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Four Financial Seasons: Integrating Numbers and Life

[This article appeared in the Boston Globe/Boston.com on January 26th, 2012]

Because money and finances directly impact our survival and are a lifelong growth and learning opportunity, we’re sometimes challenged and short-sighted when it comes to our money matters.

This article and subsequent chat invites you to expand your view by taking a few steps back and seeing some of the aspects of life that directly impact your financial well-being, but are sometimes hidden due to perceived urgency in specific matters. Continue Reading →

What is Priceless?

What is priceless in life?  I wonder…

My 84 year old father sent me a comic strip cut out from his local newspaper; I received it in the mail along with a cute note of instructions to show to our pet cats, Angel and Marina.  After opening his letter– well there wasn’t a letter, just the comic strip with a note – I smiled and soaked in the preciousness of our simple connection and gesture that catalyzes joy.  You see, we send each other comic strips and interesting articles as a way of connecting.  Today, after a particularly crazy week, I welcomed the simplicity of his mail and count it as priceless. When we pause and reflect on the myriad aspects of life, there are too many to count that are priceless. But maybe this exercise is worthwhile. Maybe it’s time to recognize all of the priceless aspects of your life that don’t require money, only recognition.  Begin now, what is priceless in your life?

A letter with a comic strip is already in the mail to my dad.  I can’t wait for Sunday to find another, perfect comic.

What is priceless in your life?

Coins, Spare Change…

Coins, spare change, the jingle in your pocket…  I wonder…

At a time in our culture where penny candy requires a dollar, I wonder about the practical use of coins and the invisible perception of coins. For the “seniors” in our midst – I am close to that stage – coins have a history of value and imprints from life experiences that shape our use of coins and perception. Here’s one example. My beloved, Rich, scours (well maybe not that intense) the ground when walking for lost coins. His day is made when he finds a quarter, dime … even a penny.  You can feel his carefree boyhood excitement when he exclaims,” I found a ______ today.”  Contrast this experience to my children, who rarely, if ever, notice, much less pick up a coin on the ground.  In fact, our son  played a joke on his dad, just to elicit his joy of finding a coin. While waiting in the car in a parking lot for Rich to return, our son extracted a quarter from his change pile in the car and said I am going to put this outside on the ground for Dad to find – “watch this.”  Sure enough, within minutes Rich left the store and spotted the quarter on his way to the car. He paused, smiled, picked it up, grinned at us holding up the coin before opening the car door. Upon entering the car, he said, “look what I found!”  Our son burst out laughing unable to suppress his proof of dad’s consistent behavior.  As amusing as this tale might be, the difference in perception between Rich and our son is clear. The value of coins over the years has diminished with inflation of goods and services. Additionally, the use of electronic money (plastic cards) is helping to make hard currency obsolete.  How does this affect you? Do you collect coins or spare change in a jar? Do you see pennies as a nuisance?  What do you notice when coins jingle in your pocket or purse?  Are you willing to wonder about those round metal pieces that used to buy candy and today require a dollar? There are rich learnings from spare change. I wonder what else I can learn …  I wonder what creative activities I can implement with spare change … I wonder how our money system is evolving and where hard coin currencies play a role … I wonder how others perceive coins – same and different from me …


What Really Matters?

What Really Matters?  I wonder …

These words are the title of a book I recently purchased by Dr. Wyatt.  How I stumbled upon the book– an emergency visit to a clinic with my son while on vacation – is a testament to synchronicity of life and why wondering about What Really Matters is an essential exploration for life.  Most of us believe, or at one time believed, that money really matters.  Money does matter in the relative sense of life, depending upon how we choose to live life.  Let me explain.  If you choose to live a life that includes a home, a car, dining out, vacations, college, … “the American dream,” then financial resources matter because money is required to support these choices.  If you choose a simpler life, one that aligns closer to what the world offers naturally (breathing air, walking in nature, noticing the seasons), fewer financial resources are required to support this life choice.

Whether you choose a life that requires more or fewer financial resources is only part of the focus of this wondering.  The other focus is what really matters in the absolute sense; when we recognize that the things in life that matter are not really “things,” we open a new area of exploration that allows us to soften.  What really matters to you, and to those you love?  From this view, you can then make choices that are aligned with your heart’s desire.  And, when you are clear on your heart’s desire, then your energy moves to generate the financial resources to manifest both things and non-things, along the journey of what REALLY matters.

Happy New Year!

A Year of Financial Fitness

“Money skills are 21st century survival skills.”

The quote above is from my old friend, Dick Wagner, a pioneer and thought leader in the financial planning community. He has shared this insight for several years on many occasions. Now more than ever, I believe, this truth is essential.  We can get by without knowing history, biology and physics. But we are required to face money at this time in our culture if we want to survive and thrive. Thirty years ago, while examining and dissecting a homeowner’s insurance policy and an umbrella policy for a fictitious family in Dr. O’Toole’s Risk Management course, I raised my head and wondered, what the heck are my friends who are earning liberal arts degrees going to do when they get out in the “real world”?  It was this moment when I landed on my passion for service. I wanted to help others make wise financial decisions because they did not have the training and benefit I had while studying finance in school. Continue Reading →

An authentic, rich life

What is an authentic rich life?  I wonder …

Over the past few years as the markets have displayed a deep decline and a bouncing recovery, the enduring question of living a rich life is heightened. Below is a timeless list of activities and ideas about living a wealthy life we created to support a broader view. This list is different than you might expect because the rich ideas require little to no money.  As we enter the holiday season and gift-giving, besides nixing gift cards (please see my latest MoneyMoves News), consider these ideas on living a rich life.  Perhaps the gift you want to share with your loved ones takes on a new form and costs little.

The change in our financial circumstances as measured on our balance sheets and investment account values offers us a precious opportunity to not only consider what really matters but to also evolve our way of spending money.  Opportunities to maintain a “rich” living while sustaining our financial resources are available.  It really doesn’t matter whether you have cents, dollars or tens of thousands of dollars in the bank; creating and manifesting ways to fulfill life pleasures without money is a worthy endeavor. It means that you are building the capacity to see and experience the richness of life, always.

Consider these activities to expand your capacity to live a rich life and consider giving one of these experiences to your loved ones as an alternative to a newly purchased object.


Re-Think Gift Cards

As the time of holiday gift-giving approaches, I want to re-visit an experience of mine, to support your gift-giving decisions this season.  Gift cards have been and continue to be popular ways of satisfying a gift for another.  They are easy actions when you don’t know “the perfect” gift someone would want to receive, but you have a sense of the types of interests they might enjoy, such as, music, entertainment, videos, or clothing.  I, too, have used gift cards in the past for children’s birthdays, nieces and nephews, professional colleagues and teammates on sports teams.  However, I have finally come to the conclusion that gift cards are not a good idea, and I have stopped purchasing them.  Here’s why: Continue Reading →