Saturday, January 19, 2008

Book Review: Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny

review by Janine Bolon

Since I received this book I have read it four times. Each time I went through it I highlighted different principles and found a new gem between the covers. I was so blown away by Barbara's approach to money that I bought 10 more copies and passed it out to friends and clients. It is called “Overcoming Underearning: Overcome Your Money Fears and Earn What You Deserve”. Barbara Stanny is the author and I contacted her as soon as I finished reading it to get the inside scoop on her purpose/mission in life and how I could help others with her philosophy.

There are two paths to becoming financially independent. The first is becoming a habitual saver and not spending more than you earn. The second is making more money! Well, since you’ve been reading this blog you’ve been getting lots of good stuff on debt-free living, frugality and saving. What Barbara can do for you is get you earning more money! Now if you think this is a get-rich-quick-scheme then you need to find yourself another blog. That is NOT what the Money Muse is all about.

What Barbara’s book entails is a bunch of questions and journaling exercises to help you break down your personal barriers to wealth. Mainly, dealing with your fear and/or anger toward money. Barbara writes in a very easy-to-read style and walks you through many of the emotional pitfalls people have when working for money. She discusses how you think about money seriously determines your income level. That many of us walk around thinking we can only make a certain amount of money and no more. We actually limit our ability to earn income based on bad mental habits or emotional baggage from growing up in a home where money was seen as evil.

After reading Barbara's book I formed a telephone book club where several clients of mine read the book chapter by chapter and then we would all conference into a call and discuss the changes we had made in our outlook on money or where we surprised ourselves with barriers that we didn't know existed!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has problems asking for a raise at work or who has difficulty getting what they feel they deserve for their work. If you are self-employed this book is a must. Some of Barbara's advice, if you're not getting enough clients, raise your rates! She explains why you need to do this as well as how to overcome your internal barriers to earning more.

Stop by her website and sign up for her free newsletter to keep your motivation going while you learn to break down your barriers to increased income. You can also read Barbara's 10 Traits of Underearners that will guide you on whether this book is appropriate for you to read.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Saving Money at the Grocery Store isn’t Really Saving!

by Janine Bolon

Last week I was visiting southern California and I stopped by a grocery store. As the cashier finished ringing up the sales she took the receipt out with a flourish, circled an item at the bottom and said to me, “You’ve saved $12.16 with us today!” I answered, “Yes, but I spent $25.63.” She looked at me with her smile fading and rebutted, “But you saved almost half that amount.” I thanked her for her time and took my groceries out to the car.

As I fumbled for keys, balanced milk jugs, and corralled children into car seats, I realized why I was so vexed. I didn’t save anything at that grocery store. I spent money. Not a penny was “saved.” I don’t care what the cashier has been told to say by her management. It is a lie to say I “saved” money.

No wonder so many of my clients have a hard time understanding the concept of savings and what to do with it. All around them businesses, friends and family are using the term “savings” and it has nothing to do with money that is conserved. It mostly states how much money wasn’t spent that could have been spent. This is not savings. This is spending. As I was ruminating over this latest incident my son pipes up from the back seat, “Mom, did we really save money back there?” I started laughing. A ten minute discussion ensued where I pointed out what savings meant to me versus what savings meant to the cashier. Stay with me, I know some of this is rather basic, but I figure if my children and that sweet cashier were getting conflicting messages on savings, I’m sure other people are too. This is what it means to save.

1- If you spend money, that isn’t saving! Forgive me, dear reader, for stating the obvious. But with the latest marketing techniques you may end up confusing what it means to save. If you have money leaving your bank account instead of earning interest, then you can rest assured you are not saving. I don’t care how pleasant the person behind the counter is when he/she circles a figure at the bottom of your receipt.

2- If you resist the urge to buy something and walk away, that is saving money. Many times we buy things that we simply don’t need. We want to treat ourselves after a hard day at the office or an argument with our spouse. If we are emotionally upset, many people spend money to feel better. To resist this urge means you are saving money. Find an activity that is free and stop the spending spree.

3- If you maintain a piece of equipment over the years so you don’t have to purchase a new one, this is saving resources. My husband and I take our vehicles in every time they are in need of an oil change. With the amount of driving we do, this is a frequent event! However, by maintaining our vehicles we can usually get 10-15 years of service out of them before we start to have major issues. That is saving money!

4- If you get your bank statement in the mail and you see that your savings account has increased rather then decreased, guess what? You’re saving money! You actually are in the habit of putting money aside and conserving your resources. You are a member of a minority by doing this. Only 1% of Americans save. By having a savings account where you consistently put money aside you are in the top echelon of our society. Cool, no?

I realize this is basic stuff. However, I also know how many folks are using language that says they “saved” money on a sale today when they actually SPENT money on an item! You either wanted that item or not. Don’t justify yourself using the marketing babble that you’ve heard. That ends up amplifying the problem. Be part of the solution and when you say you are saving money, make sure you mean that it is money in your account!

Thank you so much for letting me get that out of my system. I had no idea how much that trip to the grocery store riled me up!!! Happy Abundance to you.