The Money Story: A Journey of Awareness

The Money Story: A Journey of Awareness

Have you ever thought about writing your autobiography? Chances are, it sounds daunting! To recapture your life and all that’s happened may take quite a bit of time and energy. Who would you write it this for? Documenting your life experiences would be an interesting read for your family and could serve to pass down some wisdom you have gleaned through your lifetime.

Your Money Story is a piece of each chapter of your life. It is uniquely yours, as there are no two stories that are identical. Although writing your story may feel as daunting as an autobiography, it can be broken down into specific chapters, that when pieced together, can impart some important clues around how your beliefs are driving your emotions around money. Even more interesting, how these are affecting your behavior with money.

Having written my own Money Story, I can attest to many “aha moments” that have given me insight into “why I do what I do” with money. As I have been working on my story for several years, I have learned that by documenting each chapter I have been peeling back layers of messages and emotions that hadn’t been leading to the behavior I knew I wanted to embrace.

We’ve all been given sage advice as to the best ways to manage our money, such as “spend less than you make,” or “pay off your credit card every month.” But turning this guidance into action steps is a struggle for many of us. In my past, I would beat myself up for the decisions I made, because I knew better…

I knew that spending more than I was making wouldn’t turn out well. I knew that my increasing credit card debt was going to lead to more worry, stress, and guilt. I kept asking myself, “what’s wrong with you?”

As it turns out, nothing was wrong with me! The unhealthy money habits were a result of a disconnect I had with my money story: mixed messaging, misguided perceptions, anger, and fear around money made for a perfect blend of a looming disaster. I hit rock bottom twenty- five years ago. I was broke and broken-not able to muster up the energy to tackle the enormity of my situation.  The isolation was the frosting on the cake of my situation and carried my mindset to an all-time low.

It wasn’t until I started digging deep into my story that I could start my own journey to financial confidence. By unraveling my perceptions, and getting curious about my emotions I began to understand my behavior with money. Little by little I began making different types of decisions that were based on the emotional outcome I so desired, using that emotion as a guidepost in my everyday spending decisions. I was in the early stages of changing my goal from paying off a HUGE amount of debt to making decisions that would result in building my confidence.

I have written my Money Story! Each time I reflect on it I have new insights to incorporate into the story, leveraging my awareness of some behavioral blind spots, or messaging that can linger for decades.  The transformation that I have experienced is a big part of why I founded my financial coaching business. I believe that everyone deserves clarity around their money behavior that can lead to a life of stress- free money management. Using our money story as a tool to build awareness, along with a plan to leverage the numbers we are working with can lead to a truly holistic approach to money management.

Brad Klontz, author of “Mind Over Money,” and founder of Yourmentalwealth.com, states, “Recognizing that our financial habits make sense given our history and the beliefs we internalized about money allows us to reflect on our financial mistakes with compassion and grace.”

By authoring your money story, you will triumph over the habits that are holding you back from reaching your financial goals, and give yourself the compassion and grace that will allow you to get un-stuck. Get ready for the next chapter of your Money Story to finally be told from the perspective of confidence!

It’s Costing You

It’s Costing You

Six Common Money Mistakes That Keep You from Building Wealth

If you’ve been trying to build wealth and falling short, it may be that you need to think about what decisions you are making that actually cost you money! I am an expert in these mistakes, as I made them myself, and I experience these with my clients, too!

Building wealth takes time-for some of us, a very long time! But by addressing some of these mistakes, you can enjoy an immediate upward trend in your net worth!

  1. Not having enough money saved: I am a huge fan of savings accounts! I recommend having your savings earmarked in several accounts, with the most important one being your emergency fund! The emergency fund is foundational in building a life of security, as we never know when the unexpected may happen. If you don’t have enough in an emergency fund, you may find yourself dependent on credit cards do get you through a time of crisis, which can lead to further stress in a time of overwhelm.
  2. Not having a budget: I have never liked the word “budget” as it sounds restrictive. Having a Saving and Spending Plan allows you to know how much you have to spend on your committed expenses, your discretionary expenses, and savings amounts. Following a plan will help you to feel empowered and stay on track with spending and
  3. Overspending: this is a biggie! We are all being subjected to marketing numerous times a day. We may have signed up for a discount from a retailer, and now get daily emails with promotional prices. Or maybe you’ve looked at a particular item online, and now are seeing those same items appear on your social media feeds. The temptation is real! Learning to recognize that you are making financial decisions when parting with your money and that each of these decisions will have a consequence is an important step in resisting temptation. Remember, you are in control-not the retailers!
  4. Using credit cards: Credit cards are not a bad thing if you use them and pay them off as you go. However, the mistakes I see happen when people use them, begin building a balance that they can’t manage and begin digging themselves into a pattern of increasing their debt because of the interest that is being charged on each purchase. If you do use a card, only charge an amount you know you can pay off! Otherwise, the money you want to go towards building your wealth is going to a bank and making them richer!
  5. Not Understanding Your Numbers: Do you know your specific numbers-your total income, debt, investment totals, and your savings amounts? All of these numbers are important factors in determining your Net Worth. Simply stated, your net worth is calculated by subtracting your liabilities from your assets. To build wealth, the assets should be greater than your liabilities and continue to grow, while your liabilities should decrease whenever possible! Understanding your numbers can help you stay motivated when building your wealth!
  6. Avoiding talking about finances: after working with a lot of couples, I can say that this is a very common challenge. Money is an emotional topic! If you have difficulty talking with your partner about your finances, start by talking about how each of you grew up with money. It will provide some clues as to the approach each of you has with money management. This can lay the groundwork for future conversations that will eventually involve numbers. Being able to have these conversations will help you to build wealth, as you can build teamwork around your goals.

We are all capable of building a life of abundance! It’s our everyday habits, lack of communication and denial around our numbers that keep us from accelerating the process of building the wealth you deserve!

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at jane@moneymentorgroup.com

The Urgency of An Emergency

The Urgency of An Emergency

Start Boosting Your Savings Now!

We’ve all heard the saying. “a penny saved is a penny earned,” but why aren’t we able to save more? The reasons (or excuses) can be varied-some of us are overextended, meaning we are paying out more than we are taking in; for others, it may be a bad case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and for others, it may not seem important.

According to a recent Vanguard study, a majority of Americans have less than $5,000 in their emergency fund. My recent experience with an unforeseen injury proved to me that we all need to bump up our own savings rate. My injury has cost me dearly, both physically, emotionally and FISCALLY! When totaling up the money that I have spent on deductibles and co-pays, I can share that I have spent over three times the five-thousand-dollar figure! One injury, one unforeseen emergency can easily derail a savings fund!

Here are some tips to boost your savings account that center around your everyday habits:

  1. Set a savings goal. How much do you need to cover an unforeseen emergency? A suggested initial amount is the total of three months of all of your fixed expenses. These expenses include the “must haves:” your rent or mortgage, auto loans, utilities, food, and your current financial obligations. Keep your emergency savings in a separate savings account so you can track your progress and earmark it for emergency use only
  2. Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out: The cost to make your lunch is approximately $2.00 vs. the $7.00 for the average lunch eating out. The saving s of $5.00 every weekday is $25.00 a week or $100.00 a month!
  3. Brew your own cup of coffee to go rather than buying t on the way to work. If you spend a minimal amount of $2.00 each workday on your cup of joe, you are out $10.00. By incorporating this new habit, you can put away $40.00 a month!
  4. Take time to evaluate your cell phone plan: are you paying for data that you’re not using? It makes sense to review your minutes and data and lower the plan limits if possible.
  5. If you are trying to pay off credit card debt, incorporate a strategy and stick to it! There are several strategies that can help you pay off your debt: The “Ladder Strategy”, the “Snowball Strategy”, and the “Emotional Trigger Strategy.” Decide which strategy best suits your needs and plan to incorporate this into your monthly budget.
  6. Review your cable bill! How much are you paying to watch TV? Consider a lower cost streaming service to save hundreds over a year!
  7. Go back and review your spending on eating out. How much have you spent in the past month eating out because you were too tired, overwhelmed or just didn’t feel like cooking dinner? Try cutting this amount in half!
  8. Our spending on food also includes grocery shopping. This is a part of the budget that can always use some tweaking! I suggest creating a meal plan before you go to the grocery store: plot out five meals at a time. Then, write down all of the ingredients you will need for those meals. This will eliminate multiple trips to the store, where you may find yourself buying more than you anticipated. To maximize this step, make a map of your grocery store and then make your list accordingly. No more wandering down aisles that you don’t need to visit-this will save you time and money!
  9. How many emails are you getting daily from retailers? You probably signed up for an initial discount offer and now your inbox is full of daily special sales! Each one of these is designed to tempt you to part with your money-simply unsubscribe!
  10. Marie Kondo (“The Art of Tidying Up”) has started a movement of purging our homes! Look around your home-what are you not using? Consider selling items to raise some extra cash!
  11. Here is one of my favorite tips: SAVE YOUR CHANGE! I have been doing this for years! The little amounts you are putting away can definitely add up! Every year, my vacation spending money has been funded by this habit! 

These tips can be easily incorporated into your daily life and will allow you to begin the habit of saving more for your emergency fund. Knowing that you can cover unexpected expenses is a foundational step in building financial confidence!

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at jane@moneymentorgroup.com

Feeling Stronger and More Confident About Your Money

Feeling Stronger and More Confident About Your Money

Are you satisfied with your relationship with money?

Many of us would say that we’d like to be more confident with our finances, yet we don’t know how to gain that confidence.

Experts recognize that we each have a money personality which guides our unique approach to managing our finances. Our money personality develops through observation of others and education. For many of us, the most impactful lessons are learned the hard way, through real-life experiences. The good news is that we can change our money personality if it’s not serving us well.

Like anything that we want to change, we first need to assess where we currently are. With honest self-awareness, we can then choose thoughts and behaviors that we want to modify to achieve different results.

Some of us think of money in terms of status, believing that our net-worth equals our self-worth. Others tend to worship money and engage in wishfully thinking that if we had more, our problems would be solved. Some of us tend to avoid money matters entirely and still, others vigilantly guard and protect their money.

You may have been each of these at some point in your life or find that you’re a combination of them now. I’m curious to know what it would be like to apply our unique strengths to mold our money personality into a form that consistently serves us well.  I have been experimenting with this idea, using myself as a test subject, to see what I could learn.

Using Gallup’s Strengths Finder assessment, I learned that my leadership style is one of relationship building. In short, I’m a people person and my natural approach to leading is through connection with others. When I look at how my leadership style impacts my approach to money, I can easily see times when it works well and times when it doesn’t.

For example, in my shopping, I choose to support local businesses over big box stores whenever I can, even if it’s inconvenient. I believe that it’s important to encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners and do my part by spending my dollars with them. My Developer, Empathy, and Belief strengths feel fulfilled when I purposefully shop local. The dark side of those same strengths appears when I purchase something that I really don’t want or need in order to be supportive.

I good-naturedly recall a delightful trip through the NY wine country with my husband and another couple. We spontaneously stopped into a cider works distillery to taste their products. We were their only guests and received the owner’s full attention as the four of us respectfully tasted each cider sample. In the end, we agreed that we were not fans. As the three of them politely thanked the owners and started to leave, my heart took over and I grabbed a bottle of cherry cider to purchase from the grateful proprietor. I received plenty of ribbing afterward from my friends and the bottle sat in our cupboard for over a year before I finally gave it away to someone who would appreciate it. My heart led the way into that sympathy-buy. I can laugh about it now, but I wonder how many times I let my relationship strengths lead the way financially, and if that serves me well. Does my concern for others supersede practical purchasing decisions?

Another strength in my top 5 is Positivity. It serves me well in having a fundamentally positive outlook on life, including my finances, however, at times it may not work to my benefit. How often do I charge an item to my credit card thinking (positively), I’ll pay that off when the bill comes in? Only I don’t. And the balance increases when I do that repeatedly. My positivity could sabotage my financial goals if I don’t catch myself and ‘dial it differently’. You may wonder what I mean by dialing it differently.

I like to picture my top 5 strengths as individual pots on a stove, each with a dial ranging from 1 to 10. When my positivity is too high, I can turn it down and turn up another strength that would get the results I’m after. In the above situation, I could dial up my Strategic strength and ask myself important questions such as Will this purchase get me closer or further away from my financial goals? Will I honestly pay this charge off when the bill comes in? Do I really need this item? By turning down my overly optimistic tendency and balancing it with my thoughtful planning strength I can then make a well-formulated purchasing decision. My heart-centered leadership style can be effectively managed by increasing my other top strengths.

I’m curious to learn more about the ways my individual strengths and leadership style impacts my spending and saving. Increasing my knowledge will help me be more conscious of my default tendencies. I can then contribute those insights to the conversations that my husband and I have about our financial decisions. Knowing his strengths and leadership style will further help us to understand ourselves better and fine tune our joint money matters.

Gallup has organized their list of 34 strengths into four leadership styles: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. I’m delighted to partner with Financial Coach Jane Helm to learn more about the ways in which our strengths impact our money personalities. Ladies, if you’d like to learn more, you’re invited to join Jane and me for an evening retreat entitled Be Prosperous on June 26 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Learn details about this Wholistic Woman Retreat program here.

Grow more confident about your relationship with money with us!

Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is a strengths-based executive leadership coach who guides individuals and businesses to be their best. For more information about her coaching services, and her book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email her at carol@caroldelaski.com

What’s Your Money Story?

What’s Your Money Story?

What’s Your Money Story?

Do you know what your money story is? How do you approach money, and what do you struggle with the most financially? Coaches Laura and Kelye explore the topic of financial independence with financial coach Jane Helm from Money Mentor Group in this sixth podcast episode. Play in your browser with the media player below or click “WWR Coaches Discuss Financial Independence”.

WWR Coaches Discuss Financial Independence

Learn more about becoming financially independent with Coach Jane at our next Wholistic Woman Retreats event, Be Independent, on May 30, 2018! We look forward to seeing you there!

Independence

Independence

What does financial independence mean to you?

Maybe you think being independent financially doesn’t pertain to you because you are in a marriage or committed relationship.

OR

Perhaps you think that if you are independent, you are excluding your family and loved ones from your financial decisions.

OR

If you’re single, it may be that you take your financial autonomy for granted. Financial independence is your way of life.

As a Financial Coach, my perspective regarding financial independence has changed drastically over the years. I used to think in traditional ways about money and independence. Through working with female clients, I have learned the importance for women to have their own sense of independence in managing their money. Statistically, we are more likely to be in situations that require us to be autonomous with money. Women live longer than men. We earn less than our male counterparts, and as a whole, we are more likely to live alone either by choice or circumstance.

While I was single, I was the only one who I needed to consider when making financial decisions. After getting married, I made the transition to sharing my finances with my husband.  These were easy tasks: creating a joint checking account, adding each other as beneficiaries on our retirement accounts, making sure that both of our names were listed on our assets, all of which felt like a rite of passage. In addition to our marriage vows, I felt these steps were a part of “sealing the deal.” It wasn’t difficult, but I now know we missed a few crucial steps in the process. Steps that would have saved us from financially stumbling and ultimately falling through the first decade of married life.

The first (and most important) step we missed was not talking about money. We were in love, and talking about it didn’t seem necessary. We were optimistic about everything! Our love buoyed us above the mundane topics, floating on the optimistic notion that this love would see us through, no matter what the future had in store for us. We had no idea of the dangerous waters churning below the surface that would pull us down to despair, almost drowning both of us.

Early in our marriage neither of us had an independent voice in making money decisions. We found ourselves making these decisions on the fly, not wanting to rock the boat. We didn’t discuss how the decisions we were making early on may have long term consequences. The tsunami of financial fallout wouldn’t overcome us for a few years, but the emotional queasiness was already taking hold. My inner voice was sending me warnings, but was drowned out by my outer voice-the one who wanted to pretend that we were navigating our finances with ease.

The next misstep was not understanding what each of us valued. I valued being perceived as being successful. I wanted the beautiful, shiny things that I thought made us look well-off. The cars, the clothes, and the perfectly decorated house, all to show the world that we were prospering. Little did I know that my husband valued doing whatever made me happy–not rocking the boat that was already being thrashed about by the huge wave of consequences that would almost sink us in the not too distant future.

Our vision for our future was wrought with unspoken truths, and navigating the unruly waters of denial would prove to drown us in overwhelming debt. There would be no future without finally speaking our truth and committing to a future by starting over. In order to save ourselves, we took the step of talking about our individual visions for the future and worked toward a common vision for us as a couple.

Sometimes, in order to move forward, we need to step back. The choppy waters of finance can be navigated by finding your voice and understanding your values and vision with money. By using these as your inner compass, you will bring true authenticity to your relationship with others, and more importantly, your relationship with money. Financial independence is the lighthouse that will keep you (and anyone you may share your money with) on the right course!

To learn more about Jane’s approach to financial independence, attend her evening retreat, Be Independent on May 30th from 5:30-7:30 pm. 

Today’s Author: Jane Helm is the Principal of Money Mentor Group. As a wealth coach, Jane combines decades of financial services experience with a degree in social work and psychology to bring positive financial change to her client’s lives. She is a Partner Coach with the Wholistic Coaching Coalition and co-founded the Build Your Own Business networking group. Jane can be reached via email at jane@moneymentorgroup.com