August 2009


Join me in the inspiring tale of a woman (I’ll call her Jane) who discovered the stunning power of women joining with other women to take their financial lives higher.

I’ve never met Jane.  But recently, she emailed me to say a good friend started an Overcoming Underearning® Book Club, and she became a member.  Five women meet monthly, at 7:30am for “OU Power Breakfasts.” The group reads one financial book a month.  I am proud to report the first was mine — Overcoming Underearning®.  Next was On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.

Here’s how the club works:  “We have assignments for our breakfasts, like writing our Contracts with Ourselves and our Wish Lists to share with the group.  We also share our successes in the group in person and via email.  We often include some variation of  “underearning is no longer an option!”  in emails!

“I feel AMAZING afterwards.  It gives me such a boost throughout the day, knowing that I had done something really great for myself and spent time with supportive, uplifting, inspiring friends before going to work.”
But the group gave Jane more than good feelings.  It gave her guts.

“I have a job where I’ve done several extra assignments over the past few years,” she explained, “but have never gotten paid extra for them. I was initially told there was no extra compensation for them and I never asked again.  I was happy for the exposure.”

After she turned in her latest extra assignment, however, her supervisor asked Jane to do more revisions.  The request followed her first book club.  Bolstered by the Power Breakfast, she refused to do more because she wasn’t getting compensated.

Guess what happened?

“My supervisor then said, ‘We can compensate you!’ and within a week all the email approvals had been done to process me getting paid.”

Like most people, she had just assumed a bad economy precluded any extra pay.

“In this climate of cost-cutting I initially did not think that this was going to be possible, but once I verbalized it I realized how much work I had done and that I deserved to get paid, and felt confident that I would. This was a turning point for me in terms of now getting compensated separately for the extra work I do within my company, outside of the responsibilities of my job.”

But the story doesn’t end there.  Her credit card debt, once $10,000,  “is now under $1,000 and I am very close to paying it off altogether, and when I do I’m going to have a party – I will invite you and if you’re in New York I would love to have you there!”

I’d love to come. There’s nothing more inspiring than being around women empowering other women.  If you’ve had any successes with similar groups, I’d love to hear about them!!!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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I remember, back in the 80’s — when I was struggling to understand money — I started an Investment Club.

Every month a group of about 12 friends got together, usually at my house. Someone brought treats, and we’d spend an hour or so discussing stocks… along with girl talk, gossip and romantic updates.  It was a great way to put the Fun into finances while doing some serious learning.  I really did learn a lot.

However, as I also learned, Investment Clubs can be complicated, time-consuming, and sometimes, contentious. They require co-mingling money, reaching a consensus on stock picking, and a serious time commitment, especially for the officers.

I’ve come to see there’s another— arguably better— way to combine socializing and studying.  Financial Book Clubs.  What makes them better? These clubs are less work and focus on far more than just investing.

I wrote an earlier blog on this topic… http://barbarastannyblog.com/page/7/ But I just got an email that brought it to mind again.  (Emails make such great fodder for blogs!) I was inspired… and I thought you would be too.

In my next post I’ll tell you about;  “One woman’s tale of Overcoming Underearning by joining a Financial Book Club”… stay tuned!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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I feel like I’m entering new territory here.  I’m usually the one answering your questions.  But now, I really need YOUR advice.  I sincerely mean that.  I’ve got a dilemma… and I’m not sure what to do, if anything.

As I vowed last month (http://barbarastannyblog.com/2009/07/17/the-retreat-to-), I am using this blog to be more authentic, especially around money.  So here I am… revealing myself and requesting your help.

Here’s the situation.  I’ve been dating My Man for a year and a half.  We’re talking about moving in together.   He’s definitely the love of my life, the person I want to grow old with, perfect for me in so many ways.  We don’t want to get married.  I’ve already done that twice (he, once), and we see no reason to do it again.

Here’s where I’m struggling.  At what point do I have “THE TALK” with my  boyfriend? Or do I even need to?

I’m referring to The Money Talk.  You know, that point where I show him mine and he shows me his… networth, that is.

My income is decidedly more than his… which makes sense since he was laid off earlier this year and is starting a whole new career.  While he’s never been a good saver, he’s a very frugal spender and quite responsible financially, with no credit card debt.  Neither one of us have a problem with the fact that I have more money.  But neither of us knows how much the other one has.

If we were getting married, it’d be a no-brainer.  We’d be baring our bank statements before we ever traded “I-Do’s. ”  But does co-habitating, when there’s no co-mingling of money, require the same financial transparency?  I figure, if I’m wrestling with this, others must be also.

Talk to me people… this is a tough one for me.  I need your feedback!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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The Money/Happiness debate continues.  Just today,  USAToday http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-08-05-happiness-apa-money_N.htm asked the age old question, yet again:  Does money bring happiness?  Well, I’m here to resolve this issue, once and for all! (drum roll, please).

Money does NOT make you happier.  But poverty doesn’t either.  What  DOES  make you happier?: taking control of your money, instead of allowing your money to control you!

Let me give you an example.  Here was  a woman (a successful attorney),  who for the last three years,  felt helpless,  hopeless,  and (obviously) very unhappy as her life,  and her debt,  spiraled out of control.

Then, last month, she called me for coaching.  We’ve only had 3 sessions so far.  And most of our time was spent dealing with her resistance (“I’m NOT going to change my lifestyle,” she told me firmly) and getting her out of denial (“OMG, I’m spending way more than I earn!!”).

Finally, last week, she sprang into action.  I share her latest email with you because its proof positive how much happier life can be when you take charge of your finances.

“I have been working diligently to shave my monthly expenses and I am having a blast!” she wrote.

Of course, it wasn’t easy, she admits. “One thing I will say:  it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of discipline to save money,  and was much easier to stay in debt – which is how the system is designed.  But I like the power I feel now much better.  Saving money is actually making me feel very sexy, and probably the sexiest thing I have ever done!”

You’ve got to admit—she’s one happy camper!!!  How did she do it?  With this 7 Step Formula.  She:

  • Opened a savings account:   “$10 per month is automatically transferred from checking,”
  • Cut spending:   “I shaved $1400 from my monthly expenses.”
  • Stopped using cards, even her debit card:  “I was using my debit card the way people use their credit cards and it was getting me into trouble.  I cut it up.”
  • Negotiated with creditors:  “I am working liking crazy with my credit card companies” to decrease rates.
  • Created a spending plan:  “I figured out how much money I needed this month by category and have gotten out the appropriate amount of cash, put paper clips and sticky notes to each allotted amount, and that is all I can spend.”
  • Stuck to her budget no matter what, even during a major move:   “In the past I would have just gotten out my credit card, charged the move and said I would deal with it later.  Now I am planning, looking at all of the expenses and figuring out the best steps and ways to save money.”
  • Followed the coincidences (which always occur when you start taking charge):  “On top of this, I just landed a HUGE new client in Santa Fe, NM –  out of the blue, of course.”

Ultimately, this woman created her own happiness by making 2 crucial changes:  she changed her behavior along with her attitude.

Getting out of debt, she told me, has become “such a fun game.  It’s amazing to see where my money goes!  Wow – to be conscious is incredible. Thanks Barbara – I am loving this!”

Don’t YOU want what she’s having??

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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Inspired by those “Life is Good” t-shirts, I’m launching a new campaign.  And I invite you to join me.  I’m calling it: “Fear is Good”.

As I see it, Fear has gotten a bum rap and a bad rep.  Maybe it’s leftover from our Neanderthal heritage, when hungry predators were a constant hazard.

But times have changed. And so has fear’s function.  Problem is, few of us have figured that out.  We feel the fear, and either freeze or take flight.  We don’t realize that, in modern times, Fear is rarely a sign that our survival is being threatened.

These days, the only survival being threatened is usually our egos.  Fear has a new purpose now — to warn us of approaching Greatness.  And as I’m personally discovering, we’re as afraid of our Greatness as our ancestors were of carnivorous beasts… maybe more.

So, I’m on a crusade to change that.  It’s a fact… Fear is the clearest signal we will get that we’re on the precipice of greater success, greater happiness, greater impact.

Imagine if more of us finally realized that Fear is nothing to fear.  Quite the opposite.  Fear is Good.   Imagine if every time we got scared, instead of freaking out, we gave each other a big high-five and exclaimed: “YES! We’re on our way to Greatness.”

As for my Fear is Good campaign, our motto is:  Fear is My Friend.  And there’s only one requirement for membership.  Every time you get scared, you shout, at the top of your lungs:  “I go where I fear!”  And off you go… in the direction of your fear, in search of your Greatness.

Fear is every high-achiever’s best friend.  Fear, especially for women, is often a prelude to financial success.  Fear is a cosmic finger pointing the way to victory.  Fear is Good!  Can I sign you up?

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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I did a massive closet cleaning yesterday.  Gave away bags of clothes to Goodwill.  I’m a big believer in letting go to create space for something better (see my blog post about it!).

As I was tossing stuff into garbage bags, I found a framed certificate I’m definitely keeping.  It declared that I’d completed the “Financial Recovery Counseling Training” in 2000, and was signed by founder Karen McCall.  The training was intense and life-changing.

Karen McCall is THE pioneer in the field of overspending, underearning, and chronic debting… and my long-time mentor.

She was one of many professionals I visited in those early desperate days of my own financial crisis.  She was, however, the only one who told me I was an “underearner”.  Initially I balked at the accusation.

But she broke through my denial, and I became her client… then her student. I often wonder, if it wasn’t for Karen, would I be doing what I’m doing now?

If you are a coach, looking for a rewarding new career, or simply want to make changes in your own financial life,  you need to know this — In  early September, Karen is offering her final training program this year.

As she told me; “This is very likely the last class where I will personally be doing the majority of personal mentoring with my students.”

The cool part of this extensive 6 month program is that Karen not only trains you in her Financial Recovery process, but mentors you on starting a successful business.  Check it out.  There are only 4 slots left. http://www.financialrecovery.com/training-int-req.html

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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Just as the cherry blossoms were bursting into bloom, Obama was issuing instructions to his cabinet:  cut $100 million from the budget.  Three months later, mission accomplished — $102 million in expenses had been slashed.

When I read this in the Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124882436513388423.html,  my immediate reaction:  “Why hasn’t the media made more of this fact?”   We hear, ad nauseum, about the stimulus (read: spending) packages, dragging the nation deeper into debt.  But what about these recent efforts to save money?  Now, in my mind, that’s news!!

Granted, that $102 billion is a microscopic portion of the general deficit, 0.0006%.  But the real story is how quickly and seamlessly government made those cuts… and the public never even felt the pinch.  If a giant bureaucracy can do that, certainly each one of us can too.

Washington called this program “The $100 Million Savings Challenge.” Imagine if you began your own “$100 (you determine the zero’s) Savings Challenge?”  Imagine if you started today, right now, shaving small amounts from your spending every month.  Then imagine if you took it one step further, and stashed the savings in the bank.  Imagine what that would do for your personal fortune!

There is a saying; “It’s easier to find 500 ways to save $1, than one way to save $500“.  That’s exactly what these government heads did: found all kinds of ways to trim small amounts.  For example, making double-sided photocopies, emailing documents instead of printing them, cutting unused phone lines.  Small.  Simple.  Painless.  Very effective.

I’ve always said, small steps consistently taken create remarkable results. Now what about you? What teeny-tiny cuts can you begin making right now? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
barbara@barbarastanny.com
www.barbarastanny.com

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