Thursday, August 23, 2007

Divine Wisdom at Work by Tricia Molloy

posted by Janine Bolon

Last night I finished reading Tricia Molloy's book,
Divine Wisdom at Work: 10 Universal Principles for Enlightened Entrepreneurs. First off, this book is for everyone. I was amazed to see so many financial, emotional, and time management techniques packed into such an easy-to-read book. Tricia gives you exercises and ideas for increasing your productivity as well as the savings in your bank account. I was stunned at how quickly I read this book.

Tricia has done a vast amount of research to bring you the 10 principles of an abundant and successful life. Her chapters are chock full of quotes from different books and people that she has read and interviewed so you not only get her take on each topic, but you're in the discussion with at least five to eight other individuals on the same principle.

My favorite chapters were: Principle 4, Clean Out the Clutter: The Universe will Fill the Vacuum, and Principle 10: Give Thanks Often: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude. I focus on these two chapters because they are so pivotal to having a financially secure life. Most folks forget how all these topics effect your view and choices on money, and what Tricia does is demonstrate how changing your environment from clutter to clean brings you more energy and time (at least 2 hours a day says the research) to be productive with what is really important to you.

Giving thanks often is something that has brought me many new clients, opportunities and joys in life. So all the advice Tricia gives in Chapter 10 I heartily recommend to others because I've seen the positive results first hand with my own experiences. By expressing my happiness to others in thanking them for their assistance, the Universe turns around and continues to shower me with the very things for which I am grateful! It's crazy! It's abundance! And it is how Life works. Tricia does a great job of explaining this.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to break out of their negative rut in a simple yet positive way. Sure, the titel says the principles are for entrepreneurs, but I have found that the truths talked about are just as viable for the stay-at-home-mom, teacher, construction worker, or medical professional. It really doesn't matter what you do for income. If you are working, this book is for you!

Tricia also has a free monthly newsletter on her web site that offers inspirational guidance and support.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Christmas in August! Talking with Family about the Commercial Carousel

posted by Janine Bolon

For all my readers who don’t celebrate Christmas because of their particular religious practice, please replace “Christmas” with whatever celebration you want to simplify and all will be well. On to our story...

It is a Christmas that will always stand out in my memory. After eight trips up and down our townhouse steps on Christmas Eve, I was sitting on the couch six months pregnant with our fourth child. Across the living room I saw the cute little Christmas tree sweetly decorated with strings of popcorn, cranberries and cut-paper decorations. The children had put small candy canes along the lower rows of branches. As my eyes traveled down the beautiful but simply clad tree, they came to rest on the carnage that used to be a carpeted floor.

My plodding up and down the stairs had been productive. Packages by the hundreds seemed to rest there on the living room floor. Like a boulder field below a mountain, packages were strewn so far from the tree you couldn’t have reached it to put an ornament on it! As I stared at this mass of gifts that came to us compliments of well-intentioned family, friends and co-workers, I wanted to cry. I knew that many of these gifts were for the children and I also knew that the toys and packages took time, effort and money to reach us. However, I also recognized a sad fact, that after the third gift was unwrapped my kids would lose interest. They were still young; I had a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. I knew that Christmas for them was all about the excitement and joy of seeing new toys and packages, but that they could not sustain that enthusiasm when they had received too much.

The pile under the tree represented way, way too much! Please don’t think I am being ungrateful here. I’m not. I was touched by the thought that each one of those presents represented. I was thrilled that so many people loved us that they had sent these gifts to brighten our Christmas morning. However, it was too much. By having too much, my children would not use most of the toys. By having too much, my little townhouse would become packed full with objects that would require attention, storage and clean-up. By having too much, my children would rip off paper of packages and move on to the next gift without even giving consideration to the one just opened. This is not how I wanted to celebrate the sacred time of Christmas. I wanted simplicity, not excess.

I have heard over and over from friends, colleagues and clients how much they dislike the glut of Christmas and all the financial stress it brings. “How do you stop it?” they plaintively cry. I don’t blame them for the sentiment. The holiday itself is wonderful, but buying stuff has managed to get out of control. Here are the steps that Brad and I had with family and friends to change our traditions to a simpler system.

1-Start the Christmas conversation now. With summer here people are more willing to chat about the commercialism of Christmas because the stores aren’t full of messages that say you MUST buy product X to be a good relative or you’re a cheap jerk! Now is the time to discuss options to Christmas giving.

2-Draw names for gifts. Many families already do this, drawing one name to receive a major gift at Christmas and then buying little “stocking stuffers” for other members of the family. This works especially well when you set an upper limit to the gifts. We did this one year and had a $20 limit (by the way that’s $20 total for the main gift and stuffers!) It was a blast to see the creativity everyone brought to the celebration.

3-Explain and show Grandma and Grandpa other ways that they can demonstrate their love throughout the year rather than saving it all for Christmas. I pick on them because in our family they are the major spenders in the gift-giving arena. I had to explain to my wonderful parents that I appreciated what they were doing for their grandchildren, but what the kids REALLY loved was mail. We discussed that they send short notes to the kids and articles from magazines during and after the holiday season. This idea hit the jackpot. Grandpa now sends his grandsons a new quarter for their collection as each new edition is minted along with a short handwritten note. My sons love it.

4-Buy gifts after Christmas Day. I have a couple that told me this works great in their family. Each person posts on the web site what they want for Christmas. The family members “sign up” to get the gift they want to buy and the actual purchase is done AFTER Christmas when the sales hit and the pressure it off. Then in January the family celebrates Christmas! They told me of the thousands of dollars that the family has saved not only in gift giving, but also in air fare!!!!

5-Ask for or give gifts that are perishable or require no storage space. My favorite gifts to give and receive are books, magazine subscriptions, and food. I read books and then give them to the library. I read the magazines and then give them to friends who I know will enjoy them, or recycle them. And I love cooking in the kitchen. Remember that re-gifting is a fine art form that is frugal, not cheap. You can do it as long as you don’t give the gift back to the very person who gave it to you. If you’re not going to use the gift, by all means, give it to a person who will.

The bottom line is this, dear friend. The act of giving gifts is to let folks know we thought of them. What the actual gift is doesn’t matter as much as the thought that went behind it. This has always been my view; unfortunately, I didn’t have family that always agrees.

It took three years and many, many telephone conversations, but, finally, we have d├ętente! (Celebrate with me here!) When Christmas arrives, we are no longer deluged with packages. Our tree actually can cover all the packages with its limbs and the kids get one “big” gift and several little ones. How did Brad and I bring about a non-commercial Christmas? We started using money. That’s right. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins -- all of us now ship money (not cash) through the mail and ask the folks on the other side to buy what they want. It took years of working on this and trying LOTS of other options before there was mutual consensus on this simple and obvious solution. Now, we all save on shipping, time at the mall and gift wrapping. And we always get what we want!

Some people have told me that money doesn’t say as much as a “real” gift. Then I look at my four kids playing with the “exact” toys they wanted from Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle. I see the excitement and joy of Christmas still in their eyes after the last gift is unwrapped and I see them totally thrilled with the treasures. Brad and I exchange our gifts after Christmas because we go shopping for each other during the sales on December 26th.

You will have to come up with your own system for handling Christmas this year. I suggest you initiate negotiations now for scaling down on the gift giving. Be creative in options that you list as potential traditions for the new Christmas coming along. Given enough time, you too, can celebrate the true joys of the season without the financial stress of the commercialism.

Here are some web sites that have articles and stories on returning to simple holiday seasons.

Simple Living
New Dream

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Operation Paperback: A Charity I Totally Trust!

I received a letter from the CEO of a charity that I have donated to for years. Not only do I know about the great works these people do at Operation Paperback, I have 7 military friends who have been the recipients of Operation Paperback's books and programs. I have donated books, money and time to this organization and wanted to share Chrissy Honeywell's letter with you.

Hello Operation Paperback Supporters!

We know that you have expressed an interest in supporting our troops, and that's why we are writing to you today. Every day volunteers at Operation Paperback send their gently-used books to soldiers deployed overseas.

We have just received a somewhat different request from one of our Marine chaplains. He would like copies of the book, "
Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families."

Here is a description of the book:
"The bravery displayed by our soldiers at war is commonly recognized. However, often forgotten is the courage required by veterans hen they return home and suddenly face reintegration into their families, workplaces, and communities. Authored by three mental health professionals with many years of experience counseling veterans, Courage After Fire provides strategies and techniques for this challenging journey home."

Chaplain Harding would like to give everyone one of his Marines a copy of this book as they return home. And that is why I am writing to you. We would like to ask if you would consider donating to our special fund to purchase copies of this book. We can purchase and ship books on for $10 each.

Chaplain Harding's goal is 1,000 books, and we'd like to try and help him reach it. This book may be able t help prevent problems that our veterans may suffer years and years down the road.

If you would like to participate, please
click here and we will take you to a special page where you can securely make a donation just for this book fund. (You can also mail a check to our Post Office Box if you'd prefer.)

As always, we appreciate you taking the time to read this email--and please do not feel obligated to participate. We know that you all support the troops in your own way, so please participate only if you are able to. We also encourage you to forward this message. If anyone would like to verify our status as a non-profit organization, the can
click here.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at:

Thank you so much for the support of our troops!
Chrissy Honeywell

I have worked with these wonderful folks for over 3 years and have heard from my military friends how valuable their donations have been in books to read while hanging out for deployment or waiting for the next mission.

Thanks for reading!
Janine Bolon

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What Do I want Out of Life? The Fine Art of Dreaming

posted by Janine Bolon

Over the past three years of travel, speaking and talking about money with numerous people, one thing has become very obvious to me. Many of us don’t know what we want. For those who do know what they want, they are the successful ones. They have a savings account. They have little to zero debt and are working on becoming “retired” by the time they turn 45-50 years old. Whereas, those who don’t have a clue what they want out of life, except winning the lottery, have the problems with debt, over-extended credit and a car on its last leg (or axle) with no idea how they will be able to replace it when it finally gives up the ghost.

Now you may not be that badly off, but I think you know where I’m headed with this. If you wish to be financially successful, you need to know what you want out of life. As
Rob Bennett says in his book, “Passion Saving,” “To be middle-class almost by definition means to be on a quest for more meaningful work.” This is so true. Many of us have credit card debt, mortgages, loans and medical bills; how can we possibly dream of living “off grid” in Colorado when we have all that looming over us?

How about giving your dream one more try? Until you nail down what you truly want out of life, all your financial goals will fall by the wayside because you don’t know why you need to be saving money. So, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write at the top of it, “What I want most in the world is...” and fill in the blank. What you write may surprise you. Most folks start off with the standard stuff: “a healthy family, a house, no debt, and a better job.” But I want you to work past these things and go deeper. Why? Because I know that you have given up on your real dreams.

At some point in life you gave up on a passionate dream because you didn’t see how it was going to be possible to achieve. Rather than trying to figure out a solution, it was SO much easier to drop it and then try to fill that emotional void with impulse spending and driving the credit card balance up to higher levels. It was easier to deal with the pain of debt repression then the fear of attempting to achieve a dream.

Your dream is possible. I know you may not even remember what it was that drove you so passionately when you were 8-12 years old, but it is usually at about that age when most people stop believing in themselves and their dreams and start walking the path of paycheck-to-paycheck living.

For my husband, it was giving up on getting a history degree because he was told by so many of his friends and family that a young man couldn’t make a decent living with such a career path. Here he is now at 45 finishing up a degree in history and feeling great about finally doing what he has always wanted to do. Studying history and writing books.

For me I gave up on ever getting a doctoral degree. I almost starved myself through the 5-year degree program for a Baccalaureate in Biochemistry. No lie. I had dropped down to a dangerous weight and would not have been able to continue if I had to go an additional semester. Now, here I am at [age omitted because a lady never tells!] and just last month I applied (and was accepted) to a Ph.D. program. Thanks for celebrating with me!

What dreams have you given up on? Are you having problems figuring out how to remember them? Here is a list of things to do to get your memory moving. Answer these questions on a piece of paper.

1-If I had all the money in the world, what would I do with my time?

2-If I could spend my time in any way I wanted, what impact would I make in my community?

3-What have I always wanted to do for myself, but stopped because I was afraid? Don’t let the fear stop you this time. Write this down.

4-If I didn’t have to worry about the opinions of friends, family or spouse, what things would I do?

These questions may seem a bit simplistic, but I have found that when I’m mentally blocked on an emotional topic, it is the simple questions that get my thinking gears rolling. Write your responses down. Don’t just sit there at your computer and stare into space working on your answers. Bring them into our 4-dimensional “real” world and put them on a page.

Once you have figured out your dream, then it is time to put that dream into an action plan. Let your mind wander and consider the financial, educational, and support systems needed to help you achieve it. Here is an example. One of my relatives decided at the ripe age of 57 to go back to school to become a doctor. Yes, a doctor! Her children were all for it, but her friends were the naysayers in this. She frequently heard them say, “But Grace, you’ll be 67 before you’re even done!” Quick as a flash she answered back with, “Yes, but I’ll be 67 anyway.” Grace is my inspiration!

After you have finished writing down your dream, you are going to e-mail me. Okay, maybe you don’t want to e-mail me, but the idea is e-mail it to someone and discuss it with them. Ask for help on how you are supposed to accomplish this dream. The ideas will start to flow. Your mind will start to work on possibilities and potentials. That is when the fun begins. That is when you become financially mature and begin to change your money situation.