Category Archives: money beliefs

Perfection is a Money Trap

Money is one of those areas where we have all made some mistakes.

  • We have bought things that didn’t work.
  • We have spent too much money on stuff we never used.
  • We have given people presents they didn’t like.
  • We have lost money on the sale of a house
  • We have gotten “taken to the cleaners” in a divorce.
  • We have run up charges and interest on our credit cards.

And yet we are mostly still here, and kicking!

Sure some of these things were and are avoidable.  And yet they also still serve to give our Inner Critic great fodder for berating us!

There are a couple of things I want to clear up about these ‘errors in judgement‘ and ‘mistakes‘ we all make with our money.

First, you got through them !  The problems may have been messy and costly, but you survived them!  It’s one of the things I think our ancestors that went through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl got trapped in.  They somehow missed that they made it through the troubles, and that they didn’t happen again in the same way.  We tend to practice “one trial learning” with many things.  We tend to either try and hide our head in the sand or decide it will always be like it was, and avoid getting anywhere near the part we think is scary.  We stay trapped.

The other thing I’d really like my readers to consider is the value of the messing up.  Huh, you say!  How can there be value in having gone through that terrible time, that mess?

It’s all about learning!  As humans we actually learn by making mistakes, by being imperfect.  You don’t just get on a bike and ride it the first time.  You wobble and pedal and fall off.  The same process happens a bunch in other aspects of our lives, including money.  We screw up, make mistakes, and learn.  If we don’t make mistakes we don’t learn!

But instead of accepting that we make mistakes, sometimes in order to try and avoid “errors”, we try to be — or appear to be — perfect… yipes!  Just how patient are you with yourself?  Do you keep trying to attain something close to perfection to avoid judgement?  And do you notice that most of the judgement come from your inner critic, instead of the people around you?

Many of us have this thing in our heads about trying to be ‘perfect‘.  I truly think it’s one of the traps our Inner Critics use to keep us stuck in a rut.  Somehow we think we are supposed to be perfect without practice, failing, or learning.  Instead I really like the perspective that Maya Angelou put forth:  “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We do recover, we do persevere, and we do learn.

Money is just one of the assets that we ‘spend’ while we are learning.  Money, Time, and Energy all get spent.   And I’d like to suggest that Money is really just a reflection of the other two: Time and Energy.

Here’s the really interesting question.  How much time, energy, and maybe even money do you spend trying to be perfect, protecting the idea that you are almost perfect, or even hiding that you aren’t perfect?  What if instead of getting trapped by perfection, you actually celebrated your mistakes as ways to learn?  What if it’s really about focusing on the learning, and not beating yourself up about that mistake you made?

It’s really likely that your attempt at perfection is a reaction to some really ‘old stuff’ that actually is no longer present in your life, right?  Like avoiding being judged or lectured.

Seems to me trying to be perfect has us holding on to, and getting stuck in, our errors in judgement, instead of learning from them, perhaps laughing them off, and most certainly moving on… what say you?


Shell Tain, the Untanlger

If you’d like some support letting go of trying for perfection, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at


“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”

Money doesn't grown on trees… but it can grow!We’ve all heard that one, haven’t we?  It’s an example of a money belief—an idea that we have about money.  We all have beliefs around money, yet somehow we don’t actually try to untangle them. We shy away from looking at the beliefs.

Instead we tend to try some method of crunching numbers or budgeting.  We put money in envelopes, we watch our spending on our cell phones.  Some even play with my handy dandy “GOSH” model.  (Which by the way is very cool and useful!)

And here’s the truth:  None of that really works until you figure out what your money beliefs are, and if you want to keep them!  Your money behavior is driven by your money beliefs.

You will create and perpetuate your beliefs around money.  You just will!  Frankly we do that with all our beliefs.  We find the information that supports them, and we ignore the information that refutes them.  It’s part of all that lovely pattern making that goes on in our heads.

Of course, with money it’s more complex than with other things because of that whole money being a taboo topic thing!  Since we don’t talk with others  or even ourselves about our money beliefs that just keep influencing our choices over and over.

Which of these have you ever heard, thought or found yourself believing?

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • You’ll have to work really hard and you’ll still never make any money.
  • There is never enough!
  • Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
  • I am not good with money.
  • I can’t do math, so I can’t do money.
  • I feel like I must have been out sick the day they actually explained money.
  • Having debt means I’m a bad person.

Those are just some of the most common ones.  There are no doubt thousands of possible money beliefs that will hinder or hold back your effectiveness with the stuff.

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about how much of it you have, I’m talking about what is your relationship with money?  Do you see it as a tool and ally, or as an enemy?

What do you make up about money?  Really, what do you make up about money?  Make a list!  Now look at each one of those beliefs and ask yourself a couple of questions, like:

  • Is this really true?  Like 100% of the time TRUE?
  • Is this my belief?  Or is it my family’s belief?  Or even, is it my cultures belief?
  • What might be different if I changed this belief?

That’s one of the cool things about beliefs: we can change them.  It takes noticing that you want to change the belief.  Then it takes both patience and maybe even humor to work on changing it.

One of my favorite ways to accomplish the change in beliefs is to throw in another option every time I hear myself either thinking or saying the belief.  It works like this: You follow the belief statement with something like, “…except when it’s not!”  (Examples:  Money’s hard to come by… except when it’s not.  Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people… except when they are!)

So ‘Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees‘ — except it can grow.  It can be different.  And you can do better with it.  It all starts with choosing how you want to think about it.  As humans we are really committed to proving our beliefs.  We see it all the time.  So figure out what your beliefs are, and, if continuing to prove your current beliefs to be true actually makes your life worse, try understanding and re-framing the belief.

Just imagine how much easier all this money stuff would be if you had some positive thoughts about it!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to play with this belief changing idea more, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Misplaced Loyalty

Loyalty can be a truly wonderful thing—on both the giving and receiving side—and like most things, being loyal can lead to some negative results.  The misplaced loyalty knot I’d like to talk about is all tangled up with biology and anthropology.

It starts before we are born.  On the biology side it really stems from those big brains we have—or rather how much more growing they need to do after we are born.  We have to be cared for by the parent for a much longer time compared to many other species.  It’s not just about walking and talking, it’s also about the complexity of human society.  We need to learn how to communicate and behave.  All very complex things going on in a brain that isn’t really ‘grown’ until early adulthood—despite our strong teenage opinions!

We have tons of things to learn, and we learn those things from our parents.  To make that learning more effective we are biologically hard-wired to be loyal to the parent.   We take whatever they say or do as the “gospel truth” when we are little.  We HAVE to!  They are our protection from danger, our source of food, and our primary source of knowledge.  We absolutely cannot afford to piss them off—they might abandon us!  And if they did that, we would die.  That is as true for us today as it was when we humans were hunter/gatherers long ago.

That hard-wired loyalty has a bit of a dark side though.  When it comes to money it gets messy.  And around money, all that loyalty creates huge problems for generation after generation.  It’s that thing where we don’t talk about money since it’s so taboo!  We learn about money without any actual training,  by observation only and thus we absorb and create many odd ideas.  Not only are the ideas a bit strange but they are hidden—we aren’t conscious of them.

This misplaced loyalty creates a bunch of strange results:

  • If your parents fought about money you will likely fight with your spouse about money.
  • If your parents fought about money you may very well decide that money is evil and bad, and make sure to have as little of it as possible.
  • Women will often unconsciously make sure they do not make more money than they perceived their fathers did as some kind of loyalty.
  • Perhaps the only way your parents expressed affection was with money, so that’s the currency for you to give or receive affection.

On and on it goes, and we don’t actually consciously recognize we are caught in these old familial traps around money because they somehow just “are”—they are so ingrained in our brains we have never ventured to distinguish and analyze them.

That is exactly what I would invite you to do!  Spend some time thinking about—maybe even journaling—about you and your money.   Do some digging.  See how what you are doing with money relates to how your family handled and talked about it.  You’ll find that you are doing something very similar to what you perceived your parents did, or you are doing the opposite of what they did.  The ‘perceived‘ word is in there because the topic is so taboo you probably don’t know what they actually did with money  You only know how you percieved what you saw and heard around money.

It’s a knot well worth untangling because this misplaced loyalty has been influencing your relationship with money all your life.  If you look more closely at it you can then make a choice to keep it or change it.  That’s the problem with taboo things that never get discussed.  We don’t even recognize we are caught in them, let alone that we have a choice.   Give yourself the choice!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like some support understanding how this loyalty piece played out in your family, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

The Eclipse and Money – Something in Common?

I live in Oregon, just about 30 miles from the magic belt of ‘Totality’ so the eclipse stuff has been big here.  Everyone has been talking about it.  People gathered together to get closer, whether in a campsite or a festival.  People all over the country made a special effort to be in it and see it.  That’s a big change!

Centuries ago a solar eclipse was a message from the Gods, and not a fun one!  the sky goes dark, the sun disappears and is left this weird ring around it.  The stars in the heavens shine in the day time.  The animals behave oddly.  “Wow!  Scary stuff.  We’d better sacrifice a few virgins before this gets worse!”

It was a big, scary event.  It made no sense.  There was no ‘science’ about it.  No one knew anything for sure.  Some folks made up things, and they were mostly fear based.  After all, these were generally tough times, what with plagues, droughts, and no plumbing.

And then along came science.  Well, actually science came along, and humans in general resisted it.  Hmm… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Around 500 b.c.  some folks were beginning to embrace the idea that eclipses might be a natural phenomena. Edmund Halley and some others were very sure about that by 1715 a.d.

Today we lean toward it, instead of away — because we know what it really is: the moon crossing in front of our view of the sun.  And those who ventured to see it in totality report it was amazing, emotional, and wonderful.

“Okay, lovely” you say: “What has that got to do with money?”

Well besides the fact that people are willing ‘spend’ a bunch of both time and money to go see the eclipse in all it’s glory, there is a lovely metaphor in this event.

What’s the most taboo topic in our culture?  What’s the thing your parents used everyday and never actually taught you about?  What’s that thing that it feels like everyone else has figured out, and you are  just clueless about?  What is the most bewildering, mysterious, and scary commodity on earth?  Money!

For most people, the real problem with money isn’t money, it’s what we make up about the stuff.  We often treat it as if it was an evil entity trying to keep us from our good — a spirit or god perhaps?  We act as if it has a will of it’s own, like it somehow magically disappears or keeps us from our dreams.

The real issue is that we look at money as a weird, mysterious, almost mystical thing that we just don’t have the alchemical wisdom to decipher.  We align with the taboo about the subject that our parents and ancestors have held for so long.  It stems from the pile of ideas like:

  • The only people who talk about money are greedy people
  • Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people
  • You have to work really hard and you will still never make any money

These ideas limit us, and frankly aren’t the TRUTH.  They are possibilities, but they aren’t absolute truths.  What these thoughts actually do is keep you from actually looking at your money, noticing what you are doing and not doing with it, and changing your thinking and actions about it.

Money will tell you exactly what you are doing with it, if you just look.  And it is you that are making the choices around your money.  Money doesn’t actually cause things, it just reflects what you are choosing.

So how can you look at your money more like the modern day Solar Eclipse experience?  Do you need special glasses (perhaps a bookkeeper?) to help you see what is going on?  Can you think about it as a natural result of the Moon moving across the sun (you spending more than you make?)  instead the will of an angry god?

How can money become the thing you actually want to spend time with and look at?  How can you eclipse your past around money?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about your own money eclipse possibilities , just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at

How I Learned About Money

First, let me say that this is a blog I’m writing particularly for Adam Naor to share on  Pennybox is an app for kids to learn about earning and using money in a practical and fun way. I was delighted to find out Pennybox is doing something directed specifically to kids around money.  Adam asked me for a blog to use on Pennybox—about myself and how I learned about money—so I, of course thought I should share it with you.  Here goes!

The story is all about me and my dad, A. C. Royden Stone, known as Stoney.  A little bit of context about Dad and money.  My dad was 1957 Dad and Meborn in Oklahoma in 1925, he lived through the dust bowl as a little kid.  My grandparents moved to Wyoming in the 30’s and opened a ‘lunch room’ which was run by the family.  Dad served in WWII and was a POW held in a German prison camp.   When my parents first met he was riding the rodeo circuit and dealing poker for a living.  By the time I was five he had sold insurance, had ‘made it rain’ for farmers in Washington by selling ‘seeding clouds’ and was managing a Pepsi plant in Minnesota.

He was what one calls a ‘self-made’ man.  Later in life he went on to become a TV producer, manage cable TV systems, and—even later—motels.  This background sets the stage for his relationship with money.  He always had a bunch of cash, and was likely to buy a round for the bar.  I don’t think he ever really tracked it or accounted for it—which makes his earnest and engaging methods of getting me both comfortable and savvy with it all the more remarkable.  I was an only child, born in the early 50’s, and a girl.  He wanted to make sure I was smart and self sufficient when it came to money.

He started me early, and he made it engaging, fun, and emotionally rewarding.   When I was really young it was more about numbers than money.  The tool he used then was to teach me how to play poker.  Important life lessons were learned through learning old gambling terms—about “breasting your cards” (not flapping them around), and “not betting on the cards to come” (assuming the right cards will show in the next deal).   Really good things to know in addition to the numbers piece.

When I started getting an allowance part of the deal was that in order to get the allowance I had to keep a ledger of my spending.  It had two columns:  Income and Outgo.  If it was up to date and balanced, I got my allowance.  The brilliant part here was that he had no judgement around what I spent, he just wanted me to account for it.  Trust me, if this had been my Mother, she would have had judgement about every entry, and I would have not been able to succeed.  I think that was an inherent part of his strategy, he wanted me to feel good about this money stuff, so he framed it in a way that I would.

Amazingly it was only a couple of years ago while talking to a client about my dad’s ‘money training’ that I had a clear insight about this one thing he did.  He would borrow money from me on a Friday night in order to take my mother out.  This started when I was about nine.  I was delighted to help my dad!  I felt so ‘grown up’.  And he would always pay me back on Monday with interest, so there was that cool idea of ‘investing’ thrown in there.  What I didn’t realize, but am now sure of is that he never actually needed to borrow the money!  He ALWAYS had a wad of cash.  He was doing this so I would learn about money.  Yay, Dad!

There were other examples and the last one I’ll share is no doubt his favorite!  I was about 13 and wanted a sewing machine.  My dad said that if I saved half the money he’d give me the other half.  I saved and saved money from baby sitting for quite awhile—in those days baby sitting was 50 cents to a dollar an hour!  When I had the money together I went to Dad and he asked how much the machine I wanted was.  I said: “$125.00”, and he said: “Okay, then I’ll give you $62.50” to which I said: “No, just give me $60.00.  I want owning interest.”  In that moment he was the happiest man on earth.  He had successfully taught me about money!

It is no wonder that I ended up an accountant.  The actual magic is that I ended up a Money Coach.  See, my deeper nature is not about crunching the numbers but about understanding why people do what they do.  So with the great relationship that my dad helped me create with money, I was not only able to manage and understand money, but to notice when others were bewildered by it.  When another executive I worked with came into my office one day and, after closing the door, sat down and said: “Shell, I need your help, I can’t balance my checkbook!”, I knew that this was not a skill set issue.  It was deeper than a method—it was in his head.  That was just another event that led me to my current career of helping people untangle their money knots…and fundamentally, without my dad and his loving care in helping me be at ease with money, that would never have happened.  I’ll love him forever, for that, and so much more.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Other People’s Money… Knots

This week I have invited my friend, Arthur Breur, to be a ‘guest blogger’.  He came up against a very interesting “money knot” while asking for contributions to support an overture he composed for the Tualatin Valley Symphony.  And it you want to come see its debut performance here’s where to get your tickets for the May 21st, 7:00 p.m. concert. Take it away, Arthur!

Tualatin Overture by Arthur BreurI recently experienced an interesting “money knot” situation that Shell and I thought you might find value in.

First, a little bit of my own history.

I have composed music my entire life, and I consider it my best talent and skill. But I have never worked “full time” as a composer. I have worked in print, graphic design, and website design, and many years ago started my own “multimedia” business that currently focuses on web development.

Around my 40th birthday, as many people do, I started to think about my life and what I really wanted to accomplish. Where had my dreams gone of composing? I still thought of myself as being a composer, but I had barely composed anything for years.

I pulled out the old sheet music from my various compositions, in every state of completion, and started working on them again. That was about nine years ago, and in those nine years I have easily composed as much music as I had over the twenty-some years before that.

A few years ago, I took these efforts one step farther and joined the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce as a composer. I have always made sure my company belonged to the local chamber, but I wanted to make it official that I was now also “in the business” of composing music.  It was a first step toward getting paid for writing music, and therefore being considered as a “professional” composer!

Then, through an event put on by the Chamber of Commerce I was introduced to the Tualatin Valley Symphony. That’s right: a symphony orchestra performs practically in my own back yard! Well, to make what could be a very long story very short, in late October 2016, I met the orchestra’s Conductor & Music Director, Mark Perlman, and he offered that if I composed a piece for the orchestra’s May 2017 concert, they would perform it—which was the moment of inception for my new work, the Tualatin Overture.  Through all this  I was deftly stepping over the idea of my composing actually generating income!

Enter the Chamber of Commerce “AM Networking” events.

When I first conceived of the Tualatin Overture, I did not spend any time imagining that it was a commission. It was an offer from the conductor of a non-profit community orchestra to perform a work, but it was not the offer to pay me for it. I was eager to create a piece of music that would be performed by an orchestra, and I strategically planned that it would be something I did for the City of Tualatin, hoping that doing so might give the work extra “legs” beyond a single performance—but I was not expecting that I would be compensated financially by the orchestra or by the city.

At some point it occurred to me that, even though this was not a commissioned work, I need not be entirely on my own spending so much of my own time and money (sheet music needs to be printed out, copyrights need to be filed, etc.) on the project. While I was the only person who would be creating the music, surely members of the Tualatin community—businesses and individuals both—would feel that this project was something that they could support. So I came up with the plan to appeal for patrons of the work, and I planned that the first group I would reach out to would be local businesses. The perfect opportunity for this kind of request was the Chamber’s weekly AM Networking event, which includes the opportunity to pay $5.00 for one minute of time in front of the members of the Chamber—usually more than 50 business owners and representatives.

So I stood in front of the Tualatin Chamber and reminded them that I was composing the Tualatin Overture, and announced that I was looking for patrons whose names and businesses would be included on the score and in the program notes I would be creating for the composition. I had come up with the initial target of getting total commitments of $1,000 that day, and asked for five or more contributions of $200 each.

And here comes the “money knot”—and the surprising outcome.

After the AM Networking ended that day and people were milling around chatting, a member of the Chamber—who happens to also be a fan of my music—very forthrightly, and with every intention of helping, suggested that asking for contributions of $200 was just too much, and I should have asked for contributions of, say, $20 instead. Yes, it would take more contributions, but I would get more people contributing at a more “manageable” cost.  (I immediately noticed that this person’s perspective was influenced by a money knot, of not ‘asking for too much’ and that my situation was an example of what Shell refers to as others dumping their ‘money stuff’ on us.)

Then, right as I was having that conversation, another chamber member walked up and said they wanted to be a patron for the overture, and offered a contribution for $500 on the spot. They certainly had a different money perspective of how much was ‘enough’ or ‘too much’, and suddenly with just a single patron, I was halfway to my starting goal!

Later that same day I reached out to another chamber member who had not been able to be at the AM Networking. This was someone who is a long-time fan and who had previously commissioned me to compose a song as a birthday gift for a relative. Without my mentioning a number, they offered to write a check for $500.

So within the day I had achieved my initial target of $1,000 from just two eager patrons. I have continued pursuing more patrons and will so until I have to print the “final” score and program notes for the premiere performance.

I can’t help but wonder how the day might have turned out if I had asked for $20 contributions—or if I had asked for $500 contributions.  It’s very interesting to look at how our thinking about money can either limit or expand our possibilities.

And now here I am, a working composer, making money at my craft.

— Arthur Breur

Thanks, Arthur!

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d a bit more conversation about how money thinking effects your money results, give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at


The Values Behind the Actions

Frankly, whatever we do, it reflects who we are.  Money is a place where that reflection of values is very clear.  As you’ve heard me say before it’s a great place to look at to see just what we are up to.  Recently I had a really positive experience of that at—of all places—a Hyundai car dealership.

car-windshield-wipers-in-the-rainI have a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe (you may have seen the post “Perfect Bandage Fix” about it earlier this year).  Anyway the little do-hickey that squirts the cleaning fluid on the windshield was clogged on the drivers side.  And as people are want to say in these here parts, “It rains in Oregon.”  After trying the “pin poke” method, I made an appointment with the dealership to take it in to have the offending do-hickey fixed—and yes, it was raining that day.

When I got there they discovered that I wasn’t in their database.  I had never been there before.  As I went into the waiting area to do the magazine hunt while they fixed the car, I noticed one of the mechanics and a female customer over to the side talking.  It appeared that there were a bunch of things wrong with her car, and he was going over a game plan with her on how to get it back in shape.  I was frankly impressed with how the mechanic was handling the situation.  The woman appeared to be a bit flustered and worried.  He was empathetic, clear, patient, and relaxed, without a hint of being patronizing.

Frankly in my experience that’s hard to find in a mechanic.  I remember once long ago when a mechanic at a gas station asked me if I wanted to have him fill the radiator on my VW bug.  My response was “No thanks, I had my boyfriend do that this morning!”  (For those who don’t know, the classic VW Bugs are air cooled—no radiator.  But I digress.)

Back to the waiting room.  At this point I’m impressed with the dealership based on the conversation I’m listening to.  Now a guy with a clip board comes in and calls my name.  He tells me that the little hose that takes the soapy water to the actual squirter do-hickey was clogged and he’s cleared it.  I say “Wonderful, how much do I owe you?” and he says:  “It’s no charge, it’s just a little thing.”

As I got into my car, I was smiling.  In general I have always had that, “Don’t go to the dealership!  They charge way more!”  thing in my head.  I based it on previous experience, and it was firmly there.  It’s now changed.

Although this may sound like a plug for Beaverton Hyundai, which it certainly is, it is also very much about Customer Service.  And Customer Service is about building trust and aligning with your values, yes?

Sure they could have charged me to clear the clog.  I would have happily paid it.  It would have been fine.  What they did instead was create a relationship with me by being generous in a small way.  The value of caring and consideration reflected in their actions.

Guess where I’ll go when the car needs fixing?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to explore how you might build more trust in little ways with your clients? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website:

Truth, Love and Money

My friend, Chris Venn ( and I were talking awhile back about his idea that what we really need in life is Truth and Love.  I’m sure he’s been having this conversation with others, and it’s one that is well worth exploring.  The idea rang true to me.  When either or both Truth and Love are missing we are in trouble. Like a lot of things that I really get engaged in, this is an idea this is simple and elegant at first glance that cascades into a deeper concept. Allow me to delve into it a bit more before I add money to the mix:

truth-and-loveTruth: for me truth usually means something that is always the same, as opposed to belief which can be mostly the same.  In what Chris and I were discussing, I think truth is more about the absence of fantasy or illusion.  I’d hate to have to admit how many time in life I held out hoping something would be different than it was—I chose to believe my dreams instead of the reality in front of me (and yes, that does have to do with relationships with others). So truth is what we really know for sure, right?

Love: My interpretation here is that Chris and I were talking about compassion, caring, thoughtfulness, generosity, etc.  Loving as a way of being with oneself and with others, not so much the romantic thang!  And for me, love and being loving have something to do with living in my values.  Treating others and myself with respect, compassion, and caring.

Okay, now with definitions in place, what’s this got to do with money?  Everything!

Money just tells the truth.  It can’t help it.  If it was an actual person, that person would be incapable of lying.  Now, I don’t mean that we can’t use or spend money chasing illusions, we do that all the time!  But Money itself doesn’t lie.  It tells us we are chasing an illusion.  Well, actually it doesn’t come out and say, “Hey there you!  You are chasing an illusion!” Instead it says, “You just spent this much money on that item.”

joe-friday-just-the-factsFor those of you who are as old as I am, Money is like Sgt. Friday in Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Now I’ll admit he was grumpy, and terse—check this out ( —but, he’s also all business (and pretty funny to me).

So that brings us to the emotional part, doesn’t it?  Love is certainly an emotion, and Money doesn’t actually have emotion, in and of itself.  So how does Money help with that? It will reflect your emotion, by showing you how you choose to use it.

It’s actually one of the gifts of Money.  There is no ‘spin’ on Money, except what we put on it.  It’s the most neutral source for us to see what we are up to.  That parental voice in your head that says you shouldn’t spend money on THAT, whatever ‘that’ is, isn’t your Money, it’s your inner critic!  Money, unlike your mother, or your spouse, or your friends, doesn’t actually have an opinion about what you are up to.  All it does it tell you what you are doing—without judgement.

That’s a really good thing to know, and use.  It’s a source of information, right there, under your nose.  If life is not rolling along well for you, Money can will tell you where things are wonky.  You have to do the interpreting.  Money says you bought yourself a new car.  You need to notice what the car means to you, what it is reflecting.  Do you love it?  Is it about status?  Did you somehow settle for a car you don’t like?  What’s going on?  All that is your part, the application of Love and Truth—Money’s job is that Joe Friday gig of “Just the facts, ma’am.”


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to explore what Money is telling you about Truth and Love in your life? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website:

Who’s In the Director’s Chair?

Recently I was watching an interview with my friend and colleague, David Darst and he brought up the classic Hollywood actor’s desire: “What I really want to do is direct!”  Directing is what we all want to do on some level.  Even Barbie wants to direct as exemplified by the “Film Director Barbie”—I know, I was astounded too!

Barbie Film Director

David was talking about how we want to be in the Director’s Chair in our relationships.  You know how that works—we want to  have everyone do things the way we want them.  Of course since our partners want to also direct, such a desire gets pretty messy.

I loved the analogy and started thinking about it on a personal level. For many years my title was Controller, which seems to me to be a money version of Director, so I too like to be ‘in-charge’.  I truly think we all do.

And yet, what I notice is that many people think that when it comes to money, they aren’t the Director, Money is.  For that to be true Money would have to dictate and direct what is happening, and it doesn’t do that.  What it does, as you’ve no doubt heard me say before, is reflect your choices.  Using our film analogy, Money is more like the “Director’s Cut” of the film—a reflection of what you the Director created.

So the problem really is, when you think Money is the Director you stop taking charge yourself.  You “let” things just happen.   You fall into what I call Money Traps, which are basically unconscious spending habits that don’t align with your values and goals.

Remember all those great Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland movies where the ‘kids’ put on a spontaneous musical in the barn?  They all had a Director.  It was Mickey.  He took the role, and coordinated the show.

Without someone directing we end up with chaos, yes? Or at least something unorganized and random!

Managing your money, taking the role of director regarding how you make it, spend it, save it actually isn’t as complicated as Directing all the aspects of an MGM 30’s musical.  It has to do with you being clear and purposeful with your money decisions.

If Mickey and Barbie can do it, so can you!  How about a major rewrite of the script you are following when it comes to your money?  How about making yourself not only the Director but the lead actor?  The one who moves the story and action along, instead of the person who is pulled through the plot by circumstances with no control?

This whole thing leads me to a great idea!  Why not write up the storyline of you and Money as it has unfolded in your life, and then, just for the fun of it do a re-write of how you’d like it to be?

You really are the Director of your money, so why not own and enjoy that?  After all, most of us do really want to direct!


Shell Tain, The Untangler

How about a little help changing your storyline when it comes to money? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at

Rank, Revenge and Money

Recently I was reminded of the complexity of a crucial couple’s money knot: what happens when one partner “controls” the money?

I was asked by my friend, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury to be on her new Breaking Money Silence® Podcast Series.  She’s hosting conversations around money myths that we hold.  The one I chose to talk about was “I have to know everything about the money to feel safe”.  We had a really great conversation which covered many aspects of the myth.  Here’s the link to the podcast so you can check it out:

One of the things that’s really intriguing to me about this topic is the concept of Rank and Revenge around money.  Let’s dig more into that one, okay?

Frequently in a relationship money is the place where power struggles are uber visible.  We’ve all seen the dynamic where one partner controls the money and the other partner ‘acts out’.  It was in some ways the cultural norm before the sexual revolution, right?  The husband controlled the money, but the wife would then go out and splurge.  In that instance the husband holds the “rank” in the form of control, and the wife practices the “revenge” in the form of spending extravagantly.  It’s a game or dance we have all seen in our families, in novels or in film.

If one person holds power in a negative way, the other person is likely to find a way to exert some revenge.  What’s really going on is an attempt to find some equilibrium.  The power in the relationship has become one sided.  It’s no longer a partnership, it’s a tug of war.

Struggle is a normal phase in a romantic relationship.  It’s that time when the ways you are different no longer seem cute and amusing.  Why can’t your partner just be more like you?  Why can’t you be right?  Why can’t you be the top dog?  Money is a place where this often plays out. Unfortunately some couples never move out of the struggle place around money—or other things, for that matter—and keep tugging on the ropes.

At the end of one talk I gave, a women came up to me and said: “You need to FIX my husband.  He’s driving me crazy.  He has these spreadsheets.  He’s always fiddling with the numbers and it’s just crazy.”   Seems ironic, in a way, doesn’t it?  This husband was being the number cruncher and his wife, being of the opposite view, thought it was crazy.  Mostly we think the less number crunchy person is the wrong one…the truth is that neither one is right or wrong, they just have different strengths and talents.

We all know opposites attract!  This issue is how have money effectively managed while NOT stimulating rank and revenge in your relationship.

One that often works is for the more natural number cruncher to translate the information into pie charts or bar graphs.  It’s likely that the opposite of the cruncher will be able to grasp proportions at a glance while numbers may just baffle them

One of the things Kathleen brought up in our conversation that I just loved was that as we share in the management of our finances with our partner the intimacy between us increases.  I think one of the reasons that is true is that when we finding a way to share this crucial area we have to honor and respect each other and our differences, and that makes for a closer connection.

Money, and the day-to-day management of it, is a crucial thing in our lives.  How can you facilitate a better way of sharing the money responsibilities in your relationship?


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want to talk more about rank, revenge and money, give me a call 503-258-1630 or check out my website at