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!
“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.” ~~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Without question 2012 has been an incredible year of individual and global ups and downs. But, what has carried me through (and I bet the same is true for you, too) is hope. Hope is what springs to mind when I reflect on Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote above.
My hope for you is that at this time of year 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.
Wishing you and yours all the best as you celebrate the holiday season and get ready to welcome 2013.
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 the privilege to be part of yours!
In less than two weeks, the clock will strike midnight ushering in a New Year – a transformation that is typically accompanied by revelry and proclamations of resolutions and big, bold, goals.
As I was thinking about the New Year, I thought of a hedgehog. Weird, right? However these spiny mammals can actually teach you and me a thing or two about how to prepare for success.
Hedgehogs are known for their peculiar approach to foraging. They are also known for how they protect themselves when threatened: they roll into a tight ball. Setting aside the motive for why they do it, in an odd way, it is this practice of rolling into a tight ball — of going inside — that can help you when it comes to something that I believe is critical for sustainable success: having clarity.
- Are you clear about what you want?
- Are you clear about what you want to be different next year?
- Are you clear about what you want to change; how about what you want to stay the same?
- Are you clear about the deepest desires of your heart?
- How do you define clarity?
- What do you stand for; what are you willing to do (or what won’t you do) to make whatever you stand for happen?
- What do you value?
- What are your priorities?
- What are your goals?
- Do you feel so stuck that clarity seems like a luxury, rather than an absolute necessity?
Clarity…the new sexy?
I ask these questions because these (or variations thereof) are questions I’ve been pondering as I get ready to kick start 2013. And I have to tell you, as I’ve undergone the process of answering them, I’ve come to a conclusion about clarity: it’s the new sexy!
With clarity comes an indescribable level of confidence and enthusiasm. However…
Gaining and having clarity doesn’t happen passively. It doesn’t happen overnight. Nor does “having” it mean you have absolutely everything figured out.
The process of gaining and having clarity requires a LOT of internal exploration and questioning and specificity and choosing. For this, you have to go inside (roll into a tight ball) to quiet the outside noise. But oh, the benefits…
- feeling focused and “right-directed”
- feeling centered and light and on mission (kind of like a ship’s rudder)
- feeling less concerned about outside approval
- being productive and managing your choices and time, strategically
- questioning, not due to lack of confidence or direction, but from a space of inquiry and a deep desire to ask even more meaningful questions
- lacking the need to compare (reference, perhaps), but not compare
- and more…
It’s my opinion that clarity is the under-rated secret to your (and my) success.
Are you charged up and raring to greet the New Year?! I know I am; I am giddy for 2013 :).
The transformation from one year to the next is exciting. And the mystery, enthusiasm, and anticipation of what’s to come can be quite exhilarating. But if, in about four to six weeks, you don’t want many of the resolutions and big, bold goals you’ve declared for 2013 to fall by the wayside, be like a hedgehog, roll inside, and use that space to get clear.
p.s. hey, why not scroll back to the top and leave a comment…I’d love to know what “lessons from a hedgehog” helped you get clear on.
p.p.s. One of my favorite business books is “Good to Great” by acclaimed researcher Jim Collins. In my opinion, it should be mandatory reading for every MBA student and every business owner. Actually, it’s worth a read even if you don’t run a business. True, many of the companies profiled in the book are no longer “great” – some twelve years later. But here’s why I (still) love and highly recommend G2G: it’s a business book about transformation and the principles it espouses to go from good to great can also be applied to social enterprises and to your personal life. And he talks about the Hedgehog Concept!
p.p.p.s. Ready to get unstuck in the New Year? Details coming soon for a free webinar on January 7th!
Last week, I talked about the difference between strategic and tactical to-do lists. If you missed it, you can check it out here. But as a quick recap, that post addressed the power of strategic to-dos and the value of having them drive your tactical to-dos. The benefit of doing so is that you increase your likelihood of focusing on the right things and not misconstruing “busy” for being productive, impactful, and intentional.
Today’s post is an accidental sequel to last week’s.
In addition to to-do lists, another invaluable tool of mine is an erasable yearly wall planner. Because of my speaking schedule, which is often booked months in advance and frequently requires a day or two of travel, it helps to look up from my laptop and take a quick glance to see when/where I’m booked when scheduling other appearances and activities.
Having just ordered my 2013 yearly planner (yes, I’m a bit behind), I thought of another difference that is subtle, frequently overlooked, and also extremely powerful.
Are you really a planner?
You know the adage, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” right? You’ve heard it countless times.
Ok, I have a question to ask you: Are you really a planner? Or, are your to-do lists and the appointments and deadlines on your calendar masquerading as planning?
Almost every aspect of my business requires me to plan; I have plans within a plan! So, it surprised even me when I realized that one of the reasons I am going to greet 12/31/2012 with more business debt than when the year began, is because I mistook plotting out all the activities of a particular event with really strategically planning said event.
Can you relate?
If so, you know the difference is subtle – so subtle, it’s almost imperceptible. The difference also lies in the context of an overarching story. Again, I was doing the work (tactical stuff); but with hindsight, I now realize I hadn’t really nailed down the strategic stuff as tightly as I could have. Had I done so; had I honored the difference between plotting out the activities and really planning the plan, I would have recognized that pulling the plug may have been an event failure but it wouldn’t have been a business or personal failure – it wouldn’t have changed the entire story (only a small piece of it). I still would have lost money on this particular venture, but I wouldn’t have also gone into debt in the process. (Oh, the lessons we learn…) Hence, my question to you:
Are you plotting and planning your year-ahead?
What part, if any, of my story resonates with you? Are you now thinking about your year (perhaps life) and thinking about the times your to-do lists, appointments, and deadlines were masquerading as a viable plan? Are you, too, ending the year with more debt (personal or business) – when your plan was to actually have less of it by now?
Here’s what I’ve learned for sure: True planning is all about the story and storytelling.
Each year of your life is another chapter in your life story – what story do you want to tell in 2013 and how does it fit into the story you’ve told thus far and the overall life story you’re looking to tell? Knowing your story and its elements helps you more clearly see when you need to change gears or directions and make different choices. Knowing and understanding your story helps to ensure you create and follow a relevant and workable plan.
Here’s what else I’ve learned for sure: You need to carve out time to plot and plan out your year (and life)!
If you just cringed at the above statement because you are a creative, free-spirit, multi-passionate person and this kind of planning feels too confining, trust me I understand (because I’m just like you!). I also know the result of plotting and planning is that you actually end up with more room to express your creativity, let your free-spirit fly and explore your multiple passions. Ironies of ironies, eh?
2013 is just a mere two weeks away. Whether you are one who easily plans or one who struggles with the exercise, make the time to plan for the year ahead…NOW!
If you can spend a full day doing so, perfect. If not, that’s perfect, too — carve out 15-minutes a day and pick one area to focus on (e.g., think about the story you want your life to tell, visualize your overall plan, or map out your strategic and tactical to-dos. etc.). Do all of this with the goal of making certain you don’t succumb to the subtle difference between plotting and planning. It’s one way to ensure your to-do list and deadlines aren’t masquerading as a viable plan; it’s one way to set yourself up for a powerful 2013!
Here are additional ways to kick-off 2013 with all cylinders ready and raring to go:
a) Join me next Tuesday, January 18th at 7:30pm EST for a Celebration Call – I love a party…even a virtual one! So, let’s get together to celebrate. Our only agenda is for each person to share their top three successes and lessons of 2012, in round-robin style. If this sounds good, click here.
And because of my “money is never just about money” mantra, what you share doesn’t have to be confined just to the realm of money.
b) Join me on January 7th for a webinar: “Get Unstuck & Have Less Debt in 2013 (than you do now)” More details to follow, but for now mark your calendar if this sounds like something you’re going to need to set your finances straight in the new year.
p.s. can you please take 60-seconds to complete this quick three-question survey? Thanks a ton!
Anyone who knows me and knows me well could never – ever- accuse me of being lazy. My family, close friends and coach can attest to my laser (insane, perhaps?) focus when I’m working on a project – especially if I am in deadline mode. Case in point, the creation of two recent member-based experiences: Out of the Red, Back to Black & What the Hell Should I Do With My 401(k)?
One of my favorite tools for staying on track and moving through the various stages of my projects is a to-do list. Sometimes, it is handwritten in a vertical format; at others times, it’s in the form of a mindmap. For me, to-do lists serve as my locus of control, helping me to see the big-picture, manage my workflow, and my choices.
I suspect you use to-do lists as well. If so, go grab yours – whether it’s on paper or stored in a document on your computer.
In a minute I’m going to share a recent aha that has totally transformed my relationship with my to-do lists, and it just might transform your relationship with your to-do lists as well.
Power to the to-do list!
But first, let’s dig a bit deeper as to why to-do lists are so powerful; they are great for:
- Breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable pieces
- Bridging the gap between the big-picture end result and the day-to-day tasks/considerations to get to that end-point
- Clarifying all the components of a project and helping you see more clearly how the components fit together
- Managing and prioritizing multiple projects, deliverables, and commitments
- Tracking progress and measuring productivity
- Minimizing stress & maximizing control (most times!)
For these and other reasons, to-do lists are pretty darn powerful. And there’s no denying the ultimate marker of satisfaction and accomplishment when you place a check-mark next to a completed line item.
But what if your approach to to-do lists is all wrong? What if your to-do list has you focusing on the wrong thing?
I didn’t think this was possible until last week…
If you’ve ever worked with a coach, you know one of the best gifts they can give you is the gift of probing questions. My business coach, Stephanie Pollock, does this excellently! And during our most recent session, I had a profound aha! (Now might be a good time to grab your to-do list if you haven’t already.)
Sure, I’ve been busy; sure, I’ve accomplished some of my goals. But something was still missing…I was still stuck in some areas that in my opinion I thought I shouldn’t be. After all, I’m doing the work…damn it!
Strategic to-dos vs Tactical to-dos
Enter my aha moment, and where my story also becomes yours.
Yes, I am doing the work. But what I realized is that I’ve invested more time in doing the tactical work - such as designing a program or product. I wasn’t investing any where near the same amount of time in the strategic work – you know…the “harder” stuff that sets the foundation.
Where in your life, career, business, or even with (umm) your money are you making a similar mistake by focusing more on the tactical to-dos than the strategic ones?
For me and my business the strategic work looks like taking a step back, digging beneath the surface, and making sure I’m crystal clear about my message and who I best serve; making sure I really understand what my clients (err, that would be you) want (i.e., don’t create stuff in a vacuum); making sure I’m operating in my sweet spot, profitably; and making certain I’m not confusing “any action is better than none” with intentional, purpose-driven decisions and movement – to name a few.
The “problem” with strategic work and strategic to-dos is that you have to slow down! You have to be reflective. You have to contemplate. You have to face your fears and doubts. You have to step away from your comfort zone. You have to be bold. You have to have a breakdown moment. You have to make choices that initially present as “tough” (but really aren’t when you think about it.)
None of this is required for tactical to-dos. They, on the other hand, require less emotional effort and investment. And as a result, they are much easier to, well, do (!) and much easier to measure.
Getting Ready for 2013
We all get stuck from time to time. So getting stuck isn’t the issue; staying stuck is!
You know that to-do list I invited you to grab earlier? Take a look at it now because if you are feeling stuck in any way or area of your life it just might hold some clues for how to get unstuck.
As you review your to-do list, where do most of your items fall – are they S-TD or T-TD? (Yep, I even came up with a way of coding things…that’s the Type A-part of my personality revealing itself.) Share your discoveries in the comment section.
If you were lopsided like me with more tactical to-dos than strategic to-dos; if you are feeling a wee-bit stuck; if you want 2013 to be one of your more impactful years, here’s a suggestion: Take a week to focus on nothing but the items on your S-TD list. Or, if you realize you had nothing on your S-TD list, then spend time building it up. You will be amaaaazed at how this tweak will shift your energy – your focus – your productivity…and your results!
Power to the strategic to-do list…it’s the best way to ensure you are focusing on the right thing!
p.s. can you please take 60-seconds to complete this quick three-question survey? Thanks a ton!
Bar none, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. With the exception of two years, I’ve hosted it every year since 1988! Yep…you read that right. And because my birthday (11/28) sometimes falls a few days before or after, my Thanksgiving feasts have also doubled as birthday soirees with as many as 25-30 guests. You might read that and say that’s not a lot of people. But what you may not know is that I live in a one-bedroom NYC apartment! Granted, it is in Brooklyn, but still…
Thankfully, I have family and friends who enjoy great food, great music, great wine & wonderful company and are less concerned with what they are actually sitting on.
Thanksgiving 2012: The Backstory
I’ve been preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving in much the same way as I have previous holidays. All the dishes have been run through the dishwasher. (This is a weird quirk of mine, especially as it relates to dishes I only use during the holiday.) Later today, I’ll start to bake my famous sweet potato pies; I’ll start doing all the prep work for all the yummy southern-inspired sides I am serving; and shortly, I’ll brine the turkey so it’s nice and juicy and ready for the oven first thing Thanksgiving morn.
I’m well-rested; I’m excited. But, can I be transparent with you? I am a bit subdued this holiday.
As if Hurricane Sandy wasn’t surreal enough, a dear friend’s unexpected and untimely death the same week really knocked me off-center. I’ve never lost a friend to suicide, so I’ve never experienced this odd mixture of grief, sadness, and anger, which sits along side the constant question of “why?” I keep going down the rabbit-hole of: “He seemed fine the last time I saw him; what didn’t we notice; what could we have done; where/how did we fail him, etc.” And my heart goes out to his wife and children. Sadly, his death was one of many to touch my inner circle this year. Between these deaths and a few major disappointments, 2012 is going down in the books as the year that kicked my a**!
But to stay “there” in that state of mind would be unfair to all the wonderful things that have happened this year, as well.
So when someone recently asked me how I was doing, I responded in the parlance of Facebook: “It’s complicated.” Overall, I am fine. But the losses this year have definitely left their mark; and, the experiences have reminded me to acknowledge the presence of grace like never before and to practice gratitude on a completely different level.
In fact, in a previous post I talked about how Hurricane Sandy taught me to re-appreciate some of life’s basics like power, water, and heat. I kinda of forgot just how precious these elements of life are!
Thanksgiving…what’s it all about
Around this time of year, which tends to be a reflective season anyway, you hear a lot about the importance of keeping a gratitude journal. I admit that although I am a huge fan of this practice and recommend it to my clients, especially those in debt, I had fallen off the wagon of doing it myself. So, I decided to not only write-out my list of what it is I am grateful for but to share what I usually keep private.
Here’s what I’m grateful for:
- My sweetie, who survived his own near-death experience earlier this year
- My mother, who is doing her darnedest to kick cancer (or as she likes to call it, “the ole battle-ax”) back into remission…for a second time
- “Team Jacquette” – my closest friends who constantly remind me that I am never in this game called life, alone. Special shout-outs to Carlton B., Michelle C., Alexia V., Michael H., Sharon B., Sharon P., Patrick H., David D., Dee S.
- “Team Jacquette, II” – at the beginning of 2012, I declared it as the year of investing in myself so that I could take a step back and get out of the grind of working in my business and start working on it. Huge, heartfelt thanks to my coach, Stephanie Pollock (oh, the transformation you’re helping me to bring about); my mastermind groups (what would I do without your sage, honest, and caring feedback); Copyblogger’s Third Tribe; Marie Forleo’s Rich, Hot, and Happy B-School; and Chris Brogan
- Nook – my cat, who teaches me about unconditional love and forgiveness as only pets can do. If you own a pet, you know exactly what I’m talking about. (I mean, really…look at those eyes?!)
- A home I love, even if my “work” space is now consuming more of my living space than I care to admit
- The fact that I can still run outside in Prospect Park, everyday if I choose
- A teachable spirit, which feeds my insatiable appetite to learn and grow, even when it means leaning into the dark, unknown
Life is complex, challenging and complicated. But there’s always something for which you can be grateful!
The reason listing what it is you are grateful for is such a powerful exercise is that it helps you and me to *see* our circumstances with renewed eyes. The events themselves may not change, but how you internalize what has unfolded can be transformative.
A gratitude list also highlights the inevitable need you and I have for human connection. And that brings me to the next item on my list for which I am grateful…YOU!
- You – my readers who have joined me on this journey. In affect, you’ve raised your hand and said, “Yes, I’m in. I want to be shown a different way – the financial intimacy way – of handling the financial stresses that show up in my life.” To me, this is way, way cool!
I may be a bit subdued this holiday for reasons I hope you can understand. But my appreciation to and for you is anything but subdued…Many, many thanks for being here; for being part of my world; and for letting me be a part of yours. It is truly a privilege.
I’d love to know what’s on your gratitude list, so leave a comment if you’re up to it. In the meantime…
I am wishing you and yours the Happiest Thanksgiving!
If I were to wager a guess, I bet the only time you think about your 401(k) is now (during benefits season) and when you get your quarterly statement.
Yet, 401(k)s play a critical role in your finances. Or, at least they can. They have morphed into THE retirement option offered by most employers. But as you know from conversations with your parents and grandparents, this wasn’t always the case.
401(k)s are relatively “young;” did you know that? They were introduced in the early 80s as a vehicle to supplement traditional defined-benefit plans – aka pensions. But pension plans are all but gone for most employees. Thus, the shift from defined-benefit to defined-contribution puts you in the drivers seat. As such, you get to decide:
- whether to participate;
- how much to contribute;
- in what to invest;
- how to allocate your investments;
- when to withdraw;
- and more.
And as the driver, you shoulder ALL of the responsibility for managing the various elements of your 401(k) – often with little to no guidance. As a result, you just might be making mistakes – some of which are obvious, others less so. But…
The most costly mistakes are the ones you’re making, unwittingly.
So here’s a list of common mistakes and what you can do instead:
Mistake #1 – Not enrolling in your employer-sponsored 401(k) or its non-profit cousin (403(b)
Truly, none of the other mistakes can be made if you make this one! And this one is costly in both the short- and long-term. Therefore, as soon as you are eligible enroll in this employer-sponsored benefit!
Mistake #2 – Putting too much money in your 401(k)
Yep, believe it or not, you can, in fact, put too much money in your account. How? By contributing more than your employer matches. A good rule of thumb is to contribute to the match and invest the rest in an external traditional IRA or ROTH-IRA.
Mistake #3 – Not taking advantage of your employer’s contribution.
This is also known as putting too little into your 401(k). When you contribute less than your employer will match it means you are leaving money on the table…don’t do that! For example, if your employer match is 6% – aim to contribute 6% of your salary.
Mistake #4 – Selecting investment options (usually mutual funds) based purely on performance
Whether it’s your retirement account or taxable brokerage account, it is never EVER a good idea to just select your investment choices using the filter of performance numbers only. Choice by performance only is quick, easy and quite seductive but very, very harmful to the health of your account.
Mistake #5 – Having too much exposure to your employer’s stock (if applicable)
All I need to say here is ENRON. If you don’t know the history, click here.
Mistake #6 – You stop contributing (or cash out) when the market crashes (or corrects)
You know the investment rule: buy low, sell high. But when the market crashes or corrects (think 2008), emotions set in and the idea of following prudent investment rules go out the window. But here’s the thing: when the market crashes or corrects, that is usually the best time to exercise “buy low!” The other lesson here is a reminder of why it is important to tie the structure of your portfolio to your goals.
Mistake #7 – You never re-balance
When you set up your 401(k), you have to select how much exposure you will have to the broad asset classes – stocks, bonds, cash. You also have the opportunity to diversify within those broad asset classes. It is natural for your allocation to shift throughout the year as the market naturally moves up and down. When this happens, you need to bring your *new* allocation – as a result of the market’s movement – back to your *original* allocation.
Mistake #8 – You don’t pay attention to what’s inside your mutual fund holdings
One of the things I always mention when I teach a class on mutual funds is that you must know what’s under the hood. It’s the only way to minimize overlap – or the possibility of having too much of one thing and not enough of another. Thereby undermining the value of diversification.
Mistake #9 – You diversify your account, but not your portfolio
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is to focus on how to diversify their current 401(k) without considering how their other investment accounts are invested – including how your spouse is investing his/her retirement assets, if applicable. Look at the whole…not just a slice!
Unfortunately, it is far too easy to unknowingly make some or all of the above 401(k) mistakes. If you’re making any (or all) of them and you want help…you want to go a bit deeper than the suggestions provided, I have something for you! It takes place on Wednesday, November 14th at 8pm EST. Click here to learn more about – What the Hell Should I Do With My 401(k)?
p.s. it’s benefits season for most U.S.-based companies…perfect time to enroll or reevaluate your 401(k). There’s nothing wrong with not knowing which mutual fund to select or how to put them together. But not taking advantage of an opportunity to close the knowledge gap…well, that isn’t too wise. So, join me for the live, online training class (What the Hell Should I Do With My 401(k)?) and let me help you learn what you need to know about mutual funds and your 401(k). I would love the opportunity to work with you!