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DASHING Through DECEMBER

3x3 Dashing to DecKeep it real!

You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and now you have the rest of your Christmas shopping to do. Amid holiday parties, family gatherings and business obligations, it’s time for many of you to begin annual holiday shopping, too!

The National Retail Federation’s latest survey finds that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $463 on family members, up from $458 last year and the highest in survey history. Average spending per person is expected to reach $805, with more than half of shoppers planning to splurge on non-gift items for themselves. And if you use credit cards, be prepared to go over budget by 25%.

Many people get emotional about selecting gifts for family members and loved ones. The desire to get the very best present is often in direct conflict with the reality of keeping your budget on target. Going overboard for Christmas and beginning 2016 in debt is not your best course of action.

Here at The Money Nerve, we believe that positive and intentional choices allow you to be deliberate about your spending during the holidays and beyond. Take a moment and examine some of the holiday emotions that may pop up out unexpectedly!  Are you trying to “buy” love or attention? Is there family competition regarding who bought or received the “best” gift? Do you feel the need to purchase a gift for every person you know?

Stop. Think about your long-term goals for your life and how you want to recognize or honor the special people in your life. Be thoughtful. Attaching a personal, heartfelt message with a small present can be the greatest gift of all. Spread holiday cheer on a personal level. This is a season based on love and sharing. – Reconnect with the people who are most important to you.

Enjoy the holiday, the shopping and the people! See if these five tips help you navigate the holidays and make it easier on your wallet:

1. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “The early bird gets the worm.” So begin saving for next year’s holidays in January. Set aside $25-$75 per month. Use cash whenever possible.

2. Set your budget. If you traditionally tip a babysitter, a dog walker or special people who provide personal services at the end of the year, be sure to add that to your budget.

3. Make a gift list. List the amount you want to spend on family and friends and stick to it. If you bought gifts early, pull them out to wrap. I have friends who forgot they purchased gifts early, put the gifts in a safe place, and then found the items after the holiday season.

4. Find deals. Read those Sunday ads and use apps like RedLaser to price match items. You want to be sure you get the best price on your purchases.

5. It’s not the size of the gift, it is the thought behind it. You can give small “stocking stuffers” to colleagues: $5 Starbucks cards, a mini-bottle of Champagne, homebaked cookies, or a chance to win the lottery with a $2 Scratch off card. There are many small and fun ways to show people you care!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and more!

Bob

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PASSING THE TORCH with ABUNDANT GIVING

Abundance is more than enoughChanging your “mental map” or mindset can create wealth in your life.

Living an abundant life is a proactive attitude to seek out what is important to you and strive to create a purposeful life. There is more to life than sitting at the computer every day and then sitting on the couch passively watching other people’s lives. You shape your world by how you choose to take action on the circumstances thrown your way. Decide if you want to allow others’ actions to ignite your anger or feelingsor if you would like to make intentional choices for a more positive outcome.

Give to others with a generous spirit: When you give time or money to others, you are implying that goodness is there for all. The positive energy from an intentional gift “without strings” will open your heart and mind to the abundance of your life. Intentionally put $2 in your pocket to have on hand to help others, or use the next few weeks to “pay it forward” for someone else, just because you can.

Find the goodness in people and enjoy the richness of life. With all the tragedy we have witnessed in the past few months, it seems like covering our ears, bolting our doors and making our world smaller is the best course of action – but that action could be counter-intuitive. Look for the goodness in others, have empathy for those in need, and find a way to forgive those around you for past hurts. Forgiving is another way to pay it forward.

As we move into the holidays, find time to share your vision of happiness, peace and thankfulness. More money and material possessions will not make you happy. Peace and happiness come from within. When you share your peace and love with others, you add worth to others, honor their spirit and that action makes the world a better place for all.

Have a great week

Bob

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CELEBRATING UNSUNG HEROES

The Money Nerve Unsung HeroDo you know an “unsung hero?” Someone who does good things for others without asking for praise or recognition? Often these are people who have made “things” happen or quietly prove that one person can make a difference for many.

There are many facets in life, love, finances, work, and play. As you build a life of conscious choice, you may want to incorporate an intentional celebration of the unsung heroes in your life. Or you may decide that you want to make a difference by adding your efforts to make the world a better place.

Take a moment to personally thank one of the people in your life who make a difference for you or for others. Maybe it’s a teacher, policeman, nurse or doctor, or a family member who is taking care of a loved one. Recognize the effort and impact that one person can make in the lives of others.

Here are a few ideas for showing your appreciation:

  • Give a sincere compliment to a colleague without expectations.
  • Send a thank-you note to a person you have noticed whose actions benefit others.
  • Give blood to help heal others who might be in bad health.
  • If you see a veteran dining in a restaurant, discreetly pay for his or her dinner and ask the server to tell simply say, “America thanks you.”
  • Donate to a cause one of your friends or family members is deeply involved with and let them know you appreciate their time.
  • Post a message on social media “shining a spotlight on and thanking” a person you feel is making a difference.
  • Host a lunch and honor the support team members whose work often goes unrecognized.

Discover and celebrate the heroes in your life!

~Bob

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AN ATITTUDE of GRATEFULNESS

3x3 template copyGratefulness – also defined as being thankful, appreciative or gratitude – can be a powerful tool for living a meaningful life.

Psychology Today states, “Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness – and especially expression of it to others – is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Take a moment each day to express gratitude for the goodness in your life. Some people like to begin their day with a meditation or short mantra expressing thanks. This is a positive action to begin each day and set the tone for the rest of the day. It helps you look for the best resolution as the day unfolds.

Others prefer to document the activities and the goodness of the day as a nightly ritual. Being thankful for all the moments and people in our daily life can change our intentions. One can learn to flip frustrations or challenges to create new opportunities for choosing what is important to us over time.

As the holiday season approaches, many celebrate thankfulness and a bountiful life, but as the good china is put up, keeping an attitude of gratitude throughout the year can relieve stress and generate a more optimistic view. A mindset of cultivating kindness can often have positive repercussions that we can’t even imagine. Much like a small pebble thrown into a pond, the ripples of thankfulness and kindness can have a huge impact on many people, some of whom you may never meet!

By focusing on the good, you retrain your brain to look for abundance, rather than dwelling on the lack of “things.” Scientific studies are demonstrating that fear and negativity increase cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormones and narrow your perspective because you perceive danger in your life. Developing a positive mindset increases the mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), in your body. It also encourages people to “broaden and build” life skills, actively seek new opportunities, and utilize small successes to achieve a more abundant and meaningful life.

In gratitude ~ Bob

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Facing Financial Fears

The Money Nerve

83% of Americans have at least one financial fear that keeps them up at night. And not surprising, almost a third worry about retirement and healthcare costs. Most people would rather ignore their nagging concerns and continue suffering in a familiar pattern rather than facing their fear and making a change.

Where are you really?

You can’t get to your ultimate destination if you don’t know your starting point.

The first key to alleviating your fear is to be honest. The more accurate the assessment, the more secure you will be in your position. You might be frustrated, but you will be aware of your financial truth and knowing where the breakdown occurs allows you to fix some of those issues.

Turn your insecurity around:

• Evaluate your social circle.
• Surround yourself with supportive friends.
• Budget truthfully so you know your financial position.

Review your income and expenses, explore where you spend your time and track down hidden costs. When you do these things, it is crucial to be honest with yourself. What do you actually earn? What do you really spend? What do you pretend is not relevant to your budget?

Most people “round up” on their income and “round down” on their expenses. If you want to get ahead and be financially successful, always lower your income estimates and raise your expense estimates. This trick will help give you a cushion for the realities of your inflows and outflows of cash.

The best way to face your financial fears is to create a budget. Having guidelines can bring comfort and structure to your plan. Start small & build your financial muscle over time. Do you have a savings account? Try to put a small percentage or dollar amount with each paycheck. If you get a raise, continue to live on the former salary & put the increase in the bank. That is a painless and highly effective more to build your wealth.

Check some of the tools we have placed HERE to help you jumpstart smart financial choices.

Don’t be scared ~ Be proactive!

Bob

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Focus on Your Future

the money nerve

Have you ever heard Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ant?

The grasshopper loved hopping about and singing during the warm summer. One day he saw an ant working hard to move an ear of corn and cried out, “Why in the world are you collecting food on this bright and beautiful day? Stay and play with me!” The ant shook his head and said, “I am saving this for the cold winter, and you should do the same.” The grasshopper laughed and went off to play but perished during cold weather. The moral of the story: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

The story seems harsh, and many people wish for a fairy tale ending where others solve all of our financial dreams (i.e., winning the lottery, getting an inheritance, marrying a rich spouse). In 1934, Disney created the delightful film short “The Grasshopper and the Ants” where the Ant Queen and her colony felt pity for the grasshopper and took him in during the winter. Have you ever seen the video? Check it out below.

Sometimes a project or goal seems so far away that it is easy to procrastinate. There is so much time left and we get bogged down in our busy-ness, that daily decisions feel more urgent and important than long-term investments in life.

Reality check: It’s your life; it’s your money! How are your plans for retirement going? Do you have savings for a rainy day? Life happens – when you least expect it.

Saving and spending are part of living a life of abundance. Let’s change the words being used from short-term desires like “I need those shoes” to some long-term goals such as, “I am making better choices with my money, to maintain my lifestyle when I get older.” As you discover the best balance between living for today like the grasshopper and stashing some wealth like the ant, you will come to realize that both are investments in yourself.

Ignoring regular maintenance on your car because you don’t want to spend the money can result in major car expenses down the line. In the same way, poor spending or saving habits may also result in a later retirement and fewer choices down the road. What should you do?

Here are three easy ways to get started:
1. Take the quarterly plan you created last week and imagine retirement is a “big purchase” like a house.
2. Determine the price of this long-term goal (the amount of money needed) with this calculator.
3. Tweak your quarterly plan (budget) to begin investing toward your targeted “quality of life” in your later years. You will be glad you decided to invest in yourself!

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CREATING A BLUEPRINT FOR LIFE

3x3 Blueprint for SuccessA builder doesn’t just go out and build a 10-story building. First the owner and the architect ask questions to define the finished structure: How tall will the building be? What will it be made of? How much will it cost? How many people will be needed and what resources will it take to build?

Let’s take that same approach with your financial plans.

If you are unhappy about your debt, make a plan to pay it down while curbing your current spending habits.

 

Begin by asking questions.

What is working for me?
Where am I having challenges?
How can I overcome my fears and move into a new direction?
What is my goal?
What would be my first step?

Facing your finances is the first step. There is no physical harm in facing your financial reality. No one has ever been stabbed by a bank account! You may feel a pang in your stomach – and you are still fine. Acknowledging your financial situation may feel painful emotionally and taking steps to confront your current situation is a good start.

The second step is finding a friend or financial coach to support you. Discuss best practices and prepare an outline for the next three months. A series of small steps or goals will lead the way to a more successful long-term goal. Often the mere presence of a plan can alleviate emotional turmoil.

It is your money and your life, so the third step is to implement the plan for the next 90 days.

Re-evaluate your finances to determine where you can update or tweak your quarterly plan. Be realistic and honest. Did you round up your income and round down your expenses? Did you forget to account for eating out? Sift through any unknowns that popped up and add that information to your next 3-month outline for a better outcome.

By implementing conscious choices and thoughtful actions, you are building a blueprint for your life. Setting short-term plans builds the foundation for long-term success, with a lifestyle you envisioned and crafted.

Begin today!

Bob

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BENEFITS OF JOURNALING

JournalingThe process of journaling is not a new concept; in fact scholars have found evidence of people writing down their thoughts in 10th century Japan. You may define a journal as a listing of activities or maybe jotting down your secret dreams and desires in a diary.

Or you may find sketches and free form phrases work better than writing your “life story” each day. There is no right or wrong way to journal. By experimenting, you can discover the best avenue for expressing your inner thoughts.

I like to define daily entries in a journal as a mental mapping exercise.

By knowing where I am, I can easily target where I want to go. Visualizing is a major component in moving forward. Each day, I like to create a mental space to formulate my schedule for the next day and then spend some quiet time to listen to my thoughts. Thirty minutes would be ideal, but if you are just beginning, find 5 minutes just for you – in your busy, hectic life. It will make a difference.

Don’t overthink this process. You may just write down one thought or vent about one bad experience in your life. Some people keep a notepad handy to write in as during a coffee break. Or you may prefer to recap the day right before going to bed. If you love your mobile device, there are apps for journaling!

When you first begin to carve out small moments of quiet time, echoes of what others say about you may distract you. Or you may dwell on preconceived notions handed down by parents, friends or colleagues. Push those jaded voices aside and pay attention to your thoughts, your dreams, your values and your goals. This focused contemplation will allow you to visualize a new dialogue with yourself, new possibilities and a fresh approach to old patterns.

Journaling or “mental mapping” gives you the power to visualize change and become the image you see in your mind. Flipping dreams into reality comes from a deep and secure awareness of who you are and, how you feel about life. That knowledge allows you to make choices based on clear and conscious intentions.

When you write down your feelings, you take them out of your heart and place them on paper. Once the words are in black and white, you can process and understand your feelings from a less biased perspective. Many people find balance in their lives by writing or sketching daily.

Hopefully, you will find (as many others have discovered) that spending a few minutes a day with yourself and documenting your thoughts can have a profound impact for good!

Have an intentional week!

Bob

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FIND YOUR PASSION, PURPOSE & POWER

3x3 Power PoseDo you always accept circumstances as they appear to be or do you question what comes your way? When taking everything at face value without asking questions and exploring a better or different option, many doors may remain shut. By opening yourself to others, investigating new ideas, finding new ways to tackle a challenge and visualizing a different perspective, you can make changes in the way you handle decisions.

If you want to make a change, but are not sure what the step is, here are some thoughtful solutions for beginning a new journey of personal assessment and growth.

 

How do you begin exploring personal and financial growth?
· What are your strengths?
· Is your internal view of yourself realistic?
· Do your values align with your goals?
· Are there mental/ emotional barriers that need overcoming to be successful?
· What do you need to take the next step?

Examine your story and ask questions. Does this story (well worn and comfortable) still fit your life? If not, how do you take stock of the past and re-frame that internal vision of yourself?

Reflect on these questions below to determine where you are:
Who are you?
What are your values?
What are you passions?
What is your purpose?

Have you ever browsed through old photos and marveled how people and places have changed so dramatically? Notice the changes in you over time and investigate ways to realign your passion and purpose to reach your goals. Life is about change and knowing who and where you are in life, assists you to move forward in a new direction.
Maybe you allow other people’s stories to define who you are, and it is time to take responsibility for you are. Embrace who you are, own your choices and begin to make proactive decisions and adjustments to reach your goals.

We all have different wants and needs. Some people have a strong desire to invest in their future. Others want to live exuberantly at the moment. We all have distinct levels of emotional tolerance toward our present situation. When we feel pain or guilt, are scared and ashamed of our actions, those negative emotions are a sign that change might be a powerful step into a more positive, meaningful future.

I want to share this video of Amy Cuddy speaking about change, on both an emotional and physical level. If you have ever felt inadequate or that you are a “fake” and it’s just a matter of time before “everyone” finds out, this clip may be life changing for you! In addition to mentally focusing on a new goal, Amy shares scientific evidence that simple changes in your body language can effect other people’s opinions about you and enhance your success! It certainly affected me, and I hope you will also find it valuable.

Video: Don’t Fake it ‘till you make it; Fake it until You Become it!