To Keep Trust Thriving, Talk about Trust

Trust, what a loaded word. It carries such weight yet can be broken or withdrawn so quickly. And sometimes, when broken, it cannot be restored.

Trust is a word that I have written about before. Because it is such an important principle, I am looking at it again.

Today, googling trust’s etymology, I see the word strength is added to the word’s origination. Wow, that’s a clue. Strength. For me strength carries an element of integrity to it. When I think of integrity, I am reminded of a taut rope. It has a lot of integrity as it cannot be broken…not easily.

Trust is something felt and perceived so qualities and behaviors that enrich feelings of connection, accountability, reliability, strength, and safety are included in a feeling of trust.

But a disagreement on trust can arise when my definitions of the aforementioned words are different than yours. My sense of reliability may be different than yours and that difference can break trust when I do not meet your definition of what trust means to you. Perhaps, for you, reliability is measured in time: you trust someone who shows up on time, whereas for me, reliability may be built on an attitude of making things comfortable whereas time is not on my radar of what constitutes trust. But your trust of me can fade when I am “late” because, for you, a sense of time is embedded in your framework of trust.

While trust can be so personal while, at the same time, be universal in its application, it is important to ask those with whom you have relationships where trust is an important element, what trust means to them. Doing this can give you the framework of what trust means to them, how it is expressed, and how they see it in others. When you talk about trust, you can build the qualities and behaviors that are necessary to keep trust a pillar in your relationship and you can support each other in keeping trust active and believable.

Trust is important to talk about to keep it thriving.

Wisdom Informs Knowledge

I’ve been thinking about wisdom, knowledge and fact. I wanted to understand and differentiate between the three, for the purpose of clearer contextual engagement.  My thinking has led me to the following about these three concepts.

Wisdom is not knowledge and knowledge is not always fact. And facts are not always fixed, static or absolute.

Okay, so if that is what they are not, what are they? My understanding informs me that wisdom is clear and correct insight, like a revelation Wisdom, in action, applies that which is most suitable, most just, most appropriate at the right times. It is the ability to measure, discard, keep and reveal appropriately. 

Knowledge is derived from the process of experience, learning, and understanding. Knowledge is bestowed upon those who study and who test who distinguish and discern. Knowledge, in action, separates the meaningful, relevant, and important.

Fact is visible as an event, a thing done, an occurrence, achievement or thing evidenced. Facts, in action, are used in data compilation, data research and in providing evidence when appropriate.

Okay, now that we have that taken care of what motivates me to even bring this up? I find, in conversation, it is important to distinguish between the three, so opinions and points of view can be more easily understood. For example, when it is raining outside, I can point to the observation of the action. That is a fact. That the phenomenon is rain is based on knowledge.  Wisdom applies in knowing the purpose of the rain, what it is best suited for and whether or not to act on the knowledge of “rain” and how I share this information and whether I share it.

Wisdom is a behavior I encourage my clients to explore. To do so requires one to reflect, to discern, to examine life from a purposeful and value centric way as wisdom encompasses our values and is feeds purpose. Although wisdom can be confused with knowledge, evidenced by the phrase “I know” so easily spoken, wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom involves illuminative insight.

That’s what I’ve been thinking.

The One Big Tip to Use for Healthy Money Communication

Money and relationships can be difficult to negotiate. One person thinks they are the saver while the other is an unnecessary spender. One likes talking about money while the other avoids the subject, repeatedly.  Because money styles can create disharmony in a couple, here is a huge tip to alleviate tension in money relationships.

Money conversations may be easier to avoid than to have but avoiding money conversations are a detriment to strong relationships. Instead of avoiding money conversations, bring up a topic where you can learn about your partner’s financial upbringing. Ask a question like: What was money like growing up for you? How was money talked about when you were little?  What did you do with money when you were little?  And just listen, without inserting a judgmental or comparative comment. It is essential to understand each other’s attitudes and behaviors around money before trying to affect these attitudes. Nobody wants to feel shame or guilt around a habit they want to break but can’t. They want compassion, encouragement, and empowering support. They want to feel capable not unable.

Money is a very personal area in our lives, so learning to talk about money and how you can put frameworks around money in your relationship, is key. When considering frameworks to build around your financial life, ask each other questions like: What does budgeting mean to you? How have you successfully used it in your life? Where has budgeting been an issue for you? How can we create limits that work for each of us and support what it is we want to accomplish financially?

Money is a topic that can become a strong partner to relationships. Transform judgments, accusations, and disappointing attitudes to questions of inquiry, encouragement, empowerment and support.

How Sustainable is Debt, Really?!

Debt has become ubiquitous but is it sustainable?

Just one year ago, the Feds reported that consumer debt had increased by another trillion dollars since 2013. $1.6 trillion in school loans, $1.4 trillion in auto loans and $1 trillion in credit card debt.

Young adults pay for education as if it were a home with no promise of jobs at the end of the college experience. Car financing has become so easy with leases instead of ownership, and credit cards are almost a prerequisite to doing business with some companies.

It was only two generations ago that baby boomers were introduced to the “magic’ of credit cards. Before then, it was cash or a benevolent extension of credit between a known retailer and customer. Today, credit cards finance lifestyles, rather than fit into a financial plan or strategy for financial control.

Accumulating debt can be easy while getting out can be very difficult. Some find they must declare bankruptcy to right their financial behaviors. Some gain help from debt reduction programs.

I think it is important to keep your financial picture in front of you, so you are aware of your spending habits versus your earnings. Watch over your spending monthly with quarterly and yearly actual monitoring of your spending against its budget.

As money is not all about spending, it is important and beneficial to add a component of savings and investing to your financial behaviors. Having savings will give you a sense of freedom and responsibility as you watch money accumulate in your own account for emergencies. Investing gives you a sense of getting ahead and feeling of confidence.

A Mighty Thank You

When I think of you who have been affected by my blogs

I see shimmering stars light my path

When I think of you who have focused on stewardship

I am touched by a commitment to best practices

You, in your dedication to a richer and more meaningful life

Make me smile from ear to ear with joy

I applaud your commitment to lives and legacies that matter

May your commitment to 2020 give you the capacity to see far!

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged, Is That It?

Judge not lest ye be judged, right? Well, not exactly, but I’ll explain more in a minute.

Twice, recently, I had people cancel appointments with me. I understand that can happen. I have done it occasionally myself. The question I have about it is the firmness in making that appointment to begin with.

It is very important for me to keep my word, as this speaks to a value I hold in high regard. My words carry meaning and intention. This carries through to making appointments. I make them and commit to them. Occasionally, this can create a problem when other possibilities come up that, in my mind, I would rather schedule than that other appointment I already made. But I do not casually reschedule. If I really want to reschedule. I will ask the person with whom I made the initial commitment if we can reschedule. If they cannot or do not want to, I will honor the agreement we made. It was made first.  I do not always see that reciprocated.

Now, back to judge not lest ye be judged. Well that is not always the entire sentence. There are periods, semi colons or commas in various translations of this phrase. The full (or next) sentence reads: Judge not lest ye be judged; for what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measure to you again.” Think about that! I can play by that rule.

So yes, I am affected by rescheduling me. It speaks to me of integrity and commitment. I judge by that.

Are you like the Egg Farmer or the Chicken Farmer with your Money?

There once were two chicken farmers. Each had a different perspective on the value of their product.

The first farmer valued his eggs. These eggs not only fed his family, they were also a hit in the markets where they were sold. He enjoyed the income his eggs produced He knew this was his security. He counted the eggs every day, minimized the breakage and got them to market quickly. He did not pay great attention to the chickens as he saw them merely as means to an end. He focused on the eggs. If a chicken didn’t produce the targeted number of eggs he had for that chicken, he replaced it with another chicken. His product was the egg.   

The second farmer raised chickens. Her chickens had diverse values to this farmer. They represented growth as the chickens themselves could multiply, providing her a permanent renewal source of fertilizer, food, and little chicks that grew to be chickens. They could be sold or added to the flock. These chickens also represented a source of nutrition to her family and the public, when their egg laying days were over. The chickens also produced eggs, another source of nutrition and income to this farmer. These chickens were well cared for and protected from predators and viruses.  The cost of the care was worth the diversity of income and sustainable growth to this farmer.

With money, some people are like the first farmer. They tend to look at money as having one use: income. like the egg farmer. Other people are like the second farmer. They view their money with a diverse perspective, encompassing growth and income.

Which farmer are you most like?

Which farmer would you like to be?

If you want to transform your money perspective, the Money Focus program is a program you may find useful in transforming your money anxieties to money mastery.  It takes you from where you are with your money behaviors and habits to where you gain control and mastery over your use of your money.

The egg or chicken farmer, which are you? Which do you want to be?

3 Smart Ideas to Manage your Money for Two Incomes

It’s one thing to gain mastery over your own money behaviors and habits but what about when you are in a relationship and the other person’s history, stories and standards with money may be very different than yours. Then what?

In my decades long work with people in helping them gain mastery over their money, I have seen many scenarios undermine couples’ trust with each other over money. Usually it’s a lack of an agreed upon system for money that undermines relationships with money and derails communication between them about their finances.

It’s common for couples to use one person’s income for the basic needs and living expenses while the other’s income is used for the extras like vacation, entertainment, home improvements and upgrades.  But what happens when one person loses a job or has a long term illness, or is on commission and earnings drop?

This system, like many system, may work, when things run “as planned.” But it is smart to think of a contingency plan.

Three alternatives that I like people to consider are:

1      Allocate percentages of both incomes to basic needs, discretionary spending, retirement/investing, donations, and savings. This way, the one with the variable income, knows their contributions are always part of the family “budget” and overspending is reduced when windfalls come in.

2      Determine a yearly budget for savings, investing, donating, basic needs and discretionary spending. Then allocate who and how each will be responsible for that area. Be clear about expectations and possibilities that could impact commitments made by each of you. Develop a system on how to deal with these possibilities that work for both of you.

3      Put all your money in the same account, then allocate to your categories according to agreements you have previously made. Be sure you allocate money to your own spending account about which you do not have to justify to the other person.

No matter which of these systems, another you adopt when there are two incomes, be sure to check in with each other monthly, to see how you each feel about the system you have agreed to use and tweak your agreements as appropriate. Remember to talk to each other respectfully and with the intention of finding a solution when one is needed, rather than attacking each other. It’s smart to manage your money.

Get Comfortable Talking about Money, Because Money Rocks

Money is still seen as a taboo subject. For some it’s considered rude to bring the subject up. I think some of this is because people are uncomfortable on how to broach the subject of money.  They don’t want to appear intrusive or jealous, or prying so they shun the subject or take it to the other extreme and become judgmental. They become reactive rather than responsive with money.

I like money and I like talking about it. It is fascinating to me to learn how people view money, what they do with it, what their fears about money are, what they like about money, how difficult it can be for them to talk about money in a relationship without setting off triggers.

Money is so much more powerful when you feel comfortable enough with it to be able to talk about it to discover what money means to you, how you can better deal with it. It is much freer than talking about money under judgment and unspoken expectations.

To take money out of the drama club, keep conversations about money inquisitive rather than judgmental, neutral rather than adversarial. Consider your intention before talking about money. Is it to scold, to judge, to imprint your money principles on another? If so, turn that judgmental attitude on yourself and ask yourself why this bothers you to the degree it does? What does the other person’s behaviors threaten in you? Is the money conversation to understand another’s perspective on money? If so, this can be a great pillar of support to them on their journey to money mastery.  They will be more likely to let you in to their life with money and partner with you on strategic conversations about money.  

Three sets of questions I like to use and bring to you for more engaging conversations on money are:

Question 1: How did you see money being used, when you were a kid? Follow this up with: How did you use money when you were young? How do you use money differently today?

Question 2: Which is easier for you: spending or saving? How is that affecting your life with money? This is followed up with: What two habits are you proud of sustaining for a productive life with your money?

Question 3: What does money mean to you? How does that align with what you want money to be in your life? How can I support you in what you want your money to be for you?

We tend to regard money in our own unique perspectives with our own history, stories, and experiences around money. It’s freeing to invite someone into a supportive conversation about money because… Money Rocks

Prepare Your Family as You Do Your Assets for Greater Estate Transfer Success

I recently gave a presentation, to a professional group, on the effects of family dynamics on estate plans.  When there is a family business, when wealth is being planned to transition from generation to the next, when there is an asset of great importance or significance, family dynamics often show up to undermine well laid out plans. Look at the problems arising from Tom Petty’s estate plan regarding the interpretation of words regarding the management of his music. Aretha Franklin, who purportedly died without a will, has a slew of handwriting experts testifying to the validity of found handwritten wills. But are problems like these the plan’s fault?

So much effort is put in preparing assets for their eventual transfer. And this should be. There are great strategies out there to incorporate. However, just as important and unfortunately, too often neglected is the preparation of the family on one hand, for one generation to let go of their control, and on the other hand, for the next generation to receive those assets. It’s like preparing the plane for the flight but not preparing the pilot on how to fly the plane and how to work with their co-pilot. Both need to be prepared for a successful outcome.

For many families, certain family dynamics make it difficult to talk about various topics. Families know there is no such thing as a diplomatic hand grenade, so they avoid bringing up potentially contentious subjects or deny they exist.   

Families often dissolve into chaos and personal attacks when there is no communal foundation from which they all base their opinions. Instead, when families take the time to develop their own unique purpose, basically their “why” families find that they have a reason to build and support a common mission, one that can be passed on along with the assets.  

mother handing key to daughter [PNG Merlin Archive]