2 Steps to Take Now to Reframe Unproductive Money Behaviors

According to a survey by Wells Fargo, nearly half (44%) of those surveyed said that money conversations were the toughest to have, more difficult even than religion, politics or death. If you find that you are one of those who find it difficult to initiate or be in important conversations, you will want to read further. Money holds a lot of judgmental emotions and tension as inappropriate behaviors can usurp the initial intention of the money topic.

Let’s examine the following situations: You are at a dinner with friends and the bill comes. What happens next? Do you grab the bill? Do you wait for someone else to make a move? Do you talk about splitting it in half or per everyone’s individual order?

And how about this situation: You are invited to join an “By Invitation Only” group on a long weekend retreat. The group really wants you to join them but you know you do not have the extra money put aside for this. What do you tell them? Do you make up another “reason” for not being able to join them? Do you tell them you will think about it as a way to avoid talking about it? Do you put it on a credit card knowing it will take you eighteen months to pay it off as well as the other items on your credit card accruing interest each month?

It is so easy in these situations, and many others, to keep your thoughts to yourself; those thoughts like: “Let’s split the bill per each individual’s order.” “I can’t come this year, but let me know the cost for next year, so I can save up for it.” You do not want to appear different, inadequate, or bothersome. You want to do what everyone else is so seemingly agreeable to doing.

Unresolved money conversations create tension because you add a perspective of shame, guilt or judgment about you and money. But when you start talking about money openly and without the shame, guilt, or judgment built into the conversation, you can develop respect and understand around money and your role with it. But how do you do this?

There are two steps you can take immediately to begin to reframe your behaviors with money. The first is to understand what money was like growing up for you. I call this understanding your money stories. Begin by asking yourself: “How was money talked about when I was little?” “What did I do with allowances or financial gifts that I received when I was growing up? How did I talk with my friends about money when I was a teenager?” These and many other questions will give you insight into your own early views on money. You will probably recognize patterns you use today due to your early associations with money.

The second step you can take is to determine how you are going to handle money situations when others are involved, before the event happens. If you are going out for dinner with others, you can send a quick text to share your idea of splitting the bill. Prepare a response when you are asked to join events you cannot afford. Letting people know you have not allocated an amount for a particular “retreat” or other event to your budget presents a sense of responsibility with your money.

I know this just scratches the surface of changing money behaviors and habits but I thought it was important to talk about this.

Let me know how you handle money so money is an ally to you and your goals in life. I would be delighted to hear from you.

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Saving Money Is Easier When You Do This

Saving money is difficult for some people. It’s just too easy to part with those bills taking up space in your wallet. Plus, those bills are worn and small denominations. Why keep them when you can just get rid of them on a mindless transaction.

 

There have been several studies, and a recent one, found in the Journal of Consumer Research, stated that: “The physical appearance of money can alter spending behavior. Consumers tend to infer that worn bills are used and contaminated, whereas crisp bills give them a sense of pride in owning bills that can be spent around others,” concluded authors Fabrizio Di Muro an Theodore j. Noseworthy.

 

Participants in several studies were given worn or new bills and their behaviors were observed as they went shopping. The participants favored the newer and crisper bills and they favored larger bills. By favoring, the participants were less eager to part with the crisper bills and would exchange worn bills for goods even if a crisper bill was of a smaller and more appropriate denomination.

 

So, if you want to save money, give yourself crisper bills. If you want someone else to save the money you give them, give them crisper bills as well.

 

Look at how you use your worn versus crisper bills and if you do not have crisp bills, ask the cashier for them when requesting change or ask your bank teller for crisp bills when they give you cash. Tell me your experience with your worn and crisp bills. Which do you favor?   img_5829

Pay Yourself Second, You Will Come Out Ahead

Everywhere you go there seems to be a line whether you are buying your coffee or tea, getting through airport security, waiting for a table at a restaurant, there is always a line.

 

It may not be as visible, but your money has a line forming for it also. Who is always first in line for it? Why, your favorite uncle, Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam demands to get paid and does what he can to stay #1 in line for his portion. Taxes always come out first in a financial transaction. Uncle Sam demands immediate compensation from a deal. But who is second in line for your money?

 

It depends. For many it is the merchant like the grocery or retail store. For some it is the account that you have agreed to pay second like a settlement, alimony, or a collection payout. I want you to reconsider who should be second in line and if this person is not already there, I want you to put them second in line.

 

I want you to place yourself second in line, after that demanding Uncle.  I want you to be as adamant about being second as Uncle Sam is about being first in line.  And be as adamant about that as Uncle Sam is about being first. I want you to take your position seriously and responsibly by having a plan and manifesting that plan so the money you have for yourself builds and supports the life you want.

 

Think of the 5 S.I.D.E.S. of Money© and determine how you are going to allocate the money you will have by paying yourself second to Saving, Investing, Donating, Earning, and Spending. When the money comes you then are ready to allocate it as you planned to those five S.I.D.E.S. of your financial life.

 

Be fanatical about putting money into those 5 S.I.D.E.S every time you have money pass through your hands-without exception and you will become a steward of your own money. You will come out ahead.

 

Leave a comment on how you make sure you pay yourself second.

Thank You for Being Part of My Fulfilling Year

Reflecting

 

Thank you for who you are to me—people of grace and profound commitment to bringing a richer weave to the fabric of life-your own and the world around you.

 

When I reflect on you,

You who have deliberately chosen to direct your lives

Purposefully and with great meaning

I see shimmering stars lighting my path

I see the beauty of persistence and determination in you.

 

As I think of you

I feel the essence of the freedom you feel

When enduring strength and power replace your initial fears and doubt.

I am touched by your commitment to being your best

With your Legacy, your Life and your Money

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

We welcome your comments

Are You Allocating Your Money to all 5 S.I.D.E.S.?

What S.I.D.E.S. of money are you favoring? In the second of three levels of our Money Focus program, we ask the question: “What sides of money do you use and which do you favor?”  We ask this so people can determine how they currently attend to what we call The 5 S.I.D.E.S. of Money©. Theses 5 S.I.D.E.S. are:

Saving

Investing

Donating

Earning

Spending

 

Most people find that the sides they use the most are spend and earn. A big drop off occurs before I see either saving or investing as the next sides people attend to with investing and saving last.

 

Where does donating fit? Surprisingly, it is not last. It comes before investing. The World Giving Index found, that as a percentage of population, the U.S. ranked ninth in 2014 among approximately 140 countries. This index found that about 68% of the U.S. population donates money. The Gallup Poll found that as of April 12, 2015, 55% of adults have money invested.   USA Today, in March of 2015, found that 66% of the population saves but 47% reporting that they only have enough to cover living expenses for 90 days or less.

That is important information which illustrates how fragile and tenuous people’s financial lives are.

How do you address money at home so these sides are attended to in ratios that sustain a healthy lifestyle? What S.I.D.E.S. do you attend to and in what percentages?

Research has found that many of the top earners have their money allocated to the 5 S.I.D.E.S but they don’t share healthy stories or teach their children or grandchildren about productive money habits. The next tier of earners, tend to allocate money to earning, investing, spending and donating, with only extra money, when it comes, allocated to saving. They don’t teach their children or grandchildren much about money either.

Below these thresholds, people skew their financial allocations towards spending, earning and donating only if there is extra. Saving is rarely attended to. This oversight can lead to lifestyle upheavals should a disability or loss of income occur.

When children are not exposed to all of these buckets early they tend to give them scant attention as adults. The cycle of poor financial habits is reinforced and passed on to another generation.  You can end this by mindfully allocating your money to each of the 5 S.I.D.E.S. of Money© deliberately, purposefully, and continually.

What S.I.D.E.S of Money© allocation do you exhibit and in what percentages? How is this compromising unforeseen financial challenge such as illness or loss of income?

Tell me how you allocate your finances to the 5 S.I.D.E.S. of Money© and what risks you are subjecting your financial wellbeing to.

 

I would love to hear from you.

Money is Like Food in that….

Have you ever seen someone eat too much? If not you should. Why? Because it will teach you something about money.

Let’s say you are at a restaurant and you see scrumptious item descriptions on the menu? What do you choose? It can be difficult to decide which yummy sounding items to order. Instead, the tendency can be to over order so as not to miss on “a good thing.” Restaurants are aware of this. Some have learned the art of carefully scripted descriptions and titles on their menus to guide our decisions. How do you stop yourself from ordering too much? Once the food is placed in front of you and your dinner companions, how do you know when to stop ordering? It’s interesting that the tendency is to eat more in an animated conversation or environment. Restaurants know this also and cater their environment to create the mood they find most profitable for their patrons. But I digress.

While eating at a restaurant with friends, how do you know when to stop eating? Do you consciously stop before you are full, when you have ingested enough for your body to efficiently use, do you eat until your plate is clear? Food itself does not tell you when to stop. It is up to us. We have to make the decision to stop eating. Without our own guidelines to eating, we rely on the multi- billion dollar industry geared to helping people figure out good food choices-Paleolithic, Atkins, the 3 Hour diet, Vegan, Macrobiotic, Mediterranean, Beverly Hills, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Mayo (Clinic not naise),Protein, Lo Carb, High Fat, and don’t forget the French Women don’t Get Fat diet.

Money has a similar predicament. What is enough? How do you know you have enough? How do you stop from spending money? What are your guidelines around money? Like food, without our own healthy guidelines to money, there is a multi-billion dollar industry built to money from your pocket to someone else’s. And if you don’t have the cash, you need not worry; a credit card or two, or three will do just fine. Do you have a trusted set of guidelines you follow with your money?

It’s no wonder many people have a difficult time with money. They have not assessed value to it other than consuming and paying their necessities. Their money is already allocated to mobile data plans, car payments, vacation funding, technology, mortgages, food, and other must haves. There is nothing else left for things like investing or saving. Of course a little is put away into retirement plans at work. But not enough.

What can be done to transform this cycle of consuming? Fortunately we know that our mind works best when it has a system to follow consistently and diligently. Try this two part exercise: the next time you purchase groceries use a credit card and note your reaction to your transaction. Do you look at the total? Do you look at the price of any of your food items? If so, which ones? When you buy groceries again, pay in cash. What is your reaction to the transaction now? Did you pay more attention to the total? How did you feel letting go of your money and handing it to someone else? Note the different reactions you had in buying your food with a card and with cash. Which made you more aware of a loss of money? For most, using the credit card is more removed and has a less emotional feeling of ownership and loss while using cash can produce feelings of doubt about the purchase or loss of something you owned.

Becoming more aware of your spending habits is a great first step to creating a framework around your money.

Tell me what you discovered in doing the exercise I mentioned. I would love to hear from you.

When Money Falls from Trees, Don’t Let the Runoff Stream into the Gutter

Money doesn’t only fall from trees; sometimes it pours from the leaves themselves.  There are so many stories of sports figures, politicians, and IPO victors who went from barely getting by to amassing fortunes. I think of Roger Federer, the winner of 17 Grand Slams in tennis, who renewed his contract with Nike for life and former President Clinton, who purportedly made $35,000 a year while governor of Arkansas and has made over $100,000,000 since he left the White House and Steve Jobs who amassed his fortune with Apple. None of these people came from homes that were accustomed to having a lot of money. Suddenly they had money…a lot of it.

But just because money falls from the trees and sometimes even more so from its leaves and falls at your feet, does not mean that you know how to tend to it.

What happens to money? For the most part it is spent Mint. Com reports that 25% of MLB, 60% of NBA and 78% of NFL players file bankruptcy within five years of retiring.  These are people with professional advisors and handlers who still go through their money like it will never stop pouring on them.  Research tells us that 70% of families lose their wealth by the end of the second (your children) and 90% lose their wealth by the end of the third generation (your grandchildren). There are those who inherited fortunes and lost them; people like Barbara Hutton, heir to not one but two fortunes, her father’s investment house and her mother’s claim to the Pillsbury estate or Anthony Marshall who went to jail at age 89 for stealing millions from him other, Brooke Astor.

Is this to be expected: money falling from trees and then money falling out of your hands?  Yes, when money is an entitlement. No when money is a responsibility.  How can you support responsibility and restrict entitlement? I have found three elements to consider. The first is: Begin early. Learn the 5 S.I.D.E.S. © of money (spend, invest, donate, earn and save) and self-direct that money to those 5 S.I.D.E.S. © while young so you can forge strong and personally supported habits early. The second is: Conscientiously rewire your brain so that it incorporates these five “sides” into your daily life. This will take time. It may even include some missteps. That’s okay. Just doing it will reap great rewards.   Third: you have to prioritize these 5 “sides” for the purpose of limiting yourself in “sides” you know you may want to over indulge.

If money can pour from the trees, you don’t want to see it streaming into the gutter, that gutter where your uncontrolled habits with money run away from you.

Tell me how money works for you in your life. Do you use the 5 S.I.D.E.S. © of money blueprint to guide you? If so, how? If not, why not. Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

I Grew Up when I Integrated the 5 S.I.D.E.S. © of Money into my Life

The 5 S.I.D.E.S© of Money Theory has served me well. But it didn’t happen overnight.  When I was a kid I was given an allowance. With it I felt a sense of responsibility. I was now like my older brothers who of course, knew what to do with their money. I would follow their lead (not really knowing what their behaviors were). They were older. They must know the right thing to do with money.  With an allowance I felt a sense of ownership. I had crossed over from the world of playing with stuffed animals and crayons to being trusted with something grown-ups and even more importantly, my parents used and seemed serious about. Surely I would also follow their lead. And finally I felt a sense of freedom. I could do what I wanted with this money. And what exactly did I want to do with this money? I wasn’t sure but I knew I had to be wise so my parents and brothers would be proud of me. I couldn’t spend it ALL on candy and comic books.

 

With my first allowance, my Mother gave me a savings book. She told me that I would have to save some of my allowance. Although initially disheartening, as soon as we went to the bank, and the teller treated me like a member of special “club”, I was hooked. As soon as I learned that with every dollar I saved it would gain interest, I was a believer. Even more, I wanted to add to the savings to have it grow faster. I wanted money!

 

But at the same time there was a pull tugging me to another direction. I wanted to know what my brothers spent their allowance on. I quickly found out. My brothers loved comics. With their big box, big enough to pack a refrigerator when empty, I found a massive collection of comic books. It was fantastic. I had early reading material at my disposal. I found my favorites and with my allowance wanted to continue the habit which I was picking up and my older brothers were getting out of.  So I bought comics and with comics had to come candy. So I bought candy. Overtime and without a lot of introspection, more of my allowance went to comics and candy and less to savings. I rationalized it by asking for money for Christmas and birthday, money I would put into savings to make up for my own lack of allocating my allowance.

 

This behavior became a habit and one I continued until I was the one dependent on my own earnings. Then I saw the consequence of spending so freely. I didn’t have enough money for what I wanted. I began to save ferociously and spent only on necessities like rent, food, and personal items I felt would last a long time. If I wanted an expensive or special item I would ask for it for my birthday or I would save for it. I used cash and did not go into debt. Before long I had the savings element down…as a belief.

 

One Christmas, as a young adult, I came home with a brilliant idea: instead of giving each other gifts for Christmas I wanted to give our gift money to a family chosen charity. Well, that idea landed with a quick dismissal and a big thud. That wasn’t going to happen, not at the expense of gifts my brothers had planned or strategized and petitioned for. However, what this experience made me feel was ostracized about giving. That part of my 5 S.I.D.E.S. © of money went underground for years.  When I gave, and it was often, I gave anonymously. And I saw how it greatly benefited the people I wanted to impact. I became a believer in giving as well.

 

I did not learn about investing until I decided to go into the financial world where I earned four robust financial certifications from two colleges: Certified Financial Planner©, Certified Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Certified Advisor to Senior Living. For twenty years I learned about money as an investment tool and how to position it for my goals. I loved my work and contributions to the industry. But I left for reasons best left for another blog or conversation. I learned the great benefit to investing one I am ever grateful for. I am a believer here as well.

 

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know I understand that money is not an easy tool to deal with. When clients come to me in a state of anxiety about being out of control with their money, I see how our early habits still impact us today and how little we are taught about productive behaviors with money. I know that belief and experience have a huge role on money habits.

 

I believe we need to cultivate the systems and activities that as individuals and as a society make it easier to integrate the 5 S.I.D.E.S. © of money into our lives. This money pentagon is a crucial element to a significant live as individuals and together as a community of constant companions.

 

How do you allocate your money in the 5 S.I.D.E.S© of money pentagon? What needs strengthening? Talk to me. I would love to hear your comments on this because money is personal and money can be difficult to properly allocate.

 

Put together a Financial Emergency Kit. You might Need it Someday

With the sudden downturn in the market is there reason to be concerned? Is the sky falling, are we returning to a 2008 scenario? What is going on? I don’t know for sure because the crystal ball I received 15 years ago seems to have frozen in its bubbling up stage. They told me that was a temporary condition. I guess I should have asked: “for how long?” But I digress.

What I do believe is this: money is moved by emotion and justified by thought; moved by emotions like fear, hope, and greed and justified by thoughts that enable us to take action.

There are examples of financial hysteria market build ups like the tulip frenzy of the 1600s, the gold rush in the mid-1800s, the tech bubble of the 1990s, and the mad-cow scare of the early 2000s. Panic and euphoria are great catalysts to move the market into wild swings bringing both challenge and opportunity.

What should YOU do? I don’t know what you should do, but I will tell you what I asked my clients, when I was in the financial business both when the 2000 tech bubble burst and in 2008 when the market crashed.

  • If you want to stay in the market, are you prepared for the roller coaster ride that might be coming as the market moves through the hysteria?
  • If you want to stay in the market, how much loss are you willing to take on a total percentage of your invested assets?
  • If you experience a loss, how can you differentiate and measure between hysteria loss and loss due to fundamentals? They are different and I think, should be treated differently.
  • How can I best lead and serve you as the market goes through its gyrations because sometimes it is prudent to get out and wait the correction out while sometimes it is better to stay in and reposition.
  • If you want out, what is drawing you to that conclusion? Is it your fears, media frenzy, or fundamentals in the market breaking down?
  • What will you and your advisor put in place to determine buying signals to get back in?

Build a strategy for yourself with your broker/advisor much like you would prepare yourself for a fire, flood, tornado, or earthquake emergency you might have while home. Put together a financial emergency kit. You might need it someday.

Leave a comment about how the market or news events are shaping your behaviors with your invested money. I’d be interested in hearing how you have prepared yourself for a potential market downturn.

How are you Monitoring Your Budget When It’s Getting Even Easier to Spend?

How money is used has changed over time. Let me give you two examples.

Example #1: Once upon a time (in the 1930s) you either bought a house for cash or you borrowed at a low debt to value ratio (you paid in a lot more than you borrowed) with a short term-5 to 10 year note.  Back then you either paid off the remaining mortgage at the end of its term or had to find a way to refinance it. Refinancing was not easy. You see, back then, banks were not providing the types of loans they have today. Home loans were very restrictive with variable interest rates, short maturities and big down payments. That was the way it was done. Today there are 50 year mortgages and in some countries, 100 year mortgages. These are available because the lenders want to provide affordable house payments not because they think you’ll be in the house that long.

Example #2: Once upon a time checks were the common form of payment for immediate purchases. You paid for something and immediately that money was deducted from your checking account by virtue of the check you presented. Today checks are a vanishing mode of payment. Britain has put into regulations an end to checks. In 2018, the use of checks will be banned there.

How does today’s changing landscape of money use affect your control over money? Greatly. When once, paper money represented an ability to pay, the landscape has shifted. Today many forms of payment represent a promise to pay…later. That, itself, is a huge shift.

Let’s look at three newer forms of payment to see what the future is unfolding to make transactions easier. First we have the Bitcoin. It is a coin without intrinsic value. It fluctuates with the “Investing” public’s appetite for it. If you bought a coin for $3 and today it is worth $400, well then you made money on your bitcoin and you can buy a lot more with it than when you originally bought it. Of course if you bought you bought your coin for $1,200 and today it’s worth $400, well that’s a different story. Paper money is more stable and until the 1970s, in the U.S. was tied to the value of gold. Today it is tied to the good faith of the U.S. which includes inflation adjustments.

Another form of payment is found in the gaming world where kids can purchase their “pieces” and charge these pieces to a parent’s (usually) account. The purchase is now, it is justified later; voila, the instant gratification trigger starts earlier. This is not a healthy trend. Kids don’t know how to turn on and off their triggers to gratification or even care to like most adults can.

Finally, we have the mobile wallet. Apple recently announced its Apple Pay, a partnership with the big 3: Visa, MasterCard and American Express allowing for easier mobile transactions.  Your impulse buying just got easier…one click on the phone and that item, well, thanks to Amazon’s prime account, it’s already at your door.

With all this ease of purchase, how are you monitoring your budget? What can you do to keep control of your spending?

The 3 top things you can put in place for yourself are:

  1. Categorize your spending. Know what you spend your money on
  2. Set a limit to how much you spend on your categories.
  3. Monitor, track and tweak your actual spending to your budget using a robust and stable program, one that allows bank and credit card downloading to your program.

Spending may have gotten easier but staying in control needs your attention.

Leave a comment, let me how you control your spending in an ever more indirect culture of using money. What works, what doesn’t? I’d love to hear from you.