It’s here! That time of year when you and I are inundated with messages about how to make this year our best year yet. According to the University of Scranton-Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans will do this by making New Years resolutions.
Some will tell you that making resolutions is the key to your transformation; others will tell you resolutions are hogwash and instead you should focus on goals.
At the end of the day, I think it boils down to semantics. You can call it making resolutions or goal-setting – either way, both reflect that there is something about your current reality or experience that you want to change.
With all the emphasis on the actions you need to take to achieve your resolution or goal (i.e., avoid junk food; exercise more; spend less; save more; etc.), which indeed is important, I wish more people focused on the mindset needed to change their reality.
To truly succeed at keeping your resolutions or with meeting your goals, you need to change your mind, too!
Do you know why? Because most of the obstacles you’ll face as you work on your resolution or goal are internal…not external.
I encountered this this morning. One of my personal goals for 2015 is to run four (4) half-marathons. The first one I’m targeting is March 15th, not that far away. So that means I need to run! But I run outside, and when I saw the air temperature was 16 degrees with the wind chill making it even colder, I was NOT too enthusiastic about today’s run and almost talked myself out of it.
But I reminded myself that while I can’t control the weather, I can choose how many layers to put on. Plus, I play this game with myself where, daily, I can ask, “If I do nothing else today, what would make me feel successful – like I accomplished something?” Whatever that is, I do. Today, that was running regardless of how cold it is.
So, a full week into 2015, if you need help with your resolutions or goals, consider this:
- It’s not enough to have a plan. You’ll be better served if your plan addresses not just the actions you need to take, but also the mindset you need to have to keep your resolutions or meet your goals.
- Think about your resolutions/goals through the prism of the habits or rituals you need to foster to set yourself up for success, as well as those you need to discontinue.
- Don’t just focus on the large, sweeping resolution/goal you have. Also visualize the smaller ones that need to happen along the way that ultimately make the big one possible. (For example, today’s 3.3 mile run helps me get ready for March’s 13.2 mile run.)
- Go beyond the surface reason for your resolution/goal. Invest the time to tap into the real motivation; here’s a good time to ask, “What else?“
- Write down (preferably on paper) the one thing you can do daily and weekly to set yourself up for success.
- Then, write down what you’ll do to re-group when you falter. (ALERT! We all falter from time to time. Having a lapse or relapse isn’t the issue – it’s what you do to get back into the groove that matters.)
- Know the tools and the people you’ll need to support you…and then diligently use them!
In truth, this time of year really isn’t that different than any other month or day. It’s just that it is a universal marker for us all to collectively start over or do something we’ve never done before – together.
So whether you prefer to make resolutions or make goals, I wish you the happiest, healthiest, and most successful year to date. I hope your challenges and disappointments are not too great. And, I hope your good experiences surpass your wildest dreams and expectations.
Happy, Happy New Year!
One of the most powerful personal finance tools you have at your disposal isn’t a spending or investment app. Or, a spreadsheet. It isn’t your income statement or balance sheet, either. It’s a question.
Preferably one that begins with the word – “What?”
I have long known this. It’s one of the reasons you hear me tout the importance of insight over information; it’s why I say let the “activity” of inquiry guide the actions you take.
But last week’s Financial Intimacy Hour provided even more proof! My guest, Heidi Johnson, and I had a vibrant conversation about the ways in which curiosity can improve your career, life and money decisions. (click here to grab the replay.)
When I asked Heidi what one thing would she recommend for living more curiously in 2015, she responded: “…ask ‘What Else?'”
I plan to. You might want to give it a try, as well.
This time of the year gets crazy. And not just because it’s the holiday season. But because it is also when the usual year-end review and new year goal-setting kicks in. In between the holiday gatherings and gift shopping, you’re most likely reflecting on this year’s goals and dreams, and claiming how you want 2015 to be different (better, perhaps?).
And if you are like many of my clients before we start to work together, ALL of this is happening in your head!!
The “busyness” of the season prevents you from slowing down long enough to get out on paper where you are versus where you thought you’d be, along with where you still want to be.
I know you are smart, but you need to get out of your head! Especially if experiencing more success (however you define that) is one of your aims.
Make 2015 the Year of “What Else?”
Asking, “What else?” can help.
Specifically, it can stop you from only:
- doing your year-end assessment, mentally
- declaring your goals and dreams, vocally
- affirming what you want to change, vocally
The benefits of asking “what else?” are many:
It sets you up to review the past and plan for your future – without judgment.
It gives you an opportunity to dig deeper to ensure you go beyond the surface (aka the obvious).
And when those urges to lay out a how-to plan surface, it will help you table that temptation until a more appropriate time when such a step will actually have some value.
Imagine if your every desire for 2015 came true – what would accomplishing your goals look like; how would it feel to achieve your dreams; what habits and choices do you envision needing to make?
Asking “What else?” will help you navigate and negotiate the space between your current reality and the one you desire to create. It will ensure you are both strategic and tactical – at just the right times and in the right way.
For me, one of the ways I am using the “What else?” question is to help me uncover the questions I didn’t ask (looking back) or haven’t yet (looking forward).
So as you begin to wind down 2014 and welcome 2015, take ten minutes each day to ask “What else?” Ask it when looking at the various dimensions of your money (earn, save, invest, and spend) and dimensions of your life (family&friends, professional, finances, values/spiritual), and how these all intersect.
As I told a journalist who interviewed me recently, sometimes the action you need to take is to ask a question.
Questions help you get out of your head. They help you shift from over-emphasizing knowing-how to understanding “knowing why.” Remember, your emotions drive your money decisions. Finally, questions – especially “what” inspired ones – truly are your most powerful tool for getting money to do what you want it to do for you. So…ask ‘em and do it often!
Perhaps you can relate: You experience something traumatic. It’s followed by a strong desire to change something you can control – to offset the change you couldn’t. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you’ll understand my deep desire for a little home makeover.
With the help of a dear friend, when I welcomed guests into my home to continue the Thanksgiving tradition of my mother’s and mine, my home had a new look – courtesy of a few additional pieces of furniture and accoutrements and some furniture rearranging. With small tweaks, my home was transformed. Toni helped me reconfigure (and re-envision) my space. In the process, she did for me concerning my home what I do for my clients concerning their finances: find the unfamiliar in the familiar.
And I was like a giddy child on Christmas Eve.
A perfect feeling given that the holiday season is now upon us and officially in high-gear.
For you and for me, the childlike wonder of the season doesn’t just have to be confined to this time of year. It can be a constant state of mind…a standard way of approaching decisions about your career, life and money.
However, that requires that you intentionally practice curiosity to:
- Answer a pressing or recurring question
- Resolve a conflict you’re experiencing
- Address a nagging contradiction of expectations and/or beliefs
- Ease your discomfort
- Close the gap between what you do know and what you don’t know
- Discover the gap between what you’re seeing and noticing
But, how often do you do that? Can you count the number of times lately when you preceded a decision or action with a statement that began with, “I wonder if…or I wonder what would…”
This sort of inquiry is why most of us use smartphones.
This sort of inquiry is why you can stream music, movies and TV shows in your home and on the go.
This sort of inquiry is why there are financial apps that can help you monitor your spending and manage your wealth in ways unforeseen just five years ago.
Curiosity alters your reality.
If I may be so bold, I’m going to venture to say you’re not being curious enough – you’re not engaging with life with childlike wonder.
It’s not that you don’t have an inquiring mind. After all, you were born with it. After all, it’s likely what is behind many of your accomplishments. But, I suspect, you’re not exercising the power of curiosity as often as you could.
The way I see it, here’s the underlying problem: for far too many adults, the obligations of adulthood can make what is innate (curiosity) become a dulled emotion. You’re constantly moving from task to task and decision to decision that you rarely pause long enough to take notice of what you’re seeing.
As a result, you become satisfied with surface questions, answers, outcomes and justifications.
As a result, you tend to value what you do know more than the surprises of what you don’t know.
As a result, your expectations and assumptions don’t evolve.
And this happens all because going deeper seems too involved – it requires too much time and effort.
Finding the New in the Same
I have been in my apartment for twenty-two years. So, I am quite familiar with my space. And, quite honestly, I was in a visual rut. Metaphorically, I was not applying the same talent, skills and intellectual vigor when it comes to my work as a financial behaviorist to my living environment. Yet, angling the couch in a different way; switching a painting from my bedroom to the living room; adding a few floor and table-top lamps; and taking more advantage of my 10′ ceilings, to name a few, makes the same look new.
“Curiosity is making the choice to look deeper into everyday things and seeing their true significance.”
The end of the year and the holiday season are perfect times to seek and discover the unfamiliar in the familiar.
It’ll help you engage with family, friends and colleagues differently – with more openness – during gatherings.
It’ll help you take stock of the year that is coming to a close with a little more compassion.
It’ll help you look at what’s happening with your money with fresh new eyes.
It’ll help you plan and prepare for a new year with a bit more energy and excitement.
If you knew there were questions (or themes) and small tweaks that could help you practice curiosity with more intention, would you be interested in learning about them? What if the same will also help you to make better decisions concerning your career, life and money? If yes (!), then join Heidi Johnson and me for the final Financial Intimacy Hour of 2014!
On Wednesday, 10 December at 8pm EST, we’re having a conversation about the role of curiosity and its impact on your career, choices and financial success. Click here to learn more and to register.
In preparation for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I purchased an indoor electric turkey fryer! (Quite excited!) I purchased it this weekend from Amazon and got a great deal because of their “Countdown to BlackFriday” sale.
Several times throughout the checkout process, I was “invited” to become an Amazon Prime Member. For a split second, I considered it. But after a quick mental audit of how often I order from Amazon, I couldn’t rationalize the $99 annual fee.
The fee made me think of what one client recently said to me:
“I want money to stop slipping through my hands…”
It’s a sentiment I hear often; it is what can so easily happen in our subscription-services economy; and it is precisely what spending $99 on Amazon Prime would have felt like for me.
And it was exactly how I was feeling as I mentally reviewed certain other on-going subscription based fees I incur – whether they are charged annually or monthly.
Perhaps the charge is nominal so you rationalize it by saying, “oh, it’s only $5.99 a month…”
Or maybe you say, “well, if I use the service once or twice, then the annual subscription has paid for itself…”
Or worse yet, maybe you don’t even realize you’re paying for a product/service each month. This happened to a friend of mine; she finished her doctoral thesis six years ago yet she recently realized she was still paying for subscriptions related to her research work that is now complete. To the tune of 320 Euro a year or $400 a year…for six years!!! You do the math.
Subscription services – the “new” new way to consume and buy
Subscription services aka the subscription economy isn’t new. Magazines have been doing it for decades. But today, this model is popping up in all sorts of industries. Including personal finance! Case in point: LearnVest, or a little closer to home…the Financial Intimacy Lounge – a not so subtle plug -:).
In fact, John Warrilow, author of the forthcoming book, “The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry,” said at Inc. Magazine’s GrowCo conference: “…[subscription businesses] provide the greatest value to both the [business] and the customer.”
[business] and the customer.”
When I think of value, I think of it as expressed in terms of uniqueness, convenience, variety, simplicity, flexibility, affordability and, well, a changing value system with regards to how consumers behave in almost every aspect of life.
I also think of value as expressed in terms of a continuing relationship.
And just like all on-going relationships, when you get lazy about ‘em and don’t pay attention to what is and what isn’t working, well, you know… Someone is really happy and the other one ends up quite unsatisfied.
Don’t be unsatisfied
As we near the end of the year (can you believe it?), now is actually a good time to ask yourself if you are stuck in a recurring payment trap with some of the subscription service/s you use. In other words, is what you are buying and consuming via your subscription giving you the value you want. Or, is it the cause of money slipping through your hands, too?
Maybe the monthly or annual amount isn’t “a lot” in the grand scheme of things. But the financial detox exercise I’m about to propose is less about dollars and cents in the absolute sense. Instead, it’s about being “conscious and intentional” about what you’re choosing to do with your money and whether those funds could be (re)directed to something else that has more value to and for you – whether you measure that based on pleasure or utility.
So here goes:
- Grab your banking and credit card statements for the last three months. If you receive statements electronically, please print them out. (You can always recycle the paper.)
- Review those statements and highlight your recurring expenses. Choose one color for monthly expenses and another for annual ones.
- On a separate sheet of paper (or in a spreadsheet), list the recurring expenses and rank them according to three categories: pleasure; utility; waste of money.
When I did this piece of the exercise, I chose to keep Netflix – even though I don’t use it often. It’s nominal and I like the “option” of having it. Yet, I chose not to renew my ZipCar membership. I’ve rented a lot of cars in the last two years – not one of them was a ZipCar!
- In this same spreadsheet, sum up each category…you just might be shocked at what you discover. In addition to evaluating the total financial outlay, look to see if your automatic withdrawals are spread throughout the month. This will help manage your cashflow and ensure you’re not lopsided leaning more toward the beginning or end the month.
- Make an assessment of each line item.
Anything you deem to be a waste of money, get rid of immediately. Or, downgrade your plan (if that’s an option). Before I sat down to pen this, I did that with a business expense. I’m not quite ready to get rid of the service completely, but I’m also not using all the features of the pro plan, and I’ve decided to stop spending money based on the “maybe, one-day I will thinking.”
- If possible and appropriate, migrate the monthly or annual withdrawals for your recurring expenses to one banking or credit card account for easy tracking.
The beauty of subscription services is that they are really all about YOU. It’s about access the way you want, how you want it, and when you want it. Fundamentally, it’s about choice – your choice. And, with choice comes control.
You are in control.
Don’t abdicate that control by paying recurring fees for products/services you no longer find pleasure in or that have outlived their utility. Because, sadly, some businesses are counting on you to trivialize a “small” dollar amount. Or, for you to be so busy living your life that you completely forget about what you committed to.
If you find money slipping through your hands, at least don’t let it be with regards to subscription services.
p.s. I’m so excited to be a guest speaker in Bari Tessler Linden’s The Art of Money Symposium on enTheos.com – joining some other cool peeps like Barbara Stanny, Mindy Crary and many others. Check us out here: https://www.entheos.com/The-Art-of-Money
I read somewhere that if you could achieve your financial goals by simply putting your money away in the bank you wouldn’t need a plan.
That’s silly to me. That’s like saying as long as you have gas in a car you don’t need directions to drive to a place you’ve never been to before.
Yet, this way of thinking represents a common mindset when it comes to managing money and preparing a financial plan. And, in my opinion, it is why so many people don’t get as much as they could from their money.
Today is the last day of Financial Planning Week – the 13th Annual one no less! Granted, this factoid may not make your heart stir and go pitter-patter. But, I thought today would be as good a time as any to share what I believe financial planning is really all about. I suspect if more people adopted this perspective, more people would get excited about preparing and editing a financial plan. Imagine that!
Besides b.o.r.i.n.g., what usually comes to mind when you hear or read the words “financial planning?”
In no particular order, I bet you think about some if not all of what’s listed below:
- Your lifestyle
- Your career and current & future earnings
- Children and their education
- Parents and their well-being
- Your own well-being
You may even wonder if and at what point the help of a financial professional makes sense.
I also bet for each of the above bullet-points (and others I may have overlooked), your focus has been on the numbers – the numbers you know and the numbers you forecast. It all comes back to the numbers because the presence or absence of money is what typically drives your decisions.
Financial Planning: The Movie?
But what if instead of looking at financial planning as an exercise in making the numbers work, you thought of financial planning as the telling of a story through a collection of vignettes? Vignettes that when woven together resemble a long-format television series, with many seasons, about your life – the one you have and the one you want.
Not only are you the star of the series, but you also play the role of producer, writer and director. And you become a quadruple threat for the small screen the likes of George Clooney for the big screen. Much more exciting, right?!
You may be rolling your eyes right about now. But hear me out…
There are a number of benefits to viewing financial planning through the lens of making a critically-acclaimed and successful series. To start, you begin to recognize that even if everyone follows the exact same steps (think of all the long- format shows on HBO), the results won’t be precisely the same.
Thus, the reason I say financial planning isn’t supposed to mean the same thing to everyone.
By thinking “story” over the numbers, you’re invited to connect the dots that represent the pieces of your life in a more profound way. The result: You have to bridge the gap between your vision for the future and your present-day reality and consider the tools, resources, and people that will help you close the gap between here and there. That includes:
- Using money as a tool, but not the only tool!
- Remembering that emotions are not black-n-white. And neither are numbers. True, the numbers may be negative or positive, but the “story” behind the numbers is rarely as black-n-white as you might think (or wish).
- Viewing financial planning as less about planning for retirement and more about planning out your entire lifestyle cycle (the on you have, the one you want, and the one that will help you bridge the gap).
- Embracing ambiguity and the practice of scenario planning via story-boarding.
- Using scenario planning to help you identify the likely obstacles you’ll encounter and manage the ones you’ll actually face.
- Learning to objectively observe your patterns, habits, and anomalies.
- Learning to objectively see the relationship you have with money, and how and where you need to work on it.
- Remembering you never do it alone.
There’s a term in the film industry called the “cutting room floor.” It pertains to what’s been omitted from the final footage. The way I connect this to financial planning is how the results you see reflects a lot of the intangible choices and decisions you’ve made but others can’t “see.”
If you’re like most people I know and clients (before they became clients), you’re really much more interested in being with family and friends; focusing on your career; and enjoying your leisure time and a lot less interested in managing your money and creating a financial plan. As a result, you either don’t have a plan or you have a one that was haphazardly put together and may not be current.
However, when you don’t have a plan (or a current one), you don’t know what you need to do consistently and you don’t know when and where you need to evolve in order to achieve your financial goals.
So, in honor of financial planning week, I ask: do you have a viable and or current financial plan? If not, what are you waiting for? And, how might thinking of it as a tool for making a critically-acclaimed and successful long-running series about your life help you get started?
On this beautiful Saturday afternoon, you and your friends may not be lounging about, sipping a cool, refreshing beverage and talking about “identities” and “emotional intelligence” and “financial intimacy.” But the truth is every financial and career choice you make is a reflection of how you see yourself and your degree of self-awareness.
So is how you define and experience the American Dream.
If you were with us on Wednesday for the in-person presentation of this month’s Financial Intimacy Hour, you know we had a phenomenal time. If you weren’t and you’re curious about what you missed, click here to grab the replay.
Leading up to the “American Dream? Rethinking Race, Gender and Financial Success,” I wrote several posts talking about trends impacting our economic and employment landscapes. Trends that will certainly affect you and your livelihood if they haven’t already.
- I shared stats like 4.4 years; 42 million people; $12 trillion; and the “browning” of America. Combined, these data points tell an intriguing story about where we are in our cultural, economic, and employment history.
- I talked about why bridging emotional intelligence and financial intimacy is a must-have if you want to effectively and proactively manage your career and your finances.
What I didn’t reveal here as clearly as I did that night was why I felt this conversation was an important one to have – right now.
As you probably know, I am an observer. Noticing patterns that others miss or discount is one of my strengths.
And a pattern that caught my attention can be summed up with these five words, “When things get back to…”
It feels like I’m hearing this sentiment more and more, especially from some clients and prospects who lost a job, significant money, or both as a result of the 2008 crash and the Great Recession that followed. And…they still haven’t recovered (or not as completely as they’d hoped.)
Their longing to get back to the way things were is deep. Understandably, yet still unfortunate, the desire to get back to the comfort and safety they once felt is so strong, they are missing the signals that indicate a new reality has formed, a new normal is afoot.
They are stuck in a time warp and not adjusting too well – emotionally, psychically or financially.
As someone shared with me, the aftermath of 2008 felt like a game of “musical chairs and when the music stopped I didn’t have a place to sit.”
What a perfect metaphor for what so many (perhaps even you?) are experiencing. If you ever played musical chairs, you know it sucks when the music stops, the seats are all gone and there’s no room for you in the circle. And this is precisely why I wanted to talk about the American Dream in the context of race, gender and financial success.
I wanted to explore how the above-mentioned trends reflect your identity through the prism of your personal finances and the American Dream. Especially if you feel slightly uprooted.
How do you see yourself; how do you want others to see you; and how does the reality of where you are today relative to where you’d thought you’d be compare? If the mirror is reflecting back anything other than what excites you and has you wishing things were as they used to be, click here to grab the replay of “American Dream? Rethinking Race, Gender and Financial Success.”
My conversation with Dr. Atira Charles will not only increase your emotional and financial self-awareness, but you’ll also have specifics steps to help you shift from longing for how things were to being excited about what is and can be. And because the principles we share are universal, you’ll get something from this even if what has you feeling a bit nostalgic has absolutely nothing to do with money or your career.
Enjoy…and then let me know of a major takeaway!
I’m gearing up for tonight’s Financial Intimacy Hour with my guest Lori Anne Douglass, Esq. We’re tackling that topic I talked about last week – the one most would prefer to avoid.
I addressed how estate planning isn’t just for the rich or just about death, and how it is really an act of love. If you missed that post, click here.
As timing would have it, on the day I published that piece I had dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. In the process of catching up, I, naturally, invited her to join us tonight. And, she – a single mother, homeowner, and business owner – shared she didn’t have a Will.
My reaction: GASP!
Her response: “Why do I need a Will; won’t everything automatically go to my son?”
She’s not alone in this sentiment. According to a new Rocket Lawyer-Harris survey, 64% of Americans don’t have a Will.
But, ironically, not having one isn’t really the biggest mistake my friend is making (and many others like her): ONLY having a Will is!
At a minimum, there are three other documents that you need in addition to your Will. This is an oft overlooked misstep.
And so is having an outdated plan.
Depending upon what source you reference, the number of people without an estate plan ranges from 50%-70%. But perhaps you fall in the 30%-50% range of people who actually DO have one. If true…
…is the plan you have the one you want to have?
Both Paul Walker and Philip Seymour Hoffman had estate plans created – in 2001 and 2004, respectively. However, their tragic and untimely deaths put this common estate planning blunder of not having a current plan front-and-center for a number of “costly mistakes” articles.
Above, I’ve just shared two obvious and not so obvious estate planning mistakes. During my conversation with Lori Anne tonight, we’ll flush out a few more. Of course, along with what to do instead and why these actions are important.
Admittedly, I have no clue what in the world “conscious uncoupling” means, but I do understand the need for having a conscious approach to estate planning.
- It’s how you organize your personal + financial affairs.
- It’s how you address the mistakes you know you’re making AND become of aware of the mistakes you don’t realize you are.
- It’s how we each contribute to the dismantling of the misconception that the estate planning process is only for a certain few or relevant to a narrow set of circumstances.
- It’s how you ensure you don’t fall prey to the “someday, one-day” mentality that can grip you and lull you into procrastination mode until it’s too late to be thoughtful, intentional, and strategic.
- It’s how you get to know yourself even more intimately. Estate planning invites you to ask yourself some probing questions and take stock about what and who is most important to you. (See, I told you it was about love – and that includes self-love!)
- It’s how you put on your big girl or big boy pants and take the reins to control how you experience life and money – and not just sit on the sidelines “taking” whatever comes your way. I realize you may not take a passive approach in other areas of your life, but for some, money makes them a little gun-shy. If this is you, let’s stop this pattern now, shall we?
Thinking of estate planning as an act of love isn’t a matter of semantics for me. Nor is looking at it as a testament of self-love. I truly believe this and want others to hop on the bandwagon with me. And that includes YOU!
I am SO excited for tonight, and if you haven’t registered I hope you’ll accept my invitation to join Lori Anne Douglass, Esq. and me at 8pm EDT for this month’s Financial Intimacy Hour.
I promise it’ll be a lively experience. And, I promise you’ll know more at the end of 60-minutes than you did at the beginning.
Estate Planning: It’s Not Just for the Rich; It’s Not Just About Death; It’s About Love & It’s for You!
Whew…you read pass the looong headline line!
Estate planning. It’s often considered boring, scary, the “thing” to avoid, or just perceived to “not be for me.”
So, that you’ve read this far is a win. And, I’m glad.
Because it’s time for us to have “that” delicate conversation, and in the process bust some estate planning myths and make certain you have some important facts.
Diss the myths
Estate planning isn’t just for the rich. If you have $2 dollars to rub together, you need an estate plan.
Estate planning isn’t just about death. Although that can clearly be what triggers the fulfillment of your wishes. But so can a prolonged illness that leaves you less-able or disabled.
Estate planning is hard.Yes, it isn’t emotionally easy. It is uncomfortable, asks you to wrestle with all sorts of fears, and “forces” you to confront mortality, less-ability, and disability – including your own – in ways that often surprise you.
But what I’ve come to understand and personally embrace is that estate planning is really an act of love.
It’s how you have the last word – your way. It’s how you express your love to those near and dear. It’s how you control what happens to the possessions that are important to you and how you share the money you leave behind – even if it is just $2! It’s also how you control the quality of your care if you experience a prolonged illness. Viewed in this light and estate planning becomes a no-brainer.
Know the facts
However, let’s face it: estate planning can also be downright confusing!
Heck, I work in financial services and learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know as my mother and I put together our family’s estate plan.
This is one of the many reasons, I’m excited about the focus of April’s Financial Intimacy Hour. Register here.
My guest is Lori Anne Douglass, Esq. – partner at Moses & Singer and head of the firm’s Trust and Estates group and Matrimonial and Family Practice. I couldn’t think of a better person to help us push through the emotional blocks of estate planning and help you and me get our heads out of the proverbial sand, take action and be powerful in a realm that can often render us feeble if caught off-guard or ill-prepared.
Yes, we’ll cover the basics and make sure you’re prepared with definitions of key terms.
But lest you think this is going to be a “traditional” estate planning conversation – think again.
First, there’s Lori Anne’s personality. “Boring” is just not a word you’d associate with her. That’s just not how she rolls. You’ll see But here’s a clue: she’s working on a book, “How to Raise a Child You Love With a Person You Hate.”
Second, we’re going to tackle this 21st century style. Meaning: deal with modern-family dynamics of estate planning courtesy of modern-day realities. Like:
- 40.8 percent of children are now born to a single parent;
- Over 50 percent of U.S. households are now headed by a single individual;
- Non-traditional partnerships are increasing in number;
- Marriages involving a non-U.S. citizen are increasing;
- 16.1 percent of U.S. households are now multi-generational, almost as high as in 1940;
- 78 percent of middle-aged adults believe that they’ll be responsible for caring for an aging family member.
The above stats are an abbreviated list of factors courtesy of research from the Pew Research Center.
Add to this the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and the fact that estate planning is critical for and affects women more profoundly then men, you see we have the makings for a full-bodied, colorful, and creative conversation about life.
And, more specifically, how to use a tool that can ensure you have the last word (literally and figuratively) – your way.
Join Lori Anne Douglass and me next Wednesday, 30 April at 8pm EDT for this month’s Financial Intimacy Hour.
Let us help you push through the unease if that’s your issue, or lack of awareness if that’s your challenge, and help you address the financial + legal matters that constitute estate planning.
We want to make sure you have what you need to do estate planning right, have peace of mind, and show your love.
Do you know what a chief financial officer (CFO) does? Here’s why I ask:
No one – and I do mean no one – has ever said to me, “Jacquette, I want you to teach me how to be a better chief financial officer (CFO).”
You as CFO is not an option – it’s a must!
I don’t just say this because I’m a financial geek and I want you to become one, too.
I say it because “you as CFO” is a financial reality that I believe:
- You may be resisting and ignoring – thinking it’s a fad or the latest marketing hype by the financial services industry.
- You might misunderstand – thinking the responsibilities of the CFO role are all about crunching numbers.
- You may be minimizing – thinking the need to don your CFO hat is not really necessary. After all, the economy and employment landscape will eventually get back to the way things were pre-2008 (or the Great Recession), right?!
When the job you have isn’t the one you want
Do-it-yourself personal finance is nothing new. Truth is, you’ve been doing some aspects of this ever since the very first time you got an allowance or got paid for your very first job.
However, the new economy, which makes entrepreneurs of us all, calls for a more expanded vision of what do-it-yourself personal finance looks like in terms of the actions you take, decisions you make, and your level of engagement.
- That means being a financial leader in ways you may not have envisioned.
- That means being more proactive and less passive.
- That means looking beyond the numbers and being more curious about the story the numbers are telling.
- That means performing some analysis; doing some forecasting; creating some reports, etc.
- That means having a process to turn information into insight and using said to formulate a strategy.
- That means recognizing that you don’t really manage money as much as you manage your choices.
- That means recognizing that money isn’t one-dimensional – even though we all tend to talk about it as if it is.
- That means making time to manage your money.
- That means being accountable for your decisions, but not feeling like you need to make them alone.
- That means recognizing that there are few money choices you can make that don’t affect all aspects of your life…and vice versa.
- That means embracing a role you didn’t expect to have.
CFO of You, Inc.
I know, I know — it sucks when the job you have isn’t the one you want. Or, when you feel ill-prepared for the task at hand.
You knew adulthood came with the responsibility of managing your money and your financial choices. But to this degree…hmmm???
Nope. You as CFO is not a fad and it’s not marketing hype; it’s your new reality.
Just consider the plethora of consumer-based online tools and applications and websites geared toward helping you connect with and leverage your financial power.
Crunching numbers is one aspect of what a chief financial officer does. But so is being creative and anticipating the future you want and the future that might be, along with planning for multiple outcomes.
“Jacquette was able to help me look past the basic dollars and cents, to see the thought patterns that were driving my spending choices. The tailored financial action plan she delivered was realistic and easy to follow, moving me towards my goals.” Aduke Thelwell
Would you like to experience results similar to Aduke’s? Would you like support managing your CFO role fully and more completely? Become a member of the Financial Intimacy Lounge. The Charter Member rate of $47 a month expires on April 30th.
Helping you don your CFO hat with greater confidence is one of the ways I can help you get more from your money and for your life. Working with you inside the membership is one of the ways I can make your CFO role less overwhelming and a heck of a ot more fun!
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.