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How to Avoid a Post-Holiday Financial Hangover

It’s the end of January 2015 and you walk in the door at the end of your day and begin to open the mail. You freeze when you notice that the post-holiday credit card statement has arrived. Uh-oh…time to face reality from the “retail therapy” that took place before the holidays.

While I’m certainly a fan of a little retail therapy now and then, I will also say that if you’re willing to take some time to plan in advance to save money and keep from overspending that you can successfully avoid the post-holiday financial hangover!

Similar to everyday money management, designing a financial plan for holiday spending ahead of time that aligns with what matters to you allows more money to stay in your pocket while creating experiences and connections with people you care about.

Here’s how I encourage you to think through and design your own financial plan for the holidays:

Step #1: Decide on your “big” holiday occasions – There are so many opportunities to do things during the holidays that sometimes it can make your head spin. Deciding in advance what your “big” occasions will be (i.e. Chanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, specific parties, etc.), and where you’ll enjoy investing your money the most will help you properly allocate most of your free cash flow to those occasions. And if possible, make sure to allocate a small portion of your holiday financial plan for the “unknown” events as well (i.e. those opportunities to head out unexpectedly with friends for dinner and/or have cocktails with co-workers before or after the company party).

Step #2: Focus on experiences vs. things – We live in a culture where we are constantly being bombarded to buy everything, whether it’s through a TV or radio commercial, an email, or perhaps even good old-fashioned “snail mail”. So before you start to think about purchasing gifts (which we’ll talk about in Step #3 below), I’d encourage you to think about whether a gift is what you really want to give. From my experience, people are craving connection and meaning in their lives, so ask yourself – are you in a place to provide either of those gifts to them? Some examples might include taking time to volunteer as a family at Thanksgiving at a soup kitchen and then coming home to a smaller meal later in the day, or perhaps scheduling a family event in December to get together with loved ones and asking everyone to bring their favorite dish to share with others (a bit like pot-luck style). Also, one of my favorite things to do is to make a donation to a charity on behalf of a loved one to a charity that has meaning for them. For example, in past years I’ve chosen to make a donation on behalf of my Uncle to remember my Aunt who passed away in 2008.

Step #3: Conscious gift giving – You’ve heard how Santa makes a list and checks it twice, so I encourage you to do the exact same thing! Put together a list of people that you’d like to buy presents for, including your kids’ teachers and the mailman, if appropriate. Once you’re done with that list, review it to challenge whether or not you need to buy something or perhaps you can refer back to Step #2 and give them the gift of an experience. Also, ask yourself the question whether there are people on the list who might appreciate one less thing to shop for during the holidays. As an example, my best friend and I decided years ago to focus on getting together for lunch instead and it’s one of the best gifts (less time shopping and more time together) we’ve ever given each other! For anyone who still remains on the list that gets to have a gift, take some time to decide on a target amount for each person so that when you get in the store you have some idea of how much you’d like to spend. And lastly, before you even head to the stores, hop online to search for promo codes or coupons at the stores you typically shop at – at this time of year there are always good promo codes and coupons online that can help you save money and keep more money in your pocket!

These 3 simple steps can honestly be done relatively quickly, yet it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars this holiday season. And a bonus tip for next year so that you can streamline your holiday spending even further if you’d like to: write down who you bought for, what you bought them, and how much you invested. Take this list and revisit it in January with two main purposes: 1) to see who you’d like to include for next year again (or perhaps who you no longer need to include); and 2) take the total amount that you spent, divide it by 12 get a monthly amount and begin to save in advance so you’ll have the money on hand to pay for everything next December!

And above all, remember to have fun when you’re thinking about planning your holiday experiences and gifts. In this day and age when everyone is so busy, take some time to stop and smell the roses. Life is short and it’s meant to be enjoyed!

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My “Top Ten List”: Money Management and Personal Development Books

As an avid reader, I am continually sharing my favorite books with friends, family, and clients alike. As I relax into some good books myself this week while on vacation, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books with you on the topic of money and self-development. (Note: the books below aren’t in any particular order, they’re simply some of my favorites.) I’ve also shared a note or two on the topic of the book as well as why I typically recommend the book so that you can more easily determine if it’s something you might be interested in yourself.

  1. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (T. Harv Eker) – This is one of my “go to” books for clients as it focuses on understanding the difference in habits between rich and poor people. Focused almost exclusively on money mindset and understanding your personal financial blueprint, this book can help you to identify what subconscious money beliefs and habits might be standing in your way so that you can start attracting more money into your life.
  2. The Soul of Money (Lynne Twist) – This book is a more spiritual look at how we view money and our money consciousness. Many people talk about scarcity and abundance when it comes to money, however few talk about the concept of “sufficiency” and living with a certain level of money that simply makes us happy (and taking the time to determine what that level looks like). One of my favorite all time quotes about money comes from this book: “Know the flow – take responsibility for the way your money moves in the world.
  3. Smart Women Finish Rich / Smart Couples Finish Rich (David Bach) – Both of these books offer tremendous insights into the practical day-to-day aspects of money management as well as a longer-term focus on investing and growing your net worth (i.e. concepts like time value of money are explained). If you’re just starting out, or looking for a book to give to a young woman as a graduation gift this would be a great choice.
  4. The Law of Divine Compensation (Marianne Williamson) – This book focuses heavily on the spiritual principles of faith and money, and how money and abundance can be attracted by strengthening one’s faith. This book isn’t for everyone, however if you’re a person of faith (religious or spiritual) this book may interest you…it’s one of my all-time favorites and my clients love it too!
  5. The Big Leap (Gay Hendricks) – This book isn’t specifically about money, however it focuses on how to recognize the signs when you’re pushing the edges of your comfort zone and the world seems to just go crazy! If you’re at a point in your life where you’re growing in leaps and bounds (or you would like to be), this is a great resource and read for you.
  6. The Slight Edge (Jeff Olson) – Sometimes in life, it’s all about the simple steps we take little by little to move us forward. Unfortunately, we often forget that simple steps, when accumulated, can have a tremendous impact on how far we go. If things feel overwhelming sometimes and you’re looking for some motivation to learn how to start moving things forward in your life, then this book is a great place to start inching forward and gaining your “slight edge.”
  7. The Success Principles (Jack Canfield) – This book is like a “success Bible,” giving you many steps that you can take to move toward the most successful version of yourself. It’s a long read (over 500 pages), but it’s easily digestible in short chapters focused on different aspects of successful behavior.
  8. The Art of Extreme Self-Care (Cheryl Richardson) – While the topic of self-care may not seem like it has anything to do with money or the topic I work on with my clients, it’s often one of the first hurdles that we need to acknowledge and address – busy people forget to take care of themselves and then run the risk of injuring themselves either in the short term or the long term, which could ultimately impact their earning capacity (i.e. disability, stress, underperformance at work, etc.). If you’re looking to crack the code on how maximize your ability to perform in your life and at work, start with this book to learn how to take care of yourself.
  9. The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown) – Often times we get caught up in who society and others tell us we should be. When we chase other people’s dreams, we end up being unhappy. This book is about the journey from “what will people to think?” to “I am enough.
  10. Daring Greatly (Brene Brown) – This book’s premise is that when we acknowledge our fear, embrace vulnerability, and adopt courage in our lives that we, too, can live a whole-hearted life full of happiness and joy. (Note: it doesn’t claim it’s easy, it simply claims it’s possible if you’re willing to do the work and dare greatly!!)

I hope that at least one of these books piques your interest and helps you grow in some way – enjoy!

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A Spiritual Perspective: Money as a Divine Tool

“To have a balanced relationship with money, you need to respect its energy.”

This quote was recently in a book I was reading, and when I read it I almost cried out in joy. “YES…EXACTLY!!!” I thought to myself.

If you’re a private client or someone who knows me well, you know that this quote articulates one of the most important spiritual financial principles that I teach. When you show money that you respect it, it will show up in ways you could have never imagined to support you in complete and total abundance. In contrast, if you don’t respect your money, then your financial life generally speaking feels stressful and overwhelming.

In fact, there are 3 key spiritual financial principles that I believe and that I incorporate into my work that demonstrate money’s place as a divine tool that will show up to support you in your life:

  1. The energy of money is meant to flow…in and out — In today’s society there is a significant focus on accumulating money for retirement later on in life. And while I am in agreement that having money set aside is a good idea and allows for financial stability, there is a delicate distinction where accumulation begins to feel a bit like hoarding and where the energy of money feels stilted, stale and stuck. Every individual (and couple and business owner) needs to find the balance for themselves that feels good to support financial stability (short term and long term) while giving generously and allowing the energy of their money to move in and out of their life. In my experience, life is too short to wait until retirement or later in life to enjoy it. Find the balance for yourself that allows you to use money as a resource here and now while also setting some money aside for future opportunities and needs.
  2. Manage your money purposefully and wisely and be rewarded — If I’m being honest, this may be my favorite spiritual financial principle because it’s a place where everyone can start right away – managing the money that they already have access to! Stewarding and managing money wisely signals to the Universe that we’re ready for more abundance, and so paying attention to and learning about proactive money management systems and techniques is a critical part of the equation for financial freedom. As a mentor of mine once shared in a story that illustrates this point well…if you took a 5-year old out for an 1-scoop ice cream cone and he dropped it on the ground by accident, would you then turn around and buy him a 2-scoop ice cream cone when he asked for it? Of course not because he had trouble handling the 1-scoop cone as it was! The same is true with money — if you’re struggling to handle what you have right now, why would the Universe give you any more?
  3. We can all attract more money into our lives — If I’m completely honest, this was the hardest principle for me to fully believe in for myself until I had the pleasure of experiencing it over and over (and over) again. Many people (including me several years ago) think that there is a limited amount of money to be divided up and used by everyone in this world. Would it surprise you to learn that by simply making a strong and intentional commitment and taking action in the direction of our dreams that we can attract more money into our lives in a way that doesn’t mean that others have any less money? This one may be hard to swallow and really understand at first, but all I can say is that the power of intention is an amazing resource that is available for all of us to tap in to…and we don’t use this resource nearly often enough, or we use it and then give up on our intentions when it feels like something we want (i.e. money) isn’t happening fast enough.

So, at this point, you’re likely saying one of these three things to yourself after reading this article: 1) “what the heck is she talking about, this makes no sense — she’s crazy”; 2) “this is new, but I’m open to it”; or 3) “this makes complete and total sense and I’m on board.” And no matter where you are on this spectrum, all I ask is that you consider these new thoughts that I’m presenting. Several years ago I thought that effectively managing your money was all about using spreadsheets to make sure your expenses were less than your income. Now I know from the results that my clients have and my own life that the actual science of money management is only the beginning of the formula for financial freedom.

At the end of the day, financial freedom and financial independence aren’t necessarily just about what your bank account looks like in the future, it’s also about freedom from the fear of money and trusting that if you respect money that Universal forces will respect you back and you will be provided for with the right opportunities to support you and the life of your dreams!

Money is truly a divine tool…if we allow it to be.

Image courtesy of chanpipat /

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How to Realign Your Finances in the New Year

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year to talk about resolutions, and one of the biggest ones is typically in the area of money and finance.

But there’s a problem with resolutions from the way that I see it – the energy of the word “resolutions” is just so damn HEAVY.  In fact, I really dislike the word “resolutions” (and I would actually say that I hate it if my 3-year old nephew wouldn’t tell me not to say “hate” because it’s a bad word…Auntie Beth has been humbled a few times on her vocabulary lately by her favorite young men.)

Don’t get me wrong – I fully encourage anyone to make a commitment to learning more about proactive money management and to gain clarity about how they’re using their money on a day-to-day basis, while saving money and getting out of debt.

It’s simply that I prefer to think about new possibilities instead of resolutions. Inspire yourself instead of feeling heavy about making what can sometimes be a scary change if you’ve never learned how to manage your money.  Ask yourself this question – what would life be like IF I knew how to intentionally, authentically, and proactively manage my money?  My guess is that this question will get you thinking in a more positive manner about why you want to improve your financial knowledge (instead of simply feeling like you “should”).

Also, be realistic – I find that people are often looking for a one-trick-does-it-all solution.  I’m here to tell you sadly that it’s not there…sometimes it took you a while to get into the situation you’re in, and so the reality is that it might take you a while to get yourself out of it.

So if you’re looking for a way to begin connecting with and realigning with your finances in a more powerful way, here are 3 steps to help you get started on improving the state of your personal finances:


1)    Assess the level of your financial health – Depending on whether you’re looking to build, protect, or grow your financial assets, you may require a different level of expertise or support.  While the majority of people I meet (i.e. 70% of people living paycheck to paycheck) often need help with learning the systems and structures of an effective money management system so that they can build a stronger financial foundation, sometimes people may need help with protecting what they already have (i.e. insurance, estate planning, etc.) or growing what they have (i.e. financial planning).

If you’re looking to protect or grow what you have, the best bet is to ask colleagues, friends or family members for a referral to a trusted professional.  However, if like most people you’re at the beginning phase (building) of understanding your financial situation, then the next 2 steps will help you to get the information you need.

2)    ASK: Where am I now? – When I’m trying to share with clients and people I meet how they can get started on improving their finances, the first thing I explain is the concept of using a “financial GPS.”  It’s similar to the GPS that we use in our cars, it’s just for finances – and without this you are forever trying to get to a destination that you can’t efficiently get to (remember how the shortest distance between two points is a straight line?)!  When you’re programming a GPS, you need to type in a “point A” – for your finances, this means that you need to understand where you currently stand before you can really make any impactful decisions about how you can get where you want to go.

In order to determine your financial “snapshot” (or point A, if you will), there are 2 main steps to take: 1) understand your Net Worth (Assets minus Liabilities) and 2) understand your monthly cash flow.  For the cash flow, I recommend summarizing at least 3 months of recent cash flow in order to have a solid base of information about your money map (i.e. income and expense details).  (PS – I know that pulling together this information can seem scary sometimes, but take it one small step at a time…and keep breathing, it will be worth it in the end!)

3)    ASK: Where do I want to go?  As you know, the next part of programming a GPS is to set your destination…or point “B,” if you will.  What are your goals (financial and otherwise) in the next year, 5 years, 10 years, or beyond?  Do you want to focus on eliminating debt?  Saving more?  Taking a trip?  Starting a college fund for your child?  Deciding how you want to consciously use your money as a tool to achieve your goals is a really important part of designing a financial plan that works for you and your life.


With these 3 steps, you’ll be able to better understand what I like to call your level of financial alignment.  In other words, are you using money in a way that truly supports what you want in your life? Or, are you doing as many people do and spending unconsciously without thinking about whether you’re spending on things that matter to you (what I like to call being “financially authentic”)?  Being financially aligned and authentic can have a tremendous positive impact on eliminating financial struggle and strengthening your financial foundation as quickly as possible.

In the end, while the steps are simple they will take some time, however I promise that by understanding the “point A” and “point B” of your personal financial GPS that you’ll move more efficiently (in a straight line!) toward your goals.  As I always say, money is a tool that when used powerfully and to your advantage can provide you with more choice and the ability to contribute in a bigger way…is 2014 your big year?

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Money Management Interviews to Start 2014 Off Right

Please enjoy these 2 interviews that I did in November that will help you to learn more about how to live a financially authentic life.  I hope you learn something new to help you start 2014 off on the right financial footing!

The Magic of Life – Blog Talk Radio with Max Ryan (November 13, 2013)

Breaking Free – with Marilyn Shannon (November 25, 2013)


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