Archive | Money Management RSS feed for this section

Blasting through Financial Fear to Financial Freedom

As I like to say, people will happily talk about politics, religion, and sex at a cocktail party but they will actively avoid talking about money at all costs.  So why are people so afraid to talk about money or become more proactive with how they manage it? 

Financial fear is standing in the way of so many people fully standing in their power, financially and otherwise.  It’s standing in the way of individual financial freedom and choice as well as the overall financial health of our communities and economies.

It’s time to begin clearing away the fear, and start healing and transforming our relationships with money.

So if you’re saying “good idea, Beth – but how do we start doing that?” you’re not alone.  Here are 3 things to consider that might be adding to a heightened sense of financial fear:

1)      You feel embarrassed and guilty that you’re not better with your money than you are – Many people feel that they “should” be more in charge of their money, and that’s just not helpful energy.  Instead, try forgiving yourself for any financial mistakes you may have made in the past, and if it’s more a matter of wanting to become more proactive (vs. reactive) then make a conscious decision to take one step toward learning something new about your financial situation.  You’d be amazed how quickly one small step at a time builds your money management skill set and gives you more confidence!

2)      You think that you are alone and/or the only one who didn’t get the “money memo” when you were growing up – Let me clear this up quickly, you are NOT ALONE!  Almost 70% of people live paycheck to paycheck and 76% of people feel out of control when it comes to their money according to some recent studies and statistics.  So you’re actually in the majority if you’re feeling frustrated and afraid to talk about money or perhaps even ask for help.  Take it easy on yourself, ok?

3)      You were never taught how to manage your money and don’t even know where to start learning – I’m going to avoid hopping up on my proverbial soapbox about this particular topic (because then this article would begin to sound like a rant!), however suffice it to say that finances and money management aren’t actively or consistently taught in our schools or in our communities.  How are you supposed to know how to build a financial plan if you’re never taught the finer art of doing so?  The fact that these skills aren’t taught is a major barrier to people achieving any type of financial independence.  However, I’m happy to say that proactive money management skills can be systematically taught and learned.

So here’s the summary in a nutshell: You are NOT alone and don’t need to be embarrassed.  The majority of people weren’t taught how to manage money and are feeling overwhelmed.  Being financially proactive IS a teachable and learnable skill.

With all of this in mind, what is the first thing you’ll do for yourself to let go of some of your financial fear?  I’m all about taking small steps toward financial freedom, don’t let it overwhelm you!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

Managing Your Own Money Marathon

I say all the time to my clients: building your financial foundation is not a destination, it’s a journey.  It takes time, dedication to certain habits and routine, and focus on consciously deciding what really matters to you in life.

Back in late April, I made the decision to do something crazy that I’d never done before (and quite frankly, never thought I would do since I don’t consider myself an athlete).  I committed to walking 26.2 miles for the Jimmy Fund/Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a charity that is important to me.  Why did I do this?  For a few reasons: 1) I was ticked off at what happened at the Boston Marathon and was determined to participate in something that honored the people who died or were injured; 2) my Dad was a patient at Dana Farber from April 2008 – August 2009 and my family has a lot of kindness to repay so raising funds is important to me; and 3) I wasn’t doing very well with maintaining an exercise schedule of any kind and so I needed to set a personal goal that would stretch and push me.

As someone who didn’t necessarily view themselves as an athlete, how did I get started? I decided that it mattered enough to raise the funds for a good cause and if I was going to stretch myself in the process, why not a marathon (I’d done the half marathon 3 years ago, I could do this too, right?).  I signed up to participate in the event.  I looked for a plan to help me do what I had no idea how to do because I’d never attempted such a feat before.  I carved out time and scheduled the plan into my calendar of an already-busy life.

Isn’t it funny how a lot of the process I used for my walk applies to money management too?  You have to decide that it matters to you to be proactive with your money; you have to sign up (or show up) to learn how to do it; you have to develop a plan that works for you and; you have to find time to manage your plan and your money.

And the parallels go even deeper than that.  Here are a few of the key reflections I had about how marathons and money management are similar:

1)     You have to manage your resources effectively – For the marathon walk (and to some extent during my training as well), I had to fuel myself regularly with water and food along the way but at the same time I didn’t want to carry anything too heavy.  So I didn’t carry much with me and every few miles at a rest stop I had to decide how to refuel and adapt accordingly.  I also had to decide when to reapply gel to my feet so I wouldn’t end up with raw feet and nasty blisters!  It was a bit like balancing a budget (I know, such a horrible word…savings and spending plan is so much better) as I had to stay in touch with my energy and fuel myself as appropriate.  In terms of a financial plan, you’re always able to manage your resources more effectively if you know what matters and what doesn’t so that you’re not using money wastefully on things that don’t make you happy.  Manage the money you have!

2)     Having a plan offers a framework for smaller steps to lead to bigger steps – When I found a plan online to use for beginner marathoners like me, I instantly sighed in relief.  I wouldn’t have to do it alone, someone (or the plan) would help me know what to do.  The plan kept me on track, focused and aligned with the smaller steps along the way that would be necessary to get to the bigger step of the actual walk.  In managing your money, smaller steps like monthly deposits in your savings account can add up in the end to helping you make a big purchase or serve as a stable source of money in the event that something unexpected comes up.  And in the larger scheme of things, smaller proactive steps managing your money can ultimately also lead to financial stability in the short-term and a secure retirement in the longer-term.  In a nutshell, if you do the work to take the smaller steps, you’ll reap the rewards of the larger steps later on down the road.

3)     TRUST the process – One of my favorite sayings is that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and who you become in the process.  I trained for 4 months, and some of those days were super hard.  I also sweat something awful most days in the New England summer humidity, yet I kept on walking.  After an 18-mile training walk on a Sunday in mid-August, I somehow bruised my left heel and had to take a whole week off from training just several weeks before the event (can you say freaking out?!?!?).  Truth be told, there were several moments where I heard the voice in my head say “can you really do this?”  But I had to trust that everything was happening as it should, and use my plan as a guide and adapt as necessary.   That’s just what it’s like with a financial plan – you set it up with the best of intentions and use it as a guide most of the time but when life throws you a curveball that you weren’t expecting you have to trust and adapt.  Managing your money proactively and using money as a tool to support your life is like the training that I did, so that you can enjoy your life now (the journey) and in the future (the destination).

Sometimes people think that managing money is too hard of a skill to learn and that they’re the only ones who don’t understand it.  I’m here to dispel that myth once and for all as I’ve proven that money management is a teachable and a learnable skill if you’re willing to train yourself in effective and efficient money habits and routines.

And all I have to say to that is if I can complete a marathon walk for charity, then trust me – learning how to manage your money will be a piece of cake in comparison (and I’m pretty sure you won’t walk funny or have blisters when you’re done!)!!!!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

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!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

How to Get Started Building a Financial Plan

If I’ve heard it once (or some version of the following), I’ve heard it 1,000 times: “I don’t like numbers, they scare me.  I can’t seem to sit down and put together a budget even though I know I really should.”

So let me get this straight – you’re scared (which means you’re not thinking as clearly as you’d like to), you think you’re “supposed to” put together a budget (which is like the universal swear word of money), and you are “shoulding” on yourself that it’s an exercise you have to go through (and be tortured it sounds like to me).

C’mon….how about a little compassion for yourself please?  Is it possible for you to see that maybe it doesn’t have to be torturous and if you just had the right tools and information it would be easier?  I’d like to help you shift your perspective to have building a financial plan be a more joyful experience so that you can have the financial freedom, independence and choice that you’re seeking.

The way I see it, there are 3 steps that are required “pre-work” before you ever start looking at numbers to develop your financial plan.

1)      Retire the word budget from your vocabulary – I would say eliminate it, but since other people still use it frequently and we need to be able to recognize the word (I can only educate so many people at a time!), we’ll “retire” it for now.  Why retire the word budget?  Energetically speaking, budget just feels awful. It feels like you’re choking and like if you have a budget you’ll never be able to buy a cute pair of shoes or the newest technological gadget ever again.  Sounds pretty miserable and life-sucking if you ask me, no wonder no one wants to put together a budget! 

Instead of the word budget, I suggest using the phrase “savings and spending plan.”  As one husband reminded me across the kitchen table during a session with his wife one day, “Beth, it’s the same thing, why get caught up in semantics?”  My response? “Well your wife seems to be much more willing to participate in the conversation when we call it a “savings and spending plan” than when we call it a budget, right?”  The husband smiled and said “excellent point.” Sometimes it really is the small tweaks in life that make the difference!

So stop thinking about budgeting as something that weighs you down, and instead start thinking about a “savings and spending plan” as something that is just a financial illustration of how you want your money to move in the world that will help you get from “here” to “there.”

2)      Get really clear on what you want for your life – Before you plan your money, you need to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about what you want for your life.  Money is nothing but a tool to help you move from your present to your future (from “here” to “there” remember?), and without some sort of path to follow money will just exist without purpose.   Unless you tell money where to go it will go just about anywhere it wants to!

Being financially authentic means that you use your money in a way that aligns with what matters to you in your life.  When you’re financially authentic, a financial plan is nothing more than the full expression of what is important to you and all of a sudden the energy around money becomes much less chaotic, and financial decisions are simplified.  You have a road map for your life and your money and it provides you with clear guidance and direction.

In the end, a solid financial foundation and a good financial plan simply requires that you’re intentional, authentic, and proactive with managing your money.  Get clear and get real about your life, and using your money efficiently and effectively will become much easier, I promise.

3)      Set some specific goals with timelines – Now that you’ve gotten some clarity around what you want for your life, it’s time to set some specific goals so that you can then determine whether those goals will require money to support them.  Not all goals need money, although many goals do need some level of financial support at some point in time.  

When setting goals, I encourage people to think about them in 3 different time-based groups – short-term (1 to 3 years); medium-term (3 to 10 years); and long-term (10+ years).  This is important because depending on the goal, it can impact whether or not it’s a goal that needs to be reflected in the current financial plan or whether it can wait to be included in a few years.  Remind yourself when you’re setting your goals to be realistic – saying that you want a Ferrari in a year isn’t likely to be something that you can achieve (unless you randomly hit the lottery, and the lottery isn’t a financial plan it’s a fluke!).

Once you’ve determined which of the goals need money to support them, consider the short-term goals first and state the goals in a very specific and measurable way.  For example, saying “I want to save more money” isn’t very specific, whereas “I want to save $1,200 in the next year to take a vacation in spring 2014” is very specific.  The more specific goal allows you to measure out that you’d like to save $100/month toward that goal ($1,200 total / 12 months), whereas the more general goal doesn’t give you a solid target.

So before you even start to concern yourself with looking at the numbers, take some time to sink deep into your head and your heart to think about what you really want for your life.  Are you happy as you are?  Do you want to set a really big goal that needs financial support (i.e. like starting your own business)?  Do you want to simplify things and live more peacefully and calmly without as much “stuff” cluttering up your life?

The options are endless, it’s simply up to you to choose and design a financial plan to match your life!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }

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?

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Comments { 0 }