Monday, December 28, 2009

Don't Make Your Resolutions a Wish List for Santa

Another year...gone! Wow, when did that happen? I'm still trying to get used to 2009. However, here I am, sitting down with a pen and paper, working on my Resolutions for 2010, still in shell-shock that Christmas is over and the New Year is fast approaching.

It then hit me just how many people make resolutions each year, but are unable to be successful in using them to make their much-needed life changes. I was chatting with a friend of mine on this subject, and she mentioned, "Geez, Janine, this is the first year that I ever wanted to make my resolutions serious." I was stunned. It had never occured to me that folks would not take the opportunity to make each year better by following through on their resolutions---or at least some of them. Why? Because resolutions are the big things that your values and your emotions have agreed are so important and will make your life better. It seems to me that the problem may be in most people's perspectives. You see, resolutions aren't just wishy-washy promises to do better, they are goals that pave the way to being better, for real.

I've been goal-setting for almost two decades now. I first learned of this technique to success from Brian Tracy in a seminar he gave in North Carolina around 1989. Since then, my life has been more productive, happier and filled with more delight then at any time before. Why? Because I see myself as a creator to the life I want rather than a victim of the whims of fate. I'm in control of my own destiny. The choice is mine.

So, what do you do to make sure you succeed in your goals or "resolutions?" Well, first off you make sure that you don't treat your goals like a wish list you made for Santa. This is not fantasy, folks, it is true. Some people actually write out all the things they want to change in their life, put them in a desk drawer, and never look at them again. This is not making resolutions or goals. This is waiting for a sweet, bearded mystery man to come and make all your wishes come true. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but life just doesn't work that way. Does it? So, what do you do to achieve a better life? Here is my simple 7-step plan to a new you, available through the power of goal-setting.


1. What is the real question?

First off, decide if you really want the changes you are asking of yourself. Just because you've had many people tell you that you need to become more physically fit, mentally astute, financially well off, whatever, the real question is, "Do I want this for me?" I was wandering about the Net looking at the various resolutions that are common for folks to make and I found you can break them down into four main categories:

  • Physical Resolutions: (Lose weight, get physically fit, quit drinking/smoking/drug use, and eat better)
  • Financial Resolutions: (Get out of debt, create a budget, get a better job, and start a savings account)
  • Mental Resolutions: (Enjoy life more, spend more time with family and friends, conquer a fear, learn something new, read a BIG book, and devote more time to hobbies.)
  • Spiritual Resolutions: (volunteer, meditate more, find a church and pray for others)

When you're sitting in a quiet place working out what you really want from yourself in 2010, I highly recommend you concentrate on the things that are most in line with your values. You have to bring this emotional component into this process or you won't have the necessary energy to carry it out. I recommend that you wander through this list of resolutions and see if any really pop out for "you" to add to your to-do list for the new year. Always remember that when you want to change something about your life, you have to do it because YOU want to do so, and not just because you "should."

2. Write it down and re-read it---frequently!

I can't stress this exercise enough. I have been coaching people in financial independence for over 10 years and the clients who are the most successful in their lives are the ones who actually write down their goals/resolutions and post them in a place where they can see them every day. (My favorite spot is the bathroom mirror!) The power of the written word and the daily attention is incredible and will remind you of the person you want to be rather than the one you see in the mirror. This is a very simple thing to do, but only 3% of people do it. However, most successful people see it as the primary (the #1) activity that keeps them on track to what they want out of life and keeping themselves motivated during times of challenge.

3. Keep your resolutions concise and precise

Many folks who work out resolutions can torpedo themselves by the way they word their goals. You want to focus your concentration on the behavior you want to gain rather than on the negative elements that have lead to your current situation. Example: instead of writing as a resolution that you want to "lose weight this year" (which begs the question of where it is to be abandoned?), write out that you want to weigh 155 pounds by "X" date. Make the timeline achieveable and within safe guidelines of weight loss. For me, I don't focus on my weight. I focus on my fitness level. My marker for fitness? How many pushups and pullups I can do in a set. I have just come off a week-long vacation where I did a lot of walking but did bupkiss in the weight training arena. So, today when I started my exercise program (again), I could only do 24 pushups on my knees (I had been able to do 12 push ups on my toes!) and one pullup. Yikes!

My resolution will read something like this: I am physically fit. I do 25 pushups from my toes and 10 pullups. Another thing...I've put on some extra pounds around my middle this holiday season. (I do so love Christmas cookies and fudge!) Am I going to focus on that? Nope. (Except that it all tasted REALLY good.) I'm going to put my energy and effort into building muscle again and using fitness markers that have nothing to do with gravity. I officially fired my bathroom scale seven years ago. LOL!

4. Tell someone else about your goals/resolutions

For the women I have coached through the years, talking about their resolutions with a friend or trusted family member is a great way to make it more "real." This is something I do frequently. I'll tell my husband, kids or girl friends what I'm doing and trying to accomplish and then it becomes a committment to my brain. It's like, "Okay, time to make this happen since my kids know about it and will be checking my progress." When I work out, I have a girl friend who will email me asking how I'm doing on my situps, reps, and overall exercise routine. Having this sort of buddy who checks in on you without judgement is a wonderful way to stay on track and to stay motivated.

5. Fake it until you make it

When you're working on your various goals, see yourself as already "on the path" to achieving them. This is a little mind game that I play all the time with myself to keep from getting "newcomer's syndrome." That means, it is hard to start a new program/behavior/activity because it is so new to you that it feels alien. To keep these sorts of feelings to a minimum, I walk, act, and self-talk like this is old hat and I'm in the process of ramping up the behavior, not starting from scratch.

Again, I'll go with a fitness example. Pullups are tough for me. When I first start working on them I can barely do 1.5 or 1.75. If I'm really lucky I can do 2. So what I do mentally is tell myself is, "Well, yeah, that's the way it is when you've only been doing them a week (actually it was my first day at the pull up bar in over 6 months), "I'm sure that in two weeks I'll be doing 3 or 4." That is what I mean by faking it. Fake like this is just part of the run-of-the-mill routine and you'll accomplish your goals given enough time. You're close, just not "there" yet. Make sense?

6. Keep your list of goals SHORT!

When I work up a list of resolutions/goals I never have more than three on it. Any more than that and my daily to-do list will explode in a miraculous cloud of ash. (I'm serious, I've seen it smolder!) Why? I have a lot on my plate; I know you do, too. So, rather than make your to-do list longer at the year's beginning focus yourself on doing only ONE (yes, that is not a typo) thing a day to move you toward your major goals.

Right now, I'm working on my fitness goals. My mental and spiritual goals are filled in around the 5 minutes a day of spare time ad day that I have. I'm working on the physical because right now that is the one that needs the most work. As time is freed up because I have more energy from exercising, then I add on my to-do list two items a day that move me toward my overall goals. Step-by-step is the key here.

7. This is the Year to take Charge of your Life

Make up your mind that 2010 is the year that you are going to take real charge of your life! Yes, the economy is weird (to say the least). Family members, husbands, sons, daughters, and many others in our lives have lost jobs, homes, marriages and confidence in themselves. Incomes have been slashed in half, and our weight has increased as many of us tried to eat our way to comfort. Now is the time to stop living mainly (or only) in a state of constant panic. Now is the time to face your fear and charge out anyway to make your life a better one. I have found that I am much more courageous when I have NO IDEA how I am going to get to my final destination, but I DO have a goal of where I am headed in the short term.

I have a list of things I will accomplish this year. How am I going to find the time to write a book, homeschool my four kids, take two college courses, learn to draw, increase my pullup level to "ten", stay connected with my husband despite his hectic travel schedule and own writing projects, and still keep my house at least one step above "landfill" status? I have no idea. Honestly. I haven't a clue. But what I do know is I am going to accomplish all those things. How can I be sure? Well, I've done it before. I've managed to face my fear of failure and stare it down. Why? Because I want to be the type of person who lives life fully. I can't stand the thought of letting Life lead me. I will Lead my Life. Period. By making a few core resolutions and then doing them, I create the life I want, and I'm an active and contributing to bettering the world one goal at a time. I'm doing what I love.

This year I wish you a 12-months of a purpose-driven Life that leaves you breathless and standing in awe of yourself and your accomplishments on December 31, 2010. Good luck, dear one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Multiples of the Number 6....Essay Fun and Games!


Multiples of 6 (12, 36, 60…)

· 12 Labors of Hercules
· 12 Signs of the Zodiac
· 12 Ordeals of Gilgamesh
· 12 Tribes of Israel
· 12 Disciples of Christ
· 12 Steps of Recovery


These were the multiples of 12 that Schneider brought up in chapter 6, “Hexad.”
Please write up an essay answering these questions:

1. Why did you choose your particular topic?
2. Does your topic fit in with your understanding of what Schneider discusses?
3. How does your topic influence your daily life? If no, why not?
4. What lessons did you learn from researching your topic?
5. While researching your topic, what paradigm shifted in your understanding?
6. Do you have more Clarity about Number after your research or do you still experience Ambiguity?
7. What else did you want to tell me about your studies, this class, the reading, etc.?

These papers will be due on October 22nd at the beginning of class. If you have any questions, email me.
Also the beautiful image above is courtesy of a blog called "The Fitful Flog" you'll find some amazing geometry there in a gorgeous fashion.




Read Chapter 7: "Heptad" in Schneider's, "Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CERN, Rap Music and Higgs Boson!!!!


Many of you know what a Geek-Freak I am for particle physics and the CERN super-collider project. I just had a friend of mine from Mexico send me this video that was done by the crazy physicists and geeks up at CERN and just had to share. It warms the cockles of my scientific heart to see folks not taking themselves seriously, but taking the Science and Math seriously. Lovely stuff! It's only four minutes long.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xgaVbOjwUE

This is the kinda stuff we did all the time in the lab when we were waiting for centrifuges to slow down, HPLCs to equilibrate and the CRAY to crunch. Where was YouTube when I was working? LOL.

Enjoy it as much as I did. It totally made my day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lecture #2-The Monad-Schneider's "Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe"



I am departing from my normal blog posts on money to assist some students in a math class I'm teaching for a local homeschooling co-op. Here are the lecture notes I promised all of you. Enjoy!


"confusion endurance" is the most highly distinctive trait of creative people.

Mathematics-the study of patterns of structure, change and space.

What is literalism?

  1. a doctrine of realistic portrayal in art or literature.
  2. a disposition to interpret statements in their literal sense.
  3. a style of art portraying a subject as accurately as possible.
  4. a literalist-a person who translates text literally.

What is archetypal? Schneider used it at least 5 times in the introduction.

  1. an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype after which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.
  2. a symbol universally recognized by all.

3 Levels of Mathematics

  1. Secular Mathematics- the math of business, reckoning of quantities, taught as a servant of commerce.
  2. Symbolic Mathematics-symbols of patterns in nature (Fibonacci)
  3. Sacred Mathematics-the awareness our consciousness brings to the meaning of numbers.

Why does a circle have 360 degrees? This answer is around 4,400 years old.

The Monad-

  1. a singular metaphysical entity from which material properties are said to derive
  2. (chemistry) an atom having a valance of one
  3. (biology) a single-celled microorganism
  4. (Greek) "monas: unit "monos" alone
  5. (Pythagoreans) term for God or the first being
  6. (music) a single note or pitch
  7. an ultimate atom or simple, unextended point
  8. something ultimate and indivisible

3 principles of a circle

  1. circle is parent to all shapes
  2. circle has rotary motion (cycles: life cycles, carbon cycle, water cycle)
  3. circle encloses the most space by the smallest perimeter

The Circle represents zero as well as one. The Egyptians, Chinese, and Mayans all used the same glyph for "Light."

"Everything seeks unity. We have no need to return to a state of oneness because we are already integrated in it." -Schneider

Make sure to do the exercise on page 17 with the Pencil and can on graph paper.

Homework for next week.

Read chapter two (The Dyad) pp. 21-37, do all the exercises in the book as well as turn in your paragraph on the Fibonacci sequence.

Have fun and I'll see you on Thursday!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cutting Grocery Expenses-getting help from the Family

by Janine Bolon


I was on the phone yesterday with a client of mine. She was asking for additional advice on cutting her grocery bill for a family of three. As we discussed her buying habits, dietary needs and the needs of her family, she suddenly blurt out, "Janine, how many items do you have in your price book? I mean, how many do you buy consistently?"

My price book is the core of my system for keeping my grocery budget down and my return on dollar spent UP! (for more information on price books, read this post) As we talked it became evident where her problem was. It was with her family. My average weekly grocery needs was 36 items that we buy consistently. My client then asked, "Okay, Janine, of those items how many are required to be a certain brand?" I laughed out loud on that one. I explained that the only "brand name" item we buy in my house was a specific bar soap for the kids. "Well, that's not my issue. I have to buy 249 specific, brand-name items from the store for my family. They won't accept any generic alternatives to them."

I have to admit reader, I was stunned. I have total in my price book 92 items that I track for keeping my grocery bill down. Of those items, I track consistently 36-40 depending upon the season. This poor woman was desperately trying to cut expenses for her family but was unable to really bring the prices down on her bills due to their demands. What can she do? What can you do if you are in a similar boat? Here's the #1 way my clients handle this particular problem.

List out the (in my client's case) 249 items that are "required" name brands by your family and then check the generic costs for the same items. You know how often you have to purchase these items. Get out a pen and paper and show your family how much money a year you can save if you were to stop buying the name brand items and went with the generic. If you can't get them to agree to all the items becoming generic at least cut as many as possible from the "must have" list. Seriously, folks, for very little time you can save thousands of dollars a year with this one exercise.

Now, I can hear some of you...toilet paper, laundry detergent and shampoo are the top three items that people go NUTS if you mention pulling them away from their name brands. Please, please don't think you must give up these items, but what you DO want for your budget is to figure out which items can be switched out for generic or deleted from the grocery list altogether. Right?

When saving money, make sure you know what it is you really want out of life and then make sure that you are spending your money on the items that truly make your life a pleasure rather than a drudgery. For one thing, you can set up a reward system for the amount of money you are saving weekly at the grocery store. The reason we work so hard to keep our bill low is we love to travel. We are currently saving for a trip to Legoland for the entire family so we have cooperation from everyone about cutting costs since we all agreed upon this financial goal.

Good luck chatting with your family about those name brands! I've found just showing them the numbers is a great way to bring about consensus.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Suze Orman- Let's put People First, Okay?


Here is a posting from a friend and fellow blogger of mine, MoneyMonk. Check out her blog, she's working always on increasing her cash flow and MoneyMonk's advice I have found to be sensible as well as down-to-earth. The other day I was wandering through her postings and happened to find this one regarding Suze Orman. MoneyMonk is a fan of Suze, but I will admit to you, right now, that I am not. I have read Suze's first and second book and after that I became less enamored of this financial coach when I started learning more and more about the financial road she has traveled and they type of advice she gave to youth. It is not in line with my own philosophy. 'Nough said.

There are many roads to financial stability. Find the one that works for you and your purpose in life. Make sure that the financial coach you are using whether it be David Bach, Robert Kyosaki, Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey or someone else has a lifestyle and philosophy that is close to what you want for yourself. Otherwise the advice will not jive with where you want to go in your later years. MoneyMonk does a great job at defining just this point....

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I was watching the "Can I afford it?" segment on The Suze Orman Show, last Friday. A caller called in, he was 68 years old. He wanted to buy his wife (of 40 years) a trip around the world that cost about $30,000 for their 40th wedding anniversary.I got a quick snap of their finances, I cannot remember his exact numbers, but I did see that the couple had no debt, some savings, and roughly about $280,000+ saved in retirement.

Suze denied him because they did not have 8 months of savings. Blah humbug!Look Suze, The man is retired!! 68 years old, not sure if they had children, but I'm sure he and his wife after 40 years of marriage went through a lot of ups and downs. Let them enjoy their lives a little.Being 68, he faces no penalty for withdrawing money from retirement. After all he wife deserves a trip after 40 years of marriage. Tomorrow is not promised. They are not sloppy with their money because they did not have any debt.What's $30,000 if they have 6 figures saved? I would have approved him, simply because being married that long is something to celebrate. I cannot imagine the look on his wife face when her husband told her they cannot afford it.

Suze, retirement is suppose to be enjoyed. This is their time. Let them have it.Suze, what ever happened to PEOPLE FIRST?

I'm a fan of the show, but I am mad at you on this one.
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Folks, just be careful out there with the information you are given regarding your money. It is totally true that "No one cares for your money more than you do." However, it is also a statement that is used so much in the financial business that most folks ignore it and abdicate their financial decisions to an expert. You become the expert on YOUR money. Okay? Keep on reading, learning and investing. You'll end up wealthy as long as you keep saving and staying out of debt. Hang in there and have a great week.

Lastly, Thanks to MoneyMonk for letting me post her work. By the way, MoneyMonk and I don't agree on everything financial either, but she lives her talk and that earns major points in my book! LOL! Give her blog a look for a fresh perspective on money.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Save Money in your 401(k)


Okay, now that I have your attention. Please disregard this title. I found an article in a highly circulated newspaper (I will NOT say which one) that sported this sort of a title and I immediately read the article to find out what financial nincompoop (I'm sorry, I can't be kind on this one) would actually advise in this economy NOT to save. Well, after you read the article you find out that the advice is sound if you have a 401(k) that is in certain types of fund, with lower than average rates managed by certain individuals. All-in-all less than 1% of Americans would have benefited from this advice.

I was on the phone that very afternoon with one of my fellow financial writers and I was venting about this particular article. In the middle of full rant, Liz stops me and says, "Janine! These are the types of titles that get eyeballs, okay?!" Oh. Right. Sigh. Yes, I know. These are the sorts of catchy-in-your-face types of headlines that will attempt to induce folks to read.

However, what I have found in my clients is that most of them don't read the full article to see if the advice applies to them and they end up calling me and telling me how they have pulled money from their long-term savings vehicles and what gold mine should they invest in. (Truth! I lie to you not on this one. Actual phone call!)

My advice to you, frugal friend, is this. Read the articles. See if this advice really applies to your personal situation. Whatever you do, don't invest in gold mines or other such high-risk ventures unless you have money you don't mind losing. Sure you could hit it big, but you could lose it all too. You know what my grandpa used to call high-risk investmenting? Gambling. Don't gamble (a.k.a. high risk investing) until you have:



  • 3-6 months of income saved

  • IRA or 401(k) is maxed out

  • 529 plans for kids' educations maxed out

That way if you lose all of your investment that is high risk you don't lose the house too. Make sense? Personally, I wouldn't advise ever going the high-risk investing route. I'm too conservative for that. My husband and I work way, way too hard for our money to gamble it. However, if that is your thing...go ahead, just be smart about it. End of lecture. I'll get off my soap box now. Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twitter Beginner's Guide - Thanks to Penny C. Sansevieri

Hey, everyone! Today we have a guest blogger! Woo-hoo. Many of you have been asking me about Tweeting, Twitter, The twitter-verse, etc. So, I thought I would have a buddy of mine write up a guide for all of you that may be a bit perplexed by all these Tweets that folks are talking about on the news as well as in daily conversation.

Penny Sansevieri is a dear friend of mine (everytime we are in the same city we go out to lunch to "catch up!") as well as my book agent (yes, it is possible!) and I learned so much from her in a 30 minute conversation about Twitter, I thought I would let her have the "floor" in letting you know her tricks and tips on working with this interesting, unique platform. These tips work well for the person who just wants to stay in touch with friends as well as for the businessperson wishing to extend their marketing model. Enjoy!

Twitter: A Beginner's Guide
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There's a hot new trend going on right now and it's called micro-blogging. So what's a micro-blog? And moreover, what's Twitter? Twitter is a micro-blogger platform that allows users to create entries that are only 140 characters in length. These entries are referred to as "tweets". Originally designed to keep friends and family up to date on what you're doing, Twitter can also be a great place to share your latest book project, promotional ideas as well as interacting with fellow tweets (folks who twitter) and writers. And yes, you can have a blog and a Twitter page. I have both but I feed my blog into my Twitter site so that my Twitter page gets updated each time I add new content to my blog. There's an easy application to add your blog feed to Twitter, it takes just minutes to do. Head on over to: Twitterfeed, http://twitterfeed.com/. Don't feel bad if the first time you go to Twitter it seems like a mess of conversation, most people feel confused when they first enter Twitter-land and many don't see the point.


When I made my first entrance into micro-blogging none of it made sense to me. It seems a bit useless to be honest but then I got the hang of it and saw the real benefit to having and managing a Twitter account. That's really the key. Much like any social media tool we've discussed it's more than just having an account: you have to manage it too. But give yourself a little time on Twitter before you give up on it, at some point it'll either all make sense or it won't. Either way you're only out a few hours and, perhaps, a few informational tweets. Here's a quick start up guide to getting into the Twitterverse today:
1) To sign up for a Twitter account just go to www.twitter.comand complete their short sign up form. Accounts are free of course, you just have to fill out their form. Remember to brand yourself! This is important. Once you create a Twitter account you can't go back and change your name so find something that works for you. Maybe it's fictionwriter or businesswriter or whatever you want. My Twitter page is @bookgal, (note that all Twitter names are preceded by an @ when referenced on the site; you can also find me at http://twitter.com/bookgal) this is fun play on words for what I do (and what I love). I don't recommend that you use an underscore (so stay away from Michael_the_writer) since underscores can be tough to remember, and if someone is trying to tweet to you from their cell phone or blackberry those underscore keys can be tricky.
2) The email address you use for Twitter is important. Because of the nature of frequent communication on this site I recommend that you use an email that you check daily. Opportunities abound on Twitter and they're usually in the form of direct messages (DM) which you'll get notified of in your email account.
3) Get rid of the brown square: no one wants to follow an ugly brown square (which is the default picture Twitter gives you when you sign up) so be sure and upload a picture of yourself or whatever logo you want associated with your Twitter page and brand. Before you do this though check out some of the other pictures folks have used and see what resonates. Because you're easily branded to your picture on Twitter I don't recommend changing it once you've uploaded it. Also, the picture can't be too complex, you want to be able to see it small which is how most of the avatars show up.
4) All about you: don't forget to add your bio and web site. It's important to identify yourself on this site and remember if your Twitter followers want to know more about you they're likely to click on the bio info to get more background on you.
Now you're ready to start tweeting!

Once you have a Twitter account you can immediately enter into the conversation. You can also keep up with other people's tweets by "following" them. Their micro-blog entries will show up on your Twitter home page so you can easily keep track of them. You can also be notified by phone (text message) when they add a tweet. You can twitter from anywhere, even your phone. I've been known to twitter from my blackberry.
Why on Earth Would you Want to Twitter?

When Twitter first started, people were a little perplexed and, as I mentioned before, many first time Tweets just don't get it. I mean why on earth would you want to blog in 140 characters? Well since the site emerged in 2006, it's grown enormously in popularity. With Twitter pages from sites like CNN and every one of the political candidates, the site's popularity can't be overstated. Nor can its applications for the future. Also, even if you don't have a ton of people following your tweets, keep in mind that Twitter search sites are popping up everywhere. This means that if you tweet using keywords that matter to your reader/market, you could be found and followed! For one such search site check out: http://summize.com/ (there are numerous other ways to search and new ones popping up all the time). Also, if you're trying to gauge the popularity of a certain word or phrase and how often it's being used or referred to, you can head on over to Tweet Volume and find out, http://www.tweetvolume.com/. Just plug in your search term or terms and up will pop a list of results!
They key with Twitter isn't to land on the site and say "What can this site do for me" but rather ask yourself, "What can I do for the folks on this site?" For example, when I started Twittering on other helpful blogs and websites and linking to my own articles that I'd syndicated on the 'Net my followers doubled and tripled on a daily basis. When I plug in my keywords and respond a few times a day to questions people pose on Twitter and offer helpful advice, my followers increase again. One of the other things I did on the site was log onto Socialtoo.com and used the site to autofollow anyone who follows me, this site also sends a welcome message to everyone with a free download of Twitter tips. This helps me capture email addresses who will then become a part of our email newsletter readership.
Twitter Tricks

There's a little something on Twitter called @replies, these are replies written to a specific person. So, for example if someone were commenting on one of my tweets they might say "I liked that link @bookgal" and that will immediately pop up on my @replies Twitter page. You should always (or whenever possible or appropriate) respond to @replies.
Hash tags: this # (hashtag) symbol is a great way to bring even more exposure to your topic, especially something that's making the news. Recently there was a lot of dialog on Twitter about #queryfail, which was a site dedicated to posting the worst query letters. If you post a tweet on Twitter and decide to hashtag it, meaning you put a # before the keyword, you could explode the topic on Twitter if enough people are searching for it.
Repeat, repeat: because there's so much noise on Twitter it's ok to repeat your tweets. I will generally repeat them once a week or every two weeks depending on the nature of the post. I use a service called Postlater.com to recycle and repurpose content on Twitter. Let's face it, there's only so much you can see in a day so when you really start to build followers they may not get to all your posts, reposting and repeating is ok, just don't overdo it.
Retweeting: also called RT - this is a cool way to engage and connect with others in your market. If you see a post you like RT it, it's easy to do via Tweetdeck.com which I'll describe more in the next paragraph.
Engaging on Twitter

One thing that's important to note about Twitter is that while it's great for sharing info, it's also all about personal connections which is why I encourage you to respond to @replies and DM's. Join in the conversation, start a conversation or answer someone's question. There's a lot of debate about whether to follow everyone that follows you but I always do, not just out of courtesy but if they've followed me, they are likely in my industry and may at some point have a question. That's where Tweetdeck.com comes in. This nifty little program gives you a much more global overview of your Twitterverse. You can show all your @replies, DM's but you can also do searches based on keywords or # hashtags. That way, whenever a question pops up you can answer, it's easily spotted.
What on Earth will you Talk about?

You know I didn't know either when I first started, it was really up to me to figure out what my followers wanted and in my case, they wanted information. Lots of it. So I gave them what they wanted. Once you figure out what your followers want you'll find your stride on Twitter. Maybe you're just sharing insights about the writing life or publishing information, helping other writers. Does this sell books? Sure it does. Helping others will no doubt spotlight what you do as well so don't make it all about you. If you're still confused about what to talk about consider this. Let's say you're at a cocktail party, would you walk up to a group of people and say "Hi, my name is Sam and my book is awesome, please buy it?" I didn't think so. Your Internet conversations should be viewed as a cocktail party/networking event.

So how do you know it's working? With all the twitter about, well, Twitter, how do you really know this stuff is working? Well, you'll know when you know. Trust me on this. The first few weeks I was on there I thought very little of it, then as I started to engage, interact and see my stuff getting retweeted and then also adding followers like crazy, that's when I realized I was onto something. In the past four months I've gotten four speaking gigs, around ten media and guest blogging opportunities and a dozen new client inquiries. Twitter works if you work it. When you do, well, the results will be worth retweeting about!

=================

Thanks so much, Penny! I really appreciate you giving us your advice and expertise on this micro-blogging platform from the Internet. If you would like to learn more cool tips from Penny on a variety of marketing topics for the world wide web, be sure to sign up for her newsletter on www.amarketingexpert.com and don't forget to follow her funny and informative blog at: http://amarketingexpert.com/ameblog/ 

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fear of Failure with Money. Battle the Beast and Win!

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have had a striving good enough to be called a failure.
-George Eliot

Dealing with the emotion of Fear is a BIG issue in life, and nowhere more so than in money matters. Many of my students over the years have known that this one emotion is THE sentiment that keeps them and money from having a productive relationship. You know that you need money to get by in life, and many folks tell me that they only want enough money to feel "comfortable." And they don't want to have more than their "fair share." But this emotion, Fear, is what always seems to be keeping their dreams at bay. It keeps them from acting when they should, sometimes forces them to act when they shouldn't, and generally prevents them from thinking and learning when they can. They are held hostage to their fear and are unable to make the changes necessary to better their financial lives.

There are many faces of Fear. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and times. There are times when fear is like a quiet nagging voice that won't shut up when you're trying to bring some control to your financial life. At other times it is the five-pound block of ice sitting in your belly as you look at the overdue bills on your desk and wonder how they can be paid on time—or maybe at all. It might be the sharp stabbing pain of realization that you just allowed a check to bounce, and it was for the rent. No matter what form Fear takes, there is one aspect that is consistent in all of its varieties: Fear is debilitating. It robs you of your reason and your will power, usually just when you need them the most. Worse yet, Fear in managing your money often seeps out to poison other areas of your life with Fear.

Fear is not only a big emotion, it is also quite complex. To fight it, to beat it, we need to understand the several faces of Fear so that we can form a plan of attack for each one in turn. Let's break up the emotion of Fear so that we can better deal with its hydra-headed nature. There are four major areas where fear hits us and leaves us feeling like we have had a sharp blow to the gut.

The Fear of Failure
The Fear of Inadequacy
The Fear of Ridicule
The Fear of the Unknown


Each one of these aspects of Fear is constantly working in our heads, individually and in combination, to keep us from living to our true potential. We have limitless abilities. (Ask any metaphysician!) Scientists say that we use only about 10% of our native brain power. So, we should have plenty of available mental resource to achieve our short-term goals and our long-term dreams. However, the insidious power of Fear crushes hope and leaves us sitting at our desks just wanting to curl into the fetal position and shut out the world. (Does anyone else assume this instinctive, protective position during stress, or is it just me?) Well, let's win our lives back from Fear, shall we? First off, let's deal with the biggest Fear most of my readers have on the wealth accumulation path, the Fear of Failure.


Numerous books have discussed the Fear of Failure. How to overcome it. How to live with it. How to feel it and live life anyway! I have chosen to address this topic in a slightly different vein. Rather than dealing with Fear head-on as most books do, we are going to sneak up on it by using the weapon of positive perspective. Okay? Fear and Creativity are tied together hand in hand. They both exist in balance. It makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, if the human race is to evolve, individuals and societies have got to try new stuff. However, it can't be so radical that it wipes out the whole clan with one stupid stunt, right? So, it is natural that Fear and Creativity are walking side-by-side. Because of this intimate relationship, one of the biggest barriers to humans achieving greatness in their lives has been produced.


Let me define a bit here so that we're understanding one another. Each person on this planet has a spectrum of gifts and talents that is totally unique. I don't care what your first-grade teacher told you or what your Uncle Clyde or Aunt Rosy says, you have a purpose on this Earth that only you can fulfill. Unfortunately, purpose alone does not achieve any prize. Such prizes are attained only when a powerful purpose is tackled with ambition, passion, and a willingness to accept some setbacks along the way. The road to success is paved in failure. The main difference between successful people and individuals who are viewed as failures is that the winners kept on trying until they succeeded, no matter how long it took or how hard the struggle seemed. Right now, it is your fear of failure that is likely the major obstacle keeping you from stepping out and grasping at that brass ring of "Purpose." Fear of Failure stops many people from even trying. Sad, isn't it? Many folks don't even try. They shrug their shoulders and walk away, accepting a life of getting by. Well, since you're still reading, I'm going to assume that you are in a different category.

To read more of this chapter please follow this link (http://curingyourcashcrisis.com/index.php?title=Chapter_Four:_Fear) so that you can add your comments and ideas. I'm in the middle of working on book number five on money issues called, Curing Your Cash Crisis, where the issues of money must be dealt with first and then your money issues fall into place. I would appreciate your participation. Thanks! Have an abundant summer.

Janine

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Car Insurance, Umbrella Policies, Teen Drivers, Oh My!


Hi Janine,


Can I bother you for a question about car insurance?


We are just raised the liability insurance on our cars to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Since we have two teen drivers and about $130,000 of equity in our house, we wonder if you would recommed an umbrella policy. Although an umbrella policy is only $200 or $300 more per year, it will actually double our annual premiums because it will require us to raise our liability to $250 per person and $500,000 per accident.
Thanks for your help,

Amber

---------------
Dear Amber:


I'm glad to help you, but this is really not my area of expertise. I've chatted it over with my husband, Brad and he and I recommend the following.


1) An umbrella policy is CHEAP insurance if someone sues you. I can't remember are you in CA or VA? Or am I TOTALLY off? Anyhow, depending upon where you live and how suit (spelling?) happy folks are...you make the call.


2) Shop around for umbrella policies. Brad and I were both surprised that you would have your premiums go up on your car insurance while getting an umbrella policy too? Weird.


We have had umbrella policies for years and with three different companies and have not had that "required" from us. (the increase in premiums that is.) Now, we had to increase our deductibles, but not the premiums for the car insurance. Okay?


Again, we are NOT experts. This is just advice from one friend to another and I wish you much luck as you insure your family. It truly is a crazy reality when you're dealing with the world of insurance, but it is totally worth it with your first financial crisis! Right? Hang in there and know I'm cheering for you!


Wishing you and yours much Abundance,

Janine


P.S. If any of you wonderful readers have additional pointers or advice for Amber, please post your comments. What sort of experiences have you folks had with umbrella policies? Thanks!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Defusing the Explosive Combinations of Anger and Money

Today's post is an excerpt from the book, Curing Your Cash Crisis. To get a full view of the chapter's contents follow the link at the bottom of this post. Here is a bit of a preview for you!

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I think it would be good for me to start this chapter by defining what I mean by Anger. The most straightforward definition I could find for this strong emotion was:

Anger is a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance.

Another definition that I have used for years, which is drawn from the philosophical side of life, is:

Anger is an emotion aroused when an expectation is not met.

This second version is my favorite definition for Anger because it perfectly flows from the experiences I’ve had with clients (and in my own life) as we have walked the journey from scarcity to abundance. Anger is the side effect of our expectations being thwarted, most especially when we feel that we were fully justified in having those expectations. Then Anger really gets juiced up.

The purpose of this post is to help you talk about money without becoming angry. Now, you may say to me, “But Janine, I never get angry when I talk about money.” Okay, I believe you. But is that same rational response employed by your spouse? Your ex-spouse? Your parents? Are all the people in your life with whom you discuss money as calm about it? If you can respond "Yes," then feel free to move on to another financial blog. However, before you jump sites, please pause for a moment and answer one more question for me.

Do you talk about money?

You might ask, "Why do I need to consider this question, Janine?" Simple. The ability to objectively think—and act—on this subject is a fundamental requirement for abundant living (in all respects of the term "abundant," and not just money). I have actually had people tell me, after learning that I was a financial coach, “Oh, well, that sounds really interesting. My husband and I never talk about money. All it does is make us upset.” Some of these folks had been married for 20 years or more and had NEVER discussed money! How does that work exactly? I was blown away by the many lost opportunities for these couples to have obtained financial stability in their lives, because of a simple inability to even talk about a basic activity in their everyday lives.

Even if you are not the one who gets angry when discussing money, how about hanging in with me just a wee bit longer, Why? Because you are needed. That’s right. If you are the one that stays calm while discussing money, you have a tremendous opportunity to assist others who need help to heal themselves from the Anger in their lives that is the result of the monetary stresses. When you have a discussion about money where the other person starts to get angry, use the questions below to help them find their money-related emotional triggers that are keeping them from progressing.

Now, if you are the person who becomes Angry when discussing, reading, or learning about money issues, here are some questions to help you find out why this destructive emotion is popping up in your monetary life. When Anger hits, here are the things to ask yourself after you’ve done the breathing exercises to calm yourself and return your mind to a state of "Think."

  • Why am I angry?
  • When did I get angry?
  • Are there certain key words or phrases that set me off?
  • Do I need to use a "Retract?"
  • Do I really want to hang onto my Anger?
Read more...

Discussion and comments are listed on www.curingyourcashcrisis.com
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The next chapter will be posted after the 4th of July holiday. (That is for we US of A - types.) To my British readers, sorry to bring it up! I wish everyone a fabulous fortnight (plus a few days) and I'll chat with you again soon.

Janine

Monday, June 8, 2009

Is Guilt Keeping You from True Abundance & Wealth?

Guilt

Guilt is the emotion that pops up in my workshops first and foremost. Guilt has no real function but to inflict pain on the person who feels it. In short, Guilt about past money mistakes causes folks the most distress. Over the years I have noticed a pattern with participants as they first walk into a financial seminar. They usually enter very quietly with their shoulders slumped, looking like they’ve just been beaten with a mental baseball bat. The expressions on many of their faces seem to be saying:

Let’s get this over with. I know I’m an idiot for being in this financial mess, and I need to be punished for not knowing how to handle money.”

 

How did I ever get this deep into debt? I’m such a loser, I don’t deserve wealth, or happiness.”

 

This wacko lady can't help me. It’s probably just another scam I’ve been suckered into. She’s probably going to tell me there is no hope for someone stuck where I am.”

 

I should have never listened to my spouse and come here. There is absolutely no way anyone can help me get out of this hole.”

 

As I watch person after person walk into the room, it is amazing how much Guilt they bring with them. It is like they have a 50-pound sack of flour on their back and they don’t see how anyone can help relieve them of their burden. Not only that, but some of them have become so used to the burden that they have actually forgotten that they neither want or deserve it; letting go of the Guilt is threatening, because it represents a change in the normal emotional outlook, and many people think that change is painful! Is that how you are feeling right now about your own financial situation? If so, then let’s work on getting you to stand up straight and drop that unhelpful bag of Guilt.

The first question I have to ask you is, “Are you willing to put the bag down?” Most are not, even after you become aware of the burden and learn to recognize what it represents. Why? Because you may think you deserve this guilt. We need to convince your mind that you really are worth forgiving. Yes, you are. No matter what choices you’ve made. No matter how much debt you owe. No matter how desperate you were to run from emotional anguish by buying unneeded stuff. You are a person who is worth saving. You are worth forgiving. The challenging part is getting your stubborn mind and your long-standing habit of self-castigation to agree with what your heart already knows. You are a person that is worth forgiving. Money mistakes, no matter how major, are minor in the great scheme of things.

To read more on this emotion which comprises Chapter Two of my new book, visit www.curingyourcashcrisis.com

I look forward to your comments!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Curing Your Cash Crisis, The War has begun!

The War (Chapter One of the new book) has begun! As of two days ago, I posted the first chapter along with the Introduction for folks to comment on.

Here is your chance to ask any money question and have it answered! [as long as you don’t ask me how to invest your savings! (I’m aware of how to make and use money, but I have no certification in Financial Planning so I can’t “go” there with you.)] However, what I CAN do is answer all the other hundreds of basic questions buzzing through your brain!

What other reason should you care about this project? You get a free book out of the deal! That's right! I will make sure that you receive a free electronic copy of the final book. Not only do you get to comment and review each chapter as it comes out, thus helping you to get started digging out of your own personal economic recession, but you will receive a copy of the completed book after it is edited and ready for publication! My publisher is pushing for a September 2009 deadline.

Isn’t this the coolest thing? I am so excited to be able to open up this opportunity to the whole frugal community.

What do you need to do? Pop over to http://www.curingyourcashcrisis.com/ to review chapter one, The War.  There will be buttons on the page that will allow you to comment or ask questions; I and my editor(s) will make sure that the answers to the most universal and helpful questions will appear somewhere within the final book. Thanks for taking part in the building of a book to bring the emotional side of money into sharp focus.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Step 10 to Abundance: Relax! Breathe! You will gain control of your finances!

Here we are on the final step to Abundance. I've done my best to give you the Reader's-Digest-Condensed-version of the systems used by wealthy people to bring their finances under their control rather than bbeing controlled by them.

Here is kind of a quick list that I use in my seminars and workshops to help bring all the main points together and assist you in the step-to-step walk to abundance.



  1. Write down your eulogy, goals and purpose statement. Review your goals daily.

  2. Track all your expenses for three months.

  3. Open your savings accounts (both long term and short term)

  4. Implement the 60/40 principle with money that is NOT your paycheck.

  5. Live within your means, always. If you don't have the cash to buy it, don't.

  6. Invest in yourself. Learn how money grows. Totally understand compound interest!

  7. Declutter your purse, wallet, car, house, garage, and storage units.

  8. Learn a new skill once a month, make June's skill be the use of a Price Book.

  9. Keep learning, read a financial book once every six months.

  10. Relax! Take a deep breath! Rome wasn't built in a day. Know that the steady effort wins this race.


The most important fact about the wealth accumulation lifestyle is this: It is a race that is a marathon, not a sprint. Make daily efforts to gain control of your financial life. Don't try to change everything ALL at once. Do a little something every day and over the course of 5-9 years you will see that you have totally altered your financial life for the better.

Now...those are the basic principles to wealth. All 10 of them. What is next? Time to deal with the emotional barriers that you are putting up to prevent you from becoming rich. Wander over to the website Curing Your Cash Crisis and see the first chapter of the new book I'm writing. I want your participation so this books helps you and as many people as possible in the financial journey out of debt and into wealth.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Step 9 to Abundance: Splitting Money to Pay Down Debt and Increase Savings

Okay, folks, we're about done with this "Path to Abundance Program." Step 8 demonstrated the three areas where money is submitted to keep the cycle of cash flowing into your life rather than away from you. How do you utilize this knowledge to bring cash into your world? There is a simple system that will allow you to pay off debt while at the same time increase your savings account balance. It is called the 60/40 Principle. It is the system that I used to get my family out of debt and eventually we moved from being middle class to millionaires over a 7 year period. Here are the basics:

This concept is the main rule that governs the flow of money in our lives. If you implement the 60 / 40 principle on any money you receive, you will immediately see your savings account start growing while your debt load decreases. If your debts are great, start only with money that is not part of your income, such as birthday money, rebates, unexpected cash from part-time employment, your change jar, your bonus from work, a tax refund check, whatever; you get the idea. You allocate money in this way by the 60 / 40 principle:



  1. 60% you live on. This goes into your main checking account.

  2. 10% goes into a long-term savings vehicle (IRA, 401k, Keogh account, solo 401k) for retirement. If you don't currently have a retirement account of any kind open two savings accounts at your bank. (One for long term and one for short term savings)

  3. 10% goes into a short-term savings account (local bank or a money market account) for use in those occasional large-scale expenses (new tires) and emergencies (the water heater explodes).

  4. 10% is tithed to a church or secular charity that is in line with your purpose. This is your ''rent'' for occupying space on the planet.

  5. 10% is pure philanthropy. That's right, you just give it away for the benefit of the community at large. This primes the pump so that the Universe starts sending wealth your way.



Once you have retired your debts, you apply the 60 / 40 principle to all your money, including your income, to keep money flowing in your life. Should you have any questions or comments please post them. I'll do my best to answer you quickly. Next week will be the final step to the Path to Abundance. Then we will move on to Curing Your Cash Crisis....stay tuned.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day! A Thank You to all the men and women who serve their countries.

I have to pause for a moment in our "Step to Abundance" Program to thank a few million people! Yep, that's right. Today is Memorial Day in the US and, to me, that means a day to reflect on the millions of people that have died throughout history fighting for what they believed in. I know that I was born an American, but I have really always considered myself a Child of Earth. I've always seen the world as my family and so it is sometimes hard for me to limit my love, consideration and reflection to only one country. Maybe this is due to the fact that I spent most of my youth outside of the United States of America. My dad was a Seabee in the Navy and so I got to be in many, cool countries growing up.

Because of this, I have a warped perspective (as some have told me). I see the world as my family and have an irritating habit (to some) of not using the "appropriate" terms of "us-and-them" correctly. You see, we live on a tiny rock in space. We are free falling through said space and the one major thing that keeps us all together is the gravity of the Sun. (You KNEW I was going to have to bring Science into this a wee bit!) When you see the pictures of our beautiful planet hovering is a sea of black, you can't help but be inspired by the fragility of it and the desire to keep it beautiful.

Happy Memorial Day to all the men and women who serve their countries at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. Know that I take a few moments today and think about the shear number of people that really means. A special "thank you" to my dad, Jim, Nina, John and Erica. I love you guys.

Wishing all of you a safe and inspiring Memorial Day,

Janine

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Step 8 to Abundance: Understanding the Flow of Money

Okay, you've been working on your eulogy. You've got a vision for "why" you are saving money and digging yourself out of debt at the same time. You have purpose. And lastly, you have started tracking your expenses. Now, comes the time to pull all this together. Time for you to put the Flow of Money into perspective.
One reason money may have not been working well for you is due to your ignorance of how it works or "flows" in and out of your life. Don't worry, this is NOT something they teach in any school. As important as the Law of Attraction and the Flow of Money are these principles are so basic, most folks don't give them any thought until their money issues reach up and bite them!
Money is not linear. It does not flow like a stream from the mountains to the plains in a fairly downhill line. It is circular. Money moves in a HUGE circle. So large, in fact, that most of us don't comprehend the size of the circle until we are actively engaged in making the circle move faster for us.
Here is how it works: the flow of money is split into three large sections that move around our lives in a curved path.

  1. The Living Arm of money is the path most of us know about intimately. It is where all the expenses are located and it usually takes up 110% of our income. Yep, we spend beyond our means in this category.

  2. The Saving Arm of money is the least known path for Americans. We really stink at saving money. The Chinese and Japanese so have us beat in this area! Of the entire US Population, only 2% saves money. Yikes!

  3. The Giving Arm of money is actually well done by Americans. We are a very giving country, but the reason we don't benefit like we could by this movement of money is due to our inconsistency of giving. We donate here, there and everywhere, but in a very sporadic way. This does not help keep the flow of money going. Consistency is the key here.

To get money moving in your life you need to have cash flowing to all three arms of money at the same time. That is why it is impossible to pay off your debt first and THEN save money. You must save money and pay off your debt at the SAME time.

Now that you know how money flows, you'll be able to use that knowledge to funnel cash into the areas of your life that will bring a return. The next post will deal with the actual mechanics (read: details) of how to make that happen. Step 9 to Abundance is the 60/40 Principle!

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Step 7 to Abundance: Using The Law of Cause and Effect for Positive Purposes

This principle that the Universe will fill the Voids we create in our lives, and do so in kind, is well known.  It goes by many names and is said in various ways.  You’ve probably heard most of these depending upon your cultural or religious background.  Some alternate versions are:


 


“The Law of Cause and Effect”


“The Law of the Harvest”


 “What you sow, that you shall reap.”


 “What goes around comes around.”


“Birds of a feather flock together.”


“To him that has, more shall be given.”


“Like begets like.”


 “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”


 


Despite the near-universal acceptance of this well-known law, people still have difficulty implementing it when they need something or when they see that others are in need. When you’re serving the needs of others it seems that the Universe goes to work overtime to get you what you need so that you can succeed.  Yes, you still have to do your part and work like crazy while you move toward your goal, but you have to do that anyway, right?  So why not rope the Universe into helping you out as well? Use the Law of Cause and Effect to do good in your particular corner of the world. How do you do it? Easy. What you give away will come back to you, just like a boomerang. (We can go into the physics of that in a later post!)




  • If you live in fear of starving, give food away (I have a family member that has 25# sacks of rice under her bed because not having enough food is one of her issues. I've learned so many tricks of how to store food in unconventional ways from this woman!



  • If you are afraid of being homeless, offer your house as a place to stay to someone in need.



  • If you think you worry about not enough clothes for yourself or your children, give away clothes.



  • Lastly, if you really want more money in your life, guess what? That's right. Start giving it away. Give as much away as you can without straining the budget for rent, food, tuition and insurance payments. You get the idea. There is money in your life that you can give away without putting your family out on the street. If this is NOT the case...if you are really in that dire situation where you can't even afford food, then get thee to a food bank and start receiving aid. Why? You need to swallow the pride and accept help so that you can get to where you are more stable financially. Then, and only then, can you move into abundance. I'll rant and rave more on this topic in a later post.



Remember what the late Sam Walton (co-founder of WalMart) told me about the secret of success in business is to replicate yourself.  This principle holds true for money as well.  Sure, the Universe isn’t one of your employees, but so what?  A helping hand (or whatever the Universe provides) is still a helping hand.  Consider what it is that you are afraid of and then fight that fear by giving what you need to others. It is a beautiful expression of the saying, "What goes around, comes around."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Step 6 to Abundance (Part 2) Disposable Products True Cost

by Janine Bolon

Well, I was a bit surprised by the number of comments that flooded my email inbox, Facebook account and twitter direct messaging regarding this topic so we're going to chat about it for a bit longer.



First off, please, please everyone stop beating yourself up, okay? Stop with the guilt and self-flagellation on this. We are all here learning how to become financially independent. You are going to make mistakes, have challenges and meet resistance (both internally and externally) as you move along this road to debt-free living. Here is a sample of some of the comments made by folks that demonstrates many of the emails I've received.

"I know I waste money on paper towels. I'll go forever, not buy any and then get desperate and buy some. My kids and hubby go through them so fast that I then stop buying them again. I just need to go out and buy a bunch of dishtowels. Thanks for the reminder."


"I'm willing to do without paper towels, just don't mess with my toilet paper budget."

"Please, please don't ask me to give up my Charmin! I don't want my wife to read your post."

I find it funny that so many folks immediately start thinking about toilet paper whenever I mention disposable products! LOL. As one reader said, she'd tried to save money by having her family use the old Sears catalog trick, but they rebelled. (heavy tongue-in-cheek here!) Then the next item on the list of questions from readers was, what did my family use two-ply paper or one ply. I was inundated with questions about toilet paper. I had several husbands (3 to be exact) email me and beg me NOT to tell their wives about the costs because they have preferences for their bathroom tissue and they can't stand the generic brands. Toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper!!!

Look, this is the thing folks. Don't worry about what brand you use of ANY disposable paper, plastic or cleaning product. Just know the amount of money that you are throwing away on a daily basis. Then make a decision as to the cost/benefit ratio. Is it worth it to you to have a specific brand of toilet paper? If the answer is yes, well then buy it...you have my permission. LOL.

Make the sacrifices that you can comfortably live with and then save money somewhere else in your frugal life. There are thousands of ways to save money in this tightwad lifestyle. Use the other 999 ways to save money and stick to buying the bathroom tissue that is your favorite! Yikes! I had no idea that we would open up such a can of worms on this tip. Although, I thank every single one of you for emailing me. By the way, my husband totally agreed with you guys! DON'T mess with a man's favorite bathroom tissue. We're treading on sacred ground here. (Sorry, but I can't keep laughing from the shear PASSION this tip unearthed!) Your many emails let me know that you were reading the blog and that is good. Keep reading and you'll learn more than just money tips, you'll learn the mindset that keeps you walking the path to financial freedom.

Okay, now let's talk about all the other disposable products that are used in common households, not just the passionate issue of toilet paper. LOL. (Sorry, I'll try not to giggle anymore, but the response really has me giddy. It was so unexpected.) As I run through the list, just see which ones you can really do without and which ones that you make a goal to eliminate from your household budget. Alright? No panic attacks here. Remember this frugal life is all about saving money in places that won't make you feel deprived!



  • Paper towels - buy kitchen towels and store a whole STACK under your sink for daily use.


  • Napkins - buy cloth and launder


  • Plastic flatware - buy a BUNCH of flatware from the thrift store for pennies and take that with you on your outings, picnics and potlucks. If it is lost or left, no biggie.


  • Paper/disposable cups - again, the thrift store is a treasure trove of coffee mugs, unwanted tea cups and glassware. When we picnic out or go to potlucks my family wraps our drinking dishes in those linen towels from the kitchen. We've not had a breakage yet. Now, be sensible...around the pool or on the beach...of course, use reusable plastic cups.


  • Cleaning wands, sweepers and other house cleaning disposable products - I tried the new Clean-all-dust-mop-thingy when it first came out because I had a store coupon and I bought it on double coupon day and it only cost me $5 instead of the $20 it was going for. I could also write it off as a business expense because I was testing it for my "readers." Well, that thing DID NOT clean as well as my dust mop that has the removable cotton head that I just throw into my washing machine. Actually, it left stuff behind that my other dust mop was able to pick up. Really look at your housecleaning goodies, how many now languish in the back closet never being used after you realized that your broom did just as well, thank you, and doesn't cost you "pennies" every time you use it? Get rid of them and clear out that closet.


  • Trash bags - when we moved into our current house I went to the thrift store and bought bathroom sized trash cans for various rooms of the house. I even use the little bathroom trash can for my kitchen. I do this so I can use plastic bags given free at the store as liners. Sure, sure...I do use canvas bags for shopping, but when my trash can liners run low, I'm using the freebie bags. Now, I have a few things many people do not. Colorado is very big on the whole GO GREEN thing and we have an amazing recycling program here in Boulder County. Our curbside trash can is 1/2 the size of what you normally see! No lie. See the picture below. Also, every family has a variety of different trash and maybe this system won't work for you. However, it is just another way to save on a normal expense. There are ways to creatively get around most expenditures. Why did I ever come up with this? Well, it was when I was pregnant with kid number four. I couldn't lift the kitchen sized trash bags when I was as big as a whale. My husband traveled a lot and my other kids were also too tiny to handle the job. My answer...use tiny trash cans and smaller bags. Then I could make multiple trips to the trash, but hey, I could at least LIFT the silly thing. That's when it struck me that I was also saving money.


I hope this helps you out. Continue to do little things every day to keep your life simple and frugal. Give up the things you can, buy generic when you can and purchase the items that make a difference in your life. No guilt here. Just be conscious of what your buying and how much life energy it costs you. Good luck and, guys, keep those emails coming. I'll try to protect you from an overzealous wife. Remember, she just want you to retire early!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Step 6 to Abundance: Examine Your Use of Disposable Products

by Janine Bolon

Sometimes you just have to change your buying habits in order to get the best value for your money. I had one client, Linda, tell me that she was having difficulty figuring out where she could cut corners in her expenses. After two months of tracking, she came to my office and worked through her monthly expense sheet. I asked her about her paper towel use. Linda would only buy one particular brand and she knew exactly how many rolls she went through a week. I showed her that she was spending $520 a year on paper towels alone. It looked like this:

4 rolls per week @ $2.50 each = $10 a week x
52 weeks per year = $520 annually

She was appalled! She said she could afford to buy a new dishwasher for that amount of money! This gave her the motivation to stop using paper towels. Immediately she went out and purchased a bunch of inexpensive linen towels. The initial investment was $12.64 for 20. Even with laundering costs she knew that she was saving huge amounts of money by not using paper towels anymore.

Look around your house and determine what behaviors you have with disposable products. See them for what they really are...money down the drain. Don't let the commercials or the marketing fool you...disposable products are not THAT more convenient to make me give up on financial independence by throwing money away!
Please remember this one important fact, the difference between the middle class and millionaires is that wealthy people are always thinking about what they can do to create their financial independence.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Step 5 to Abundance: Making a Price Book for Buying Groceries

by Janine Bolon

This is a wonderful tool to use to immediately and drastically decrease your family’s burn rate. You will see a pronounced difference in your monthly expenses, specifically your grocery bill, by using this tool then by any other means that I can recommend.
But it requires some really specialized, high priced equipment. What you will need is a three-ring binder. Then you can go out and buy an A to Z index to put in it – or get really frugal and make your own. And then fill the binder with three-hole punched notebook paper. The last item you will need is a pen or pencil. (Okay, I was kidding about the high priced equipment.)

What you are going to do is create your own price book. Amy Dacyczyn was the first author I read that described this system. Invest the 15 minutes a week required to get this program up and running and you will have a huge return on the time spent. Or, as we frugal types like to say, you will achieve a very high hourly wage for your effort!

The first thing you do is sit down with your ring binder (price book) and write down the most frequent items you buy and the prices that you normally pay off the top of your head. If you are like most of my clients, you will have no idea what you pay for most of your groceries. The next thing to do is to grab your store advertising circulars. Most folks get these in the mail or have a spouse or friend pop by the store on the way home to pick up the week’s circulars. Look over each circular and put down the sale prices of the items that you would buy that week; the most highly discounted items (the “loss leaders,” or items sold below cost to lure you into the store) and thus the best buys will be on the front and back pages.
For my family, we’re always looking for milk to hit a sale. My kids know that we won’t pay over $2 a gallon on milk. So each week we scan the circulars and find milk on sale at one of the four grocery stores we have in town. If it isn’t on sale that week, we don’t buy it. The longest we have ever had to go without milk was two weeks. Because of our price book, I learned that our stores have milk on a two-week sale cycle. I buy enough milk to last us through the two weeks as we wait for the sale to come around again. You can do the same thing with eggs, bread, bananas, or any other staple that you can name. You just have to do a few minutes of homework each week to keep your price book up to date.

Curing Your Cash Crisis...Ask Questions, Get Answers!




Greetings, Friends of Mine and Fans of Cash!

In response to those of you clamoring for me to write another book explaining the uses and abuses of money, the time has finally come to answer your pleas! The new tome is going to be called Curing Your Cash Crisis: Dealing with the Emotional Side of Money (or something like that).

However, I refuse to write this book in a vacuum. I want input from all my readers, followers, and fans, telling me what it is that you want to know. As of June 1st, SmartCents will be launching a new website that will post each chapter of the new book as I write it. On that site, you will have the opportunity to discuss each chapter, ask questions of me, and demand that I answer them within the pages of text. I will answer any question you have about money as long as you don’t ask me how to invest your savings! (I’m aware of how to make and use money, but I have no certification in Financial Planning so I can’t “go” there with you.) However, what I CAN do is answer all the other hundreds of basic questions buzzing through your brain!

What’s the bonus? For anyone who either asks a question that I can include in the new chapters or makes a constructive comment in the discussion section of the site, I will make sure that you receive a free electronic copy of the final book. That’s right! Not only do you get to comment and review each chapter as it comes out, thus helping you to get started digging out of your own personal economic recession, but you will be helping me to produce a volume that can help as many people as possible to understand the emotional traps that money matters always seem to throw our way.

Isn’t this the coolest thing? I am so excited to be able to open up this opportunity to the whole frugal community.

What do you need to do? Mark your calendar for June 1st so that you are sure to pop over to http://www.curingyourcashcrisis.com/ to review the first chapter of the book. It will be posted as of midnight on that date. There will be buttons on the page that will allow you to comment or ask questions; I and my editor(s) will make sure that the answers to the most universal and helpful questions will appear somewhere within the final book.

Just one word of caution. This book HAS to go to publication by the end of the summer. That means we only have through the end of August to play with the concepts and get all the data needed to fill its pages.

If you’ve ever had the desire to help write a book, now is your chance to get your feet wet. Come join the party and have a good time with the rest of us. See you on June 1st!

Wishing you much abundance,

Janine

Friday, May 8, 2009

Step 4 to Abundance: Tracking Down those Coins!



by Janine Bolon





Now that you have a purpose for becoming wealthy that isn't just a murky "to be rich," you can move on to making the necessary behaviorial changes that will stimulate more cash flow as well as help sharpen your focus on what you really want out of life!





It is time to start Tracking Your Expenses and Income.





Go ahead, roll your eyes and groan! All my clients and students do when I hit this stage of the lifestyle. Everyone thinks that it is SUCH a pain to track their money. Guess what? I'll let you in on a secret. I have yet to meet a millionaire that DOESN'T track their money. Seriously. Since my family became wealthy I've met a lot of other wealthy folks and I've asked them point blank,





"Hey do you track your expenses?"





"Of course!" is their response and they look at me like I have three heads.





Why? Because it is a basic principle. If you want to become wealthy so you can do what you want to do, then you have to know where your cash is going and where it is coming from. True, many millionaires have other people track their cash for them. They pay them for this service so they can get on with doing their particular missions in life.





I have first hand experience with this because in the early 90s I worked for a retired CEO of the Johnson & Johnson corporation. He was a man worth over 40 million dollars and I had the good fortune of learning from him how the rich view and handle money. It was a life lesson I never forgot because his habits were so drastically different from anyone I had ever met.





Every morning when he would walk into his office and take all the receipts of the previous day's expenditures out of his wallet and put them in a basket on my desk. At that point I would enter them into a spreadsheet under various categories. Once a week I would print off a summary sheet and he would look it over on Friday as he was in his planning meeting for the next week.





Once a month I would print a larger summary and he would look it over and discuss it with his spouse. She, too, had her own report and the questions I would hear them ask one another were like these:



  • So, how did we do this month, honey?

  • What unexpected expenses did we have this month? (You will learn as you do this activity that there is NEVER a normal month and there is ALWAYS an unexpected expense!

  • Are we happy with the way we spent our money?

  • Is there anything we need to change or save up for?

  • Do we want to do anything different?


In these meetings there was no judgement of one another as each read through their list and studied the money flow. Why? Because they both wanted to spend their money in ways that moved their purposes forward. They were heavy into philanthropy. Any money they spent on themselves meant less money for their favorite charities (they had 3 they started and funded).



They enjoyed their money. They had nice cars and they went on vacations, but the focus of their money was funding their charities. They made sure what money they did spend on themselves was in self-education/improvement. This millionaire once told me, "Yeah, I finally bought myself a Cadillac. I've wanted a Cadillac since I was 15, here I am 62 years old and I got it yesterday! Do you want to see it?" I laughed. How could I resist? This guy could have purchased any car he wanted for years, but he waited until he had all of his other priorities taken care of before he handed over the cash for a luxury. It still makes me smile when I think of that afternoon.



The point to tracking expenses is simply this...know where your money is going. Right now the reason you are so fustrated with your life and you feel so out-of-control is due to the fact that you have NO idea where your money goes. You work and work and work and at the end of the month you have NOTHING for all your hard efforts. No wonder your discouraged! I don't blame you!



So, come up with a very EASY system for tracking your expenses. Remember why you want to become rich, remember that you have a purpose for your life that is more than just being comfortable. The Universe wants to use you for making this world a better place. You may not know EXACTLY what it is you are going to be doing, but you know that the money that is coming to you is for a greater good. So, track those coins, track the money that is coming into your life and you will watch as your expenses decrease and your savings increase. You will gain control of your money and at the same time you're life will start to make sense in a whole new way.



Keep up the great work and do stay in touch. Let me know how you're doing after 2 weeks, 1 month and then 3 months. Those are the biggest changes that happen for folks. After 3 months you'll be so sold on the system you'll continue tracking coins for life!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Step 3 to Abundance: Cheerful Cooperation with Cash


by Janine Bolon


Okay this next step to money management and wealth accumulation is going to be a tough one for many of you. Right now today- start practicing this skill set if you ever want to become wealthy.


Stop lying about money.


Yep, that's right. It is time for you to be totally honest and direct when it comes to talking cash (that's cash, not trash!)


In my 13 years of working with people about their financial concerns, I have yet to meet anyone that didn't in some way lie about their money. That's right. Married couples, singles, working moms, teenagers...all walks of life. We lie about how much we spend when our partner looks up at our shopping bags and asks, "What'd ya get?" How often I have heard folks fudge the numbers when discussing what was happening in their lives regarding the amount of money spent, owed or earned. That's right!! 84% of the people I have coached in finances couldn't tell me their take home income. They could tell me their annual income, but not the take home.


This is what happens over the years. We first learn to lie when we are young. To tell "white" lies that don't hurt anyone. They keep us out of trouble and the wrath of a parent, sibling or relative is kept at bay by this activity. Unfortunately, over time these lies become a habitual way of dealing with finances. Then, we start lying to ourselves not just those around us. It is a brutal wake up call when we get caught in a lie. (Read: you're telling your financial coach one dollar figure and she has notes from a previous coaching session that says a different amount. Ouch!)


White lies about money are disasterous. At first they seem like nothing, but just like compound interest, they build and become stronger the longer they are used. How? Let's look at what happens when you lie:


  • You say you saved $40 dollars on a sale rather then the actual amount of $36

  • You then begin to start rounding dollars and cents in your head in a way that caters to your buying habits

  • Over months you lose track of the amount of money you seriously are spending

  • After a year you get your credit card bill and you're stunned you are THAT far in debt.

Rule number 1 on the path to wealth: Never, Never lie about money. Money is a powerful tool and you have to handle it with respect and grace. The moment you lie to a parent, spouse, friend, etc. about money...you're headed down a path that leads to negative numbers (debt.) Trust is lost between spouses, business partners, friends. It is an aweful way to have to live.

Now don't get me wrong, if someone asks you a personal question about money that is none of their business, there are many polite ways to deny them that information without being rude. If you have a spouse, partner, friend that is discussing shared finances with you, then it is especially important that not even white lies are used. Money is too powerful to be messed with in this way.


Why all the focus on this? It is a Universal Law, that is why. If you want more money, then you have to be a Truth Speaker to get more. The Universe will test and try you to see if you are worthy for more of this powerful tool. So, prove to the Universe that you are up to the challenge. Start telling the truth when you spend $5 more than you wanted. Don't justify yourself, just admit what you have done. You will be amazed what a relief it is to always speak Truth about money.


Good luck and Much Abundance to You!