Category Archives: money beliefs

The Money Will Follow?

We’ve all heard that adage about “Do what you love, the money will follow”, haven’t we?  For years my response to that was “Yes, it follows, but it’s way the hell back there!”  The idea behind the initial quote has merit, and I think it needs some further exploration.

marriedNo doubt the initial idea was to counter balance the masses of people who strive to get the money first, and expect to then have the money give them the ‘love’ later.  In this instance the money is leading, not following.

The fundamental flaw in the idea of leading with getting the money first is that it’s contrary to what money’s job really is.  Money doesn’t ever ‘lead’, it follows.  Or more specifically it reflects.  It mirrors your choices.  So to play with the adage: “Do what you love and the money will reflect that.”

Of course, we all know it’s not quite the easy.  Well, it can be easy, but in order to be easy we have to have a clear, unclouded intention around our money – and that ain’t easy for most of us given all the emotion and expectations we have attached to money.

Whatever you do, money will reflect it.  It will reflect your actions and the emotions behind them.  That’s its job.  So “Do what has you be your unique self, and then your life—and thus your money—will reflect it.”  Gee that sounds fun, doesn’t it?

One of the things that I think is a fundamental hiccup in the adage is around the “Do what you love” part.  How do you approach doing what you love?  What judgments do you bring to the table?  I remember years ago having a discussion with my then partner on an airplane.  We were talking about me and art.  Doing art.  Out of my mouth came: “I can’t do art, you can’t make money doing art!”  Yep, there is was.  Carved in stone in my brain.  I love art, I love doing art.  I do many things artfully.  I don’t do fine art as a living because I frankly wasn’t ever really able to bust that belief.  See, with that belief I would have created “Do what I love and the money will limp along behind me” because money would have had no choice but to reflect my belief.

It’s a hard one to shift, for sure.  Here’s an easier shift (not necessarily simple, but easier): “Do what has you be your unique self and your life and thus the money will reflect it.”  Not nearly as catchy or smooth off the tongue, but more effective.

We all have strengths and talents, yet we somehow think we aren’t supposed to use them.  We believe we have to do things the hard way for them to be worthwhile. When we do that the money will reflect that choice.  It will show us the stress we put ourselves under.  It will mirror the frustration of pushing the big rock up the hill over and over.

What I finally learned was that my talents and strengths were actually valuable in themselves.  That by doing what was natural for me, I was able to actually come to doing what I loved and having the money follow.  I use my “artistic”, creative side all the time.  Sometimes it’s something tangible like knitting, painting, decorating, which is great.

However my use of my natural gifts and talents in my coaching, in helping others “create” new possibilities has me being in a beloved “artistic” place  all the time.   It’s not something separate, it’s always there.

These days it really is “Lovingly be who I really am, and watch the money reflect it.”  Try really honoring your natural talents, the money won’t just follow, it will join you.


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Want more untangling? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at

The Purpose of Accounting

One of the things that I find intriguing about business is this misconception of the role and purpose of accounting.  It’s been coming up lately in conversations with several of my clients. I have a different take on it.

Having spent much of my life working on the money side of businesses I often refer to myself as a “recovering accountant”.  I worked my way up in the profession from a clerk to a CFO.  I know the “game” and I know the process, and in my opinion, many people have missed a crucial piece of the purpose of accounting.

Here’s a standard definition:

“The purpose of accounting is to provide the information that is needed for sound economic decision making. The main purpose of financial accounting is to prepare financial reports that provide information about a firm’s performance to external parties such as investors, creditors, and tax authorities.”

I worked in many a company that played by that definition and many companies still do.  It’s only half of the job.  What my dad taught me years ago, and what I held as the standard for the accounting departments I ran, was: Tell management what is going on in a timely enough manner that they can “turn the boat”.great-ships-the-titanic

Sure, it’s important to have accurate end of the period reports for taxes and investors.  It’s good to get it all done, balanced and pretty.  And often by then it’s too late to avoid the iceberg.  It’s even more important for the people inside the company to have the numbers, than for those outside to see what’s going on.

The purpose of accounting is to give management the information they need expediently.  You can’t wait until it’s all done for that.  You have to do estimates and even projections.  By the time the Titanic saw the iceberg it was way too late.

It’s very likely that most of you reading this don’t have a big company.  You may not even have a company at all, it may be just you.  And yet the numbers are still there to tell you how you are doing, to help you know when to turn the boat.

How often do you look?  Do you wait until your tax return to see how it’s going?  Do you look and see where your money comes from? Who your clients really are?  How much it costs you to make a sale?

Do you look?

It doesn’t have to be accurate to the penny to be valuable information.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  What’s the trend?  Are you looking for clients in the wrong places?  Are spending money on things that aren’t effective?  What’s going on?

If you want to know, it’s right there in the numbers.  Not just the shiny, neat ones at the end of the period but the down and dirty guesses in the midst.  Take a look.  See what it’s telling you and act on it.  After all, you are spending time and money on the process of accounting so why not have it serve its purpose: providing you with timely information?

Want to explore some more innovative money ideas for your business? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Money Ritual

This time of year is filled with rituals; some formal and some not so formal.  The ones that come to mind for me are things like singing Auld Lang Syne, watching the ball drop, and making resolutions.  There is even a very long-standing New Year’s ritual that has to do with money.  It’s one my family did every year and I never knew it was a mcandle heartoney ritual until now.  Wow! Money really is a taboo topic!  It’s Hoppin’ John, the black-eyed peas and rice combo. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins and a coin is even sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls.  The addition of collards or some other green adds to the wealth since they are the color of money.  Even cornbread adds to the ritual being the color of gold.

As humans we really need and like rituals.  They help us create clarity and focus.  We have been using them for centuries.  They are everywhere.  They define the space.  Frequently they tell us when something begins and when it ends.

Ceremonies are all about ritual.  There are rituals around graduation, marriage, babies, weddings, winning the game… you name it. They can be celebratory or solemn.  Whatever form they take they help us to step out of our day-to-day life and take notice.  They aide us in getting purposeful and mindful.

It strikes me as odd, but also understandable, that we have so few rituals around money. I don’t mean the ones using or giving money.  I mean ones honoring or acknowledging our relationship with money.  So here’s what I’m proposing.  Set up and do a Money Ritual in this New Year.

It can take any form you like.  Frankly, it’s more about your intention than the steps.  It can be fun and silly or serious and committed.  Let me make one up and you can then figure out what you like about it and what you’d change.

Personally, I like fire!  So I think I’ll start with a bunch of colored paper.  I’m going to tear the paper into pieces big enough to write on.  I like the idea of the torn, somewhat messy edges. Then on each piece I’m going to write something about money that I want to either keep or let go of.  I plan on focusing about my thoughts or beliefs.  Things that I want to let go of might be “worrying about money”, and I will want to keep “appreciating what I can do with money”.  I will then create a ritual by taking all the “let go” slips of paper, reading them aloud, and burning them one by one.  After that I’ll find a cool box, bag or bowl and, one by one, read aloud and put into the container each of the ones I want to keep.  Later in the year, I can even go back and review those more positive elements as yet another Money Ritual.

There.   That’s a ritual.  I can do it again that way every year or I can do something different.  It’s my choice.  The definition of ritual really says that it has to be the same, prescribed format every time.  I’m going to disagree.  I think the INTENT has to be the same, not the steps.  When dealing with large groups of participants, the consistency of format creates predictability which puts people at ease.  If that works for you on a personal level, go for it.  For me, I like to change things up so I stay more conscious and in the moment with them.

What I’m suggesting is that you set a bit of time to create a Money Ritual.  To get clear on what you want from and with money in the coming year.  To make a declaration, and in the process to let go of what didn’t work while embracing what will.

And if you’d like a bit of help creating some other rituals with your money give me a call at (503) 258-1630 or check out my website at

Wishing you and your money a new year filled with Ka’ching!

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Protective & Effective

carpMuch too often we have an “all or none” perspective about things.  Money is one of those places.  We spend it or save it.   We hoard or bet it all.  We miss the all-important middle.  Working with a client the other day we hit upon another one of those extremes:  Protective vs effective actions.  In this money knot we either feel frozen in trying to protect what we have or create ineffective actions that leave us spinning wildly.

A good definition of protective is: “having or showing a strong wish to keep safe from harm.” When we are being protective we are being cautious.  There is, of course, value in being thoughtful and deliberate.  There is value in considering how to use your money in ways that align with what’s important to you.  This cautiousness gets to be a challenge when it goes too far.  Most of us remember some of the typical oddities about the way our “depression era survivor” grandparents behaved around money.  There are funny stories about basements with giant balls of saved scraps of tin foil (aluminum foil of the 30’s) and plastic margarine tubs by the dozen.   The idea was “Waste not, want not.”  Be careful.  Who knows what may happen, what disaster may befall us.  This behavior often went from being careful to the extreme of never actually recognizing that things got better and that they really didn’t need to “scrimp and save” for ever more.  Unfortunately, this protective nature gets really hard to even partially let go of.

Let’s look at the other word, effective.  It’s all about producing a desired result; solving a problem.  It actually requires action, lots of action.  The words thoughtful and deliberate come up here too, don’t they?  But in a different way than with protection.  We want an investment to be effective and make money for us, don’t we?   We try new ways of making money.  We hopefully lean on our talents to earn a living in a way that is more easy than arduous. Being effective is all about trying different ways of doing things.  Somehow it relates to trial and error and experimentation.  Figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Finding the way that gets the best results and perhaps even “more bang, for our buck”.  This works best when we are clear and intentional about our actions.

These two words can be and often are on opposing sides.  The protective side doesn’t want to risk something by acting.   Or the effective side may be so “gung ho” as to risk too much.

Here’s the deal: this is not an either/or situation.  It, like most things around money, will benefit from an application of both.   You do better by being protective and effective at the same time.  Find the middle. Combine the best of both money strategies.

Whichever one you tend to lean towards more, challenge yourself to “swing” out a bit and try the other one.  See what happens when you purposely pull yourself more toward the middle.  Money is really about the middle.  It swims toward us and away from us.  We earn it and spend it.   We give it and get it.  For it to work, and for you to do well with money, you need to find your personal balance between the extremes: between being protective and being effective.

I’m here to help you untangle all your money knots.  Just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Time Travel

Most of us have spent some time pondering time travel. That idea of being able to go back and do something differently, or even just go back and relive some time in our past, is timetravelcaptivating. It’s also great fun to dream about and imagine the future. We think this is the stuff of science fiction novels, which it often is. And we do it all the time.

Yes, as humans we practice time travel. Many of us spend much more time time traveling than we do being in the present.

I’m sure that my dog, Decaf, used to dream. She would run in her sleep, just pedaling those back legs like crazy. That could certainly be considered time travel. But mostly dogs are in the present. “Ah, here, bone! Wow! Hey, over here, really good smells. Woof!” Many of us have experienced a similar phenomenon with cats. “Yes, you may rub me there, that is nice. Oh, I’m done now, meow!”

I hadn’t really considered this idea until I was on a call last week with Jim Smith ( He talked about the idea that we are all time travelers. This idea entranced me, and naturally (for me anyway) that lead me to thinking about how time travel effects how we think about money. It’s a money knot to untangle! Ha!

Most of the angst we have about money has little to do with where money is in the present. In this moment your money is what it is. It is dollars and cents. It is numbers. It is NOT emotion. The emotion in money comes from the past and the future. It comes from your time travel and the time travel of your parents. They worried about money, being afraid it would never be enough. You learned to worry about it, and not only did you time travel with it, but you agreed with theirs. If you travel back in time and consider your past, there has always been enough wasn’t there? Sometimes enough was less than at other times but there was enough, right?

And your worry about the future is that there won’t be enough. You travel ahead and fret about it. If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, then you will also have enough in the future, since you had enough in the past, right? Part of the problem is that deep down you probably believe that worrying about money actually helped you do better with it.

I’m going to disagree with that idea, and explore it in the present. So, think of something about money that is worrisome. Okay, now fret a bit about it. What are the thoughts you come up with? Most likely something about “I must save more. Who knows what might happen? What if I lose my job? What if the house catches fire?….” on and on. Notice that the worry actually takes you time traveling into the future. We can plan for the future, we can dream of the future but we can’t actually be there, can we? So worrying now just distracts you from the present and sends you time traveling. It gets you emotional and more importantly distracts you from being here now.

Here’s a revelation. All those choices that you made about money in the past are what created where you are today with money, right? And when you made most of them, you weren’t really conscious of them in the present moment. In that past place you were worrying about money in the future. You weren’t really and truly noticing what you were doing with your money in that now. You were making choices without clear thought or direction. That’s where the money mess started. Right there while you were distracted with time traveling.

There is only one place to fix your money…NOW! It’s not about the choices you made in the past or the ones you make in the future. It’s the ones you make now. We all may have some “clean up” to do around our money choices and thinking, and it starts now, right now.

How about practicing actually being in the present when you are dealing with money? What is that purchase you are making? What is it about? How does it support you? How does it really reflect what you want from your money? Be in the now with money…and know that doing that will change the future and the past from here on out!

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Generosity With Boundaries

I’ve been practicing what I call “Generosity with boundaries” for ages. Frankly, it’s always seemed important to me. How can I help people stand in Plentyland if I’m generositycoming from scarcity? I need to walk my talk. Part of that is to be generous while taking good care of myself and thus, “Generosity with boundaries”. Of course, this idea, like money itself, isn’t just about money. It’s about using all of our assets in a way that is both generous and self-supporting. So ideally, it’s the notion that we help others with our time, energy and, sometimes, money. And we make sure that we help in ways that don’t jeopardize our own well being.

Let’s layer in the idea that money is reflective. What that means is that money doesn’t actually make things happen. Instead it reflects, or shows you, what you are choosing to do with it. It shows you if you are walking your talk, whatever that talk may be.

And I think there is also something in here about the idea of the Golden Rule: “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” Do I treat others the way I’d like to be treated? And do I use my money with others the way I’d like them to use it with me? I don’t think this concept, that is fostered by many religions and philosophies, is simply about being “‘nice”. I think it truly has to do with the idea that we get back what we put out.

We aren’t likely to gain respect by treating others with disdain. Being aloof isn’t likely to create friendliness in others. Sure, not everyone we are kind or generous to is going to be that way to us. However, our being kind will make the possibility of the kindness being returned more likely.

The real question is: Do you treat your money transactions the same way? Do you treat others around money the way you want to be treated? How do you want to be treated around money? For me, words like fairness and respect come to mind. I really want to come from a win/win place. I don’t want to be taken advantage of and I also don’t want to take advantage of others.

I’m not responsible for the choices others make around their money. I am responsible for how I use my money and how that reflects my ethics and values.

So what would “generosity with boundaries” look like for you and your money?

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Rich Man, Poor Man

As many of you know, I do have a somewhat twisted sense of humor. I appreciate a twist of wit that rings true. May favorite comedians often had that way with words, and sometimes they even had brilliant and amusing things to say about money. A prime fieldsexample is the W. C. Fields comment: “A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.”

I have held a version of that comment forever. Money doesn’t make a person good or bad. It simply reflects who the person is. If you see yourself as a poor, no amount of money will change that. And if you see yourself as rich, no lack of money will change that. We can absolutely change those beliefs, but the change is an internal process, not one that will happen based on how much money we have.

This is a bit tricky, isn’t it? It might be that your belief of who you are changes, and as a result of that, your money position changes. That is truly possible. If, however, you think that money itself will change those beliefs about who you are, then you are putting the cart before the horse.

Money will mirror, or reflect, your beliefs about yourself, and everything else. That’s what it does, and that’s all it does.

The only thing I think that having a bunch of money really does is make a persons’ core money beliefs more visible. It doesn’t change who the person is, it just makes who they are easier to see.

If they have a world view based on ‘poverty’, scarcity and lack, it will show up in greed, fear, and anger. Conversely if a person is giving, hopeful and positive, then money will certainly reflect that.

Remember good ole Ebenezer Scrooge? He’s an example of both sides of that coin. Yes, it took a bunch of ghosts, time travel, hard truths and ego shattering realizations to bring him around. But what happened when he did? He didn’t become less monetarily wealthy did he? Actually, it seemed as the story ended that he was going to keep on making more money with his new view, didn’t it? But now he would be sharing his wealth.

And just to make the point even more clear, notice that his conversion to being a generous and happy man had nothing to do with acquiring money. It only had to do with changing how he thought about it.

It’s actually never about the money, it’s about how we think of it, and our beliefs about it, and the good news is that those are both changeable!

I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at


Shell Tain, The Untangler

Information Extremes

Around some things we say way too much, and around others not enough.  Sometimes we research and gather data like crazy, sometimes we just wing it. How we gather and process information is yet another place where we do that black/white, on/off, base 2 extreme thinking.  To paraphrase Dr. Phil, let’s take a look at how that’s actually working for us…

What’s really under this thing I’m calling Information Extremes seems to be something about assumptions.   We assume we already know everything we need to know.  We assume we can’t learn more.  We assume others already understand.

I really ran into this when I lived for two very long years in South Carolina.  Now in many ways, this was not the best place on earth for me.   It felt odd.  I didn’t understand the culture or how to maneuver through it.  One of the things that really made it hard was a perspective I named ‘Everybody Knows’.  It worked liked this.  No one felt the need to extremessupply details about places, events or many other things because ‘Everybody knows’.  When the newspaper has a head line that says ‘Fourth of July Fireworks at the Fort’ I actually have some questions.  Questions like which gate do you use, is there a fee, what time does it start, can you bring food, what are the rules of the event.  None of that information was available because ‘Everybody Knows’. Except of course those of us that don’t.  This phenomena extended to all sorts of things including directions to turn at the corner where the filling station was, the one that was torn down 30 years ago was.  It came from this community having done things the same way for many, many years.  Somehow, anyone naïve enough to move there was just supposed to tap into some strange collective unconscious to figure things out.  I know this happens in small towns all over the place, yet the city I was in was the state capital with a university and a large military presence, so I wasn’t by any means the only person who couldn’t qualify for the ‘Everybody Knows’ club.  As you can no doubt tell, I felt less than welcome.

This is a prime example of how we assume the yes/no logic will work.  Long ago in my initial coach training they talked about yes/no not really being a choice.  That really struck me.  Think about politics: are two options really enough?  Aren’t we settling there?  I find I frequently don’t actually get to vote for what I really want, but more for the option that I dislike the least.

It’s like when you are watching the courtroom scene on the telly.  How irritating is it that the person on the stand has to answer yes or no, with no explanation or elaboration allowed.  Creates a pretty narrow view doesn’t it?

Here’s the money piece to this.  We assume we don’t know, and never will.  We assume it’s too hard, too confusing, too scary…too extreme.  We pick feast or famine as a model.  If I’m scared of money and have avoided looking at it, I assume the only way out is to get a green eyeshade and analyzes every money transaction in great detail.

What about the middle?  What about choosing that?  What about taking steps to something new, learning and applying one new skill or tool at a time? What about just looking?  How about a dimmer switch.  I love those things.  I have options between all the light or no light.  I can have some, a little light, more light.  Every little piece of money information you choose to gather or learn about brings more light to the topic.

So when it comes to money, and choices about all sorts of things, forget the Information Extremes, say boo to Everybody Knows, and exchange the switch on the wall, and the one in your head, for a dial!




By now most of you know that I have a wealth of ‘sayings’ at my fingertips.  Some are clichés, but I still like and use them because they ring true.  Some are just silly.  Most come from my heritage which includes lots of Irish, and a bunch of ‘country folk’.  Some I’ve found say more about my heritage than I knew.

When listening to a recording of Frank McCourt’s ‘Tis; a memoir’ I was astonished to hear a phrase I had only ever heard from my father.  It confirmed how deep the Irish roots really went.  “Your bladder is right behind your eyes” It basically means that you cry easily.  Wow!

There is another one that I am particularly fond of because it is multipurpose.  Sometimes it’s used to say that we have over exaggerated a problem and made it far worse, catastrophized it if you will.    It can also mean that we are dreaming way beyond the current circumstances.

Of course, I learned it when someone accused me of it.  And they were right.  I had “taken buttonsa button and sewed a suit on it”.  I’d taken one event and applied it to a far reaching future that might not even happen.

It’s a talent we all seem to use at one time or another.  And boy do we use it about money!  We can all cite chapter and verse, and provide tons of evidence, to when money let us down, wasn’t there for us, disappeared…whatever.  And it all starts with taking a button and sewing a suit on it.

This happens all the time with money.  Simple things that happen and somehow grow in to big issues.  The lady that has the shopping ‘addiction’ that comes from Mom showing affection by taking her shopping.

The guy that can’t save money, because he’s sure it will get taken away.  See when he was little it was ‘taken away’ when his parents took the money out of his piggy bank and put it in a bank account for him.  He just didn’t understand that the money was still his.  He couldn’t touch or feel it any more.

All buttons with suits attached.

And my all time favorite.  The lady who explained how, when she was a kid, they got one pair of shoes a year.  This single pair had to last all year.  What did the suit she sewed on that button look like?  It looked like her now having 75 pairs of shoes.

Something to consider.  When do you sew suits on buttons?  What is the result of that?  My guess is that it at the very least distracts you from your goals, and even more likely actually hinders your progress.

I’d love to hear about one of your button adventures, with money, or not.



Dance Of The Monsters Under The Bed

For many people, their money stuff feels like those old monsters under the bed.  Remember those?

We were just sure there was something scary under there, and way too afraid to look.  Often we would ask one of our parents to check and see, and even then we still weren’t really sure that they had been banished from under the bed.monsters

The monsters under the bed and the bogeymen in the closets of old represented the unknown.  Something scary in the dark that danced around in our heads.  And that’s what our money fears do, isn’t it?  They dance and spin in our heads.  The very last thing we want to do is to actually look at them.

And the truth is, their only power is gained by our fear of looking at them.

Once people finally look under the bed, they find only dust bunnies.  Once you actually look at your money, you find history.  You find choices you have made.  And even more important, everyone I have ever known that has actually looked has found that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they feared it would be.

I’ve got a new client that seems to be struggling with that.  He’s been dancing up to working with me for months.  He made the commitment but is now dancing away.  He hasn’t completed the initial homework of answering questions about money, and he keeps stalling and moving the date to start.  What I make up is that he’s scared of what he’ll find.  Who knows what he makes up is under the bed.

Can you see how it is likely that it’s his little kid part that is keeping him from actually looking at his money?  He’s stuck spinning around in the fear.

Unfortunately, I can’t help him until he actually chooses to shine the flashlight under the bed.

I see him imagining all sorts of scary demons charging around, dancing and leaping.  As a matter of fact, it reminds me of a piece of music composed and performed by a friend of mine, Arthur Breur.  It’s aptly titled “The Dance of the Monsters Under the Bed”.  Give it a listen:  See if you can envision in this piece whatever is holding you back.  Is it the money gremlins?  Or is it perhaps the voice that says you aren’t good enough?   Maybe it’s a fear that someone will truly find out that you are not as adept as you pretend to be?

Whatever monsters are dancing under your bed, they are hoping you don’t actually shine a light down there and look.  You see, once they are in the light they become small, and inconsequential.

Trust yourself to be able to look at what’s scary and make other more effective choices.  Once you take that first step of looking, the other steps will fall right in line.