither of us would commit to anything for that evening. I started getting up earlier in the mornings to take advantage of some of the best hours of the day for reading and writing. She began making time to train for half marathons, and I made it a priority to go to the gym four days a week.
We were more intentional with planning meetings, protecting family time, and building rest into our schedules. Our money intentionality had bred time management skills.
But it didn’t stop there. When we first got married, deciding what to eat for dinner was such a chore (if you’ve been married more than five minutes, you just smiled a little.) We were waiting to think about dinner until it was already time for it. We both would be hungry and tired yet trying to figure out a wise meal choice. As a result, we resorted to the quick and easy meals that may not have been the healthiest.
Finally, I had an idea to just create a simple little 2-week spreadsheet for a meal rotation. We put our favorite meals on it with a list of snacks to have available, and committed to try it for two weeks. The positive impact was felt almost immediately. My wife does the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping in our home, and she took this system and ran with it.
Having meals planned in advance made her so much more efficient at the grocery store, saving us time and money. Also, once she took this system and downloaded the Paprika Meal Planning App, she created a system all her own that has stepped it up to a whole new level! I’ll have to have her do a post sometime soon to tell you how she does it! You can download the spreadsheet I came up with instantly here.
But what I want you to see is that these small steps in intentionality have made drastic improvements in our own personal development. It started with some shifts in how we managed our money, but the impact of those habits has rippled through every area of our lives.
What Could Be On The Other Side Of Your Intentionality?
What are you working on right now? Are you trying to manage your money better? Are you trying to get healthy? Whatever it is, it won’t happen unless you get intentional!
There are some principles that have really taken root in our hearts through this journey that I think can help you. These all apply to managing finances, but they also apply to your family life, professional life, and social life. Let’s do these and live more intentionally than before.
Principles That Work Across the Board
Care About The Little Things
The little things in life matter. The phrase “death by 1,000 paper cuts” exists because your greatest enemy probably isn’t a giant mishap. Your greatest enemy is all the “small” negative habits you allow to stay a part of you.
Make a budget, work a plan, and care about even the “small” purchases that are bleeding your wallet dry. Don’t settle for too many nights of the week being stolen by unimportant things when you have a spouse or kids at home who deserve your time. Don’t settle for unhealthy habits. In every area of your life, purpose to do the small things well, and it’ll lead to big wins.
Make A Plan For What You Want To Happen
Are you noticing the theme here? Great stuff doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because people make a decision that they want better, then they figure out how to do it.
If you want a better money life, check out my Blueprint for becoming a future millionaire.
You can’t overstate how much a close relationship can keep you on track. For me, my wife and I spurred each other on in our personal finance journey and in our efforts to be getting better all around.
For many of you, your accountability is your spouse. But for all of us, we need someone who is heading in the same direction we are and knows what we want to accomplish. They’ll hold you to the standard when you don’t want to hold yourself there anymore.
Seriously, quit speaking negatively over yourself and others. Quit letting your first reaction to things you encounter be that you focus on the negative. This isn’t some kind of cheesy philosophy, it’s just a fact that you can improve your quality of life by being a more positive person.
Speak well of others, don’t gossip, and talk about your goals (financial and otherwise) as if they’re 100% going to happen.
Constantly Connect With Your “Why”
When it came to managing finances, our “why” was freedom. We want to be able to make choices and pursue opportunities without the fear of financial repercussions. This is why I check my Personal Capital profile almost every day. I want to know if we’re progressing toward our goals and growing our net worth.
For our lives as a whole, our “why” is simple. We’re Christians, and we want to make the biggest impact we can to serve God and help people know Him. At the very least, we want people to know that they’re loved by Him. Therefore, we want our lives to show what He’s capable of doing in imperfect people like us.
What’s your why? What is it with your money? What is it with the rest of your life? Did you know they’re connected? Whatever you want to see happen, I hope this post is an encouragement to you that it can happen. You just have to take steps to make it.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it all in one step. Each exercise in intentionality breeds the next. Start with small financial steps, and you may look up a few years from now, like I did, surprised at how far you’ve come.
What’s your “why”? Let me know in the comments!