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Making Finances Friendly, Fun and Fearless!

OK, so first things first. Yes, I’m totally serious that your finances can be friendly and fun.  No, I am not taking any special medication that helps me to think that way.  (Sorry – I just had to get that out of the way since most people ask if I’m serious and if I’m taking any drugs when I talk about finances being friendly and fun!)

With the right approach, finances can indeed be friendly and fun which helps to relieve a lot of the fear surrounding money.  In fact, my business tagline is “Making Finances Friendly and Fun” so I’m even putting it out there loud and proud.   I believe every word of my tagline.  I live it, I breathe it, and I teach it to my clients (and pretty much just about anyone else who will listen).

I can hear the chatter in your mind right now – she’s got to be joking. I’m so stressed out right now about money that the idea that it could actually be “friendly and fun” is pure insanity.

Call me insane, call me whatever you want to.  In fact you can call me an orange hippopotamus if it helps you to consider changing your financial perspective for the better, I could care less!  But I have proof that it can happen – my clients all tell me in the end that they see money more positively and aren’t weighed down by fear.

With a few simple shifts in perspective, you can start seeing things differently for yourself and decrease the amount of financial fear in your life while increasing the amount of financial fun and friendliness.  There are 3 simple steps I suggest to get started on viewing your finances in this new and exciting way.

1)      Think of money as a game – One of the main ways I tell people to shift their perspective about money to a more fun and friendly approach is to think about money as a game.  In essence, money is a tool and a resource to get you where you want to go and to allow you to do the things that you want to do, so the more money that you keep the more that you can do the things that excite you.  With that in mind, start to think of yourself as the gatekeeper of your money – it comes in, and YOU are in charge of what goes out!  Take a stance that every bill that you pay is a money-making opportunity in and of itself.  Do you know how many times I’ve found an error on a bill that I’ve reviewed and called the company about it to have my bill adjusted? I can assure you it has been LOTS of times and it has likely added up to thousands of dollars over the years. Another great idea is to involve other family members in helping you to manage the money.  In fact, I have a client who plans her family’s food for the week and creates the grocery list for her husband and he then takes their young daughter to the grocery store where she adds up their bill in the store with a calculator so they can make sure to stay within their planned amount!  By making a simple shift to empower yourself as the gatekeeper of your money and begin looking for ways to involve others and ask for help you’re well on your way to making money more manageable. 

2)      Redistribute and realign how you’re using your money – I find that most people talk about the things that they “should” do with their money.  And while there are certain smart things that you can be doing with your money (saving and living within your means come to mind),  I would encourage you to spend less time thinking about what you “have to do” and more time thinking about what you “love to do” when it comes to your money.  Yes, we all have responsibilities and I completely get that.  However, from the information I see when I look at how my clients choose to use their money before we put together a new plan I see a lot of unconscious spending.  That isn’t a judgment on my part it’s just a fact from where I stand.  It’s very likely that there is space for you to have more experiences in your life that you would “love to do” if you simply took the time to redistribute and realign how you’re using your money right now! 

3)      Allow yourself to dream again – For me, this step is the most important one in making the shift to view finances as friendly and fun.  For many people, money is full of a heavy energy and responsibility.  Many people have simply forgotten how to dream and think of money only as something to pay the bills.  If you want only enough money to pay the bills, then that’s exactly what you’ll attract and not much more.    What are the reasons why you’d like to have more money in your life?  For me, I love to travel and learn, and I want to contribute toward the futures of my 2 adorable nephews, Jack and Ryan.  I enjoy taking care of my mind, body, and soul as well which for me means lots of Pilates classes and regular massages, manicures and pedicures too.  In the future, I’m looking forward to being married and being a mom, so I know I’ll have lots of reasons to dream big then too!  So ask yourself, what do you dream about doing and is it even reflected in your financial life at all?  Where can you be fearless and dream about doing something bigger than you ever thought you could to inspire yourself and others? You’ll be able to attract more money and financial stability into your life if you have a specific reason to enjoy it.

In the end, viewing finances as friendly and fun requires a purposeful decision to want to see things differently.  There’s an old quote that “every master was once a disaster” and this is true for your finances as well.  Perhaps things aren’t going well now, however that doesn’t mean that you can’t decide today to shift things around and view your finances in a more positive manner.  The choice is yours, are you ready to believe that finances can be friendly and fun?

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3 Steps to Reclaiming Your Money Power

Standing in your power with money is both an art and a science.

What do I mean by that exactly?  Well, it’s a science in the sense that there is a method to the madness, a systematic way to manage your money that will keep you well-informed and ahead of the proverbial 8-ball.  However, standing in your power with money is also an art because beyond the systematic processes of money management it’s also about how you energetically put yourself out into the world when it comes to money.

Let me explain a little further.  When I think of people who are powerful with their money, I think of people who have lots of “money mojo” – they set boundaries, they stand up for themselves with class and grace, and they are not afraid to handle what needs to be handled when it comes to financial matters.  However, many people don’t have solid “money mojo” because they don’t even realize that they are often giving away their money power.

So how do people give away their money power? It happens in 5 key ways, mainly because people are:

  • Afraid of conflict;
  • Afraid of facing responsibility and being a financial “grown-up”;
  • Afraid of what others will think (embarrassed that people will talk about them or that people will be angry with them);
  • Afraid of looking like/being a failure (usually further aggravated by comparing oneself to others);
  • Afraid of disempowering someone else (i.e. with their success, etc.).

Do any of these ways resonate with you? Could you be paving a more powerful path to financial freedom just by plugging up one of these power leaks in your life?

Claiming your money power starts with one thing – a commitment to understanding where you’re giving away your power so that you can then understand where you would like to set a new standard in your financial life.  A bit of a heads-up and warning here though as often when people shift to a new standard of power with money, it can (and has often been known to) cause an unpleasant reaction in others as you shift toward that new standard.  You change the dance steps in an old routine that someone else is comfortable with (and where they can potentially take advantage of you), and they tend to get a little testy!

Start with these 3 steps to take back your money power today:

  1. Identify your money power leaks – This may be the toughest step of all of them and that is to honestly own up to those situations where you give away your power with money!  Review the 5 ways noted above that most people give away their power with money, and see which one of the five is most applicable to you (hint: it’s usually the one where you read it and want to immediately pretend you didn’t see it J ).  It might be ugly at first, however try to have compassion for yourself that you’re doing your best to be honest and step forward to improve your financial future.  It may also be helpful to review the list with a loved one that you trust; often we can’t see for ourselves what others more easily and objectively can see.
  2. Decide what boundaries you will put in place going forward – Usually when money power leaks exist, it has a lot to do with boundaries that have either lapsed or were never there in the first place.  It’s time to strengthen the boundaries around your power leak, so brainstorm on what boundary you will put into place to prevent any future leaks.
  3. Take action immediately – Now that you’ve identified what you’d like to work on, and you’re clear about the boundaries you’re putting in place, it’s time to be proactive.  Complete the following sentence, “The action I will take is _______ by _____ (set a date within a reasonably short timeframe).” It doesn’t have to be a big step; it can be a very basic step that’s intended to get you moving forward.  If you’d like extra credit, come up with several steps that will get you blasting through to setting a new standard for yourself in no time!

It takes practice and courage to claim your money power, and at first it can feel really uncomfortable.  Also, as you’re figuring out where you’re not being powerful with your money, there can be a tendency to feel ashamed or embarrassed.  Do yourself a favor and don’t stay at the “pity party” long though, ok?  Envision each situation as a gift that is sent to teach you something about yourself and your life and work through the issues one step at a time to stand in your full money power!

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3 Steps to Eliminate and Steer Clear of Debt

The energy of debt can be overwhelming, and it can be smothering. Many of my clients say to me “I don’t understand how this happened. How did it get this bad? I have no idea how to fix this.” I hear it all the time.

Feeling this way can often lead to a disastrous next step – sticking your head in the sand and trying to hide from your debt. Understanding where you are now is the only way I know to help you plan your way out of that crappy and suffocating feeling.

Look, I completely get it. As a business owner, for the first time in my adult life I have credit card debt which essentially represents investments I’ve made in the business and in myself. While I know that the investments I’ve made are very much worth it and are intended to fuel the growth of my business, debt can still feel very yucky (a very technical term, of course).

When you have large amounts of consumer debt (i.e. credit cards, car loans, and using home equity lines to finance personal endeavors) it’s like riding a roller coaster. You’re energetically all over the place – up, down, up, down, sideways – never really knowing how to get off the ride that you never intended to stay on permanently. Somewhere along the ride you lost track of the debt and you’re afraid to acknowledge what could be a scary number.

So my question for you is this – are you brave enough to ride the debt roller coaster to the end and get off the ride once and for all? If the answer is yes, keep reading for 3 key steps to eliminating debt forever.

Step #1: Write it all down – Yup, that’s right. The first step is the hardest when it comes to debt. It’s time to write down all of your debt balances so that you can acknowledge your truth. A lot of times people feel sick to their stomachs at the thought of doing this, however in the end it’s often not as bad as people thought it would be. Without acknowledging where things stand currently, it will be very difficult to find a way out…you might end up digging a hole to China when you wanted to dig a hole to Russia instead (metaphorically speaking, of course!).

When you’re writing things down, make sure you include all of the debt details. You’ll want current balances, interest rates, due dates (of monthly payments), and minimum payments required for each piece of debt. A best practice would be to to write down all of your debt just to be able to see it all in one place (i.e. including longer term debt like your mortgage and student loans), however for purposes of getting rid of debt with draining energy we’re primarily going to focus on how to eliminate consumer debt (i.e. credit cards, car loans, home equity lines used for personal purposes, etc.)

Step #2: Assess your savings – You might be saying to yourself, “what does my savings balance have to do with debt anyway?” The answer? EVERYTHING. A healthy savings account is the key to getting out of debt and stepping off of the debt roller coaster once and for all. Let me explain.

Life happens, and unexpected expenses pop up. It can’t be avoided. Therefore, when you’re prepared (with a savings account) you can absorb them easily. Without a savings account, you’ll pay down your debt for a while until the next unexpected expense arises and you’re stuck to put it on a credit card again which increases your balance that you’ve been diligently working to pay down. And you feel defeated…UGH.

How do you avoid this feeling? If you don’t have savings or if you have only a small amount of savings, target saving at least one month’s worth of expenses. This may feel counterintuitive to save while you have debt to pay down (that is likely costing you money via interest), but trust me – I’ve seen it work time and time again and having a savings account helps you to absorb future unexpected expenses so you can stay the course with paying down your debt.

Step #3: Plan your way out of debt – This last and final step is critical in getting out of debt. Without a good plan, most people just throw money after their debt haphazardly much like you would throw wet spaghetti against the wall and it would stick anywhere it felt like it (on the kitchen cabinet, on the floor, perhaps even on someone standing nearby)! It would be completely random where it landed, instead of it being strategically stuck (or in the case of debt, applied to a random balance).

Ask yourself these key questions: 1) how much extra money beyond the minimum payments can you afford to dedicate toward paying down debt? and 2) what are the priority pieces of debt to pay down first? In terms of what pieces of debt to consider as “priority” consider the following:

  • Are there smaller debt balances where you would feel accomplished if they were paid off?
  • What are the interest rates – is there one piece of debt that is costing you a lot more?
  • Which piece(s) of debt is causing you the most angst and you would feel a sense of relief if it was eliminated (i.e. debt to family, debt from an emotional/triggering event, etc.)?

After you’ve answered these 2 key questions for yourself, make a conscious decision as to which one piece of debt you’ll apply the extra funds to, and pay the minimums on all the rest until you eliminate the first piece of debt. Then, go through the process again until all debt has been paid off.

While these 3 steps may not be easy, if you take one step at a time you can significantly alter the dampened energy that you may be feeling about your debt. Handling your debt will allow you to step powerfully into a role as a financially authentic individual and be in charge of your financial life…one step at a time!

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Why it Matters: Living a Financially Authentic Life

Why it Matters: Living a Financially Authentic Life

One thing that intrigues many people that I meet is how I came up with the name of my company, Financially Authentic.  It’s not exactly a common term, so I find myself having to explain it often.  It’s an interesting story on how it came to me, and in a way it was divinely given to me in a “thought flash” early one morning (and the website domain just happened to be available too…how convenient!).  As background, one of my lessons in life has been to find my way back to a place where I can be all of who I am meant to be, and I call this my journey to authenticity.  It’s been a long journey (and it’s still ongoing) and it hasn’t always been easy, however it has always been worth it in the end.  So my company name is a blend of my love for finances and my own personal journey of becoming more authentic.

Now that you know the personal story behind how I came up with my company name, would you like to know how I define it in the context of my work with others?  As I started on this journey and before I started my own business, I found that when I used my money in a way that mattered to me (i.e. experiences, things, etc.) that the energy money had in my life decreased significantly – things felt lighter and more simplified.  When I share what it means to be financially authentic, I explain that when you use your money in a way that is aligned with what is really important to you in your life that you can then use money as a tool to live your life with more confidence, ease, and grace.  Essentially, building a stable financial foundation filled with clarity on what you want in your life is the beginning to bigger things.

So why does being financially authentic even matter, you might ask?

Well, it has to do with those “bigger things” I just mentioned.  When you are financially authentic in your life and have gained financial clarity and stability, this then leads to space to be able to think, breathe and reflect because you’re not stressed about money.  As you have time to think, you can consciously decide who you want to be and what you want to do…you get to have choice.   With choice comes the ability to live in a more conscious way which usually leads to the question of “what am I here to really contribute?”  And when everyone in this world is really making a powerful contribution, then this world will become a much more connected place.  Because if you haven’t noticed lately, we’re in a bit of a dark place with a lot of negativity surrounding us and it doesn’t have to be this way.  You can have clarity, choice, contribution, and connectedness….if you’re willing to be brave.

Ok, wow – that felt like a lot to get out all at once.  It’s all part of my bigger mission beyond spreadsheets for cash flow and net worth – to help people make a bigger impact with their lives and contribute and connect.  I’m not 100% sure how it’s all going to work, but it feels right…so I’m moving ahead and have faith that it will all work out!

Beth, this is all great, but how do I get started with being financially authentic – HELP?!?

This is a great question and don’t you worry…I wouldn’t leave you hanging without some practical tips to get started!  Here are 3 key ways you can get started on your own journey to financial authenticity so that YOU can have more clarity, choice, contribution and connectedness:

Step #1: Know Your Numbers  – It’s very difficult to be financially authentic if you have your head lodged firmly in the sand about your financial situation.  It can be very painful and stressful to feel like you’re not in control of your money.  There’s blame, shame, guilt and embarrassment that you don’t know how to handle your money as well as you would like to.  STOP IT.  Stop the blame, shame and guilt, and instead know that you’re not alone – almost 70% of people live paycheck to paycheck these days, and that includes really successful people too.  Personal finance simply isn’t taught in our society, and it needs to be as a critical life skill.  Be kind to yourself, be willing to look your financial situation in the eye, and ask for help.  There are many compassionate and non-judgmental professionals out there willing to help.

Step #2: Consciously Decide How to Spend Your Money – In our fast-paced world where we’re always on the go, and we’re constantly bombarded by online advertising and social media, it’s hard to control the urge to buy and satisfy the desire to immediately reward ourselves with something for working hard.  In my experience, it’s only when you consciously decide in advance how to use your money that the unconscious spending stops.  I’m convinced from what I’ve seen in my own life and with my clients that when you take responsibility for how you use your money that you’ll be happier and that you’ll actually attract more money into your life as a result.  (PS – this is that “financial alignment” I referred to earlier…decide to use money in ways that matter to you!)

Step #3: Always Be in the Financial Flow – Always being aware of your financial situation takes some routine and discipline, so I recommend to everyone to just start with a weekly money date.  A weekly money date is like going to the financial gym, if you will. Once a week, sit down to pay your bills and handle any other financial matters that need to be addressed (i.e. follow-up phone calls, etc.).  Having a plan to use your money intentionally and purposefully is important, however life is always changing and so our financial plans have to adapt with those changes as well.

In the end, be sure to remind yourself of this often (I know I need to)…financial authenticity is a journey, not necessarily a destination.  So hop on the train wherever you’re at, and enjoy the ride to a more meaningful and impactful life, ok?

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3 Steps to Financial Gratitude in Your Life

When I mention the topic of financial gratitude to people, sometimes I get the blank stare like “Huh? What the heck is that?”

To me, financial gratitude is when you’re grateful for the resources that you already have, instead of always focusing on what you don’t have. If you’re always focused on what you don’t have, you’re focusing on the negative instead of being appreciative of what you already do have.

Let me offer an example. If a loved one heard you complaining about what you didn’t get for Christmas when they just gave you a beautiful scarf that they took time to pick out specifically just for you, how do you think they would feel about getting you something next year? Probably not very good, right? They might not put much effort into it next year. It works like this in a universal sense as well – if you focus on what you’re not getting, you’re sending out bad energy and you block positive things from showing up in your life.

I’m going to get real here for a minute about my own life. One year ago I took the brave step to open my own business, and let me tell you building a business is challenging sometimes. There’s no guaranteed paycheck, and I’ve been investing in myself and my business heavily. I have less money in my accounts now than when I started, and I have some additional debt now too from some business investments that I’ve made. Yet despite the decrease in my financial net worth, my personal self worth has increased exponentially and I’m grateful to know I’m on the right path and living my purpose. I choose each and every day to focus on the many resources I do have. I have supportive family, friends, colleagues, and a life that I love – can you ask for much more than that really?

At this point, you may be saying “Well Beth, how do you find financial gratitude, especially during the challenging moments?” I’m glad that you asked.

Step #1 – Reflect more on what’s working, and less on what’s not working!

When was the last time you complained about something? I know several years ago that I complained….sadly I did it a LOT. I was miserable at work and in my life, and I whined to others about it. My friends were unhappy too – it was like a big old complaint-fest and we fed off each other’s energy about how crappy we felt (yuck). And if I’m being really raw here, I was jealous of other people who were happy. (Sorry, it’s ugly but it’s true.)

Then I learned to focus more on what was working and the resources that I did have instead of whining and complaining. Slowly but surely I felt a shift start to happen…more good things and good people showed up in my life.

Try for yourself and schedule some time to reflect on what’s working. If you’re having trouble with getting the complaining under control, check out this great resource I learned about a few years ago –

Step #2 – Write down what’s working

Once you’ve found some positive resources in your life, it’s time to write them down (i.e. journal, gratitude jar, etc.). Because when we’re trying to shift our habits, sometimes we forget the positive things in the harder moments. Shifting takes time, so it’s always good to have something written down to refer back to when you’re struggling and having a tough day.

Step #3 – ASK for what you need

During Step #1, inevitably things that you need and don’t yet have will come up. We can’t help it, we’re human.

Select one item from the list of what you need to ask for help with. What specifically do you need help with (details are important)? Who can help you? How will you ask for help?

Don’t be afraid to simply ask. It’s an often forgotten art form, especially for us women. Be brave and ask as you may just be surprised how positively others respond to your request. When the resource that you need appears, you can be grateful for it and reflect on what you have (and thus, the circle begins again).

3 simple steps to begin building financial gratitude in your own life – it’s that simple to get started. And for a bonus step (because some of you are over-achievers like me), if you want to take it up a notch you can ask the loved ones in your life how you can help them. You may just spark something in them to help spread a ripple effect of financial gratitude!

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