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Intentional Finances

What does it mean to handle your finances intentionally? Often, we can go about learning about finances from our parents, our friends, or our employers, but we never really "learn" about finances unless we are intentional. It wasn't until I was in my 40's that I realized I was not being intentional with my finances. I had a career and was working hard because that's what I saw others do. I had a 401k that I was contributing to and all looked well for my retirement. I had purchased a home with a pool and from the outside I looked like any middle-class American living paycheck to paycheck. Then the Stockmarket crashed and I lost 50% of my retirement over night. The bank crisis that followed the collapse of the market resulted in my my mortgage being sold out from underneath me. I was suddenly homeless. I lost my job due to company downsizing and everything changed seemingly over night. It was at that low point of my life that I read a book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it changed the way I looked at finances forever.

Imagine 3 people graduate the same high school and they return to their 20 year reunion to share what they have accomplished with their lives. When I went to my 20 year reunion I witnessed this in real life.

Jeff was one of the most popular boys in high school. He was very charismatic and was the star football player. He was into partying and would sneak out to the parking lot at lunch time to smoke a joint and drink a shot of Whiskey. Twenty years later, he showed up at the reunion wearing crushed velvet pants and wallabies (very popular clothing of the 1970's). He had not bought a new outfit in 20 years. He said he had little memory of the past 20 years because he had been living with his parents, smoking pot, drinking alcohol, and living on government assistance. He had no job, no financial security, and nothing to fall back on when his parents died. He would always be dependent on someone else and the government. His status financially was in the poverty or low-income category.

Kelly was a girl who was popular in school and had a lot of friends. She was engaged in civic programs and volunteered in school government programs as an organizer. She went to a trade school and learned how to do make-up and hair and said she wanted to own her own business. She said she wanted control over her work schedule, the amount of money she could make, and had big plans for her future. Twenty years later, she had accomplished her goals and was able to buy all the things that elevated her to a middle class status. She realized that her feet and back were sore from the effort it took to create an income. Because she only made money when she worked, her income was limited by the amount of hours she worked each week. If her car broke down, she'd have to take on new clients to make money to repair the car. She worked from 7am to 9pm most days so she could have the things she wanted and needed, but in 20 years she had never taken a vacation. She knew her income was dependent on her own efforts and taking time off meant she would not make money. Her financial status was in the middle-class category.

Robbin was the homecoming queen. She had a killer smile and was Magna Cum Laude and Senior Class President. She was voted the most likely to succeed, and succeed she did. She went on to college and received 2 masters degrees; one in Corporate Management and a second degree allowed her to pass the bar to become a Corporate Attorney. She traveled and worked in high level businesses around the world and was able to open her own lawn firm. She hired other attorneys and helped them become successful as well. At our 20 year reunion Robbin was the wealthiest person in the room. She worked because she loved what she did not because she needed the money. She knew her financial future was secure because of the investments she had made in her life. Her financial status was in the high-income category.

When you compare these three people's efforts with their rewards it's easy to see who was intentional with their financial goals. All three graduated with the same opportunities, but after high school, they all took very different paths. It doesn't matter where you come from or how your limitations were growing up.

  • Jeff's dad was a banker and (unsuccessfully) tried to interest Jeff in going into the family business.

  • Kelly was raised by middle-class parents who gave her encouragement to become a successful businesswoman.

  • Robbin was adopted at brith after her mother abandoned her at the hospital. She worked very hard school and maintained a 4.0 gpa every year.

Your past does not predetermine your future. It's the effort you are willing to put into your life that will determine your success. Work hard, expect delays, and remain focused and you will be successful.

How did my story end? I will let you know when I stop succeeding, stop growing, and stop building my intentional life.


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