Intentional Living & Values Session – My experience
If I’m honest, I’ve never really had a great relationship with money. I grew up in a home where money was very tight. Fortunately, my mum was incredibly good at budgeting. She did a lot with a little. But after seeing money at the heart of so many NOs, I wanted something different for me.
I thought I wanted to be in a position where I didn’t have to worry or think about money. This principle sounded appealing, but looking back it made me irresponsible and poorly educated in money matters.
For example, I didn’t want to have to count pennies, so I didn’t and when earning a decent salary I chose not to track the detail. Instead, I did what I wanted and bought things I didn’t really need, because I enjoyed the feeling of being able to say YES to myself [while at the same time feeling guilty because I wasn’t as cautious as my mum!]
I thought I was doing alright.
I always paid my credit card bill off in full and I’ve only ever had one personal loan – to help fund a home extension. In terms of future planning, I had a pension when I worked a corporate job and I did have some savings before extending my property! I have however avoided stocks and shares choosing to adopt my parents views that investments are risky and savings are safe.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done OK. I own my house [with a ‘little’ help from mum and dad] and I have a nice lifestyle, but I do still worry about money. In fact, I worry about it a lot! Every month, when the bills come in I complain my credit card bill is higher than I thought only to tell myself I’ll take more care in the weeks ahead.
All the time quietly convincing myself things will be OK when I have more money!
[I.e. living in the future and not the now.]
We say we don’t like to talk about money.
But the truth is we’re talking about it to ourselves all the time.
We judge ourselves, blame ourselves, and undermine ourselves – all the while scared to say what’s really happening for fear of being judged or seen as greedy, selfish, entitled [insert your own words here!]
It’s what made my Intentional Living & Values session with Christine at Wealth Enhancers, so empowering.
I’ve never spoken with a financial advisor before.
Savings accounts I understand, but talk about stocks, shares, bonds etc. and I feel way out of my depth. It’s not that I’m not interested in becoming wealthier. I even did Tony Robbins’ Wealth Mastery a few years back! It all just feels far too complicated and risky [and I don’t want to look stupid.]
What if I get it wrong and lose it all!
It’s why I’ve allowed my finances to just tick along.
What’s more, because in the past I was focused on buying a house, I didn’t have any money to invest. So I didn’t see the point in getting financial advice because I had no spare cash to be advised on!
Or so I thought…
1. It’s not just about my future
My Intentional Living & Values session has completely transformed my mindset and approach to money.
We talked about money, but we also talked about my lifestyle and what it is I’m looking to create for myself and my life. This was the first aha moment.
I’ve always thought financial management was about saving and investing – mostly for retirement and a secure old age. I didn’t realise that budgeting, cashflow, and spending were all part of the same pie.
In other words, I hadn’t realised a financial advisor would be able to pour over my current habits and help me see where I could spend and allocate my money more intentionally…
So I could free up more money to invest, or save, or use to pay for more of the things I want.
Onto aha moment number 2…
2. Aligning my spending and wealth management with my values.
During the call, Christine helped me to understand those things that are important to me in my life. I found this easy to do because it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. For example, I value:
- Adventure – it’s why I love to travel and why I enjoy doing new and spontaneous things
- Sustainability and eco-friendly – it’s why I’m prepared to spend more on conscious products
- Self expression – it’s why I love to write
- Deep connection – I love deep dive conversations and discussion
- Personal growth and discovery – it’s why I enjoy spending time learning
What I’ve not been so great at is using my money to create fulfilment in these areas.
I want to travel more, but I feel guilty spending a lot on a holiday because it feels extravagant [and surely I should pay off my debts first!]
Also, I’d tell myself I don’t have enough money to do more of the things that make me happy – or so I thought!
Onto aha moment number 3…
3. Being honest about why I use a credit card
For years, my husband and I have relied on a credit card to organize our everyday spending. Christine asked me why [I thought it was an odd question to be honest because I assumed everyone did this.]
I was initially flippant in my answer:
- I get points and those points are valuable
- It’s easy and convenient
- And because I always pay my card off in full, why wouldn’t I do it?
Christine started to explain why a credit card wasn’t such a good idea and all I could hear in my head was “LIAR!”
I hadn’t told Christine the truth. The truth is I use a credit card because it’s not my money and because I HATE handing over cash because it feels more ‘real’.
And in that moment of honesty with myself I uncovered a heap of hidden cash in my current financial situation.
Because after discovering that truth:
- I had to take responsibility for my spending.
- I have to acknowledge where I’m buying things I don’t really need
- I have to see where I’m actually squandering money needlessly
And here’s the REALLY cool thing…
In amongst the money I’m squandering is cash I can use to increase my holiday fund and have more space for the adventurous things I currently say I can’t afford.
This leads into aha moment no 4.
4. My budget wasn’t nearly detailed enough
Before the call I already had a fairly detailed budget. For example, I put money away monthly for our annual holiday and I’d calculated all my annual payments and divided them by 12 – to save monthly [and avoid nasty shocks!]
But it became clear this simply wasn’t enough.
In the past, I’d given myself a budget for credit card spending [the one I always overspent on]. But because we didn’t spend intentionally, I couldn’t tell you what it went on. It was never anything major, just $20 here and $50 there. It never looked like a lot – until you add up a month of those ‘small’ payments.
Instead, my husband and I figured out the buckets that monthly spend should be allocated to so we could get more detailed.
Doing this freed up a few $00 which has now given me more money to save – and to start building my get out of jail free fund.
Intentional, conscious, responsible
This will be the first month in years – maybe over a decade – that I’ve not used a credit card. I’ve not cut it up yet because we’re about to go on holiday [and this month will be a transition – or is that a story!] but I have no intentions of using it.
Instead, we’ll be spending direct from our bank account and I’ll be noting down everything we spend and ensure I stick to budget.
I’ve been shopping a couple times since this call and I’ve put things back on the shelf because I didn’t need them [and I didn’t want to spend money needlessly].
To be clear, this isn’t about being stingy or thrifty, NO…
THIS IS ABOUT RECOGNISING THAT IF I DON’T DO X, I CAN DO Y INSTEAD.
And Y is more important to me because it’s aligned to my values [see earlier section].
I don’t want to look back too much because I can see how much money I’ve wasted and that I could have been in a better position if I know what I knew now when I was younger.
But you can’t turn back the clock!
Instead, I’m grateful that I have this knowledge now and I will use it DAILY to help me become wealthier financially.
But more importantly, wealthier in how I live my life because I’m spending [and investing] my money where it will make the biggest impact to my happiness and freedom.
I’m going to start investing too
I mentioned I’ve been scared of stocks and shares and also considering I don’t have ‘a lot’ to invest, I didn’t think it was worth it.
Darn! How wrong was I!!!
I understand now that money grows exponentially and that it compounds. As a result, I can see that even investing a little will help me accumulate a bigger fund for when I’m ‘older’.
Best of all, it doesn’t have to be an either / or. If I get my budget properly aligned, I can do the things I enjoy now AND create a more secure and financial wealth for the years to come.
It’s why I’m actually excited to try an investment app and I’ve allocated some funds in my budget for this.
A quick summary of what’s changed
- Got honest about my money story and the impact it’s had on me and my life
- Realised how much my parents [mum especially] influences my approach to wealth
- Changed my money mindset – I feel like a responsible grown-up now!
- Had entirely different money conversations with my husband [this is HUGE]
- Realised I have to think about money in detail – until I get to a point where things are more automated and my spending is under control
- Stopped using a credit card [BIG shift]
- Committed to [slowly] build a get out of jail fund
- Increased our holiday budget so there’s more cash for travel
- Set a food budget – rather than a monthly spend budget freeing up money to put elsewhere
- Allocated a budget for monthly adventures close to home
- Decided to open an investment account and start saving there
I think you can tell this call has been insanely valuable to me.
It’s given me the knowledge I need to take control of my money properly. I feel empowered. I feel confident. I feel liberated!
And I know this is just the first stage. This is just getting the everyday management and budgeting in place. I reckon there will be another big shift coming up when I’m ready to get more into the future stuff too.
But this aligns with the strategy anyway – basic, comfortable, and aspirational living.
I’ll finish with this comment…
“If I’d known this in my early 20s, I’d be in a different position entirely.”
That’s how good this session is.
Want to experience a shift like this?
Discover more about WE membership when you book your free Financial Happiness Conversation.
Disclaimer: All information contained within this article is of a general nature. Do not rely upon it when making financial decisions. Please consult a professional financial advisor or planner (like us!) before acting.