Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dealing with those Emotional High's and Low's

Over the weekend my sister and I were busy clearing out our houses and offices since we are both moving. (She to North Carolina and me to Colorado.) I am always amazed at how our lives run so parallel even though we live on opposite sides of the continental divide! We were talking on the phone and taking a break from all the cleaning fumes when she mentioned an email I sent to her two years before.

The email was about handling your different negative emotional states. How to identify what it is you need to change in your life depending on the emotion you are feeling at the time. I got this list as a compilation of many resources the primary one being,
Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion, by Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee.

This was a handy book for me to read since I was changing my business model and knew there were areas of my own personality that needed some renewal if I was to increase my effectiveness as a president of an organization.

First evaluate where you may be in theses 5 emotional states:

1. Frustrated
2. Bored
3. Unfulfilled
4. Burned-out
5. Stressed, Anxious, Depressed

Depending on your state, work on the following:
1. Frustrated (Deal with the Manager Self) Capitalize on your Uniqueness
2. Bored (Deal with the Leadership Self) Work harder on your vision then implement changes
3. Unfulfilled (Deal with Romantic Self) Work on your love life and romance needs
4. Burnout (Work on Personal Self) Stop doing what you don't like! Create change!
5. Stressed (Work on Mission Self) What is the one thing only you can do in the whole world?

But what do you do if you are unsure exactly what you want, what your mission is?

Answer the following questions to the best of your ability.

1. What do I want?
2. What do I need to learn?
3. Who do I need to help me?
4. What do I need to feel?
5. What do I need to do?
6. What do I want most right now?
7. What do I NOT want?

By answering these questions and understanding the area of your life that needs help to pull you out of your negative state, you will feel better immediately. I have used this exercise five times in the past three years to pull me out of a negative state of mind. Once I was feeling depressed, another time I was burned-out and this past exercise I used these questions because I was extremely frustrated. Every time I use these questions to center my thinking and refocus my energies, I come away a much better person and my attitude is 100% lighter than when I started the work.

I do hope that you find it as useful as I have. Good luck!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holding onto the Inner Happiness

I was reading an inspirational article this morning and had to share some of the insights I received from the author with you. The article was about keeping your peace or inner happiness despite the emotional and physical chaos around us. Here were the main points:
  • Never find fault with others-look instead for their good points
  • Learn to blame and correct your own flaws so you continually grow and improve
  • Be sincere with everyone
  • Express kindness and love to each person in your life
Those are four simple, little points, but boy do they pack a punch when it come to one's daily life. Basically it all boils down to a simple phrase. Learn to Behave!

As a mom of four I busted out laughing as I put the article down. Here I am at the age of 44 still working hard at learning to behave. It is a daily battle to make sure that I don't find fault with others. I mean, I just mopped the floor! Do the kids HAVE to track all that mud in?

No kidding that happened to me today. I remembered the article I had just read and I spent 5 seconds calming down the sharp retort that was on the edge of my lips waiting to jump out. Instead of screaming about muddy footprints and clean floors, I was actually able to keep my mouth shut, walk over to the cabinet with the linen rags and throw a few on the floor near the rest of the herd that was about ready to pounce through the back door. I even managed a pleasant, "Please wipe your feet!" Wow. Some days I'm better at this then others.

The point of today's post is to be a cheerleader for you. I realize that I usually talk about money, but in order to keep to our financial goals we have to be happy and in order to be happy we have to behave in ways that make the world a better place.

I know that times can be really tough on you and that daily you are doing battle with being "good." (Can you tell I'm talking to myself here as well?) It is so much easier to be sharp, harsh, quick-to-anger, and tell-off those that make our lives challenging. However, if we take a deep breath and remember to be in that selfless consciousness we will learn quicker how to:
  • physically help people through service
  • mentally help people by kindness and encouragement
  • spiritually help others by radiating the joy we feel by learning to behave!
By implementing these behaviors our own lives will become happier. I have always found it so crazy that happiness is based on how you aid others. It is such an incredible reward for not thinking about yourself.

With that said, I guess I'd better go downstairs and wipe out the tub from all the dirt that got washed off those little bodies before bed and see where the muddy clothes have been kicked off .

Hang in there, dear ones. Keep tracking your expenses, stick to your financial goals and continue in the knowledge that you know what you want out of life. In very short order, you will find that you are happy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Financial Maturity?

Many of my young adult (and adult!) students have the wrong idea about what it means to become financially mature. When I ask young adults in my seminars to define how to know whether or not a person has reached financial maturity, their top three answers are:

  1. When you get your first paying job,
  2. When you have graduated from college, or
  3. When you get married.

Being financially mature has nothing to do with these life events. Instead, it has everything to do with your mindset regarding the making, keeping, and spending of money. Your money.

A financially mature person (this means you!) will habitually exhibit five key behaviors. Together these traits will make you content now, and capable of real financial independence for the rest of your life. The five habits that all financially mature individuals possess are:

  1. You save money. You save because you understand the power of compound interest. A small amount of money set aside now and allowed to grow will produce a large bonus down the road.
  2. You mind your money matters. You make your own money rather than using the "First Local Bank of Mom and Dad" as your preferred banking institution. Mom and Dad are not your personal ATM.
  3. You do your own work. You are your own best financial advisor. Sure, you take advice from others, but deep down you know that you have to do your own research about how best to handle your hard-earned cash. Don't take the word of someone else. Study it for yourself.
  4. You keep going. Every day you need to make decisions about your money, and some of them will be flat out wrong. Need to hear that again? You will make mistakes with your money; to not do so is impossible! But you will make the effort to correct them, and to not repeat them. Making mistakes is how we learn. By trying a short cut to riches and getting burned, you learn not to make that same error again! Don't avoid making a decision just because you're afraid of making a bad one. All financial decisions come with some degree of risk. The key is to watch what happens after you make a decision, and learn. Resilience in the face of mistakes is maturity.
  5. Keep it simple. You understand way down deep the old adage that "less is more." By knowing exactly what you want out of life, you will choose to spend your cash only on those needs and wants that bring you true pleasure. In this case, such simple pleasures mean more happiness and all obtained for a lot less money!

These steps are the beginning to a lifetime journey on how to efficiently handle your money as it comes to you. By working for your own cash, you allow yourself the freedom to make necessary mistakes that will teach you the skills required for becoming financially mature.

To learn more about being frugal, saving money and still having a wonderful lifestyle, please visit my friends at the Dollar Stretcher! Thanks, Gary, for posting my stuff!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seeing the Forest then the Trees, How to Invest Your Money!

by Janine Bolon

I was busy baking cookies and washing up dishes when the phone rang. As I juggled dish towels, phone cord and running children the voice on the other end told me that she was a client from over a year ago and promptly started updating me on the financial status of their family. It was lots of great news on how they were out of debt, they had only their house to pay off and they were steadily working on increasing their savings.

I was congratulating her and her husband for their diligence and hard work when we got to the reason for her call. They had just found out about a “Wonderful” investment opportunity and they wanted my opinion of the company and the situation. Normally, I totally revolt at telling people what to do with THEIR money. First off, I’m not a trained financial professional and always defer to such people in these sorts of situations. Secondly, I don’t know all the hopes, dreams and goals you have as a person for your money, so why should I give you direction on what to do with YOUR money?

However, since I had coached this family before I listened politely as she breathlessly told me of this incredible financial opportunity and how they were seriously considering taking the $5,000 they had worked to save for over a year and invest it with this one company. I then calmly asked, “Okay, but have you and your husband maxed out your IRA contributions for this year?” There was a pregnant pause on the other end before she meekly said, “Um. No.” “Well, before I would spend dime one on any investment, I would make sure that I had made use of the maximum allowable contributions to all the tax advantaged accounts the federal government gives us.” I then asked her to call her accountant about what sorts of retirement accounts were available to them and verify what the allowable amounts were and to contribute to those first before launching all their savings into this other organization.

This is the point, my frugal friend. I know it isn’t sexy. Nor bold. Nor exciting, but the accounts that are IRAs, 401k’s and 403b’s are a wonderful and steady way to invest in your future. Before you go for riskier investments, go with what works first! Go with the OBVIOUS! Are you doing the obvious? Are you investing with accounts that are tax advantaged for you? If you don’t even have a retirement account open, then make your first investment goal that you open one this year. If you’re married make sure you have one open in both spouses names. Don’t jump at the quick buck with all your hard earned money. Go with the safer and less-sexy investments first. Once those have been maxed out, then look around with the extra money you have to invest in other things. But, of course, you’ll chat with your accountant or financial planner about this before leaping into anything, right?

As further evidence for the less-than-sexy investment strategies, I was reading an article in “Money” magazine (January 2007). In it there was an interview with multi-millionaire and financial planner Charles Schwab. He was asked this rather simple question: “If you could give one bit of financial advice to someone who’s just starting out, what would you say?”

Mr. Schwab answered, “Buy index funds and ETFs. That might not seem like enough action for a 25-year old, but it’s the smartest thing to do. Put most of your energy into your work and learn to communicate. I think the people who become really successful are those who sense what others are feeling and how to make them comfortable.” The idea is to go with the conservative, familiar, and steady investments first. Why? Because they are proven and they work.

Good luck on your road to wealth accumulation. Now, I'm going to go get on my bike and head to the grocery store. I tell you if these gas prices stay high, I'm going to end up in great shape!