July 2008


Denial is so tempting, especially around money. But oh so dangerous. That’s why I urge you to take the Five Signs Test, featured in this Yahoo article: Five Signs That You’re Living Beyond Your Means. http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/105396/Five-Signs-That-You’re-Living-Beyond-Your-Means

“If you find that one or more of them apply to you,” the article warns, “it is likely time to reevaluate your spending and work on a long-term financial plan. Recognizing the problem is the first step to finding a solution.”

Here are the 5 Signs:

Sign No. 1 – Your Credit Score is Below 600

To find your credit score is, contact (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) for a copy of your credit report.

Sign No. 2 – You are Saving Less Than 5%

Best to sock away as much as possible, but most financial experts suggest a minimum of 10% of your gross income.

Sign No. 3 – Your Credit Card Balances are Rising

If you’re paying only the monthly minimum, consider that a big red flag. “A person with $5,000 in credit card debt that makes the minimum payment of just $200 per month will end up spending more than $8,000 and take almost 13 years to pay off that debt.”

Sign No. 4 – More Than 28% of Your Income Goes To Your House

Why 28 % ? Because, experts say,“ this is the rate at which the average person can get by, make their mortgage payments and still enjoy a reasonable standard of living.”

Sign No. 5 – Your Bills are Spiraling Out of Control

The solution? Start slicing and dicing your expenses. Figure out what you spend each month and decide where you can cut. “Some of the best places to find savings include; your telephone bills (cell and land line), your utility bills (turn off the lights, and don’t run the air conditioning if nobody is home) and your entertainment expenses (you could stand to dine out less and to pack a lunch for work).”

You owe it to yourself to answer these questions honestly… any thoughts?

I have a question for you. It’s an important one. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Whenever my children ask me what they should do, I always respond the same way. “Do what scares you the most.” They rarely like that reply, but they always know I’m right.

Why?

Because when you stretch beyond your comfort zone, miracles occur. They really do. Dreams come true. Your confidence soars. All sorts of amazing things happen when you tackle what terrifies you. It’s the one act that separates high earners from underearners, a life of joy from one of quiet desperation. But don’t just take my word for it.

Here’s a beautiful email from a woman who attended my workshop last December:

“Your BIGGEST gift to me was your admonition to stretch – to commit myself to being uncomfortable for the sake of financial growth and, to a certain extent, self-respect. In my case, that willingness to be uncomfortable took the form of keeping up marketing relationships even when there was a clear possibility – even likelihood – of disappointment, and asking for more money for what I do. I set a goal of $100,000 in billings for this year and am happy to tell you I had exceeded that goal by the end of May. What is more, being uncomfortable is no longer very uncomfortable! (Italics are mine!) Disappointments and even outright refusals/rejections now feel like part of the landscape instead of the monumental cliffs I had imagined them to be before.”

I get emails like this all the time. I’m sure that’s what gives me the courage to stretch as often as I do. And that’s why I’m sharing the email with you…to inspire you and challenge you to go where you fear.

Two things I have come to see for sure:

1) The closer you get to what you fear, you’ll find it’s never as scary as you expected.

2) There’s a direct correlation between the level of fear you feel and the amount of pleasure, power, and freedom awaiting you on the other side.

So, I ask you again: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Care to share???

If you’ll excuse me, but I’m frustrated and I need to vent! Yet another study has come out that tells us, according to an article in US World & News Report: “financial institutions are failing to connect with female customers, a group that will soon control 60% of the wealth in the US.” Duh! http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ConsumerActionGuide/HowBanksShouldTalkToWomen.aspx

Allianz Life Insurance revealed what every study for the past decade has discovered: most women want to learn about retirement planning and investing. But “(Women) are telling us that materials out there are difficult to understand and that they find them boring. Some even compared them to reading a foreign language,” says Sherri DuMond, vice president of marketing solutions for Allianz.

This is news? Maybe to the industry. Certainly not to women.

The problem is that financial firms simply respond with more of the same materials, but couched in what one advisor in the article called “female-friendly metaphors.” For example: “Updating your 401(k) every six months…is like putting your winter clothes away in the summer, she says, and making stable investment choices is like purchasing your first black or blue suit.”

If the financial industry asked for my advice (and no one has), here’s what I’d tell them.

It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty! Don’t just focus on the facts of investing. Get personal. Dig deep. Talk about her fears. Explore her resistance . Delve into the real issues, like family messages and cultural conditioning. I always say doing the outer work without paying attention to the inner work only perpetuates the status quo.

Am I all alone here? Or am I being foolish to think that if financial advisors were trained appropriately, they could learn to actually talk about emotions? Let me hear from you!

Do You Think Like a Wealth Builder, or Are You More a Sex and the City Kind of Girl?

I was reading a blog the other day, when one line really caught my eye:

“I can SEE the difference between the mindset that simply wants to make money and the mindset that is more focused on creating and building wealth.” (http://witoo.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/making-money-versus-building-wealth/)

I love the way the blogger described her epiphany! Indeed, there is a HUGE difference between making money and creating wealth. And it really is a matter of mindset. This was my biggest surprise when I interviewed six-figure women. These women earned more than most people on the planet, yet very few of them were wealthy. Without question, their mindset is what made the difference. And it makes sense: how we think determines the choices we make and the results we create (i.e. wealth or no wealth)

Let me demonstrate:

The Make-Money-Mindset thinks like this: “I want to make money because the more money I make, the more clothes I can buy, the more trips I can take, the more wining and dining I can do, and the more fun I can have.”

The Create-Wealth-Mindset thinks like this: “I want to make money because the more money I make, the more I can save and invest for the long term. “

Do you know what separates between those mindsets? Two words. Instant gratification. It’s the difference between snapping up those Prada shoes–which you have to have because they go perfectly with that Juicy Couture dress you just bought –and depositing that money straight into a mutual fund.

The previous example was inspired by the recent movie, Sex and The City, which is clearly the story of 4 women who don’t understand the meaning of delayed gratification.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting self deprivation. Saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing fun. You can always pocket a portion of your earnings, say 20 bucks, and take in a movie. In fact, go watch Sex and The City, and gloat about how much smarter you are!! (No, Carrie is NOT smarter for marrying a rich man. Read my book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming…you’ll understand why!!!)