Source: Stand here
Source: Stand here
Source: Stand here
I am aware that I often become resistant to things in my life, be they good for me or not. Sometimes, my best intentions are to be in flow and live my best life. Yes, I find that my mind is so very smart, that it keeps me from living my life fully, for it is far more easy to be in this familiar space of … comfortable.
Look back a second, and remember all of the times that you created a new plan, a new path, a new goal – how often were they realized? Is your very intelligent brain making you resist this change? While that brain is very intelligent, its job is to help you survive with the least effort possible. Can you see how that would be a challenge for you when you are trying to start a workout plan, a goal for spending time with family or working on your money?
How do you combat this tendency of your mind to keep you in stasis? You create a habit through small actions and accountability. Don’t go jumping off the precipice, ready to attack the goal with fervent ferocity; take a breath, plan a small step and ask someone to be your accountability partner to keep you on track and honest.
So, if you want to take your finances in hand, and you don’t know where to begin, I suggest that you spend 15 minutes a week working on your budget, or reading about investments, or planning how to take small steps toward your very large goals. Why 15 minutes? Because, I can do anything for 15 minutes, even the most onerous chores … like cooking. If I commit to an hour, it might be really hard for me to find the time [resistance] or make myself start [procrastination]. However, if I only have to do something for 15 minutes, I can find the time before I start my day, or for a few minutes before bed. You might even find that you spend more time than the allotted 15 minutes, as you get into the work of it and realize that it is not that bad; you might even realize that it can be a little fun. Okay, if not fun, then at least it might be an accomplishment, and that always feels good.
Why an accountability partner? Well, when I really don’t plan on doing something [a few times that I tried to quit smoking in my early 20’s comes to mind], and I think that I should, I don’t tell anyone. When it is something that I am fully committed to doing, then, if I share that, I know that the people that I love will expect me to finish it. Sometimes it is easier to get started with a loved one looking over your shoulder with gentle encouragement.
So, if you are resisting your money, be it budgeting, planning, investing, estate planning, taxes or any other thing, just schedule your 15 minutes, and tell someone that you know will hold you to it.
Your partner in wealth,
It is an interesting fact that many people tie old emotions to their money. They have shame or disappointment or expectations about what they should or should not be doing, where they should be or how they should count success in coins and dollar bills. While I understand that this comes from a society that is seldom functioning from the healthiest place, I don’t want you to have to live in this pain and angst a minute longer!
See, the big truth of money is that it is not WHO YOU ARE. So, if you are broke, it does not make you broken. If you are in debt, it does not mean that you are a bad person. All these stories that we create around money are just painful burdens from our past that hold us back and tie us down.
Your truth … let me whisper it here for you … your money is a tool to get you to your goals. That is it. It is not a measure of your worth, your character or your potential as a human being. It just is. So, if it is not a measure of your [wo]manliness, then you can look at your bills, your debts, your decisions around money as simply decisions. You can stand up straight, look that shame in the eyes, and disclaim it forever.
You can make every single card swipe, bill payment, and money decision simply be a matter of this – does it get you closer or further from your goals, and do you care? When you begin to look at this money-thing as a tool, then you realize that you are the one that controls it, it does not control you. You also get to make clear-headed decisions about each choice – and, believe me, every purchase is a definite choice that moves you toward or away from your dreams, beliefs and goals.
So, those $200 shoes? Might make you feel all tingly inside, and might not get you closer to your dream of owning a house. And, sometimes, you might still decide to buy the damn shoes!
I want you to be fully conscious and aware when you make money decisions, for only then will you move drastically in the direction that you desire. Look your money monster in the eye, knowing that the leash is in your hands, and that you are in control.
Want to learn about wealth, money and how to manage your financial future? Want to do some self-wealth? Let me teach you the same things that I teach my wealthy clients about passive income, budgeting, cash flow, investing, advanced planning, tax strategies and creating a future full of abundance and ease.
You know that many people read self-help books, right? Well, think of this as self-wealth.
You are welcome.
I have mentioned before that I have a strangely analytical mind, which makes me ideally suited to the puzzle of someone’s financial situation. There are a myriad of different pieces of the puzzle that need to be gathered and considered when dealing with wealth and money. Some of those pieces include the tax ramifications of each decision, how it impacts the risk of the portfolio, what is happening in the economy currently that might impact our choices and many, many other small and large pieces.
Yet, when it gets down to the handling of money, I’ll tell you a secret that you do not often hear …. this money thing is basic math. That is right, you can understand your money and wealth if you know how to do some addition, subtraction and maybe a little division.
I know that we in the financial world do not often tell you this, and there are good reasons, in my opinion. See, if I do not help you understand all the consequences of each of the choices you make, including the intertwined decisions involving advanced planning, then I heartily believe that I am causing you harm. Nothing operates in a vacuum, including your money decisions. So, when I take you by the hand and try to guide you down the tangled path of these choices, I want you to follow me with your eyes wide open.
So, why do I say, then, that this is just math? Because the important things that you do day-to-day are adding income, subtracting expenses and factoring in the goals that you want to accomplish. The decisions to buy or sell something in your portfolio are – at the heart of the matter – choices we make when we see a manager change, the portfolio drift away from their stated objectives or bad decision making over time. We compare the returns to the other funds like them, and decide if this is still a good choice for our future. We divide the return by the initial investment to determine the rate of return the investment has made.
See, simple math.
So, let me be clear … you may need a guide to inform you of all the other factors that can impact your money, yet you can do this money thing. You can absolutely understand money, handle money and make good choices for your money.
You might need a guide, but you’ve got this.
…to care more about people than money. To be a wealth advisor and want to change it from a perception of being in “sales” to a perception that we are consultants that you hire to be your advocate in this world of money. They say it is silly that I don’t care how much money I make until after I am certain that my client is best served. The best people in my industry tell me that I need to have a profit motive. I am certain that they must be right, but I don’t care.
What I care about is making certain that my family of clients understands money, gets to ask me anything, turns to me to talk about the emotional issues and impacts of money, wants to learn more as they invest with me, and wants to be empowered to change their world, one dollar at a…
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Left to my own devices, I will often hunker down with a book and bury myself in the midst of the invented worlds, the science of the body, or the life of an interesting person. While I may wish to be out with friends and community, I will default to where I am most comfortable, in my own head. Therein lies the problem. Without the interaction of other souls, without the input of those that I care about, I will tend to be myopic and – while comfortable – I do not grow.
And, your money, how does this apply?
I know that my clients are intelligent, caring and perceptive. They will use the knowledge that they are given by mutual fund companies, their 401ks, and what they read in books and on the internet. They take what is available and use it to the best of their abilities. And, ofttimes, they do not succeed. Why might this be?
There are many reasons why they might not succeed, and I’ll lay out a few of them and how you might overcome these issues.
1. Information Overload : Have you seen the plethora of information available out there? From the internet to every self-help money book to the myriad of white pages and prospectuses that every mutual fund company and retirement plan sponsor will provide? The amount of information that is shoved at you every moment is fairly overwhelming. Have I mentioned that it can also be conflicting, as well? You can read a newspaper article one minute, and the next something said on the news is telling you the exact opposite opinion or information.
WHAT DO YOU DO? Find a few trusted sources of information and stick with them. And, ignore the rest of the hype. Do you realize that the stock market is not run on facts, but on emotions? It is true. It is not the FACTS that a company publishes that changes the markets, but the reaction to those facts.
For example, say XYZ Widget Company says that they have developed a doodad that will eradicate cancer. The stock of that company will start soaring, even though the doodad is not yet in production and has not had the opportunity to affect the profits of the company. What if, the next week, the XYZ Widget Company now declares that it was a mistake, that the doodad was faulty and will not be produced? Now, the stock of the company starts to plummet – again, without anything having actually happened.
The markets are run on fear and greed, not fact. So, ignore the hype and pay attention to the few sources that you have determined are trustworthy and reliable.
2. Not all the information: Most people do not realize that there are more available options in which to invest than just stocks, bonds and cash. There are products that are available only when you work with a licensed financial advisor, and are never discussed on CNN or Bloomberg. There are investments that will provide stability or diversity to any portfolio, and will not be discussed by the sources that bring you information.
Many of the sources of your financial information have a vested interest in ensuring that you purchase their products. With your 401k, your insurance agent, your broker – they are all aligned against you. Yes, I said it – against you. Their job is to sell you their product. I am not saying that there are not some great people in all of different industries, for there are. However, their boss [the insurance company or the wirehouse] is adamant that they sell you their products, so that they can be profitable and survive. There is nothing wrong with being profitable, unless it comes at your expense.
WHAT DO YOU DO? Your guide to money should be aligned with you. That person should have a philosophy of caring for the client first and themselves second. How do you know? Ask them, read their propaganda, follow your gut instinct. See, they must care first about how you are helped and how you thrive before they care about how much money they make. If the person in front of you seems slick and makes you a little uncomfortable – you know that “icky” factor – then thank them, leave and interview another advisor.
What else makes it so that you might not succeed? There are a few more pieces of this that are still missing, and I’ll discuss them in my next blog. Until next time, dear readers.
May you be happy, healthy and full of the abundance of this life.
As I walk into another day, I take a moment to reflect [as suggested in the Happiness Manifesto] and come to the conclusion that I am truly fortunate to be where I am and doing what I love. I get the outrageous opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives with what I teach and what I do for a living. That is not something that everyone can claim.
5. GIVE … do something nice for a someone. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group.
Science has proven a neurological relationship between the stimulation that the reward centers of our brain receive and any act of mutually cooperative action. It makes us happy to help others, to reach out, to be in connection with the people around us. Imagine that … helping others helps ourselves be happier and more fulfilled.
How does that relate to your money?
Well, first I want to caution you about giving – you are not able to give to someone else until you are first meeting all of your own needs. You know how – when you are traveling in an airplane – they say that “in the unlikely event that there is a loss of cabin pressure, plastic hoses will drop from the ceiling. Please put yours on first before helping a child or traveling companion.” The concept is: it is hard to save your child if you are already unconscious. Same thing applies to your money. If you are not going to be able to put food on the table or pay your electric bill, you have no right to be giving money to charities or others. Even adult children. Of course, you still have every opportunity to help them or others with your time and skills.
I truly believe that we are here to be eminently successful, vastly powerful and outrageously dedicated to our own health and well-being. In my view, that means that it is important to do everything in your power to live up to those goals. One of the things that will ensure your well-being and help you to be amazingly successful is when you have the ability to help others. It may be through volunteering at the local soup kitchen, working with children, acting on a board of a not-for-profit, watching your neighbors house when they are gone, raising your hand when someone asks for help, playing with a small child, petting a dog, letting someone in front of you in traffic, allowing a person ahead of you in line that seems in a hurry, placing a dollar in the hand of someone that seems needful, and I could go on and on.
There is no small gift. Every action and choice that helps others brings us a measure of joy, fires those old feel-good neurons and pays it forward in ways that we may never begin to understand.
I have a foolish hope – one that I dream perpetuates for infinity – that every small or large action that I take to help someone is passed on and on and changes some stranger’s life in a positive way that I will never know. A positive version of the Butterfly Effect, if you will.
Good giving! I hope that it brings you much happiness.
Did I mention how much I enjoy my time on planes? As much as I lament the time spent not in meetings with clients or teaching someone about the joy of money [or is that just the strange creature that I am?], still I remember, as I am tapping away at the keys or scribbling in my notebooks, how precious this time is for me to do the things that keep me in line with my values. If you have not seen my business cards, you won’t know that I declare my values right there for the world to see clearly, so that I may be reminded and held accountable to those declarations.
Character. Integrity. Growth.
These words mean many different things to different people, as we all come to this world with our separate perceptions, yet I am eminently clear on what they mean to me. One of the values that keeps me curious and open is Growth. To me, this signifies my commitment to be a perpetual student – of the markets, of the human condition, of all the whys and wherefores, and of my own ability to be a better human to my community.
In the Happiness Manifesto, the fourth step is …
There is a correlation to learning and to older people being more active and suffering less depression. It is postulated that the benefit is not necessarily in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the curiosity. Learning has a positive influence on our self-confidence and our sense of purpose, and setting and seeking goals to achieve is known to improve our well-being.
When was the last time that you showed curiosity about your money, about what your advisor was investing in, or in what other choices might be available to you in other types of investments – such as investments in your own education, or in starting a dream? Are there things that you yearn to know, to discover? Let your advisor be your guide to helping you articulate those things that make you question. Enlist their help in becoming playful and childlike with this learning. Geez, just have some fun!
However esoteric, if you wonder – you should discover.
There is something rejuvenating about plane rides for me. Strange as it may seem, it is a small space of time, in between gate connections and rental cars, that I have a moment to reflect on my life, my relationships and the joy of where I am at the moment. It forces me to slow down, read edifying books, and write about the things that I am focusing on right then.
So, as we continue the Happiness Manifesto, our next point is…
1. TAKE NOTICE … Be curious, catch sight of the beautiful moments, be aware of the beauty of your world, reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters.
Research suggests that it is the moments of pausing, reflecting, noticing, that creates a self-regulatory behavior. So, those moments of meditation, of cognitive behavior therapy or just writing your thoughts on the moments you live will help you to be aware and choose the actions that are more in line with your values and your interests. It is this awareness – this thoughtfulness – that can inspire us to live our best lives.
So, too, can taking notice of your financial lives. I know you have heard me say that it is not about the money, and I mean no different here. Take notice of the things that you do for the money – does it align with your values and your intent in this life that you live? When you invest, do you look at the results that you aim for, or are you so tied up in the volatile world of that currency that you lose sight of what is truly important in the grand scheme of your life? If you say to me that your life is not grand, I would want to know why – you are the master of your destiny, so shouldn’t you live a very BIG life? Create what will inspire you and move you into the life you desire. Money is just the tool that will get you there, so make it do what you need.
We tend to dream about what we will do later in our lives, what joy we will have when we start living our lives and stop working for money. I am here to challenge you to find what you love NOW, and start to create the life you want to live so that you can work with the money. Or, at the very least, make the money work for you and your grand dreams.
And, I would love to hear what those dreams are! You are welcome to comment or email me and tell me how you are dreaming your best life. I’ll post some of those dreams here, so you can be held accountable for living that grand life.