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Designing Your Circle of Life

14 months ago I stepped into a training room on February 27, 2014 and my life changed forever (and definitely for the better!).

I began my journey with Gratitude Training in Florida, and started to identify the things that were holding me back from being everything that I could be and learning how to be more of who I am really meant to be.

As I moved through Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the trainings from February through June 2014, I could feel the terrible unfulfilled feeling I’d started the trainings with begin to leave my body while joy and excitement for my life ahead invigorated my soul.

By all pretenses, before I started the training I had a “good life”. And most people might’ve even labeled me as “successful.” Yet I wasn’t happy – I was stuck going through the motions of life, achieving everywhere I could at warp speed and yet that unfulfilled feeling stayed with me. I had no idea what was wrong.

Until I began to explore what Gratitude Training refers to as the “circle of life.” In a nutshell, the circle includes 6 areas of your life to consider in terms of how you would rank it on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being “really bad” and 10 being “awesome”):

  • Health/Body/Fitness
  • Business/Career/Finance
  • Family/Personal Relationships
  • Spiritual/Personal Growth
  • Leisure/Recreation
  • Community/Service

As I spent time during the trainings evaluating each area on a scale of 1-10 in my own life it became pretty clear why I was so unhappy. I’d spent so much time focused on one domain (Business/Career/Finance) that I’d allowed pretty much every other domain to dwindle. Was I having much fun? No. Did I feel healthy (or at least as healthy as I wanted to be)? No. Were my relationships with my family and friends the best that they could be? Ouch – definitely not. And while I had been focused on my spirituality and some community service in the previous few years, I knew there was a much higher level of personal growth and contribution of which I was capable.

So while I teach about building, creating, and strengthening your financial foundation and using money as a tool to support your dream life, it is only one piece of the puzzle in creating an abundant and fulfilled life of your dreams. I’m learning more and more every day how to play in each of these areas of the circle of life, and while it’s not always easy to grow it is always worth it!

And for today I’ll leave you with this question for you to consider:

Are you playing at 100% in all areas of your life?

Many people I talk to have dreams and aspirations to make a major difference in the world. Are you one of the change agents that the world desperately needs to shift from war, hatred, and scarcity to peace, love, and abundance? Is it your time to grab for the brass ring of life and finally go for it?

Please don’t let one more minute of precious and amazing life pass you by. Go for it all, and leave it all on the floor and enjoy the hell out of the ride while you’re at it!

I’ll see you on the ride if you decide to join me. 🙂

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Living in the Bermuda Triangle of Finances

“When I read your description of the Bermuda Triangle of Finances, I stopped…and then I cried. It was absolutely 100% what’s going on for me.”

This was what my newest client shared as she openly and honestly talked about her relationship with money. She had each of the 3 classic symptoms that come with the “triangle” that keep my clients drowning and fearful instead swimming in the abundant life of their dreams.

So what is the Bermuda Triangle of Finances, exactly? Well, let’s start with remembering what the Bermuda Triangle itself is (as defined by Wikipedia):

“The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.”

When I first read this definition the word “disappeared” caught my attention. Because that’s what my clients feel like when they’re spinning in the triangle trying to keep their heads above water, often times without a financial plan of any kind. Thinking that they’re the only ones that don’t understand money and their finances, they feel guilty and ashamed and choose to hide below the radar instead.

And it can all be avoided if you understand the 3 points of the Bermuda Triangle of Finances and how they work together to have you experience that you’re drowning and spinning.

Point #1 – Not consciously using your money – In today’s society, we’re constantly bombarded by TV commercials and other advertising mediums that demand our attention to buy, buy, and buy some more! And as I always like to say, if you haven’t taken the time to decide how to use your money in your life then money will ended up being used to buy just about anything and often random things that don’t really matter to you. At that point, there’s a lack of consciousness about how you’re using money in your life that has money slip through your fingers when having a solid financial plan could instead support you to build a strong financial foundation.

Point #2 – Having a decent amount of consumer debt – Most of my clients, on average, have between $25,000-$50,000 of consumer debt. This debt is held either on credit cards or as a home equity balance (i.e. they transferred higher interest credit cards to a lower interest home equity line), and it was typically generated by living above and beyond their means (expenses exceeded income) for a certain period of time. Very often, there is not a strategy in place to pay off the debt, and the person is left trying to pay off debt for past expenses while they’re continuing to spend more than they make…and the debt increases even as they’re doing their best to pay it down.

Point #3 – Limited savings – For me, this is the critical shift in stopping someone from drowning in the Bermuda Triangle of Finances. Without any savings (or limited savings), life’s surprises with financial consequences will typically end up on a credit card (see Point #2 above). With savings, life’s surprises can be absorbed and cash can be used instead of debt. It may seem counterintuitive, however it’s critical to have savings and even be actively saving while you’re paying down debt. Many experts recommend using all extra cash flow to solely pay down debt, and in my experience it’s best to have a financial plan to divide extra cash flow toward both debt and savings to strengthen your financial foundation.

When people experience these 3 things, the feeling is frustrating…like your lack of a solid financial plan will just keep you in the same old downward spiral that you’ve always been in.

And I can honestly tell you that it doesn’t need to be this way. I invite you to take a stand for yourself and your life, and decide today to consciously design a financial plan that will support your goals.

Drowning in the Bermuda Triangle of Finances isn’t necessary. Are you ready to grab your lifeboat and use the tools available to support the life of your dreams?

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3 Key Financial Mistakes to Avoid that Can Rock Your Financial Foundation

In preparing for the call that I’m hosting next week, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my clients and the struggles that they have when they first begin to work with me.

And while I’ll be sharing the top 10 most common financial mistakes that I see on the call next Tuesday, today I wanted to share with you 3 very common mistakes that I see. In my mind, there’s no time like the present to get you started thinking about the possibility of financial freedom!

Mistake #1: Not understanding the financial conversations that hold you back – In working with all of my clients, there is usually a desire to learn new ways of managing their money which is obviously an important part of overall financial health. However, what is often missed is taking the time to truly understand how you grew up around money; what are the underlying beliefs you have about money; and what are your financial fears – in a nutshell, what is your money mindset? Without awareness and understanding of the beliefs that hold you back, often times the day-to-day money management practices are sabotaged as these beliefs run around in your head sabotaging you unconsciously. As a personal example of this, I wasn’t aware that I had a belief that “financial security comes from a paycheck and benefits” until I considered working on commissions in someone’s small business several years ago. Without having taken the time to see that this was true for me, I wouldn’t have been able to shift that belief so that eventually I could step into entrepreneurship and own my own business.

Mistake #2: Lack of awareness around financial opportunities and challenges – Creating a new relationship with money largely consists of establishing new financial habits and routines, one of which is to consistently be present to where you are financially speaking in any given moment. What are your financial opportunities? What are your financial challenges? In being up front and honest about where you stand, you can clearly understand your starting point and then map the next steps forward. Understanding your financial opportunities and challenges is much like finding out what to program into the “point A” of your “financial GPS” – you’re more likely to get where you’re going if you know the direction you’re coming from!

Mistake #3: Living life without a financial plan – If you’ve got a “point A” for your financial GPS then you need a “point B” too, right? So many clients that I work with live in what I affectionately refer to as “the Bermuda triangle of finances”, with 3 common and consistent issues that keep them spinning: 1) making good money and not understanding where their money goes; 2) living with a significant amount of consumer debt from living beyond their means; and 3) limited (or no) liquid savings. This formula is a recipe for financial stress and chaos, and in order to move beyond that it’s important to have a financial plan that allows for you to handle your commitments in excellence while planning for the future (i.e. paying off debt, building a savings account, etc.). So many people that I meet and talk to muddle through their day thinking that financial stress is just a part of life – and I can absolutely tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way if you take the time to draft a detailed plan to manage your money and use it to support the things in your life that you’re up to!

While there are many more mistakes that I see people making that I will share next week on the call, these 3 mistakes are the most common and overarching ones that I see happening that keep people from living as abundantly as they would like to.

Each year millions of people make resolutions to strengthen their financial foundation and improve their financial health, so what financial mistake will you address in 2015 that will have you feeling more empowered when the calendar turns to 2016?

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How to Assess and Improve Your Level of Financial Health

When I first started working as a financial coach, many people would mistake me for a financial advisor or financial planner. They thought I was someone who would help them learn how to invest their money for retirement.

And while financial advisors and financial planners are dear colleagues of mine and are very talented professionals, my work is very clearly in a different space where I’m helping people with their budgeting and money management skills so that they can focus on getting out of debt and saving money with the hope of building a financial plan to support their goals.

So in order to help people better understand what I did (and what I didn’t do), I created what I like to call “The Financial Health SpectrumTM” which includes the 3 phases of Build, Protect, and Grow your financial assets. These 3 phases simply reflect different levels of financial health, and while none of the phases are “bad” there is an increasing level of financial health as you move from the “Build” phase through to the “Grow” phase. In helping people to understand what type of financial support they need, I encourage people to take a few minutes to assess where they fall on this spectrum so that they can properly identify which financial expert can help them with their goals and with improving their level of financial health.

In order to help you determine where you might fall on the Financial Health Spectrum™, let me explain each phase a bit further along with the respective professionals that you might want to connect with:

  1. Build phase — This phase is typically where the 70% of people living paycheck to paycheck who are feeling out of control when it comes to their finances will land. When building your financial assets, you’ll be looking to do such things as establish a budget (or what I like to call a “savings and spending plan” because budget is such a restrictive word), develop more proactive money management skills, get out of debt, and save more money. To me, this phase is about improving your financial stability and strengthening and repairing your financial foundation so that in the future you can grow your financial assets. In this phase, you might look to work with someone who can help you increase your income, decrease your expenses, or perhaps do both! This is the phase where I work with my clients, and some other colleagues who can help you in this phase include CPAs, money mindset coaches (to help you understand if you have money beliefs that are holding you back in some way), and salary negotiation coaches (so that you can maximize your earnings).
  2. Protect phase — This phase is generally exemplified by wanting to either insure assets (property and casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance) or planning to have your wishes known about what to do with your assets in case anything happens to you. Experts in this phase include licensed insurance professionals who can help you determine the right type and amount of insurance that you need and estate planning attorneys who can help you with drafting all necessary legal documents such as wills, trusts, family planning/guardianship paperwork, health care directives and proxies, and also Medicare/Medicaid paperwork.
  3. Grow phase — At the end of the spectrum, once you’ve strengthened your financial foundation and protected the financial assets that you do have, you’ll also want to think about putting your money to work for you and growing it through investments and other financial vehicles (i.e. annuities, etc.). The financial professional you’ll want to consider in this phase is a financial advisor or financial planner who will take the time to understand your future financial objectives and design a plan customized just for you to grow your money over time to achieve your goals.

As mentioned before, there is no “right” or “wrong” phase to be in, these phases are simply an opportunity for you to recognize where you’re at right now and determine the next steps that you’d like to take for yourselves to improve your financial health. I also encourage people to think about moving along the spectrum as a longer-term process since strengthening your financial foundation and building financial independence is often a multi-faceted journey that takes place over time and with attention to progress (and not perfection). It is also important to note that you may be in more than one phase at the same time (i.e. saving for retirement while looking to more proactively manage your monthly cash flow and put the proper legal paperwork in place).

Taking the time to understand where you are on the The Financial Health SpectrumTM may well be one of the most productive things you can do to stop and assess your level of financial health. What is your next step to strengthen your financial foundation? Is there a financial task you’ve wanted to handle for a while and haven’t yet taken care of…perhaps because you don’t know the next step to take? Do you know which financial professional would serve you best to take that next step forward?

If you’re ready for a solid resource to support you on assessing your financial health, The Financial Health Telesummit may well be the answer — and the best news is that for a limited time, I’m sharing this valuable information with you for an investment of just $97! CLICK HERE to learn more about how some of my favorite colleagues and financial experts can help you decide on the next steps to take in improving your financial health and to determine whether this resource supports you in powerfully paving your path to financial freedom.

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Building a Powerful Financial Team

As I’ve continued to interview the experts for The Financial Health Telesummit, one theme has consistently come up that I realized I haven’t written about yet – the importance of having a strong financial team to support building and strengthening your financial foundation.

One expert even put it like this – why do we expect ourselves to ask for help in all of the other areas of our lives (i.e. car repairs, house repairs, etc.), yet we don’t always think to ask for help (or feel ashamed to do so) when it comes to our money?

I couldn’t agree more.  Having a strong financial team in place is a critical component of becoming financially literate and powerful.  Even someone like me (who was raised in a household where proactive money management was taught and who is a CPA herself) has people on her own financial team – a CPA (who specializes in taxes because I don’t), a financial advisor, insurance professionals, and attorneys, just to name a few.

So, who are the key players to a solid financial team and why do you need them?  Great question!

  • CPAs – Certified Public Accountants (or CPAs) are individuals who are trained in understanding the specific rules and regulations in a variety of different areas (i.e. audit, tax, etc.).  In terms of the most commonly used CPAs for individuals and small businesses, CPAs who specialize in understanding taxes are often the most helpful.  CPAs can help you keep more of the money that you make by helping you to legally take advantage of each and every tax deduction for which you’re eligible.  I typically recommend considering working with a CPA in two instances: 1) you simply don’t understand how to effectively fill out your own taxes and would be better served by having someone to help you with them (many people fall into this category) or 2) your particular situation is complicated and you may miss an opportunity to reduce your taxes because you are not a tax expert.


  • Insurance professionals – Licensed insurance professionals can help you to manage your risk in a variety of different areas, with different types of insurance including (but not limited to): property, casualty, life, disability, health and long-term care.  Each person’s situation will be different in terms of the amount and type of insurance that they need, and having someone who can help to ask you the right questions and make decisions with you on what serves you best can prove to be very helpful to protect you and your loved ones.


  • Estate planning attorneys – Attorneys who specialize in estate planning are often looking to help you with drafting legal documents such as wills and trusts in addition to other specialized legal documents that you may need to protect your assets or your loved ones.  These attorneys may also specialize in certain areas of the law (including family planning or elder care) as they seek to understand your particular situation and help you legally document your wishes and communicate those wishes effectively with your loves ones and with the courts.


  • Financial advisors/planners – Financial advisors and planners help you to take a look at the entire picture of your financial health from insurance, to investing, to looking forward to retirement to see what your income sources will be.  These professionals are great at helping you to understand your entire picture and to assess any “gaps” that you may have in your financial plan (short-term or long-term), so that you can patiently work through and address those gaps to be able to sleep well at night.  They also help you to focus on protecting and growing your financial assets.

And now that we’ve addressed who the key players are, another question I’d like to address is this – where do I find someone that I like and how do I know they’re the right person for me to work with?

If you’re not sure who to reach out to for help, I recommend 2 approaches: 1) ask a financial professional that you have an existing relationship with to recommend someone to you, as they often have a close knit group of people they know, like and trust and would be happy to connect you with; or 2) ask people around you (friends, family) who they work with and would recommend.  As you’re considering who to work with, I also recommend interviewing more than one person in each category so that you can find the professional best suited to your situation and who aligns well with your personality.

In terms of how to know whether someone is the best person for you to work with, there are usually 3 key things to assess from my perspective: 1) there’s a sense of ease in your conversations with the professional (i.e. you feel as if you can trust them); 2) it feels as if the professional is talking with you and not at you (if they’re talking too technically or with too much financial jargon and they seem to be annoyed when you ask questions, it’s time to excuse yourself and look for someone else); and 3) they have a service mentality vs. simply seeing you as dollar signs (if you get that icky “pushy” feeling from someone, it’s time to find someone else!).

In the end, there are a lot of fantastic professionals out there waiting to serve you and get you in the best financial shape of your life – you just need to know who to look for and how to find them!

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