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LIVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE

Living an abundant life is about making thoughtful choices to increase the inner wealth of everyday living. It is a life based on a positive attitude, being aware of the abundance in the world and making decisions based on the best long-term outcomes.

To begin the journey toward financial freedom, set your goals with a strong focus on empowering your life.

Keeping your focus on these life-goals will assist you in creating a healthy relationship with your money. Being rich is not a destination!

One of the ways to see the abundance in your life is to be present and mindful of what is going on around you. Studies have shown that you can change your life for the better with one simple new habit: begin a daily journal to write down what you notice, what makes you happy, what you are grateful for, and where you see yourself tomorrow.

In fact, a research study at Duke University studied whether the power of writing – and then rewriting – your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health. ~ New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/writing-your-way-to-happiness/?_r=0

Your life journey may be comprised of six, eight, or ten stages, with many steps in between – and the possibilities are not always visible. People sometimes make judgments based on a snapshot of life (their own or someone else’s) without taking into consideration past history or potential for the future.

Finances and money decisions will always be a part of your life. It is part of the journey, with multiple paths and a constantly evolving landscape. It is not realistic to think you can learn a new financial skill one time and then be done with those pesky decisions. Rehashing old mistakes, letting emotional baggage dictate your actions or feeling financially lost are all the symptoms of a pinched money nerve.

Visualize the things that truly matter. This will be the basis for your financial decisions. Your goals will now predetermine how YOU will manage your money, creating financial freedom!

Begin your walk toward proactive abundance today. – Bob

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FACE YOUR FEAR

3x3TMN Head In SandI know many people who are afraid their entire financial life is going to fall apart at any minute. Sometimes, their fear does not correlate to their financial reality. It is an irrational emotion, based on what their family taught them or based on the unpredictable economic world we live in today.

I have friends who make high incomes; they have stunning homes, numerous cars, and staff who make their lives easier. Some of them have built their lifestyle through speculation and grand impulsive decisions. With all the material symbols of “success,” you would think they live a charmed and worry-free life! Yet, that is not always the case. Often there is a constant worry that the next project may not make it. Their mindset is, “We’re going to end up on the streets. We’re not going to make it” They are unable to enjoy their financial goodness and they live in fear.

Until recent years, America’s younger generation never feared they might lose everything. They have grown up in an era of abundance with no concept of scarcity. The media tells everyone that we all deserve nice homes, plenty of name-brand clothes, and the ability to buy almost anything we want at the store. Sometimes reality can be scary. When people see their friends losing jobs and realize that minimum wage can’t provide the lifestyle they grew up with, or see colleagues losing their houses, they start to live in fear themselves.

In the current economic reality, many people I interact with on a daily basis are afraid of losing everything they have worked for. Financial fear can make you stop in your tracks. Not taking a look at your account balances, not making any decisions, ignoring your family, and disregarding sound financial advice are a few examples of how people start to freeze up.

Don’t stick your head in the sand! Turn your fear around:

  • Take personal inventory. Knowing where you are makes it easier to plan your “next step” for the future.
  • Make your choices when you are at your best. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry.
  • Face your fears. Write them down and explore ten new ways to find a solution. Circle one solution and begin to work on that.

Have any questions? Let me know via Facebook or Twitter and I will answer you. I bet many other people have the same question, too!

Let me know your thoughts – Bob

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

Most people are familiar with the phrase, “What’s in it for me?” And many may think it is the cry of a selfish or immature person. This phrase can be a valuable stepping-stone to determine where you stand financially, and an effective process to review your goals! Cost-benefit analysis weighs the total expected costs against the total expected benefits of your actions, in order to choose the most beneficial option.

Many people think of cost benefit analysis as something large corporations do annually for their board and stockholders. It is also a great tool for you to weigh your personal financial choices. It is important to take out the emotional responses and express all benefits and costs in monetary terms.

There are some people who regularly deny themselves life’s pleasures; typically they come from a generation that has experienced hardship. Saving is very important, but taken to an extreme, even saving can be harmful. An extreme saver risks losing the joy of living today by planning for a future that never comes.

Current American culture, on the other hand, teaches that all desires can be met with a credit card. We live for the moment. Not only do we neglect to think about the future, but we also sacrifice future stability for instant gratification. It is important to find a balance between saving and spending.

***Spoiler Alert*** You are going to have to budget to see this in action!

For example, you may say, “I really need a vacation in Hawaii. It’s going to help me relax and feel less stressed.” If you charge a package trip to Hawaii now, are you willing to give up some weekly luxuries and put 200 dollars monthly toward the credit card until it’s paid off?

If you can commit to that plan, take the vacation and keep your promise to yourself! Since there are no physical reminders to make the payments, you need to be disciplined enough to follow through with your budgeting choices.

Now you’ve made a conscientious choice. Either way – Hawaii or a “stay-cation” – you set your parameters ahead of time and empowered yourself financially. When you tap into your own financial power, you no longer wait for a lucky break or hope that you win the lottery – you are actively taking charge of your life. What a great way to end the day!

Bob

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START TO QUESTION

3x3 Habits we learn from parents

You have probably heard this story before, but I wanted to share it again because it made such an impact on me.

It is easy to get caught up in the business of our lives and lose sight of what’s important and “WHY!”

A little boy started saving his allowance and any spare change he found, stashing it under his pillow.

One night, the little boy greeted his father at the door and asked, “How much money do you make?” The father was slightly offended and told his son it was none of his business.

Later, the father started feeling guilty and went back to his son and said, “Son, I make twenty dollars an hour.” The little boy’s face brightened and he asked his dad if he could borrow $12. Now his father blew up, “Why would I give you $12? You probably just want to spend it on junk toys and silly games!” He told his son to go to bed and angrily left the room.

As the father sat in the living room and his anger dissipated, he realized that his son very rarely asked for money. He had not given his child the opportunity to share why he needed the money. He went back to his son’s room and apologized, “I’m sorry I got angry. You rarely ask for money and I will give you the $12 you asked for. Why you are asking for extra money?”

With tears in his eyes, the young boy looked up and said, “I know you are very busy and have so much to do. I wanted to know how much you make so I could save enough money to buy an hour of your time. With the money you have given me, I have enough! Will you please come home earlier tomorrow night and have dinner with me?”

It has been said by many that no one regrets spending more time at the office as they look back over their life. Family and friends are valuable and your investment in relationships will always outweigh pure materialism. Do we need money? Yes! Do we need to manage our finances effectively? Yes! But remember there is more to life than just more.

As you walk through life, take a moment and breathe deeply enough to create a space; space that allows you to make choices objectively. Rather than simply reacting, have empathy with yourself and others. I hope you will honor yourself and others this week!

Bob

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DEFINE YOUR MONEY NERVE

We all have different wants and needs and there are many roads to reach the same goals. In the same way, we all have different levels of emotional tolerance toward our present financial situation. If your money nerve is being pinched, it is time to explore ways to release the tension.

Have you ever noticed how one friend always has to buy what they want NOW? And then needs to borrow cash for lunch? Or how another friend drifts through life without being aware if there is enough money for food and rent? You may have a friend who makes plans and no matter what happens, sticks to them – even when circumstances change and a shift might be beneficial.

Let’s see how one of my clients made a change.

John came from a family that relied entirely upon faith. John’s father was a devout Christian and a pastor of a small church. It was a point of pride that the Lord always provided, even if John’s family didn’t have a lot of money. Almost without fail, when winter came, a member of the church would approach his father and say, “The Lord has put it in my heart to buy your kids winter coats.” Thus, the family would get winter coats. John’s parents trusted God to take care of the family, and they were always taken care of – just not on John’s timetable.

John told me that when he was young, his family had a tradition: if you were passed a dime and needed the dime, it was yours; but if you didn’t need to spend it, it should be given to someone else who might need it. They called it living on faith and the family never “wanted” for their needs. As a child, John never had control over whether his wants and needs would be met. While his childhood experience of passively counting on others did not lessen his faith in any way, it did help him to recognize that he wanted a more active role in his financial decisions. As an adult, John created a long-term financial strategy. For him, it was essential to set targeted goals to fulfill his needs.

Have you explored your core emotional impulses when certain money situations come up? How do you react to an overdrawn bank account? Do you feel panicked and make corrections quickly? Or do you shrug it off – because you have overdraft protection!

Are you living on the edge or do you have some reserve? What emotions come into play as you navigate your finances: Feeling scared, empowered, ashamed, proud or angry?

As you review your feelings and reactions to financial choices, you may see patterns or habits you didn’t notice before. Once you define what is happening, you can make different decisions for a new result, just like my client John.

Bob

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Does Money Solve Everything?

yard work with grandpa

Do you use money to “solve” problems or to make people like you more?

My grandparents gave my family so much! They provided TVs, stereos, a vehicle when we turned sixteen – and we loved being spoiled by them. When I was a young adult and my grandparents needed some help around the house, I spent a weekend in their yard fixing things up. At the end of the weekend, my grandfather tried to give me a hundred bucks, which I politely refused. My grandparents were very confused and hurt. They could not comprehend that I simply wanted to spend time with them because I loved them.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized what my grandparents were really saying with their overly generous attention: “We don’t feel worthy of your love, but if we give you lots of money, will you pretend to love us?” I was totally taken aback and saddened by that thought.

What I came to understand is that my grandparents grew up feeling insecure and unworthy of attention. The only way they thought they could convince people to love them was through bribery. My grandparents taught my mother the same lesson, which not surprisingly trickled down to my siblings and me. Buying expensive presents, always treating friends or family to meals or providing luxuries that they cannot afford, to make others love you more, isn’t a “real” relationship.

All of these activities are positive things that we do with friends and family because we care about them. However, if the underlying emotion is based on fear and need, it might be time to explore your actions. Is your money serving you well when you “buy” people? Investigate the emotions that trigger your automatic responses in relationships. Begin making conscious choices that will generate a genuine connection based on love and trust.

Bob

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Begin With the End in Mind

3x3 Begin with the End in Mind

Beginning with the end in mind means getting in touch with your deepest core values and clearly visualizing what you want.

Let’s apply visualization to our financial life: Are you where you want to be financially? To make a financial shift, you will need to open your mind to change and new possibilities. Once you determine what goals you would like to achieve, planning the next steps is key to success.

I believe that one of the most important ways to bring about change is through visualization. This technique involves envisioning your future with a new perspective (rather than as an extension of your current reality). You may see yourself with an abundance of money or paid up on all your credit card debt or driving a new car. If you can’t visualize how your future could be, it is difficult to believe you can take the necessary steps to get there.

Many people say that you only need to believe in something to make it come true. Here is something that should come as no secret to most of you: success requires consistent effort.

Yes, I believe that it is important to visualize your future in order to make changes. However, if your reality keeps reflecting something different than what you envision, you may need to put in a few more hours or revise your strategy.

Envision what you want, tell yourself it can happen and draft a plan. Here’s a great example:

Sam, a client of mine, had always wanted to own his own business. He didn’t have specific details; he just knew he had a dream. Sam worked in a business park and there was no convenient place for a quick lunch. Each day, he’d come to work and think, “This place needs a sandwich shop.” He realized there might be an opportunity to open his own business and began to envision the details of his dream.

He made some plans and worked out all of the financial details for his own sandwich shop. He would offer a limited variety of Panini sandwiches (two types of cheese, two types of meat), canned soda or bottled water, and two types of chips. He determined that meal prices at ten dollars or less would attract lunch customers. He decided to lease four Panini machines for the first six months (rather than purchase them) in case the restaurant didn’t work out.

He needed a certain amount saved up before launching his plan. If the business took off in six months, he would continue building his sandwich shop business. If not, he would be able to get out without long-term debt. His exit strategy was in place. He saw a need and envisioned himself filling it. To his credit, Sam now owns a thriving sandwich shop.

What are your goals for this summer season? Setting your end result first will pave the way for change!
Bob

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Hidden Costs

What is the real cost of careless money management or your lack of decision making?

Choosing to look the other way, sticking your head in the sand when “things” get overwhelming or not assessing your current financial situation can become your default method of reacting to life. Instead, select how you want your life to unfold.

Hidden costs show up on many levels. There are COSTS that cannot be seen or are not included in a purchase that can often affect you negatively in the future.

Smoking is a good example; a pack of cigarettes may cost you five bucks today. Be aware of the implications from hidden costs. Decreased health and a higher cost of insurance and medical bills due to lung cancer may be a much greater cost than you want to pay in the long run. Those high health bills could be a hidden cost that most people don’t ever expect to face, but studies have shown are a real risk.

Another example is the hidden cost of winning. My aunt used to win every contest she ever entered. Of course, as a child, I thought this talent for winning was the greatest! However, there were numerous costs associated with every FREE prize. One year my aunt won a boat. She and my uncle were so excited, they named the boat “Wee Won.” First they had to pay extra income taxes on the free boat. Second, they had to purchase boat insurance. And third, they needed to buy a trailer so they could get it to the ocean and back to the house. Next they took lessons because neither one of them knew anything about boating. Then, of course, each trip required a tankful of gasoline to zip out into the ocean! Honestly, they LOVED that boat and had years of enjoyment, but they also spent tons of money on that one free gift!

Let’s zoom in on one hidden cost many of us are affected by and may not always know about. That is the ever-increasing interest rates that credit card companies and banks charge for the privilege of using their services. This is an area where buyers really need to be smart.

Invest some time into exploring various vendors. Investigate what their rates are and what happens to that rate if you make one late payment. You may pay the full amount due on time and still get hit with interest charges if you pay after the billing cycle ends. That doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Also, check to see if the interest rate goes up after your first year. That 0 % card may be great for the first year and then it may balloon up to 17% or 23% moving forward. That is a huge chunk of your hard-earned money! If you work to keep your credit score high, you will be rewarded with better rates, some as low as 7% for select credit cards.

Be curious and shop for the best deal you can find. It will save you thousands of dollars in a five-year period! Knowing what all the hidden costs are will help you make the best decision. You now have a more complete picture of how you manage your dollars, your cost of doing business and staying focused on a few long-term goals.

If you slip up and overuse credit cards, put a freeze on them – literally! Fill up a container with water, dump your cards in there and stash them in the freezer. You may have a burning urge to use them, but by the time the ice melts, the urge may have cooled!

Use your knowledge and a little bit of humor to take back your power and choose the best direction for your financial freedom!

Bob
 

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Honest Assessment

Growing Your Money

More month than money? It happens to the best of us!

Our outflow of money surpasses the inflow of income.

Fortunately, there is a way to take action. To get an honest assessment of your situation, you can make a list of all the money coming in and going out. Once you know the reality of your current lifestyle, you can change it. No judgment, no self blame.

Look at your paycheck. You must create a budget based on the figure that is actually deposited in the bank. If you base your plan on $1,000 per week when your take-home pay is really $750, you aren’t being fair to yourself and will always go over your budget!

Now you have jotted down all the numbers. Surprised? Now is the time to be honest and take action.

The next step is the tricky one. Write down ALL the things you spend your money on. EVERYTHING! Don’t be bashful. If it’s embarrassing, list it as personal or give it a “code name.”

See if you are saving any money. If you have no savings plan, create a small savings habit. Set it up as an automatic draft or debit from your checking account into a savings account. This will help you create a new habit and learn to pay yourself consistently.  Explore what saving is all about. It is not a punishment or a painful experience. It is simply a gift to yourself and your future. It is exciting to see how a strong foundation of saving quickly grows into a substantial investment. Save first and then spend your extra dollars.

If you totaled up all the income you would make in your lifetime, it will easily add up to over a million dollars. Wow! Who knew? Invest in yourself – you can do it!

Bob

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Know Your Value

I am valuable

What value do you place on financial freedom? If you place a high value on being debt-free and are consciously choosing how to manage your finances, you can start to mentally “pay yourself.”

Reward yourself for taking the time to map out your plan.

By questioning and evaluating your process of handling money, you can turn off the autopilot mode you were in and begin to explore new options. Navigating this new course may feel strange and uncomfortable at first. Stick with this action plan; you’ll develop new habits to support your dreams, and very quickly, this new lifestyle will become second nature to you.

Find the value in yourself, your relationships and your financial future. If you track your progress, you will see a series of small successful steps – all pointing toward your goals. If you find there are areas where you need help, enlist the guidance of a friend, colleague or family member who can be a champion. For example, if you are not sure how to start saving for retirement or need help setting markers for that big goal, a champion or a mentor can be valuable helping you navigate new territory and get you on the right track.

Explore your value in the workplace as well. Ask yourself, “Do I do everything possible in my position to demonstrate my value?” Determine what level of compensation others in your industry and at your level receive. Is there an industry standard of pay and is there a documented skill level or list of job descriptions you can use to compare with your current position?

You may find that you are under-valued at work and need to share what you contribute each day with your upper management. Do you have advanced skills? Have you taken extra training classes? Worked on special projects? Make a list of what makes you a more valuable employee and ask to be compensated. There are many people who wait for someone to recognize them or offer them a raise. If you ask for higher compensation, you have a better chance of boosting your wages. Ask and you may get it! You really have nothing to lose.

After making industry comparisons, you may also find that you need to update skills or invest in yourself. Take the initiative to make yourself more valuable. Conversely, you may find that it is time to move on.

Exploring, calculating and defining your value gives you the power to control your options. Whether you stay, change jobs, get more education or work harder to be the best at your current position, you have empowered yourself by knowing your value. Now you are better able to choose the best life for you and your family.

Here’s to a life of value!

Bob