Friday, August 10, 2012

A Temporary Pause

Dear Friends,

I realize I haven't posted in awhile. There have been a few changes in my life.

My family and I have moved cross country.

My husband had a medical crisis but everything is fine now and you would never know he even had problems with him looking so good. (Um, I know, I'm biased about this!)

My business is in MAJOR transition. (Think Phoenix!)

Give me a few more months to get myself focused and I'll unveil the new model during January 2013.

These sorts of transitions should not be rushed. Right?

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I'll be chatting with you again via the written word very soon.

Shanti,
Janine

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"From Broke to Stoked" The Broke Wives Club is now the Stoked Wives Club!


This past weekend I attended a life-transforming event in Louisiana. It was a weekend spent with the Broke Wives Club. They had amazing men and women at this conference from all over North America (Thank you Canadians for putting up with us!) The topics covered were all about your Holistic Health.

Goal setting and life planning courtesy of Dr. Alex Ledgister (His Web Site Here)
Healthy Lifestyle Choices courtesy of Jacque Miller (Her LinkedIn Profile Here)
Financial Freedom courtesy of (that's right) yours truly, Janine Bolon.

I encourage you wonderful readers to pop on over to Facebook and make friends with Jacque, Dr. Alex and others from the Broke Wives Club (Now The Stoked Wives Club) after this weekend. These folks are ready to roll on moving their lives forward spiritually, emotionally, and physically. They will give you the courage, kick-in-the-butt, and cheers for you to succeed at what you want to do in life. Just let 'em know you're in need of some help...they're rooting for you already!

For continued inspiration to keep you motivated, feel free to click on over to the web sites of the speakers. They have lots of information for you and will help you attain your goals for 2011.

Rock on, people. This is gonna be a great year!
Peace out!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Credit or Debit? How to Run a Business via Plastic


Over the last 15 years I've been asked a lot of questions about money. But there are some that I get asked again, and again, and again...I'm thrilled to have a blog so that I can post answers and then just refer folks to the particular article that they need. However, with the economy bouncing around and folks feeling the pennies being pinched I'm getting asked the old questions in new ways and have to reword older posts so that things stay current.

Last week I received a new twist on and old problem. This email from a student in Virginia hit my box a few days ago (I've changed the names of the people involved that is all.)

Dear Janine:

We have a new question: A year or so ago Wilson agreed to cut up all of our credit cards, including business credit cards (inspired by Dave Ramsey who insists that a business can be run without debt or credit cards). Do you agree with Dave Ramsey about that?

The reason I ask is because Wilson flew out to Utah on business this week and ran into his first big disadvantage of not having a credit card -- he was almost unable to rent a car, and the one place that would rent to him on a debit card charges nearly twice as much as the other places he has been using. What are your thoughts about running a business without credit cards? Do the benefits outweigh even these disadvantages?

Thanks for your time, and have a great day!
Alice

Let's address the theory first before we launch into the practice. First off, I really like Dave Ramsey. I've read two of his books, "Financial Peace" and "More than Enough." I have found that our philosophies are very similar and we only have a few points where we differ and those points are minor.

Do I agree with Dave Ramsey about running a business without credit cards?

Yes and No. How's that for walking the fence? Let me explain. I agree with Mr. Ramsey that we need to be allergic to debt. He and I have both been caught in the debt trap and we have both vowed never to walk that path again. However, I have trained myself not to use my credit cards unless I have cash IN THE BANK to pay off the statement at the end of each month. I DO NOT allow myself to have roll-over debt. This is a horrid use of my hard won earnings and I won't allow myself to pay that much interest to borrow money.

However, I do understand what Mr. Ramsey is saying. Please remember he has clients that are so far in debt it takes them anywhere from 7-14 years to pay it all off. The best way to help these people is to remove all temptation of going further into debt by refusing them any access to short term loans. Debt is a disease. There are folks out there (Lord knows I've worked with them and so has Dave!) That are addicted, that's right, addicted to debt. For these people you have to cut up all their cards. They can't keep their hands off of them and use them at every opportunity. So I understand why Dave would say this.

My personal philosophy is this: use credit cards for your business to hold rental cars, hotels and airline reservations and other business related activities, but pay off the balance with travelers checks or your debit card or cash. You get the idea right? Most of these agencies do not "charge" your card until you return the car or check out of the hotel, etc. So use the credit card "hold" your spot, but pay for it using other means (your debit card, etc.)

The challenge is this...can you have that card in your wallet and not be "tempted" to put a purchase on it "just this once" even though you don't have the money to pay for it. Frequently, business owners are overly optimistic on this month's sales to cover their expenses. Face it, they have to be optimistic otherwise you wouldn't be in business for yourself, right? But don't allow your optimism to run your business in debt.

Many a client of mine has done just that. We would work together for 6 months to 3 years getting them out of debt and then they would decide to go into business for themselves and in a matter of 6 months be further in the hole then they were when we first started because they ran their business on a debt basis rather then using the financial principles they had learned over the past 3 years! It was maddening for me. Especially when I found out a client of mine had to declare bancruptcy after working with them for 4 years because they had $80,000 in business debt ALL on PERSONAL credit cards and they had neglected to tell me THAT part of their financial situation.

So you can see why Mr. Ramsey might be just a wee bit DRASTIC in his methods to keep his students/clients out of debt. He wants you to be seriously allergic to all things loan-ish for very good reason.

My advice: Run your business debt free, if you don't have the cash, don't make that jump (using a loan) to the next phase of your business or take that trip. Use the credit cards of the business as "place holders" for cars, hotels and the like unless you have money in the bank that can pay off the card when the statement arrives. You are to absolutely NOT allow roll-over debt!!! Okay...I'll get off my soap box now.

Have an abundant day!

Busting the Top Three Diet Myths with Cheryl Dolven


Last week on my radio show (Power Women) I had a guest that made the chemist in me smile that really geeky smile. Her name is Cheryl Dolven and she works as the Director of Nutrition Marketing for the Kellogg Company. Our lives happened to intersect due to a marketing campaign that was being done for Kellogg's FiberPlus Bars (this was my post as a participant of the study). I was chatting with the Marketing Group in charge of the product launch and I asked if they could arrange for a Dietitian to discuss some of the nutrients in the product.

Well, one conversation lead to another and I just HAD to ask Cheryl onto the radio show to discuss Dieting (Diet: The major four-letter-word for most people when it comes to health), Myths and Basic Nutrition. Cheryl has worked for major supermarket chains and has spent her career educating people on the nutritional guidelines seen every day as one wanders the grocery aisles. She also helps people navigate the horrendous torrent of nutritional data that is erupting everywhere on the Internet via her lectures and several presentations now being used on KelloggNutrition.com.

Here are some of the basic tips and myths that Cheryl shared on the show. (oh, and just so you know...I don't make a DIME for talking about Kellogg's or any of their products-I'm being a typical science type and am just relaying information here!)

Diet Myth Number 1 - BUSTED

Skipping Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight.
Cheryl discussed how the exact opposite is true. Studies have shown over and over that people who eat breakfast actually have healthier body weights than those who don't. Breakfast is just what it sounds like, Break-Fast: you are breaking the fast of the night before. When you eat breakfast in the morning, it helps your metabolism get that much needed kick-start for the day. I have seen in my own life as well as others that do power-lifting that by skipping breakfast they would have greater calorie intake later in the day. So, you're mom was right! Take that time to eat in the morning.

Diet Myth Number 2 - BUSTED

Processed Food Are Bad
Cheryl agrees with the current mood of health conscious individuals that the move to a more whole foods diet is a GOOD thing. We most certainly need to include more whole foods in our diet - including fruits and vegetables, low fat milk and lean meats. However, there is also a place in our lives for pre-made packaged foods, especially for folks that have some serious travel schedules (like me). Cheryl mentions, "When I worked as a dietitian in grocery stores, the single most often question I got was 'is this good for me?' Here is the thing, it didn't matter what they brought to me...my answer was always the same: 'It depends: How much of it are you going to eat?'" Cheryl went on to discuss how important it is that you decide up front what sorts of other food are you going to eat with the one you are choosing. As well as, what sorts of foods are you planning on eating tomorrow. "For ANY food, the key is how you surround it with other foods."

Diet Myth Number 3 - BUSTED

Sugar is BAD!
Cheryl and I had a great time with this one. As some of you know I teach math and science at multiple institutions and when we get to the part of biology when we talk about metabolism and biochemistry, this is when I hit my "lecture" on "Sugars are Carbohydrates" you can't live without them!!! Cheryl was much better at discussing the various forms of sugars and how you need some more than others, etc. I really wanted to get into more detail in this area of the show, but alas...we were running out of time and we had to discuss other nutritional details.

The main point with all things "diet" related and otherwise is this: extremes are not healthy. However, gradually eliminate behaviors and foods that are not good for you. Now, I realize, there are folks out there that have to use the "cut-and-run" method where they stop eating "X" item today and will never have it again. But I have found that most of my clients and students have to gradually wean themselves off foods, money spending, etc. so that they can learn the good behaviors and/or foods to replace the old ones.

Cheryl then discussed the Fiber needs of most individuals (no bathroom humor, please! LOL) She was quick to mention that fiber is more than just regularity. I was laughing up a storm here. The main issue in the American diet is this we need anywhere from 25-35 grams of fiber a day. Most folks only get around 13 grams of fiber a day. Yikes! What we are eating is obviously NOT fiber rich so it is great to be able to fill the gaps with things that can ramp up your fiber intake such as:

  • items high in cellulose (fruits, vegetables, beans) stuff that you have to chew!
  • whole grain products
  • snack bars that are high in fiber (Kellogg's FiberPlus bars were mentioned - wink, wink!)

We then wrapped up the show with a final question: "Is there a golden recipe for women balancing the needs of protein, carbohydrates and fiber?" Cheryl had three points:

  1. "For me the golden recipe comes down to two key ingredients: one is knowing your needs and the second is planning ahead."
  2. "I'd challenge everyone to visit MyPyramid.gov and use the tool they've created to help you find the right dietary pattern for you. There is no way you can meet your dietary goals if you don't know what they are! When I worked in the grocery store environment, I was always surprised how many people were reading labels...which is good!...but so few people actually knew what they were looking at! Seeing 5 grams of fat on the label doesn't mean anything to you unless you know how much fat you should have. I think of my nutrition needs as a budget. You need to know how much you have to spend in order to be within budget.
  3. "Next you need to plan ahead. The best thing you can do for yourself is to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan your meals and snacks. If you have something in your mind and in the fridge for dinner, you are much more likely to stick to your nutrition goals. When I don't take the time to do this, my family and I end up eating out and ordering in far more than we should - and that usually means more calories, more fat and less good for you foods."
I want to thank Cheryl for taking the time to educate us all on food and nutrition. I have since been on both of the websites mentioned in the this post and had a blast using their calculators and finding out my nutritional needs. I ended up grabbing each of my four kids and entering their data into the calculator at MyPyrimid.gov and we had a fun afternoon figuring out the menu for the next week taking into account each one of their nutritional needs. The younger ones (7 and 8 years old) had a blast making charts and filling in the "foods" they needed in each of their pyramids. It made the menu planning a lot easier and I heard less, "What is THAT!" at dinner time.

If you wish to hear the complete 30 minute interview with Cheryl visit us at:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Money Muse is Now on Radio!

It took awhile, but finally, after several years of work, encouragement from students and harassment from friends (thanks, Bryan and Ruth) I am lucky enough to be hosting a radio show called "Power Women."

The show is designed to inspired and help women rise to their full potential despite their already packed "to-do-lists." Learn tips, tricks and techniques that are used by successful women to balance life or at least get what you want without sacrificing your health! Oh, and we discuss money strategies too!

Feel free to tune in live (it is a call in show) or you can download the program later to your MP3 player or iPod. By the way, thanks to all the guys who listen to the show and email me afterwards giving their support and ideas for future shows. I know you folks are busy with your daily lives, but if you want a quick 30 minute show to energize you to move along with your dreams, tune in.

Pay Off Your Credit Cards with Simplicity

When I get three emails on the same subject in one week, I know it is time to post a blog response. This week's main topic is paying off the credit card debt. It seems there are lots of discussions going on in a variety of households regarding the proper way to pay off the credit cards. Let me shed some light on the main source of confusion that seems to dominate these conversations. These chats seem to go something like this:

Strategy 1: (rated: not good)

"We want to do the 60/40 principle on our money, but we'll get the debt paid off quicker if we don't put money into savings and instead use it to pay off the credit cards faster!"

Strategy 2: (rated: corrosive)

"We won't do the 60/40 principle exactly, we'll instead pay down our debt faster by using a 70/30 allocation of our money instead!"

Strategy 3: (rated: really toxic!)

"The best thing for us to do in this financial situation is to pull all the money out of our long term savings account (IRA, 401K, etc.), pay off our credit card debt and start over with our finances!"

Those are the three statements I hear over and over and over from households trying to manage their finances. All three of these strategies are doomed to failure. This is why...

Strategy 1 is the most common rationale I hear used when it comes to handling debt. It is also the fastest way to dig yourself into deeper debt. Every single personal finance book I have ever read (last count over 73!) States that you MUST, there is no leniency here, you MUST save money and pay down debt AT THE SAME TIME. Why? Because it is saving money that initiates the process for you to learn to be a wealth accumulator! Paying down your debt must happen, of course, but the more you focus on just paying down your debt and you don't focus on saving is the single biggest mistake a household can make with its finances. That short term savings account is what keeps you from pulling out your credit cards to pile on more debt! Over and over and over again, I have talked with millionaires, financial planners and investors...all of them who are wealthy agree on one thing:

In order to get out of debt you must save money and pay off your credit cards at the same time!

This is a requirement. Do not try to wiggle out of this, do not try to barter with me or any other financial coach. You have to do this. This is a financial law. In order to get out of debt, save your money and pay off your loans at the same time. How do you do this? See my posting on the 60/40 principle. It will get you kick-started in the right direction.

Strategy 2 involves people trying to do too much too fast. Rather than focusing on running the 60/40 principle in its entirety , they begin to customize it, mold it and mutate it to a point that the principle no longer works and they wonder why the results are not forthcoming. If you change the ingredients of a cake too much you'll end up with bread, right? Or a brick of flour and water that would be useful for a stone wall. Don't try messing with the process when you're digging yourself out of debt. Go with the tried and true principles that have helped thousands of people out of the financial hole and have gained them wealth.

Strategy 3 is extremely detrimental to the financial well being of households because this process of pulling money from long term savings vehicles robs you three times of your future wealth. Remember money that is earning compound interest is not a linear form of investing. The curve is logarithmic. (Google Logarithmic curves to get an idea of what we are discussing here or you can review this site.) You can not simply "pay yourself back" by taking money out and putting it back in later and it will "work out in the end." If you pull money out today, you will have to put up to three times the amount in 5 years later and you still may not accumulate enough to get you where you were before you yanked out your savings principle.

Not only does Strategy 3 rob you of your future, it also breaks the flow of money in horrendous ways. It takes households three times longer to get back on their feet and recover when they knowingly use this behavior despite being told the contrary. I have over 15 years of data accumulated from hundreds of households and it is clear...pulling money from long term savings vehicles to pay off credit card debt sets you back more financially then any other bad money behavior.

I can't be soft or kind or gentle with this post. I've seen too many families and households crash, burn and then declare bankruptcy because they refused my council, did it their own way and then hired me a SECOND TIME to pull them out of the DEEPER hole they had made for themselves.

Please, please, do not be like them. Learn from this post and don't follow the large road of debt slavery. Make today the day you take control of your finances and become an active force in your financial life.

Good luck and know that I'm here to help as you walk the path to wealth accumulation.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kellogg's FiberPlus Bars--What a Treat!


First off, know that this is not a "paid" endorsement. Two months ago I was given an opportunity to beta-test a new product from Kellogg's. Their FiberPlus Bars. I was contacted by a very nice saleswoman, Martha, who asked if I was willing to participate in this product launch since I was a "frugal" mom and had my own blog. Wow! "Cool!" I thought, free product and an opportunity to voice my opinion to people who want it." How fun is that? (Can you tell I'm used to teenagers?)

Anyhow, I received in the mail a week later a nice little lunch bag complete with three FiberPlus Bars:

Chocolate Chip
Dark Chocolate Almond (Turned out to be my favorite of the three)
Chocolatey Peanut Butter

It just so happened that I was doing a lot of traveling during this time so I quickly stuffed the free bars into my bags and literally ran out the door to make sure I wouldn't be late for the plane.

You know me, I'm not one that really "does" prepared food. I usually cook from scratch and the only time I buy processed stuff is when I am on-the-road. And even with that I don't stop off at fast-food places. I stop off at grocery stores and buy from their deli counters. Not only do I save money with this, but I get food that is a bit better for my digestion. (And the kids each get exactly what they want, did I mention I have four kids? LOL!)

Well, dear reader, I have to admit. I was really surprised at how good these bars were. I mean, come on, "FIBERPLUS" Bars? The name doesn't even ring like a good thing for me. It is not an item I would have reached for on my grocer's shelf! However, they tasted great as I was flying over the Rocky Mountains headed for San Diego. As I was given my beverage by the airline, I munched happily on the Chocolatey Peanut Butter Bar. It was the perfect snack for this trip since I was unable to grab breakfast before I left for the airport.

Data: Being trained as a bench chemist (in my pre-mom life), you know how I love my data so here you go:

Calories for a FiberPlus Bar (Dark Chocolate Almond) relative to leading name-brand dark chocolate bar that I adore and has nuts and caramel.

130 calories to FiberPlus whereas 271 calories for my chocolate bar (ouch!)
FiberPlus 5 grams fat; 13.6 for chocolate bar (Oh, man, really?)
FiberPlus 24 grams carbs; 34 grams for chocolate bar (I'm starting to really whimper here!)
FiberPlus 7 grams sugar; 29 grams for chocolate bar (I'm feel'n pain.)
FiberPlus 2 grams protein; 4 grams for chocolate bar (of course.)

Now, this is far from a scientific study, but for me I had only one complaint with the bar. It was a tad too sweet for my taste. That's because I make a lot of my own food and I really cut down on sugar. Even in cakes and cookies, I'll use 1/3 to 1/2 less the sugar in the recipes. Because of this, to me, the bars were too sweet.

However, as much as I dislike processed food, I have to admit that the next time I'm traveling and need a quick snack, I'll be reaching for these silly bars from Kellogg's. Grrrr! Why?

  1. The calories are less than my favorite chocolate bar (Dark chocolate with almonds and caramel!)
  2. The sugar content is WAY, WAY less. sigh.
  3. Those dratted FiberPlus bars kept me "full" filling far longer than my other bar does.
  4. It took longer for me to chew them then my chocolate bar and hence I felt like I "had" more to eat then my alternative snack treat. Psychological tricks that worked.
Bummer, it looks like, yet again, I'll have to make a change in the way I eat. So, there you go, dear one, I totally thought I would dislike this processed food (Talk to Martha the salesperson for Kellogg, I actually told her I wasn't suited for her demographic!) However, I have to eat crow here and say that under certain situations, I'll be reaching for one of these bars over other treats.

Dang it! I hate it when that happens!
Have a great summer everyone.