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Setting Financial Intentions

There is no one right way to set financial goals and intentions. Here is one possible method:

  1. Dream: get yourself some wine or a hot beverage, close your eyes, get out of your logic headspace, and ask yourself what in your financial life is bringing you the most anxiety and angst. Write it down. Then dream about what life would be like if those issues were no longer present. Jot down some notes on that too.

  2. Take stock of where you are: pull up a word document, a google sheet, or a journal. On one side, write down what you have in all of your accounts including checking, savings, and investments. On the same side, write down the value of any major assets you have (worth over 500). On the other side, write down all of your debts.

  3. Analyze your income and expenses: whether or not you have a formal budget, do your best to gauge what you have "left over" at the end of each month. Are you consistently deficient at the end of each month? Do you have anything left over at the end of the month? That number is called your "disposable income."

  4. See the big picture: now look at the picture you have painted of your financial life. Try to look at it with new eyes, as if from an outside point of view. After doing these exercises, it should become obvious where some of your gaps are. Crushing debt? Not enough savings? Excessive expenses? Too many assets, out of proportion to your overall financial life? Check in with the notes you made for step one--are these gaps connected to the anxiety you experience? For example, if you do not have a safety net in your savings account, the fear of what could go wrong may be eating at you. If your income is not sufficient to cover your expenses, constant over drafting may be causing you anxiety.

  5. Set your intentions: choose one or two intentions that you feel would be the most impactful to your emotional, mental, and financial well-being. It could be something as simple as making a bill calendar to prevent overdrafts. It could be finding a secondary source of income through a side hustle. It could be selling excess assets you have, which would give you some extra cash and clean out your house in the process! It may even be setting aside $10 per month to start the habit of saving.

Whether or not you have a partner, it would be useful to go over your intentions with someone, such as a friend or family member. They may be able to ask you clarifying questions and give you support as you go along.

Cheers to a new year!

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