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Why "Winging It" is Sabotaging your Financial Success

*intuitive money management budget budgeting cash flow plan Aug 22, 2023

It's a common misconception that making more money will make your financial frustrations disappear. 

While in many cases, especially those associated with true poverty, it is absolutely true that more income would solve a LOT of problems - I'm never going to discount that truth.

However... without a plan... without a strategy... without intentionality... making more money cannot solve all of your problems. **See the statistic that 75% of lottery winners declare BANKRUPTCY within a few years. (2023 Article

So, how do I know that more money won't always solve your problems?

In recent months, I've been doing a LOT of market research, primarily speaking to 6-figure earners and 6-7 figure business owners.  And over 70% of them reported that they're just "winging it" with their money.

And... that they're still struggling to get money saved, to get debt paid off, to know what they 'should' be doing with their money.  They still feel like money is slipping through their fingers.

They've even said things to me like "Nichole, I made $20,000 last month and I have nothing to show for it."

So what do I mean by "winging it" in this context?

These women have told me that they don't really have a plan for their money, they don't have any kind of system for keeping track of their finances, some may have a spreadsheet but they report not really keeping up with it.  They report just checking their bank account to see if they can buy something, without regard to future bills/expenses. They report not having much money left at the end of the month that they could use to save, despite the numbers 'on paper' telling them they should have "plenty" of extra.

🤯 Yes, you're reading this correctly.

Women making $150K - $250K per year are struggling to save, struggling to get debt paid off with any regularity, and are finding that they don't have as much 'extra' money at the end of the month that they expected to.

And it's NOT, I repeat NOT, because their bills are so high. It's not because their mortgage payments are 65% of their income, it's not because they live in a super high cost-of-living area where $100K doesn't go very far at all. 

From my research, and from my time working with clients over the last 3.5 years... it is a combination of THREE major patterns that hold them back from the financial success they're dreaming of.

Let's talk about these 3 patterns created by "winging it" that will sabotage your financial future.

#1: Lack of Direction

Imagine with me for a second that you decide you want to go on a trip. You want to go somewhere cold and snowy. You get in your *insert transportation method here* and you start going.

How do you know whether you're going in the correct direction?

Could you reach cold & snowy in pretty much any direction? Yeah, you really could.

I'm in South Carolina, in the U.S.  I could go south to Antarctica, North to Maine, West to Colorado, Northwest to Alaska, East to Europe. All of those places could, at some point in the year, be cold and snowy destinations.

But am I REALLY going the place I actually want to go? WHO KNOWS?

BUT.... if I KNOW that what I deeply desire is to go to Antarctica to see the penguins.... and I get in my car and start driving NORTH.  I'm most definitely going in the wrong direction.

Not only that... but now that I know I want to go to Antarctica, I need to have a different strategy besides just getting in a car - I'm going to need a plane... and probably a snowmobile... and probably a guide once I get there.

I'm also going to need warm clothes, snowsuits, proper shoes, etc. 

Once I have a CLEAR destination - the STRATEGY falls into place as well.

When you're just kind of winging it with your finances, your lack of direction will lead to a lack of strategy, and you will go in circles wondering why you can't seem to make progress.

When you let yourself float on the breeze, your money will also float away from you.

#2: Unintentional Overspending

This is a direct result of not having a direction and a strategy.  

What I've found in my years of work and research is that those who don't have a specific strategy in place tend to use the "account balance" method of affordability.

In other words - if there's room in the checking account, or on the credit card, for the purchase - then the purchase gets made. There's little to no regard for upcoming expenses, comparison of income to expenses, or future goals.

If there's money... it gets spent.

Now... very few of these people are MEANING to overspend. They don't WANT to spend more than they bring in. They don't WANT to get themselves into a deeper debt hole. They DON'T want to feel like they're always chasing their tails financially.

But... without direction, without intention, without a plan - it's very, very easy to accidentally do all of those things.

One of the core tenets of Intuitive Money Management is Save with Intentionality.  In that, I talk about how easy it is to accidentally overspend - and how RARE it is to 'accidentally' save a bunch of money.

If we want to make progress towards our financial goals - we have to be intentional.

That requires having a clear strategy to avoid the unintentional overspending that is so common when you're 'winging it'

#3: Lost Opportunities

Opportunity Cost.

It's a powerful concept when you understand it at a deep level.

Most of the time you'll hear about it in reference to stocks, investments, retirement, etc. But I think it's important to realize that it is involved in EVERY decision we make.

What is opportunity cost? It's the opportunities you will no longer be able to pursue due to decisions you're making.

It can be as simple as "by buying a $5 latte, I have $5 less to use for gas in my car" - and as extreme as "my decision to take out a loan for this vehicle has made it such that I absolutely cannot create the cash flow required to save for a downpayment on a house" - and as complex as "by investing in X, I didn't invest in Y and therefore missed out on the opportunity to earn $10,000 in interest". 

Every decision you make with your money - whether in the throes of 'winging it' or as part of your intentional, strategic plan - will come with an opportunity cost.

Statistically speaking... the opportunities lost by 'winging it' are much more detrimental to your financial future than those lost (or decided against) from your intentional plan.

So how the heck can you know if you're stuck in this cycle? What are some questions you can ask yourself?

  1. Do I know what bills and expenses are coming up in the next 2-3 weeks, such that I can make decisions today that ensure they'll be covered?
  2. Do I have a system for making sure I'm getting my debt paid down by a specific target date?
  3. Do I know what priority financial goal I'm working on right now (unrelated to 'make more money')?
  4. Do I know where my money has been going for the last few months?

If you answered "no" to any of these, especially if you answered "no" to more than 1 of them - there's a chance you're missing out on opportunities to be more strategic and intentional with your money.

If that's the case, how can you add more intentionality into your money plan?

Okay... so you've gotten to this point and you're thinking "Okay, Nichole... I hear you. I need a plan. But... what the f*** does that even mean????"

In my opinion, here are the components of an intentional money plan:

  • Specific, measurable, actionable goals. You need to know what you're aiming for and how you'll know if you reached it - and it has to be something you can actually do something about.  Bonus points for putting those goals in priority order!
  • At the very least - a baseline budget. It's just a plan for what you want to happen with your  money. You need to know how much you bring in every month (on average if your income varies) and how much needs to go out each month. Not just for bills - but also for groceries, gas, entertainment, clothing, and other quality of life expenses.  You can even have a "Baseline Plus" level that increases your quality of life some!  This baseline allows you to make adjustments one way or the other when you get extra income or new expenses pop up.
    • My S.I.M.P.L.E. Budget Method is the perfect place to start for this! Grab the free PDF guide HERE
  • Some sort of system for keeping track of how it's going. You don't necessarily have to track every single penny - unless you need to see it that detailed. But you DO generally need to know whether you're staying on track with your cash flow plan, how close you are to achieving your goals, etc.
  • Awareness and attention. Make a plan for how often you do those check-ins, how often you make adjustments, etc.  This is not 'set-it-and-forget-it'.


  • Prioritize ONE goal at a time!!! Spreading out your efforts will also slow down your progress!!
  • Have a specific plan (or "rules" or "guidelines") for what to do with the money above and beyond your Baseline (or Baseline Plus) - does it all go to goals? Some to quality of life and the rest to goals? Vice versa?

Is it possible to have financial success without a specific, intentional financial plan?


But is it statistically likely? 

Not really...

If you need help identifying which pieces of the intentional plan you're missing, or whether or not you're even stuck in a cycle - grab a quick 15 minute "Triage" call where we can see where you're 'bleeding' financially and talk about how you can stop the bleed!! 

Or if you KNOW you need more 1:1 support and want to talk more specifically about how I can help you, grab a Discovery Call here.


Feel free to share with me what you uncovered as you read this? Are you being intentional or just winging it? What are you committing to do moving forward?

Share it with the Questions form below!!

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Drop it here and she'll get back to you within 2-3 business days! 

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