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

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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.

Control the 5 S.I.D.E.S.© of Your Money

If I asked you what the purpose of your money was, what would you say?

 

I find that when I do ask that question, it is met with an abrupt silence or a quick what do you mean? My money is for me to do with as I want. And what is it you want to do with it? I ask. Give me the things I want. And as I ask them what they want, there response is usually fairly vague or focused merely on spending.

 

Money is a tool, a tool to benefit our lives. This tool benefits the areas of our lives I call The 5 S.I.D.E.S.© of Money: spending, investing, donating, earning and saving.

 

To help your money become a tool to benefit you, you must conscientiously apply and know how you will allocate your money to these five sides.”   You must control your money or you will be at risk of having your emotions drive your use of money.                                                                                                  

 

Are you in control over your 5 S.I.D.E.S.© of Money. Tell me what gets in the way for you. Tell me what works for you in this framework. I would love to read your comment.                                                                                        

Money Phrases You Can Take to Your Bank

For this blog I want to share with you seven pithy quotes on money for you to reflect on. As you read each one think about its relevance to your life

Money:

  1. It can take a lifetime to build and a year to lose
  2. It’s easier to make money than it is to keep it
  3. The secret to keeping your money is knowing what yours is for
  4. You make good choices because of the heroes, models, mentors and experiences who guide your thinking in the proper way
  5. Money without meaning is like candy without a wrapper. It’s too easy to devour without restraint.
  6. This year, money and I will be friends, and not part company as easily and as often as last year.
  7. Commitment is a promise and pledge to something. Make your commitment to the purpose for your money that strong.

Which statement got you to think about your money in a more profound way? Which statement made you reconsider an aspect to your money that is not in alignment with your intention with that money?

I find that #5 is a zinger for me today as I can find myself easily justifying an expense I don’t need but act upon. I like the reminder that #7 gives me to have a pledge with my money and to honor that pledge.

Leave me your comments. I’d like to hear what caught your attention.

If Having Money is Fraught with Peril, There is Only One Thing You Can Do

Money, although a great tool, is rife with peril. Why is that? For the most part, how you grow up around money will greatly affect how you deal with money as an adult. If you did not learn much about money, and most people don’t, you will probably still be somewhat out of control with your own money by spending too much or even saving too much. What is your first memory of money? What did you do with the money you received as a child?  Who influenced your early behaviors around money?  How are you impacting your own children’s life with their money?

It’s important to form a family culture around money so that money has a purpose and relevance to all members of the family. Children, for the most part merely see the outcomes of money. They don’t understand its’ value. It’s important to help them understand and develop the purpose of their money as well as understand the purpose of the family money, and be able to distinguish between the purposes of each.

Your children need to understand how you, their parents view the family money. They need to know how the family money is different and separate from their own individual money. Have them allocate their money into the 5 S.I.D.E.S, of Money© (save, invest, donate, earn and spend). If they start this early, they will continue to foster this behavior as an adult because they will have gained experience, consequences and outcomes which they build upon throughout their lives.

Children need to be part of conversations around money so they feel that money is part of their life rather than something that is given or withheld from them. If your children are part of healthy discussions around money, they will understand the meaning of money and build that meaning into their own lives.

  • Learn what formed your own habits and behaviors around money.
  • Discover what is influencing your children’s habits around money.
  • Become proactive on sharing the topic of money as conversation and as experience so that money conversations and decisions are part of the family culture.
  • Allocate money into the 5 S.I.D.E.S, of Money©

Make money another regular topic of conversation and money will no longer be fraught with peril. Instead, it will become a great resource both for your family’s purpose and for each individual’s objectives.

Leave a comment. How is the meaning of money talked about in your home?  I’d 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.

 

This Elephant in the room is called Saving

Sometimes, when talking about money, I find there is an elephant or two in the room.  The first one that comes to mind is the ability to save: save for a car, a wedding, a vacation, college, updates on a house, retirement. When we broach the subject of saving, clients often feel uncomfortable. I see them suddenly swept by a wave of emotional angst.  They say they want to save BUT, they can’t. Life gets in the way or the money is already committed or….

I see young adults with financial commitments already stalking them…before they are even out of college. They have their car insurance, their games, their mobile devices, and more already demanding payment. How can they save?

And then the habits that this environment cultivates continues throughout the rest of their lives.

In the 20+ years I was a financial planner I found that many people had a difficult time saving. Their day to day bills, taxes and lifestyle funding took precedence. Many people saved in their retirement plans, up to the employers’ matching maximum, but not more.

I found that many people relied heavily on the genies in the room to “save” them: the stock awards, the inheritances, the winning lottery tickets, and the severance packages they negotiated with their employers. But this is not saving.

Saving is not easy. It requires discipline, long term discipline, the kind of discipline that becomes a habit. When we are bombarded by stories of those who are given high salaries and awards while others have no access to that, savings is seen as a losing proposition. Do you remember the 1990s when stock awards were making millionaires of people quickly while others were employed in the public sector or with private companies with only their salaries to live on? It showcased inequities and gave more fuel to the frustration of saving. After all who wants to be on a diet while others around you are enjoying the feast at the banquet table? But many lost their fortunes after the crash of 2000 or because when the stock value plummeted, their spending did not and awards were cashed in, at low prices, to fund lifestyles.

Saving money is a discipline. How do you discipline yourself to reward yourself later….much later for something you want today?

I think this is important to talk about.  Let me know your thoughts.

How do you know if your Fortune Cookie is Right?

The financial pundits are out with their forecasts for 2015…well some of them, anyway. The one who told us that Bear Stearns was in good shape as it was closing its doors in 2008 says 2015 will be a good year due to cheaper oil, low interest rates, higher consumer confidence… The one who departed the mutual fund company he helped start to join another mutual fund house forecasts: “The good times are over.” While others like George Soros, Warren Buffet and John Paulson have shared their views in shareholder letters and various writings, these gentleman have not put their voice to a megaphone in forecasting calamity or good times ahead for the market in 2015.

In the 20 years I was an advisor in the financial planning world, predictions were constantly made and few of the loud ones came to pass on the timetable they were predicted. But who cares, right? Or perhaps, who remembers, right? After all yesterday’s hysteria or mania means nothing in the wake of today’s screams of the present jubilation or catastrophe.

So, how can you know if your fortune cookie is right as it tells you of gloom or joy ahead? And what if your cookie says the opposite to mine and we are invested in the same funds and stocks? I say the focus is on the wrong thing.

At all times, your financial portfolio should be nimble enough that it can weather many, not most, but many storms. How can you do this? Contact your financial advisor and have a conversation with them about the amount of risk you are willing to take before your definitions of financial “storms” blow in.

I am not an absolute fan of buy and hold INDEFINTIELY for a few reasons. The financial world is not a solid one. It reacts to certain conditions with differing velocity. The funds have restrictions on what they can and cannot do with the amount of cash they can have in addition to where and how they trade. Find out how the funds you are invested in match with your principles on investing and limits to risk.  Ask you advisor what their philosophy on managing your portfolio. Does it match you philosophy on investing?

What happened in 1987, 2000, 2008, to name recent years, can certainly happen again. If you were caught off guard then, do not get caught off guard again.

If you suffered memorable losses in 2000 or 2008 and think this could happen again, do not play the same game you played then.  This time you might put limits to your losses. You might view cash as a temporary investment to weather out financial storms. You might stay fully invested in the financial storm.  Take an active role in your finances. It would be a smart move on your part.

When I think of repeating the same mistake again because I didn’t do anything different the second time, I am reminded of a story from Portia Nelson’s poem ‘Autobiography in Five Short Chapters:

“I walk, down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost…I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in…it’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately. I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it. I walk down another street.’”

When have you experienced your own financial turbulence? How did you deal with it? How would you deal with it if it happened again? Leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.