Category Archives: Money $marts

Summing Up Money Fears … So, What Are Your Fears?

 

Summing Up … So, What Are Your Fears?

Everyone has at least one.  It’s time to confront your deepest financial fear and get them in the open.  Whether it’s the fear of the soup kitchen or of making a mistake that is financially catastrophic, you can become inhibited from taking action. 

Identify them.  Write them down.  Just the mere fact that they are on paper opens the door for you to commit and confront them head-on. Ask yourself,

  • Are my fears realistic in today’s environment?
  • Are they relevant to what I currently do?
  • Do they hinder me from moving on?
  • Are they life threatening (to my spouse, partner, kids or job,

          friends, me)?

There will always be some type of fear.  Cartoon character Pogo said it best, “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.”  By bringing up your awareness level, identifying which fears influence your money decisions, you will achieve the first level of having money smarts.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … # 8 The Fear of Not Trusting Yourself

# 8 The Fear of Not Trusting Yourself

Gender differences surface in the trust department with money and investing.  Men are less inclined to stick with an advisor whose advice has gone sour and they don’t abdicate financial decisions to someone else as easily as women do.  Advisors can help . . . but don’t discount your own experiences and intuitiveness.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … # 7 … The Fear of Investing

# 7 … The Fear of Investing

When it comes to investing, there are no guarantees.  The value of the initial money you invested can increase, decrease or remain stagnant in value.

Investing takes time and patience. Don’t focus on what your investment is worth this week or even this month.  Concentrate on the long haul—what are you saving for five or ten years from now?  And when it comes to investing, invest in what you know and understand.  Health care offers a huge range of possibilities. 

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears # 6 … The Fear of Borrowing Money

# 6 … The Fear of Borrowing Money

Wouldn’t it be great to pay cash for everything, including your home? Few can.  Sometimes, it makes sense to borrow money.  But, over-borrowing and too much credit is quite common. 

A credit card is used over 600 times every second of the day; over 36,000 times a minute; over 2 million times an hour; and over 52 million times a day.  The average household owing in excess of $9,200 in credit card debt.  What’s yours?

If you are contemplating, or already have, borrowing money for a large item— a home or an education loan—increases your pay back amount by 10%.  Why?  Simply this—you will reduce the time your loan payoff paid by approximately one-third.  That means you save big dollars and limit the time you “owe” someone. 

In determining whether you should borrow or not, ask yourself if you need the item or do you want it.  If you want it and can’t (or aren’t sure) you can pay off the amount over the designated time, don’t buy it. 

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … #6 The Fear of Creating and Sticking to a Plan

 

#6 The Fear of Creating and Sticking to a Plan

Twenty-five percent of the American population believes that they will fund their retirement years by winning the Lottery!  Fat chance. 

Your best bet is to create a plan.  Put it in writing for easier tracking.  Financial plans are guide tools that start you on a path that will lead you to your stated money goals.  They are not, though, set in granite.  Times and circumstances change.  So do investments and opportunities.  That means that you don’t create and stick it in the drawer.  Your plan should be reviewed annually.  It should be flexible.  Life changes. You change.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears …# 4 The Fear of Making Mistakes and Failing

# 4 … The Fear of Making Mistakes and Failing

Everyone makes mistakes.  I wished I had $10 for each one I’ve made over the past 50 years plus.  Mistakes that lead to a money loss can be personally and professionally crippling.

They happen.  You get to choose—will they handicap and paralyze you?  Or will you look at them as a learning and growth experience?

What you have to guard against is the reaction that the fear of failure and making mistakes can generate paralysis . . . getting stuck mentally.  Making money mistakes and experiencing failures won’t destroy you.  Your key to resurrecting yourself is determining—

  • What happened?
  • What factors could you control, influence or alter?
  • What factors could you not control?
  • What did you learn, the pros and cons?

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … #3 The Fear of Talking About Money

#3 … The Fear of Talking About Money

Upbringing is a key factor that shapes your money practices.  Most adults “wish” that they had had training and guidance about money and investing as they grew up.

If you grew up in a family that openly discussed money and its many facets, you’re in the minority.  Not all of your friends will be on the same wave link as you are in money matters.  Your awareness, and possibly non-intimidation to the topic, may actually intimidate them!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

#2 Money Fear … The Fear of Losing Money

#2 Money Fear … The Fear of Losing Money

At some point, everyone loses money.  It can be from a bad investment, misplacing moneys, inflation erosion, failure to act or make a decision on your investments, making the wrong decision, losing a job or other resource of funds.  It happens.

One advantage that many men have over women deals with attitude—women are more likely to be fearful of not being able to “make up” lost money; men more often believe that they can make it up/replace it the next go around.  All is lost, it’s part of the “game.”

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … Most Have a Few, What’s Yours?

Most Have a Few . . . What’s Yours? 

The average person works 10,000 days during her career (that’s 40 years if you do the math).  How much time are you willing to commit to figuring out what to do with the money you make? Or how to make it grow? And what about determining what you need to support you when you step away from your nursing career?

No one is born with a fear or attitude about money, yet you have some.  Fears and attitudes—be they good, bad, or ugly—develop over time.  No doubt, your upbringing is a major contributing factor.  Past experiences—successes and failures—also play a critical role, as does society and your surroundings—the media, friends, family even how the government spends, creates and takes away moneys and programs are factors.

The Current Money Fiasco

Over the last few years, millions have felt some form of financial squeeze.  For some, it was an unbelievable financial disaster that caught then totally off guard.

 Thousands daily lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings—here yesterday, gone today.  Poof … it felt like it was an overnight happening.

 Fat 401(k) accounts were slashed to a fraction of what they were just months earlier; homes that many counted on to yield a hefty part of their retirement seed plummeted in value; and the credit markets turned venomous. The perfect storm. Financial scandals, scams and corruption fermented everywhere. And fear … unbelievable fear.

 The Fear Factors
Understanding your money personality, your spending habits, your needs and wants and what may be hindering you from achieving your goals are critical factors in creating financial independence.  Dealing with money fears that are blockers to success are a key ingredient to building assets.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Making Money after a Layoff

Contrary to popular belief, some people are hiring.  Still.

According to Gordon Miller, aka The Career Coach for KWGN-TV and author of The Career Coach, reports that he’s been in close contact with recruiters around the country in a variety of industries.  Close to one-third of the employers plan to add to their workforce.  In Colorado, that number leaps to 50 percent.  Depending on where you live, anywhere from 50 percent to 67 percent are either stagnating or will reduce numbers. Consumer confidence is low and the economy is sluggish.

Could a layoff be in your future?  Is one imminent?  What do you do if you get one of those nasty notices that says, “Thanks for your years of service, BUT effective today, your services are no longer required.”

One day, you are making a decent salary, can provide for your family (or self) … and the next, you get the boot.  Out on the sidewalk, like yesterday’s trash. If your workplace is, or feels, shaky, things can move fast. Get a grip of your situation … are there storm warnings that new orders are iffy or that there’s a management shake-up in the works?

Do a reality check … have you set up some financial protect for you and your family if storm hits?  Starting figuring out ways that you can bring in supplemental moneys before you need them—and try them out while you’ve got the funds to do it. 

This is not the time to get hooked up with a MLM venture that demands a bunch of money up front and/or stocking up with inventory that you have to sell (unload).  Sure, many are quite successful with the MLM approach, but far more have garages full of boxes … and their friends don’t want to talk to them anymore about the latest soap, gizmo or gadget.

Most people run into financial trouble either through medical problems or job loss.  Handling financial problems when times are good is a challenge; dealing with them when we are in an environment like today, can be equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest with no climbing experience.

Internet entrepreneur Marty Dickinson, President of HereNextYear.com found himself in just that position.  He remembers when he was a top salesman with a company that created mid-range accounting software.  According to Dickinson, “I was living high on the hog, fresh out of college, going out to lunch every day, hitting the ATM every night, new cars, houses and maxed credit cards … then it happened.”

Among his 250 colleagues, it was known as “Black Monday.” They were laid-off with a 10 minute announcement and a walk to the door under guarded supervision for all. “I felt humiliated, drained of ambition, and frankly, PO’d.”

What’s a guy (or gal) to do?  Dickinson didn’t have a spouse or kids—he was in his mid-twenties.  But he had those cars and maxed credit cards to deal with plus a much bruised ego.

He chose not to throw the towel in.  Rather, it was time to learn something new.  In the early nineties, the Internet was starting to roll.  He decided that it was going to be the future for sales.  He didn’t know how it would all happen; he just felt that it would.

Dickinson created MusicMates.com—today, one of the largest online musician referrals websites in the United States.  He went through all the brain challenges/damage that comes with the hiring people to create, market and advertise a product and company, especially when you’ve never had to do that before.  He knew absolutely nothing about the Internet. 

No longer.  Today, he’s recognized by many as the “go to” person when Internet marketing of a product or company is involved. 

Even thought MusicMates.com and HereNextYear.com are very successful, he wouldn’t start a business with the creation of a new product.  What he would do is use someone else’s product—let them go through the developments of creating, packaging, warehousing, shipping and collecting money.

In other words, make money using other people’s stuff.  Let them pay for shipping and everything else; let them put their name on it; all they have to do is pay him a referral fee or commission.

Hmmm, sounds like sales with a twist.

With all the negative news about the economy, Dickinson remembered that Monday when he was shown the door.  He recently wrote a white paper on layoffs with some modern, no cost strategies that just might keep the banker from your door (available at LaughatLayoffs.com). 

He consults, designs intricate websites and creates Internet marketing strategies.  He also happily writes up and recommends stuff—his and others.  And he does it all through his various websites, each designed to tie into a “hot” topic, the latest buzz—he then tracks down books, videos, CDs, etc. that others have created and he can enthusiastically write about. 

One of the sources he uses to go hunting for product ideas is Clickbank.com, a digital products retailer.  When he posts information and someone buys it when they click on it through from his website, he makes money. eCommerce.

Just how big is eCommerce?  Per eMarket.com, in 2007, over 175 billion in retail purchases alone were transacted via cyberspace.

The next time you get all those emails from others recommending something … someone is getting paid … Why not you?

Recession Proofing

Times are tough. Food prices are skyrocketing. Gas is expected to hit $5 and some are projecting a barrel could topple $200. Companies are announcing layoffs and closings. Airlines are charging for every piece of luggage.  Ouch, ouch and more ouch.

So, do you stick your head in the sand, and hope it all clears when you come up for air? Do you just hang in there, hoping you survive? Do you join others proclaiming the “sky is falling and we are all doomed?” Or do you figure out some way to ride and rise above the brewing storm?

When times grow tough, it’s normal to focus on your career and financial security.

For those of you who subscribe to the Chicken Little theory—the sky is falling—it’s not surprising.  The stock market is the pits, the media is loaded with negative news, and bankruptcies and foreclosures are on the rise.

Don’t get sucked in.  Before you throw the towel in …

Look around.  What are others doing? Who do you know that is actually doing OK? Connect with them. There’s much to be said about hanging with winners vs. surrounding yourself with the depressed and spooked. Pick the positive’s brains—what’s working for them that might work for you?

What can you learn from you?  You are an adult… this isn’t the first economic downturn you’ve gone through. Recessions hiccupped in the seventies and eighties. Think.  What strategies did you use to survive those times?  What were your spending habits? What did you do to get through them? What did you tweak in your work life to survive—possibly thrive?

Get focused. Don’t waste your time and energy on something you can’t stop or influence—choose to put your time and energy into reviewing your career goals … is what you’re doing now on track for where you want to get to?

Denial is not your friend—granted, it’s a way to ignore shaky times, but it doesn’t help you. Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich never works. Even in bumpy times, people get jobs, even promotions.  There’s always opportunities when bad news surfaces …

He who hesitates may be lost. Be ready to react if a door opens.

Stretch yourself.  Don’t do the same old, same old. When others are fearful and not wanting to do anything, don’t follow suit. Take 30 to 60 minutes everyday to reach out.  Network. Circulate. Look for collaborations—don’t pull back.

Keep learning. About your industry and your job.  Cycles cycle. You have to be ready when this one turns.

I was in New Jersey last week.  The Governor had recently announced the closure of several hospitals.  Rumors were running amok in the one that I was consulting with that they would be next on the shut down list. Will it? Who knows, but when the grapevine is lining up for the obituary, energy and productivity goes out the window. 

Whether that hospital (or your workplace) closes down or not, you shouldn’t just sit there.  A comparison to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic could be made. Your formula should include …

Find the vital signs. Even when companies are in trouble, there’s life in them—somewhere.   Seek out departments and co-workers that are successful.  Ask—what’s working for them?

Work forward, not backward. Sharpen your resume. What opportunities are out there, possibly with a competitor?

Take care of yourself.  Eat right. Exercise.  Don’t get caught up in the common stress diet—lack of sleep, lots of caffeine, booze, and too much food.  Instead, reach out, volunteer and do some work within the community … it’s amazing what you may pick up just by mingling with others.

To avoid becoming “history” in a recession, you’ve got to practice the art of recession-proofing.  This is the time to create contingency planning that includes the “what ifs.”  What if there’s a cutback at work; what if major contracts are lost; what if there’s a reduction in salary; what if, what if, what if.

This is the time to be visible. To absorb every nuance you can.  Yes, you should read the papers and view the news.  Stay current, but be open. This is the time to tap into your experience of coming through previous recessions.  Start with …

Tap into your intuitive survival skills. Use them to establish warning systems.  Animals have them, so do you.  What are the variables in your industry (or company) that might point to trouble?  Are orders down, up or flat?

In the seventies, I was a stock broker.  Every quarter, a client who worked in shipping for a Fortune 100 company would sell a few shares of stock.  I’d always ask him how things were going.  If he responded, “Slow,” I knew that earnings would most likely be down.  If he said that they were swamped, I knew that things were good. What a bell weather he was—an early warning system at my fingertips. 

The sooner you spot a negative trend, the sooner you can strategize how to deal with it. Broaden your skill base—guaranteed, many of the jobs and positions that will be available in just five years from now are most likely just a gleam in someone’s eye.  It’s time to get ready to be ready.

Money Fears: Most Nurses Have a Few . . . What’s Yours?

Nurses make decent money today.  Hourly rates will vary upon which part of the country you work in and your specialty is a factor. Before benefits, most nurses make in excess of $50,000 per year.  It’s not uncommon to hear about $90,000 and up.  This is good news.

The average nurse works 10,000 days during her career (that’s 40 years if you do the math).  How much time are you willing to commit to figuring out what to do with the money you make? Or how to make it grow? And what about determining what you need to support you when you step away from your nursing career?

No one is born with a fear or attitude about money, yet you have some.  Fears and attitudes—be they good, bad, or ugly—develop over time.  No doubt, your upbringing is a major contributing factor.  Past experiences—successes and failures—also play a critical role, as does society and your surroundings—the media, friends, family even how the government spends, creates and takes away moneys and programs are factors.

The Current Money Fiasco

Since last year, millions have felt some form of financial squeeze.  For some, it was an unbelievable financial disaster that caught then totally off guard.

Thousands daily lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings—here yesterday, gone today.  Poof … it felt like it was an overnight happening.

Fat 401(k) accounts were slashed to a fraction of what they were just months earlier; homes that many counted on to yield a hefty part of their retirement seed plummeted in value; and the credit markets turned venomous. The perfect storm. Financial scandals, scams and corruption fermented everywhere. And fear … unbelievable fear.

The Fear Factors

Understanding your money personality, your spending habits, your needs and wants and what may be hindering you from achieving your goals are critical factors in creating financial independence.  Dealing with money fears that are blockers to success are a key ingredient to building assets.

The Fear of Being Broke

At the top of the list is the fear of being broke, “Will I have enough to buy the foods I want, the medications I need or be able to pay for the things I want to do when I stop working?”

Years ago, a client had asked me if I would take the time to go visit his mother.  He told me that she had some investments, lived mostly off the dividends, interest and her monthly Social Security.  He asked that I just check in with to see if she was getting a decent return on her portfolio. 

I made the appointment and spent a pleasant two hours getting to know Martha.  She was in her early sixties at the time and healthy. She believed that she was a good steward of her money.  With financial data filled out, I promised to get back to her within the week with an update on several stocks and suggestions for any changes to her portfolio.  As I got up to leave, she said, “What about my stash?” 

She pointed the corner of her living room.  All I saw was a big green, over-stuffed chair.  “My stash . . . in the chair. . . and drapes.” 

My new client had stashed in excess of $30,000 over the years in her over stuffed green chair with matching draperies.  She had lived through the Depression—never again would she, or her family, be without food if bad times hit again.  It took me over a year to convince her to move her moneys to a money market fund that would earn her interest. 

Did she move the entire amount?  Nope, she insisted on a stash of $5,000 in the house, money that she could tap into for “whatever.”

The reality is that whether you are rich, poor, or in-between, the person that you are going to have to depend the most on to keep you from the poorhouse is you and your smarts.

The Fear of Losing Money

At some point, everyone loses money.  It can be from a bad investment, misplacing moneys, inflation erosion, failure to act or make a decision on your investments, making the wrong decision, losing a job or other resource of funds.  It happens.

One advantage that many men have over women deals with attitude—women are more likely to be fearful of not being able to “make up” lost money; men more often believe that they can make it up/replace it the next go around.  All is lost, it’s part of the “game.”

The Fear of Talking About Money

Upbringing is a key factor that shapes your money practices.  Most adults “wish” that they had had training and guidance about money and investing as they grew up.

If you grew up in a family that openly discussed money and its many facets, you’re in the minority.  Not all of your friends will be on the same wave link as you are in money matters.  Your awareness, and possibly non-intimidation to the topic, may actually intimidate them!

The Fear of Making Mistakes and Failing

Everyone makes mistakes.  I wished I had $10 for each one I’ve made over the past 50 years plus.  Mistakes that lead to a money loss can be personally and professionally crippling.

They happen.  You get to choose—will they handicap and paralyze you?  Or will you look at them as a learning and growth experience?

What you have to guard against is the reaction that the fear of failure and making mistakes can generate paralysis . . . getting stuck mentally.  Making money mistakes and experiencing failures won’t destroy you.  Your key to resurrecting yourself is determining—

  • What happened?
  • What factors could you control, influence or alter?
  • What factors could you not control?
  • What did you learn, the pros and cons?

The Fear of Creating and Sticking to a Plan

Twenty-five percent of the American population believes that they will fund their retirement years by winning the Lottery!  Fat chance. 

Your best bet is to create a plan.  Put it in writing for easier tracking.  Financial plans are guide tools that start you on a path that will lead you to your stated money goals.  They are not, though, set in granite.  Times and circumstances change.  So do investments and opportunities.  That means that you don’t create and stick it in the drawer.  Your plan should be reviewed annually.  It should be flexible.  Life changes. You change.

The Fear of Borrowing Money

Wouldn’t it be great to pay cash for everything, including your home? Few can.  Sometimes, it makes sense to borrow money.  But, over-borrowing and too much credit is quite common. 

A credit card is used over 600 times every second of the day; over 36,000 times a minute; over 2 million times an hour; and over 52 million times a day.  The average household owing in excess of $9,200 in credit card debt.  What’s yours?

If you are contemplating, or already have, borrowing money for a large item— a home or an education loan—increases your pay back amount by 10%.  Why?  Simply this—you will reduce the time your loan payoff paid by approximately one-third.  That means you save big dollars and limit the time you “owe” someone. 

In determining whether you should borrow or not, ask yourself if you need the item or do you want it.  If you want it and can’t (or aren’t sure) you can pay off the amount over the designated time, don’t buy it.    

The Fear of Investing

When it comes to investing, there are no guarantees.  The value of the initial money you invested can increase, decrease or remain stagnant in value.

Investing takes time and patience. Don’t focus on what your investment is worth this week or even this month.  Concentrate on the long haul—what are you saving for five or ten years from now?  And when it comes to investing, invest in what you know and understand.  Health care offers a huge range of possibilities. 

The Fear of Not Trusting Yourself

Gender differences surface in the trust department with money and investing.  Men are less inclined to stick with an advisor whose advice has gone sour and they don’t abdicate financial decisions to someone else as easily as women do.  Advisors can help . . . but don’t discount your own experiences and intuitiveness.

So, What Are Your Fears?

Everyone has at least one.  It’s time to confront your deepest financial fear and get them in the open.  Whether it’s the fear of the soup kitchen or of making a mistake that is financially catastrophic, you can become inhibited from taking action. 

Identify them.  Write them down.  Just the mere fact that they are on paper opens the door for you to commit and confront them head-on. Ask yourself,

  • Are my fears realistic in today’s environment?
  • Are they relevant to what I currently do?
  • Do they hinder me from moving on?
  • Are they life threatening (to my spouse, partner, kids or job, friends, me)?

There will always be some type of fear.  Cartoon character Pogo said it best, “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.”  By bringing up your awareness level, identifying which fears influence your money decisions, you will achieve the first level of having money smarts.

What’s Your Money Persona

You may ask, “What motivates me with my money decisions and habits?”  To find out, take the Money $marts Persona Quiz below.  Instructions for scoring and determining your style follow. 

Money $marts Persona Quiz

1.         Your Aunt Martha dies, leaving you her prized pearls and stocks that have a current market value of $50,000. You—

A.  Immediately take the stocks to a broker and sell them so that you can buy the things you really want, especially a new wardrobe to go with the pearls. 

B.  Get the stock certificates and place them and the pearls in a safe deposit box. 

            C.  Do nothing. 

D.  Sell the stocks and buy shares in companies that you think will double in value within the next few years.

E.  Donate the shares to the Girl Scouts, your favorite non-profit organization. 

2.         Your best friend has just filed for bankruptcy.  You—

A.  Advised your friend to charge everything she could on her credit cards before she filed for the bankruptcy. 

B.  Know that you don’t want it to ever happen to you, that’s why you save a lot of everything you get. 

            C.  Know that no money problem will ever force you to do that

            D.  Worry that it could someday happen to you. 

E.  Decide that you don’t want to be around her as much as you have in the past. 

3.         The bonus you were counting on is only half what you expected.  You—

            A.  Decide that a shopping spree is in order. 

            B.  Take back the new outfit you purchased the previous week. 

            C.  Can’t tell your spouse how much it is. 

D.  Call and see if you can get the deposit back on the new car you wanted. 

            E.  Withdraw, from yourself, and your friends. 

4.         To be financially comfortable, you—

A.  Have enough money coming in, therefore comfort is just a matter of going to work and doing what you love. 

B.  Need to increase your salary and have at least a million dollars in savings. 

            C.  Are not really sure what you need. 

            D.  Need to pay for everything in cash, including a new car and house. 

            E.  Want to increase your donations to charity. 

5.         You’ve just got a credit card offer in the mail. You—

A.  Apply for anything that comes along, knowing that you can meet your monthly payments. 

            B.  Consider it only if it has no annual fee. 

            C. Toss it in the trash. 

            D.  Put it in a pile of mail to be looked at a later time. 

E.  Would only consider applying for it if it supports one of your causes. 

6.         The stock market keeps going up.  You—

            A.  Borrow money to invest. 

            B.  Call your broker to cash out. 

            C.  Don’t have a clue what “up” means. 

            D.  Sell half of your holdings. 

E.  You endow a chair at your alma mater with the increased value of your investments. 

7.         You are one of the winners in a Power Ball lottery.  Your share of the prize is $10,000,000.  You—

A.  Quit your job, order a great new chair to watch your new 60-inch flat screen TV, invite 20 of your friends for two weeks in Hawaii on your nickel, and order your dream car. 

            B.  Select the annuity option for the rest of your life. 

C.  Are shell-shocked and eventually decide to hire a money manager to take over. 

D.  Tell each member of your immediate family that they can select a special “something,” then invest the rest. 

            E.  Change your name so no one will know of your good fortune. 

8.         Your accountant has advised you to get your financial records in order.  You—

A.  Have always used the shoebox approach and can think of no reason to take the time to transfer everything onto a software program for your computer. 

B.  Are in your glory.  The challenge of the new computer program fits you to a tee! 

C.  Know you will get to it, that’s why you save everything in a box somewhere in the basement. 

D.  Like to keep track of all the guarantees you have received over the years, including the tags you tear off merchandise you buy. 

            E.  Ignore your accountant . . . that’s his job to keep track of stuff. 

9.         When I think about a budget, my response is—

            A.  Budget, what’s a budget? 

            B.  It’s a good thing. 

            C.  It’s never been a topic of conversation in my household.  

            D.  I like to tinker with them, especially on the computer. 

            E.  I take great pride in always living within my means. 

10.       I worry about money when—

            A.  I don’t, I’d rather think of ways to spend it. 

            B.  I’m awake, it’s constantly on my mind. 

            C.  Ever I read or hear about financial bad news or I’m in a crisis.

            D.  I’m not involved in other things that take my mind off of it. 

            E.  Not often, there are other, more important things to worry about. 

Scoring:  The greatest number of a given letter will indicate your money persona.  There are pros and cons to each style. 

Who You Are

A         Spender       If you have mostly A’s, your attitude is “what I have, I will spend.”  Budgets aren’t in your vocabulary; you freely spend money on your friends and you’re likely to have credit card debt, which can get you into trouble.  The plus is that you aren’t held back by money worries and that you are generous, sometimes overly generous.  A Spender is likely to be the one that reaches for the   tab when dining out with friends, much to the chagrin of a partner or spouse. 

B         Keeper B’s indicate that you fit the common perception of a hoarder.  It’s very difficult for you to spend anything on anybody, from yourself to the ones you love.  The plus is that when money chaos hits the general population, you don’t have to worry about taking care of your family.  The negative is that Keepers often hold back more if times look tough, even when they have what most would view as, plenty of money. 

C         Dodger         A preference for C statements means that you will do just about anything to avoid a discussion about money, even if it is good news.  Deep inside, you feel that you just don’t have the skills to handle it.  The plus is that you are not obsessed about what money is doing. 

D         Postponer       When it comes to money, anyone with mostly D statements

is inclined to put off spending money whenever possible, no matter how small the amount.  Money concerns envelop your thoughts to the point that you can be obsessed with what you perceive as the lack of money even when you have substantial savings.  A Postponer is not necessarily a Keeper, although there are similarities.  Postponers are willing to spend money, as long as there is backup in savings and investments.  Keepers don’t want to spend, period. 

E          Atoner A high number of E responses indicates that you may be embarrassed about the money you have, you make or that you come from.  Most Atoners live fairly uncomplicated and luxury-free lives.  If unexpected money is received, it is not uncommon for an Atoner to pass it on to a cause.  A common attitude is that “I didn’t have it before and all was fine, I don’t need it now.” Atoners will rarely replace household items and cars with newer models until they absolutely have to be replaced.  Money is rarely wasted.

No matter what your Money $marts Persona is, it doesn’t mean that one style is any better than any other, although each impacts what you do with money now and what you will do with it in the future.  In reality, a little bit of each makes sense at different times of your money life.

Your Final Money $mart Tip: Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  Part of your money journey will be to discover what you really need for your foundation.  When I was a Certified Financial Planner Professional, I consistently observed that my most successful clients were not the high earners—they made average incomes.  They created plans that fit their life styles and goals.  Those who made significant amounts of money usually kept a money banana dangling in front of them—always needing and wanting more. 

In the end, it was my school teacher and nurse clients who really did sock money away for their future.  A little bit every month—that’s how they got started, and it paid off big.  By creating a habit that extended over many years, many of them have investments and savings exceeding $1,000,000!

What is Real Wealth?

December is a month of Holidays and Celebrations. Most likely, you will reflect back to the previous months and weigh whether it was a good year…so-so…or dismal. Usually that measurement is based on money–did it increase? Because it is December, I would like to challenge you to probe deeper, asking yourself, “What is real wealth?”

The Past Changes the Future
My own answer to that question started with a phone call in November of 1981. Back then, my family had “it” all. A beautiful home in an exclusive section of Northern California, two Mercedes, investments, kids in private schools, a vacation condo at Lake Tahoe, a prosperous business, respected in our community and unlimited friends. Life couldn’t be better. . .or so we thought. That phone call was from one of the banks I worked with. It changed our lives–radically.

In the old days, I use to raise money for various ventures–often in the millions. One of my favorite projects was the restoration of an old laundry. Its new life would be that of a small European type hotel with 17 guestrooms. The financial projections looked terrific. All the partners would get tax deductions, annual cash flow and a handsome profit when the project was projected to sell in five years. What more could we want?

The day after the November phone call, I had a “Be here with your most recent net worth statement” meeting with the bank that had underwritten the construction loan. A series of other meetings followed. I discovered that my partner of two years had taken on another partner. Unfortunately, she didn’t advise me of the relationship and I was too naive and trusting to discern all the warning signals. My partner, and friend, was deeply involved in drugs. I had unknowingly paid for them.

After an audit, we determined that over $450,000 was missing from a construction loan that I had personally guaranteed. Gulp. The loan officer (at what was quickly becoming my unfavorite bank) wanted to know how I was going to pay off the discrepancy-could I write a check to cover it? The only answer he wanted to hear was, “Of course.” I was stunned. And angry. My husband walked around in a cloud, not fully comprehending what “paying off the loan” meant to us.

A family “powwow” was called. Everything was laid out for all to see and hear. Our three teens had no idea how much their life style would change in the coming months. They were told that there was a very high probability that we would lose everything –the house, the resort condo, private schools, no more expensive vacations. And they were told, “We did not want any guff from any of you. No demands–we our fighting for our lives.”

Where did the fight take us?–down an incredible journey. In the end, we lost everything that was material. The home, the condo, both cars, jewelry, antiques, artwork, the business, private schooling, investments, savings–everything. The material tally totaled over $1,000,000! Our comfortable net worth was now in the red. We even lost many of our “friends.” In the middle of it all, my health took a nosedive, landing me in the hospital for three surgeries, including cancer. I felt that my life was a mess.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? Well, none of that was as bad as Labor Day of 1983. In the wee hours of the morning, a lone policeman stood in our living room and told us that our 19-year-old son was dead. An accident, a drowning. The ache I experienced was unbearable. Now, I felt like I had lost everything–I didn’t think I would survive.

Getting Back on Track
Unbelievably, being broke, and hurting, brought balance into my life. My son’s death quickly revealed what was important and what wasn’t. Family was. Health was. Friends were (true ones). Faith was. Having a lot of money and being a candidate for consumer of the year wasn’t at the top of the list.

Too many times, we only measure who we are by what we have–the things and toys in the house, whom we associate with, what our status is, what car we drive, where we vacation, the market value of our homes and the amount of money we make. Am I advocating losing it all to get in balance? Absolutely not. . .you can reduce the learning curve.

My Millennium gift to you is to encourage you to look in the mirror and ask what is really important to you. Is it money? Your job? Your reputation? Your family? Your friends? Your health? What? You don’t have to lose it all to find what it is. The real shortcut–when you are truthful with your self, the important stuff surfaces to the top. That’s where your energy should go, not to issues, events, or things that are bottom dwellers. Looking in the mirror is a good way to start the new Millennium.

Tips for Saving Money

You might think saving an extra $1,000 a year is hard to do, but the little things will add up. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

• Use an electronic bill pay service. By paying your bills online, you’ll save on postage and supplies. At an average of 10 bills per month, you’ll save over $40 per year. Plus, you reduce the risk of late fees, which can tally up to $35 per account.

• Find a bank that rebates ATM fees or doesn’t charge them. Depending on your usage, you could save another $100 every year.

• Getting rental car insurance at the rental car agency is unnecessary if you have regular auto insurance that has coverage for rental usage. Some of the business credit cards, such as Diners, cover you automatically when you use your card to pay for the rental. Check your benefits. Savings can range from $25 a year to hundreds.

• Get a library card and read books for free. Let’s be honest, how many books have you read twice? Depending on your reading habits, this could save you $300/year at ($25/month, 1 hardback or 2-3 paperbacks). If you still insist on buying books, buy paperback.

• Buy a flowering plant instead of cut flowers. It will last longer ($20 in cut flowers/month vs. one flowering plant at $40 – annual savings of $200).

• Eat dinner out one less time per month ($20/month, you’ll save $240/year); if there is more than just you, the savings multiple.

• Pack your lunch. At an average cost of $6/day ($1,560/year) to eat out versus bringing a brown bag ($15/week, $780/year.) you’ll save $780.

• Cut back on the lattes, designer coffees and teas

• Consider a twilight matinee instead of the evening movie. Oftentimes these tickets are discounted up to half. At two movies a month with an average $9 ticket price, you’ll save $108/year. Other options: renting DVDs; do a monthly movie night with friends—pot luck it, the host rents the movie and you save lots of money.

• Go generic in your brands. Realize that huge amounts of money are spent on packaging and branding. TP, dish and washing machine soaps, etc. are all similar. If you want to really check out how they compare, there’s always Consumers Report to do an analysis.

• Buying new costs lots more money when it comes to equipment and cars. Once a car drives off the lot…look at a quick 25% depreciation from what you just paid. Use the Internet to check your prices out.

• CostCo and Sam’s can be great… and you can also spend more money getting the “deal” and tossing half of perishables away because they spoil. Better yet to share the “crop” with friends with all pitching in to the joint cost. Hundreds to thousands can be saved, depending on your spending habits.

• Start paying your mortgage bi-weekly versus monthly. Over the life of your mortgage, you will save mega thousands in dollars.

• Open an account that will withdraw moneys monthly from your checking or savings. It’s the “pay yourself also concept.” You will get use to it and it adds up quickly. Some on the online accounts, such as those offered by Capital One High Yield Savings, www.capitalone.com/investments.  Expect a higher rate of interest than what your traditional bank offers.