“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.” Elizabeth Lesser
With the recent death of my mother, my life as I knew it has been completely upended. I feel slightly adrift and a bit unsettled as I negotiate an awkward emotional space and navigate the unfamiliar gray zone that comes with any transition.
I’m dealing with:
- a sizeable dose of uncertainty about new responsibilities and new choices;
- a little bit of overwhelm about the multitude of decisions to be made and actions to be taken;
- some identity adjustments that are afoot.
Talk about having my comfort zone interrupted!
But let’s face it, the “symptoms” of my life change aren’t unique to me or to circumstances of death. They accompany almost any major transition whether it’s been willfully initiated or unwilling imposed – whether it’s of a sad or happy nature.
In truth, the symptoms I’ve described could equally apply to you. So, the question isn’t so much if you’ll experience a major change over the course of your life. It’s not even really a matter of “when.” It is…
How will you manage the impact of the life change on your emotions and your finances – especially when your comfort zone has been dramatically altered?
To begin to answer this question, the definition of what triggers a transition needs to be expanded beyond the usual culprits of death, birth, divorce, and marriage to encompass a multitude of life-stage and life-style changes. Similarly, you need to acknowledge what’s really happening when a life change event occurs: you’re recalibrating your journey. That means you need to adjust your life + financial road and role maps.
Editing these maps will help you (and me) manage the questions that arise during the temporary state between what was, what is and what will be. It’ll help us address the anxiety, indecision, and fear that bubbles up. It’ll provide some structure and guidance to help us re-boot.
In March of this year, I asked Valerie Coleman Morris (former business anchor for CNN) to be my guest for this month’s Financial Intimacy Hour and we agreed that we’d focus on the theme of transitions. At the time, I had no idea the topic would hit so close to home. There’s a part of me that would rather stay in my cocoon and skip this topic. But that wouldn’t be honoring my mother and how she lived and faced disappointments and challenges.
So, on Wednesday, September 17th at 8pm EDT, the Financial Intimacy Hour is coming off of summer break. And I hope you’ll join me and my guest for, “Comfort Zone, Interrupted! How to Thrive In and Through Your Next Major Life Change.”
You’ll learn how to:
- re-gain your focus even as things remain unsettled. A cloudy mind makes poor choices.
- re-prioritize the decisions you make and the actions you take. When you’re in the throes of a transition, managing your energy becomes critically important!
- redesign your road + role maps so that your money supports you as you shift from where you are to where you want to be.
Life doesn’t come with a nicely-bound operating manual. Which is primarily why the problem with change is how change disrupts your comfort zone. Transitions prompt a realignment of expectations, emotions and personal finances. This is true whether your life change causes you to celebrate – like a new job, new client, new relationship, marriage, birth/adoption – or it’s something that causes you to mourn – like death, divorce, lost client, lost friendship, failed business.
I’m excited for the big-picture conversation we’ll have next week about how to manage your money as your life evolves and flows from stage to stage. Likewise, I’m looking forward to sharing with you practical resources aimed at helping you move into your next phase with as much grace and ease as possible.
I want for you what I desire for myself: to feel more sure-footed, confident and clear-headed, and to be more at peace with the unknown.
Even if you’re not in the midst of a major life change, I invite you to join us…you’ll learn how to survive and thrive the next one when it comes.
Unless you follow me on social media or are on my e-list, you may not have heard: my beloved mother, Fontilla A. Timmons, died peacefully on Monday, August 4th.
I miss my mother terribly and am still mad at cancer for what it did to her body, for taking her away, way too soon. In the world according to me, she had so much still to give; she had more years of singing ahead of her; she had more years of volunteering ahead of her; she had more years of playing xbox (something I don’t even know how to do!); she had more years of fussing at her cat, Ella, or giving the Yankees a talking to when they played poorly; she and I were to simply have more years together; she was to walk me down the aisle should I ever get married.
In case you can’t tell, I love my mother tremendously. I was very, very fortunate to have been born to and raised by her – to have been loved so deeply and unconditionally by her. She was an awesome woman and a great mother, and that isn’t a blessing I take for granted.
A petite woman (5’2″) with a BIG personality, my mother was a pioneer in many ways – not at all concerned about trying to fit in. A necessary trait for a woman whom for many years was the only female softball umpire in Western New York!
Her mantra was “love and accept yourself.” Do this, and you can love and accept others just as they are; do this, and you won’t need to seek other people’s approval to live your life. This is how she rolled; this is what she exposed me to as a young child; but it is only as an adult did I recognize her example as such AND as an invaluable lesson and life-skill to have.
To say that my heart remains heavy is an understatement. I may be back in NYC and I may have resumed my work schedule as of this week, but I am walking around in a bit of a daze, still trying to adjust to my new reality.
My mother had been sick for several years, and every day she fought cancer valiantly. I marveled at her grace and gratitude every step of the way – especially the last two weeks of her life, which were a particularly sweet time for us. And, I am forever grateful that when she took her last breath, it was just as when I took my first — we were together.
The celebration of my mother’s life was held on Friday, August 8th. It was precisely how I wanted it to be…how I wanted to honor her.
Every decision I made about her day was filtered through these three words: meaningful, beautiful, and intimate.
- It’s why her services were held at St. Bonaventure’s University Chapel.
- It’s why we opened her celebration with one of her songs, her rendition of “You and I.” (Mommy’s first career was as a professional singer.)
- It’s why the processional was Father Francis walking me down the aisle with me carrying my mother’s urn, with African drumming in the background.
- It’s why one of my dearest friends, Toni Booker, sang my mother and I’s favorite song “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and “Precious Lord.”
- It’s why every speaker preceded their comments by reading a verse from my mother’s favorite scriptures.
- It’s why “Ave Maria” came after Father Francis’ sermonic reflection but before I read the poem, “A Child Loaned” and shared my “Loving Memories.”
- It’s why all who gathered held hands and prayed “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” in unison.
- It’s why the closing prayer was ecumenical.
- It’s why the recessional music was “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
- It’s why the repast was a fish-fry dinner…at the Elks Club.
During a moment of quiet reflection, I would realize that the same three words that guided how I designed my mother’s celebration also described the relationship my mother had with me and her/our countless friends. These words also exemplified how my mother handled her affairs.
Talk about having it together…
- Mommy died without a mortgage – her house may be modest but it is paid in full.
- Her consumer debt is negligible.
- I am a single child, yet she still made certain all her legal paperwork was in order: Will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Insurance. Likewise, we held certain accounts in joint-name so that I could easily pay her bills when such a time as this came to fruition.
In other words, my mother made certain that my grieving wouldn’t be interrupted by unresolved financial concerns or unaddressed financial matters. Unlike some who fall prey to poor planning, short-sightedness, and fear, my mother had the foresight, discipline, and desire to plan ahead.
Even in death, she continues to nurture me. Even in death, she continues to shape how I show up in the world and provide an example of how to live…how to rock it out! For this and soooo many other things, my gratitude is beyond measure.
Mommy, I miss you and love you!! And, just as you refused to let cancer steal your spirit and love and joy for life and living, I promise not to let grief steal mine.
p.s. to learn more about my mother – aka the woman who means the world to me – click here to read what I wrote the day of her death (you don’t need Facebook) and click here for her obituary.
p.p.s. It also means the world to me that you read my tribute to my mother. Now, I hope you’ll take action! Please make sure your financial affairs are in order – get your documents together; have the awkward conversations with family members and close friends; schedule the uncomfortable but necessary meetings. Grieving unencumbered is a truly a wonderful gift to get and to give. And if you’re not sure where to begin, start with my interview of Lori Anne Douglass, Esq. Click here to download the mp3.
We are officially mid-way through 2014. True, this isn’t a newsflash. But did you know this a perfect time to do a financial review?
I know, I know, your mind is set on relaxing and having “hot fun in the summertime!” Who wants to (strategically) think about their money right now?
Yet, this half-way point represents a perfect time to do a review of your money and money-based goals. The slower pace is an invitation to pause, evaluate, reflect and perhaps press “reset.” Something you’re likely doing professionally, anyway.
Even if you’re not steeped in a traditional “corporate” work environment, you might be engaged in a mid-year performance review process of some sort. So, why not do the same when it comes to your finances? Why not take a pulse check and compare where you are vs. where you thought you’d be by now – six months into the year?
This makes July the perfect time to apply the concept and exercise of a mid-year workplace performance review to your finances.
A financial review allows you to identify opportunities you may have overlooked up to this point and/or to identify tweaks that will enable you to course-correct for the six months ahead.
Here’s a three-phase “looking” process, along with questions, that will:
- ensure you stay conscious about what’s going on with your money, and
- also potentially set you up to experience (even more) financial success and finish the year strong.
Looking at Now
- Pull your banking, investment and credit card statements – what are your current balances?
- What habits are you practicing daily, weekly, monthly?
- How do you feel – excited, energized, lethargic, dismayed, or something else?
- What goals did you set at the beginning of the year?
- What habits did you commit to changing or developing?
- How do these measure up to where you are now? Are you on/off track?
- What mistakes (in action or judgment) did you make?
- What did you accomplish?
- How proud do you feel about the progress you’ve made? How disappointed do you feel about where you’ve fallen short?
- As a result of the two phases above, do you need to change any goals or any of the parameters you’ve established for achieving them – in other words, is a “reset” in order?
- What new goals or habits would you add to your plate for the next six months?
- If distractions and unexpected commitments threw you off-course, what do you intend to do to minimize how these may negatively impact you moving forward?
- What would make you feel most satisfied when 12/31 arrives?
Performing a financial review is not only helpful for confirming what has happened and shedding light as to why your results are what they are, but it can also serve as a preview for what’s to come.
This exercise can help you objectively assess and adjust the choices you’re making and provide insight as to the ones you’d benefit from making. Additionally, it can highlight if the systems, processes and framework you have in place are as supportive of your efforts as you think they are and need them to be.
Are you dreading doing this financial review because it’s summer; because you don’t want to face what you’ll discover; or both?
Well, remember this: it’s perfectly fine for you to be in vacation mode…your money, not so much! Your money should be working for you 24/7/365.
Second, if you’re concerned about how long this will take, then break it down – carve out three (3) 30-minute windows – maybe during lunch – to address each phase noted above.
Finally, focus on the power you’ll gain from the insight you’ll discover as a result of having a meaningful conversation “with” your money.
Need another incentive to perform a mid-year financial review? Just like any other relationship, your money won’t grow as much as it could without your purposeful attention, direction, and action.
p.s. you’ve completed your mid-year financial review…need help? Join the Financial Intimacy Lounge and let your membership help you finish the year stronger! Click here to learn more to begin your membership, now.
p.p.s. mark your calendar for the next Financial Intimacy Hour session – “The Digital Revolution of Personal Finance: Do Your Apps Know You Better Than You Know Yourself?” Wednesday, 16 July at 1:15pm. Invite available soon.
“My husband lost $100 million.”
Nope that isn’t a typo. Yes, my jaw dropped, too!
This was told to me by the wife of a couple who will appear on “Untying the Knot” – a new reality series on Bravo featuring Vikki Ziegler-Payne as the host and mediator. Vikki is a divorce attorney, a dear friend of mine, and a guest teacher in the Master the Language of Love + Money program.
It’s been several weeks since the premiere party and yet I am still dumbfounded. $100 million…lost…I can’t relate.
Risk creates wealth
I was relaying the story to a friend and expressed my curiosity about wanting to know “the story.” After all, there must be a story, right?!
Very matter-of-factly, he said: “He lost it the same way he earned it.” (I gave him my Scooby Do Huh? look.)
My friend went on further to say this person’s husband was a risk-taker and explained how anyone who has created wealth of any means – but especially to the tune of $100 million – didn’t do it without taking some risks.
Then, he punctuated his point with this:
“Not everyone can be broke.”
In a flash, the gossipy side of my curiosity was replaced by an immense interest in wanting to understand more about how this woman’s husband thought about risk. Specifically, I wanted to know:
- what decisions did he consider “normal” that others viewed as risky and vice versa;
- did he rely on data, instincts or a combination to make decisions;
- when did he realize things were about to go awry;
- what was he feeling and thinking as things were unraveling; and
- how (and when) did get he break the news to his wife. (From my conversation with her at the premiere party, I got a sense of how she reacted…)
When it comes to risk, a common tendency of our culture is to just focus on the two opposite ends of the spectrum, much like a see-saw, where one end represents being conservative (or risk-averse) and the other being speculative (or risk-friendly).
I bump up against this notion often with coaching clients and workshop attendees, and I frequently need to remind people that the prospect of losing money isn’t the only risk with which you must contend. You also need to consider risk in the form of any opportunity costs – and when it pertains to money that is the cost of being so conservative you don’t keep pace with inflation.
But a) there’s a broad spectrum of risk-takers, and b) there’s a lot of space in the middle. And, in my opinion, where you fall on the continuum is in direct proportion to the degree you feel comfortable wading in the water of uncertainty – whether that is about money, career choices or matters of the heart…
Traits of a risk-taker
Choosing to create your own business typically means you’re a risk-taker.
This kind of risk-taker usually has a higher threshold for uncertainty, and is slightly more comfortable with the prospect of going or being broke – relative to someone who hasn’t chosen the entrepreneurial path.
“If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.” Henry Ford
But, being a risk-taker doesn’t have to mean being reckless and/or impulsive.
Nor does it mean you’re unafraid – it just means you have the fortitude to do it (whatever “it” is) anyway.
Likewise, being a risk-taker in one domain of your life doesn’t mean that you are such in all areas of your life.
In much the same way you may view and approach money monolithically, you may discover you do the same with risk. And just as it is beneficial to peel away the layers of money, the same is true when it comes to risk. So, with this in mind…
- How do you define risk – and not just with regards to money? Is your definition holding you back, or helping to propel you forward?
- What does being a risk-taker mean to you?
- How comfortable are you with uncertainty – with the unknown?
- What role does comfort play in moving you from one end of the spectrum to the other?
- Where in your life do you play it safe (aka “playing not to lose); where in your life are you a risk-taker (aka “playing to win)?
I bet your answers will reflect what is true for our culture at large: you and I have an interesting (and complicated) relationship with risk.
There’s the infinite list of and excitement about what could go right if the risk pays off.
But there’s also the matter of failure, which many attempt to avoid at almost all costs – often forgetting that some of the best lessons come from failures.
Closely related is the fear of embarrassment – shame, guilt, and the preoccupation with what others may think – often prevent us from taking calculated leaps.
For some, the mere thought of going broke (or losing it all) is unfathomable. Actually experiencing it is really unimaginable!
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kirkegaard.
I certainly know what it feels like to be broke and wonder, “How the hell am I going to pay my rent?” But I’ve never lost it all; I’ve never gone bankrupt; and I’ve never gone hungry or without basic necessities – even during the leanest of times.
Admittedly, I have no idea how much was left over after this couple lost $100 million. But, it’s a dollar amount I can’t imagine losing. So, does that mean I don’t have what it takes to earn $100 million?
Here’s the existential question I’m wrestling with: What, if anything, is the relationship between what you’re willing to lose to what you have or can have?
I’ve been ruminating on this for the past few days – wondering if I would have made different choices if, when things got tight, I would have been able to withstand wading in the waters of uncertainty a bit longer — could I have stood on the edge of brokenness a bit longer…
Granted, none of us can re-write the history of our choices and the consequences thereof. But it’s kinda of enlightening to use takeaways from real-life experiences like this couple’s to learn how to make smart, risky decisions. Especially if they are decisions you won’t regret – regardless of the outcome.
What happens when you find something boring – even when you know it is good for you? You typically avoid it, right?
For many people, managing their money fits this bill. It is akin to watching paint dry – that is how painfully b.o.r.i.n.g. it is for them. Does this describe you, too? Sure, you might enjoy earning money (who doesn’t?), but when it comes to all the other aspects of it…well, that’s another story.
However, has it ever occurred to you that the reason you find money boring has little to do with money?
Money isn’t boring; you just need to be more curious!
Curiosity as a tool
Heidi Johnson, of FridayPrize.com, advocates following your curiosity over following your passion to discover “work worth doing.” During a recent conversation with her, not only did I think she was onto something with her message, I realized that the practice of curiosity is probably one of the most under-utilized skills for making and having more money.
Think about it: how much of your success, personally and professionally, is because you had the mindset of curiosity. You wanted to go beneath the surface and discover more; you were open to new experiences and decisions?
With this in mind, here’s me taking a stab at illustrating how dialing-up your curiosity can actually get you excited about all aspects of money in ways you may not have imagined before. Why does this matter? Because excited and open is a useful combo that will make sure you:
- are less haphazard in your approach to money
- position yourself to make better choices
- ask for help when you need it
- miss fewer opportunities to grow your money
- amplify your efforts to experience life more on your own terms
When you practice more curiosity, you…
1) Listen more. When you’re a great listener, you pay attention both to what is said as well as what isn’t said. You hone in on clues of all types.
When it comes to money, “listening” takes the form of paying attention to the feedback money is giving you about the quality of the choices you’re making.
2) Are comfortable admitting you don’t know it all; in fact, you see asking questions and asking for help as signs of strength. The process of and then getting answers is what fuels you!
When it comes to money, this means reading articles, blogs and books; taking classes and courses; speaking with family, friends and colleagues; and working with professionals to get help closing your knowledge gaps, or to get guidance you didn’t know you needed.
3) Think like a scientist. Curiosity is at the core of what a scientist does, right? Inquiry, research, find some answers, dig a bit deeper. Repeat. This is the spirit of experimentation.
When it comes to money thinking like a scientist means creating a process to develop the results you desire and honoring this process just as much as you do the results.
4) Have a plan; you have a strategy; but you are fluid about your tactics.
When it comes to money, this means not freaking out when the market drops or when you make a choice that turns out to be a mistake. Why? Because you a) prepared for the unexpected, b) know growth and success are not linear, and c) you have a plan and a strategy – aka a map – for rebounding with as much ease as possible.
5) Peel away the layers until you see the real problem; not just what’s obvious.
When it comes to money, especially when you’re struggling with debt, this means figuring out if what you really have is an earnings problem.
The problem with thinking money is boring is that you unwittingly succumb to one of the biggest financial handicaps you can have. It is a sentiment that locks you in and can cause you to forget that life is about stages and with each stage comes new challenges and new issues.
In my opinion, one of the biggest appeals to using the mindset of curiosity as a tool to manage your money is that it invites you to live more by-design (rather than by-default).
To me, curiosity is inherent. But it can also be developed with intention. And, I have come to the conclusion that it is a skill your money needs you to have!
Curiosity…use it more and let me know if your financial results improve as I suspect they will.
Special note: Today is the final day to join the Financial Intimacy Lounge Membership at the Charter Member rate of $47 a month. To lock in this special rate, click here. Tomorrow the rate increases to $97 a month.
Each day you are making or producing something that someone else is consuming, experiencing or interacting with.
This is why, when I had the good fortune to hear Russell Simmons speak at an event sponsored by Credit Suisse, the following statement really resonated with me:
“You can’t make a good record worrying about the money you’re going to make. It’s all about the melody.” Russell Simmons
You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. And, you don’t have to be a musician to embrace his statement. It’s application extends far beyond the music industry and it is perfect for this installment in my work + money series.
What Comes First
Last week I shared two stats that shed light on two trends affecting today’s economic and employment landscapes: 4.4 years and 42 million. (If you missed it, click here.)
Here’s today’s staggering number: 83%.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 83% of HR managers said personal finance problems had an impact on employee performance. Not surprisingly, money pressures:
- distract employees
- keep people feeling trapped and without options
- create a great deal of stress
- tend to narrow your scope of vision and seduce you into focusing on what’s not present vs. what could be.
Couple this with the growing practice of companies rescinding offers because of negative feedback from credit checks and reports and the obvious just becomes even more so: personal finance is a career issue.
If you’re worried about money, it’s hard to be creative.
If you’re worried about money, it’s hard to perform at your peak.
If you run a business and are worried about money, it’s hard to keep clients and attract your ideal prospects.
The reality of personal finances being a career issue doesn’t just pop up when times are financially challenging. It’s just as relevant when you are experiencing financial success, too.
So whether the goal is to deal with a financial problem or to make more money, the way out of financial problems or to get to the next level isn’t to focus on the money!
This is why I thought Russell’s statement was such a gem. His words…
- perfectly describe the relationship between work + money.
- silently instruct you on what to do if you’re having financial problems.
- invite you to focus on doing great work and letting go of being attached to how the effort connected to any one endeavor will payoff.
Your Money, Your Career…and the American Dream?
With about fourteen words, Russell taps into the key elements of the American Dream: work, money and freedom. We get a glimpse of the magic that happens when you operate with the mindset of money being a by-product of – not simply the end goal.
And while how you desire to experience the American Dream may differ from Russell’s, it’s pretty safe to assume he’s living his!
But, are you living yours?
Are you proactively managing your career choices, which undoubtedly affects your personal finances?
Are you effectively managing your personal finances so that you have the time, creative and financial freedom to work how you want, when you want, where you want and why you want?
When it comes to the American Dream, it wouldn’t behoove you to parse out the elements of work, money, and freedom. Therefore, you can’t ignore the need to increase your emotional intelligence (read: manage your career well); you also can’t ignore the invitation to deepen your financial intimacy (read: manage your money more effectively).
It also wouldn’t serve you to overlook other factors that affect how you experience the American Dream: race and gender.
As such, I invite you to join me on Wednesday, 28 May for a fascinating conversation exploring the many layers of the American Dream.
“American Dream? Rethinking Race, Gender, and Financial Success” is the focus of this month’s Financial Intimacy Hour, which is being hosted by my alma mater Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business.
During this in-person event, I’m interviewing Dr. Atira Charles and we’re going to make certain you have the emotional intelligence and financial intimacy skills to effectively manage your career…and your money. Especially if – in this ever-evolving economic and employment environment – you’re wondering about the future of your American Dream.
The event is free! So, if you live in the New York City area, click here to learn more and to register.
p.s. May 15 at 11:59pm EDT is the deadline to become a Charter Member of the Financial Intimacy Lounge (which means a 50% discount off the monthly fee). Join us today to become a part of a dynamic community of individuals who get that personal finance is a career issue and want to avail themselves of resources to help them manage their money (and career) choices, well!
Goals. They can be pretty darn demanding, right? Especially your financial ones.
- Needing a plan of action in order to come to fruition.
- Requiring you to have a community of like-minded people behind you. You know, like in the think-and-grow-rich kinda of way that says (loosely) your wealth will be the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
- Requiring you to have a co-pilot – an accountability partner that, at times, has higher expectations for your success than you do for yourself.
- Demanding you use a cross-section of resources that:
- address the myriad dimensions of money;
- increase your motivation to do more of what’s right for you and less of what isn’t;
- don’t just increase your awareness of financial how-tos, but enhance your knowledge and understanding of how you experience money, too.
This is where the Financial Intimacy Lounge Membership comes into your financial picture.
I’ve been working on the revamp of this for awhile now (and hinting at it, too!), and I am really, really excited about it. Here are a few reasons why:
- It contains all the elements for creating and refining your financial goals, along with a framework for a master plan that make all the ways money intersects with your life do so as seamlessly as possible.
- It’s been designed for independent thinkers whom understand that unbiased advice doesn’t mean undirected. Who get that questions like, “Am I doing it right?” or “What am I missing?” are actually good to have – they keep you on your toes and prompt you to challenge the status quo.
- It’s been created for savvy people who want to be engaged in a conversation about how to best manage all the dimensions of money – not talked at. You know what I mean?
- It makes pleasure a key factor of interacting with ALL aspects of your money. Since it is something you need and use everyday, in every way, why not – right?
The Financial Intimacy Lounge Membership is what the future of DIY personal finance looks like, in my opinion. If financial coaching + training got together with financial planning and had an awesome baby, this would be it!
Ready to join us? Click here now.
If you’re a gardener, you wouldn’t dare pull your fruit, vegetables, or flowers before they were ripe or ready to bloom, right?
In a similar way, if you want to get pregnant, you’d want to do everything possible to ensure you’re healthy and able to carry the baby full term, right?
Good and necessary things happen in the “dark and quiet” time of incubation – whether you’re talking about growing food, flowers, or babies. Or, ideas. Or, money.
The Power of Analogy
It’s Springtime, and you’re likely to start seeing a plethora of garden-and-money analogies…it’s the perfect season for said! And I’m hopping on the bandwagon, too.
Last month, I was a featured speaker in a virtual summit hosted by Robin LaCross. It was called “Raising Empowered Daughters – Sowing the Seeds for Healthy Body Image, Sexuality, and Relationships.” Next week, I will be a featured guest in Xandra O’Neill’s summit – “Creating Fertile Ground – How to Boost Fertility, Overcome Fear, and Trust the Journey to Motherhood.”
As far as I know, Robin and Xandra do not know each other (although they probably should!). But I found two things interesting about their events. First, the intentional use of “gardening” language as a metaphor for the goal of their events. Second, the foresight to include a conversation about money in the overall dialogue.
Pause for a moment. Think about your money decisions AND your actions.
Now think about what happens in a garden.
Does Your Financial Garden Need Some TLC?
In no particular order, here are eleven (11) words/phrases that come to mind when I think about gardening literally (and metaphorically) along with suggestions for how to use these words to give your financial garden some tender loving care:
Seeds – All growth begins with a seed.
What financial seeds are you planting? How are you defining “seeds”?
Soil – Seeds need fertile soil in order to thrive.
Is your financial soil fertile or barren; how do you assess your soil’s abundance or lack thereof?
Nurturing – All soil requires attention. It comes in the form of proper light, watering, and turning the soil, to name a few.
Very broadly, there are only four things you can do with your money: earn it, save it, invest it, and spend it. Of course, if you dig deeper there are nuances within these categories – what nuances are saying, “Knock, knock”?
Trust – While all soil requires attention, sometimes that attention takes the form of purposeful non-action – aka leaving it alone and letting whatever you’ve planted do its thing.
How purposeful are you with both what you do, as well as what you don’t do, when it comes to your money? Are your actions systematized or haphazard and reactionary? How well do you trust in yourself (for making the decision) and in the process (for the results)?
Get your hands dirty – Granted, you probably wear protective gloves whilst gardening, but you still have to get your hands in there – to dig, turn, pat.
In similar fashion, you have to “get in it” when it comes to your money. I say it often and I won’t stop: abdicating is not a viable option.
Surrender + Patience – Control what you can as best you can, then you must surrender to nature and have patience and let Her do her thang.
Same applies to money. Do your job and let money do it’s job, but be clear about the job you want it to do for you.
Vision – Usually when you plant a garden, you have in your mind’s eye what the garden will look like in full bloom. This vision influences where/how you plant your seeds.
Far too often people are haphazard with how and where they plant their financial seeds – don’t be one of those people.
Time – It takes time for the invisible to transform into the visible.
In similar fashion, it takes time for a financial mustard seed to morph into a financial oak tree.
Pruning – Cutting away the weeds and removing what is dead is necessary for the overall health of your garden.
When it comes to your money, do you know what’s preventing your money from working as hard for you as it possibly can? Do you know what your financial weeds and leaks look like? Do you have the strength and patience to prune them away?
Acceptance – All that you plant won’t make it. And that’s okay. It’s what you prepare for.
Make your financial decisions knowing that not every one you make will be “right.” The goal is to be right more often than not!
In case you’re wondering, no I didn’t forget my math skills. The eleventh slot is an invitation: What comes to mind for you when you think about gardening and connect it to money?
Thinking of the myriad choices you make regarding your money in the context of a financial garden is a perfect metaphor!
In fact, it’s a wonderful way to manage your expectations about what happens and when – because you can’t rush healthy growth. Likewise, the garden framework provides your money with some structure + direction (because like a child) it needs discipline to grow properly.
One of the many conclusions I’ve come to about managing money is that it is a lot less about moving the dollars & cents.
It’s a lot more about managing who you are becoming as you move those dollars & cents.
Coming Full Circle
To bring this back to the beginning…
I think it was absolutely brilliant of Robin and Xandra to use gardening terminology as a way for talking about matters important to parents and parents-to-be. It’s a great technique that creates just enough distance between the subject and the subject matter for maximum learning and enhanced ahas!
Plus, how freaking awesome to acknowledge the key and critical role of money in almost every goal and aspect of life – including raising healthy daughters and creating a fertile ground for pregnancy.
To grab a copy of the summit, which includes the replay recording of my conversation with Robin LaCross, click here. To join my “Couples, baby…oh yeah, money!” conversation with Xandra O’Neill on April 9th, click here.
p.s. in case you missed my earlier invitation, it’s time for the quarterly Financial Open House. Later tonight – 8pm EDT – is when you get to ask questions and I get to provide answers! Register here.
I recently conducted a survey (click here if you’d like to weigh-in), and one respondent said this, “I like earning [money], but don’t care much for managing, investing, budgeting, etc.”
Too bad this isn’t an uncommon sentiment.
Too bad it’s becoming a more costly one to have.
Last Friday, I appeared on HLN to talk about the consumer impact of Target’s data breach. The retailer was back in the news because earlier that day, they announced that the number of consumers affected jumped to 70 million – up from the initial reporting of 40 million.
By the time the evening news rolled around, consumers’ sense of safety would be jolted once more. Target’s number had morphed to 110 million! And as if that wasn’t enough, the tony retailer Neiman Marcus released a statement that, it, too, experienced a security breach of customer data during the 2013 holiday season.
The *Real* Wake-up Call
It’s easy to watch the news or read the papers and focus on the hackers. After all the rising number and sophistication of these cyber crimes are scaaary!
It’s easy to view this is as a call-to-action for retailers and financial institutions. No doubt, they do need to up their game and get better at working together to improve what they do to protect our financial and personal data. Especially when so much of what they collect is used by them to evaluate your creditworthiness and mine. And let’s not forget the bottom-line: the costs associated with these breaches will eventually trickle down to you and me in terms of higher cost of goods.
But the real wake-up call is for you and me as consumers – especially if you’re a consumer who suffers from a consistent dose of financial apathy.
You might not geek out about the numbers like I do. You might not enjoy digging “behind” the numbers for the story about what’s really going on. But these recent breaches are a reminder that it doesn’t matter if you find managing your money boring, or uninteresting, or down-right unpleasant…
YOU can’t afford not to care about the aspects of managing your money you don’t like.
Making the shift from financial apathy to being fully engaged doesn’t have to be burdensome. Here are a few easy habits to make it so:
- Use the mobile banking feature for your banking accounts and check your balances and transactions
- Set up daily email alerts on your banking accounts to notify you when your balance goes beneath a certain amount and/or when a transaction above a certain threshold hits your account
- Check your credit cards to confirm the transactions shown are yours
And as soon as you finish reading this, head to www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your credit report to review and confirm the accuracy of what’s reported.
The unfortunate reality is that the recent breaches will likely become more frequent, not less. And the hackers are betting on you and me to be complacent when it comes to our money management and monitoring.
Don’t you think there’s too much at stake to let that happen? I do.
p.s. would you join a membership program that fuses together financial coaching, training, and planning? Click here to let me know.
Even though I share the above quote almost every year, each year it takes on a different meaning to and for me. As 2013 draws to a close and I reflect on Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote, what keeps coming up for me is this: Sometimes the present doesn’t make any sense (at all!) until the future happens.
I guess that is the transformation of which Ms. Rilke speaks. And it is my hope that at this time of year, you pause to take stock of what has transformed you, as well as what has been transformed by you.
It is also my hope that as one year ends a new one begins, you are surrounded by those you know and love deeply; you are resting and nurturing your body and your spirit; and that with an open heart and mind you are getting ready to embrace the mystery that awaits us all — filled with even more transformative experiences.
Wishing you and yours all the best as you continue to celebrate the holiday season and get ready to welcome 2014.
May the New Year be filled with just enough challenges to help you grow, blessings beyond measure, and more than a few surprises that bring a smile to your face and your heart!
Thank you so much for being part of my world, and for giving me the privilege to be part of yours!