Tag Archives | Financial plan

Generating Financial Peace of Mind in Your Life

For me, inspiration is often sparked from the most unlikely of places and while it isn’t always easy I’ve trained myself to translate unexpected inspiration into action, for myself and for my clients.

Last Thursday was no different as I prepared myself to attend the “Peace of Mind Speaker Series” in Providence, RI. I had been gifted a ticket to the event by a friend, and while the topic of the speaker series (mental health awareness) may seem a bit outside what I normally focus on in my work, I found that the conversation that was generated by the speakers that day sparked a new way of thinking about financial health and the importance of designing a financial plan customized for each and every person to support them in their lives.

The event inspired me to begin thinking about the concept of financial peace of mind, and how I’m creating that in my own life and the lives of my clients. There’s a certain centeredness and clarity that comes from the work that I do, and there’s freedom and peace on the other side of knowing how to use money as a tool through a solidly aligned financial plan.

And of course, as I began to think about financial peace of mind, my clients and potential new clients showed up this week needing to understand what financial peace of mind looked like and that it was possible for them. I got to share what I’d been thinking about, and the 3 key steps that take place on the journey to creating financial peace:

  1. Get clear on your goals and what you want — In order to design a financial plan that works powerfully to support your life, it’s critical to first and foremost get clear on what you want. Each financial plan that I design for my clients is customized to support their wants and desires, and so if those wants and desires are unclear, the plan that is designed won’t truly represent what matters to them and as a result the level of commitment isn’t as high to the plan. Our lives move so quickly these days, that creating space to think about what we want often feels like a luxury when in reality it’s one of the most important things we can ever do to get clear on the results we’re looking to generate.
  2. Revisit your financial plan as an expression of your goals — In working with my clients, we’ve come to define “financially authentic” as the ability to use money in a way that is aligned with what matters to them in their lives. The concept of alignment, while perhaps new, is critical in creating financial peace. When a financial plan is an expression of your goals and what matters to you, there is little, if any, resistance to sticking with a plan. It’s as if the clarity of the aligned financial plan allows you to know what you’re up to and generates purposeful action for you to take in your life. Money then truly become a tool to support your goals and what you want to create.
  3. Test the new plan in the real world — How we use money in our lives is rarely, if ever, static and unchanging. What we’re up to and how we want money to support us is always evolving, and therefore our financial plans must evolve and adapt with us. Once the clarity has been achieved on our goals and we’ve revisited our financial plan as an expression of those goals, it’s time to use the plan and see how well reality matches with the plan that we designed. As I’m known for saying, “life happens” and at every turn our priorities can adjust and our plans then ideally will adapt with us. It’s important during this time of “testing” the financial plan in our lives that we pay attention to the details of the plan we’ve designed, however at the same time allowing for the possibility that something different may show up. I say this because many times I have clients who are committed to the plan as designed and aren’t present to the fact that new opportunities and goals may arise in the future that alter even the best-designed plan! How we use our money does not always need to be a perfect expression of the plan we designed – sometimes new and exciting things pop up that we get to factor into our lives!

Designing a financial plan and using money as a tool to support our lives is an ongoing process, one that is constantly evolving. And through that evolution and our individual growth, aligning how we use our money to support our lives is what generates and creates financial peace.

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Building Your Financial Confidence

After meeting with one of my clients earlier this week, I followed up via email to send along her final financial plan (a.k.a. savings and spending plan) after we made some edits during our final session.

Her response back to my email was to thank me for the information and for our time together and to proclaim that she truly “felt like a grown up” after taking control of this area of her life.

Because I do this for a living and on a regular basis, sometimes I forget how empowering it can be for people to step into an area of their life and confidently gain the knowledge that they need to intentionally direct and design their lives. This was an amazing reminder from this client of what life can look like when your level of financial confidence is raised and you’re ready to move forward to begin reaching for your dreams.

It was also a reminder of the things that stand in the way of people being as financially confident as they could be, and what they can do to step into their financial power:

1) Know your numbers – This is the beginning point of building financial confidence. Many people are feeling financially stressed because they know something isn’t working, and yet they’re not sure what it is exactly. The stress is unlikely going to get any better without looking at the numbers to figure things out, and in most cases it’s not as bad as one might think it is. Confidence begins with determining where you are financially speaking right now, in this moment.

2) Be intentional – Once you’re clear on where you are in this moment, you can become clear on where you want to go. My experience is that without an intentional road map for where you want your money to go and how you would like it to be used, money will end up being used randomly and not as purposefully and powerfully as it could be to support your life. So take the time to think about your goals and to also think about what you’d like to have in your life. Once you’re clear on the things that you want in your life, you can design a financial plan to support what you’re up to. Without an intentional financial plan, money often gets used in an unaligned way that doesn’t serve what you want in your life and this often times impairs financial confidence. With a clear intention and a clear understanding of how money is working as a tool in your life, your financial confidence will grow significantly.

3) Always be in the financial flow – Once a financial plan is in place, it’s important to always be measuring and monitoring how you’re doing against the plan. Many people will design a plan, and then “set it and forget it,” forgetting that life often changes and that our plans need to adapt and/or adjust. Also, new financial opportunities or challenges may arise that need to be accounted for in a plan so it’s important to always be considering whether a plan needs to shift to incorporate those items. Also, being in a regular conversation about your money (i.e. the weekly “money date” I suggest to my clients) is also important. Without a regular and mindful review of what’s going on financially, financial confidence can be impaired and you may be left with an unnecessary experience of feeling scarce and worried instead of abundant and powerful when it comes to your money.

These 3 simple (and yet not always easy, especially at first!) steps, when used in tandem with each other, can support you to bolster your financial confidence and keep it at a high level. And with a higher level of financial confidence, you’ll be able to make confident decisions in your life as you use money as the divine tool that it is truly meant to be to support the life of your dreams!

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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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Playing Financial Quarterback in Your Own Life

As I watched the later moments of the Superbowl earlier this week, I was reminded of the beauty of the flow when a team comes together to create amazing results.

And while a football team and a football game are certainly different than your financial life, I was still reminded of the importance of being the financial “quarterback” in your own life. The quarterback is responsible for understanding who is on the field, providing instructions to each player for what to do next, and also soliciting input for strategy from others (amongst many other things).

So if we consider what it takes to be an effective financial quarterback who is actively taking a role in your financial freedom, some important questions come to mind to when considering how to effectively put together a financial plan to support your goals and your life.

  1. Do you have all of the positions filled on your financial roster?

    Often times, I find that many people don’t fully understand who is available to support them and even if they are aware, sometimes they’re afraid to reach out to ask for support. The key players on a financial team tend to include (and can also include more technically specific individuals as well): a CPA, a financial advisor, an insurance professional, an estate planning attorney, and a financial coach. Depending on your needs, you may need all of these professionals or perhaps you only need a few of them. My invitation is to take the time to meet with each of these professionals to allow them to support you in identifying the possible risks that are present to your financial future, and if it makes sense to partner with them to mitigate the risks present to your financial plan then by all means do so. At the very least, don’t leave a hole in your financial roster simply because you haven’t yet taken the time to educate yourself about what, if any, support you could receive!!

  2. Are you confident in all of your financial team members?

    To the extent that you already have financial professionals that work with you, are you satisfied with how they’re serving you? If I had a penny for every person who told me they weren’t satisfied with someone that they’ve hired, I would definitely be extremely wealthy.

    If you’re happy with the service of your team, great! And if you’re not happy, then I would recommend taking 1 of 2 steps – either sit down with them to offer them feedback in terms of how they can serve you better, or consider interviewing another professional to get a second opinion and perspective on how they could serve you to strengthen your financial foundation. It never hurts to get a second opinion, and you may decide that it’s time for a change if your current team member isn’t serving you in the way that you would like to be served.

  3. Are you engaged in the “game” of being financially conscious and/or how would you rate your performance as the quarterback?

    This is the more challenging part of the process to evaluate your team’s performance – completing a self-assessment. Are you communicating and interacting proactively with your team members, and using them to their fullest potential to serve you? Are you actively engaged in asking questions and allowing your team members to teach you so that you can powerfully oversee your financial future? If the answer is yes, then keep up the good work! Unfortunately, many times I hear people say “oh, I don’t talk to my CPA/financial advisor/attorney all that often, I just let them do their thing.”

    If a quarterback on a football team just let the other players “do their thing,” how do you think that would turn out for the team? I’m going to guess it would be a disaster!

Take a moment today to step back and evaluate how your financial team is shaping up, and how your team is performing with respect to the goals that you’ve set for your finances and your life. And while you may identify gaps in your team while evaluating, this isn’t an exercise to feel badly about what isn’t happening, it’s simply an exercise about what’s missing and what your next step is to take ownership of your financial future.

So what’s the next step for you to build your financial team? A CPA? A financial advisor? An estate planning attorney? Ask a friend or loved one for a trusted recommendation and get the support you need to establish the next pillar in your financial foundation and strengthen your financial plan!

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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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