Where it all began....

About Intentional Money Life

Michelle Onaka

Hi, I'm Michelle Onaka

I’m originally from Ohio, where I got my bachelor of arts in economics. After a few years of traveling, seasonal tourism jobs, and being an AmeriCorps volunteer, I came to Oregon in 2013 to get my master’s degree in higher education.


While working as an academic counselor for TRIO Student Support Services at Oregon State University, I continued developing my natural interest in financial education and the power of financial planning. I started talking more with my students about money, hosted workshops, crafted financial literacy-based emails for the program, and spent two terms teaching a course that I created, Planning Your Financial Future. I loved talking to people about money so much that in 2021 I opened this business, Intentional Money Life. 


I love learning difficult concepts and then breaking them down so others can understand them in a fraction of the time that it took me. My next favorite thing is translating that knowledge to show how it applies to someone’s situation and how they can use it to reach their goals. I really love working with people and seeing their light bulb moments, as well as how they’ll use the information to create a money strategy and use their money to create the life they’re genuinely excited about. 


I recently left higher education and now work for Clarity Wealth Development as a paraplanner, where I get to continue learning and building my skills around financial literacy and financial planning, while also working behind the scenes to create systems and practices that both serve our clients and streamline our work.

And if you earn a livable wage, you can also become an author of your own life, using money to intentionally create a life that you love.

I live in Oregon with my partner, our two small children, and our dog.


Sleeping in (which only happens once a week, did I mention those two small children?), baking, traveling, hiking, being in water, amateur photography, and snowboarding are some of my hobbies.


I also love learning about all the things and listening to audiobooks and podcasts (I can get so much done while listening too!).


Social justice and evidence-based everything are also big parts of my life. 


And I really like data. I also really like dessert.

TRIO SSS Graduation 2018

My day job with TRIO SSS (for 8 years) was to work individually with college students to support them as they pursue their bachelor’s degrees.


TRIO SSS is a federally grant-funded program specifically for first-generation students, Pell-eligible students, and students with disabilities.


I helped my students transition into the university, trouble-shoot academic issues, strategize around their major and extra-curricular experiences, navigate financial aid, build financial literacy, and plan for their future.

What made me decide to create a business?
Financial education is typically incomplete, hard to apply to your own situation, and lacking the WHY. Additionally, most programs don't incorporate both support and accountability, which are necessary to set you up for success.

I believe these 5 key pieces are all necessary, and since no one else is incorporating all of them, I decided 

that I needed to. My experience and feedback from teaching a college financial course got me excited 

about making this information accessible to more people.

Nissan Sentra 1998
What’s unique about me and my family?

My partner and I have taken multiple cross-country road trips, including some over 6,000 miles. They were all in my 1998 Nissan Sentra (that my partner still drives to work regularly). We even got good at sleeping in that fairly small car.

My dog once ate Vaseline.

We had to put her in our daughter’s diapers for a couple of days, as some disgusting stuff was just leaking out of her.
I do NOT recommend 1,000%.

I was voted “most likely to live in a van down by the river"

In high school I was voted “most likely to live in a van down by the river”. I also wore sweatpants to school 4 days a week (I think my high school was unique and as far as I know, no one cared and no one made fun of me).

My partner is from Hawaii, I’m from Ohio, we met in Alaska.

We were working seasonal jobs in Alaska in 2009 (for Princess Cruises) when we met. Then we moved to Colorado (where I taught him to snowboard!), back to Alaska, then Ohio, Hawaii, and Texas before we finally settled down in Oregon in 2013.


We bought our house in 2016 and had some extensive renovations to do. In mid-2017 when I was pregnant with our first child we moved the bathroom, laundry room, and closet and completely renovated the master bedroom (doing almost all the work ourselves). We partially moved back into that bedroom when I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and I woke up the next morning in labor. We spent my labor moving the rest of the way into our bedroom, preparing the new shower to actually be used, and returning curtains to Bed, Bath, & Beyond (in the middle of a contraction I was asked to move so the young employee could use the ladder I was leaning against).


Right before the pandemic, when my first daughter was 2 and I was due with baby #2 in two months, we took my daughter on a “baby-moon” to Salem, Oregon (the capital of Oregon but not a particularly exciting place). We stayed in a hotel with a pool, went to eat at restaurants, and really didn’t do anything particularly exciting (well, pre-pandemic it wasn’t considered exciting). According to my daughter it was by far the coolest thing she has ever done. She’s 4 now and still talks about it and how much she wants to go back.

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Are you ready to put your money to work, intentionally creating a life that you love?

There’s a lot of financial information out there, but often it’s prescriptive, telling you how to live your life while knowing nothing about you, your values, your goals, and your dreams. I want to help you understand those things about yourself, and then put your money to work in order to provide yourself with a fulfilling life, whatever that looks like for you.