Category Archives: money beliefs

Here’s The Rub

I had an intriguing call with a client last week.  From the moment I heard her voice, I knew something was up.  She’s generally a positive person, but there was something going on.  Of course I asked her what it was.

She said she’d just gotten home from a massage.  Now that intrigued me, because, for me, a massage is a great thing.  It can have the effect of having emotion come up, just because I get so relaxed that I let it.  But usually I just feel relaxed and dreamy at the end of a massage.  I was curious.  What was going on?

rubTurns out that during her massage, the masseuse was regaling the client with the information from an article she had just read.  The article was all about the top ten stressors.  You know those things, right?  Death, marriage, divorce, moving, changing jobs, etc.

So there is my client: lying naked on a table, draped in a sheet, being massaged all while hearing all about the top things that can create giant stress.  Wow!

There are a bunch of things that are wrong with the picture.  The first is that it’s unprofessional of the masseuse to be chatting about anything during the massage.  Beyond that, it’s pretty disrespectful to the client.  It’s like the masseuse is absent-mindedly rubbing while thinking of other things.  And that may actually be the case.  But we don’t really want to know about that while we are on the table, now do we?

And now here’s the really important thing.  The crucial piece.  The client is settling for this.  She’s letting it go on.

Why?  Because that’s what we all do, and all too often.  We settle for less.  There can be a myriad of reasons why we do that.  Perhaps we are afraid of change.  Maybe we don’t want the hassle.  Sometimes we may feel embarrassed, or somehow rude if we ask for what we want.  And frequently, we may actually feel it’s all we deserve, that we somehow can’t have more or better.

And that is settling, and that’s where the rub is.  When we settle, we diminish ourselves, and we sacrifice something that is important to us.  And doing the settling doesn’t actually help the other person either.  All it does is harm to ourselves.

There is a distinction to make here between settling and compromising.  A compromise is a negotiated agreement.  Settling is just giving yourself away.  Accepting less.  With nothing in return.

It was a new idea to the client that she could have actually asked the masseuse to stop talking.  It was a new idea that she could choose a massage person who didn’t chat through the ‘rub’.  Many of us, this client included, have been raised to be polite.  Some of us have been raised to not ‘make a fuss’, and even be as invisible as possible.  Acting from that perspective just creates a never ending circle of not honoring our own worth.

One of the ways you can see if this is there for you is to notice where you are paying for things that aren’t quite what you want.  Where are you settling?  And why?

Frequently, when we don’t settle it takes longer.  We may have to try a bunch of different massage people, we may have to shop around.  And that, in my opinion, it time well spent.

You’ll know if you are settling when something doesn’t ‘rub you the right way’.  At that point you actually are at a cross road.  Do you keep settling, or do you make a different choice?

Ka-ching

Shell

The Tax Scrabble

It’s tax time, again!  We are all caught up in the scrabble and scramble of taxes.  Sorting and assembling all those papers and numbers for our tax preparers.  It’s a time when your actual relationship with money becomes apparent. If you want to see it, that is.

We have all sorts of ways of responding to this ‘opportunity’.

Some people still practice the “put all the receipts in a shopping bag” method, much to the chagrin of their tax person!  That’s the extreme end of the spectrum.  It’s the total Ostrich scrabblestrategy.  The message is “I’m not looking, not at all!”  And, if that’s what you do, then it is going on all year long between you and money.  Not just at tax time.  In terms of the Scrabble game, you get no points because you don’t even look at the tiles.

Most of us do, however, do some sorting and compiling.  The question here then becomes are you actually noticing what is going on as you do that?  How much did you make last year?  Did you track all the deductible expenses so you could actually take advantage of them?  It’s our individual task to get the numbers to the tax preparer.

Taxes are an obligation, and we want our money obligations to be as low as is reasonable.  When it comes to taxes, that means taking full advantage of all the allowable deductions.  Sometimes it seems silly in the moment.  What does the mileage on this trip to a business meeting matter?  It matters in terms of money (57.5 cents per mile for 2015) and in terms of your relationship with money.  Are you paying attention, are you honoring what you are doing with this stuff you have worked so hard to get?  Are you paying attention?  Are you keeping the obligation part as low as is reasonable, so that you have more to fund the fun stuff?  That’s what it’s really about, isn’t it?

In our Scrabble analogy, if we aren’t taking advantage of all the deductions it would be like not replenishing our tiles before the next hand.

Can you go too far in this?  Can it become an obsession?   Well, yes, of course it can.  Anything can, even Scrabble.  🙂  It’s up to you to know when you have fallen into the other extreme.  Do you try to control every aspect or your money?  Or maybe you try to control how your partner spends?  It’s all very telling.  We just have to be willing to see what money is telling us.  If you just couldn’t tear yourself away from the Scrabble board you’d know you were in trouble.  What would that signal look like for you around money?

I’ve got one more new clue in the Tax Scrabble game.  It’s to review your return.  In our Scrabble analogy, it’s like looking for misspelled words.  No, you can’t figure out the actual taxes. What you can do instead is make sure the right numbers were used.  Okay, I know, I’m a recovering accountant.  I actually do this.  I look at the return and make sure the numbers jive back to the W2, 1099’s, and whatever else I know.  And, unfortunately, the truth is that I have often found mistakes.  The irony is that finding these mistakes has always saved me money.  This is a step no one wants to do, and yet it is very important.  Your tax preparer may support you in an audit, but they won’t be paying the additional tax, penalty or interest.  You will.

What does winning this game look like to me?  It looks like owing or getting back less than $1,000.  That means I’ve been using my money effectively, not letting the IRS hold it for me.  It means really being clear on what the earnings and deductions are.  Taking advantage of all that is allowed.  Honoring my money, and being clear on what I’m choosing to do with it, and paying attention to what it’s telling me.

Tax time is a great time to do that.  What you learn from last year, can still be applied to this year.  Who knows, you may land on a Triple Word Score if you are paying attention!

Ka-ching

Shell

Possible, Or Not?

Every day, we all have conversations with ourselves about what is possible and what isn’t.  There are lots of things that are impossible.  We can’t live without something to breathe.  We can’t fly without some sort of assistance outside ourselves.  Those are just a couple of impossibleexamples of the impossible.  Yet as we continue to think about this the waters get murkier.

So here’s a question:  “When everyone thought the world was flat, was it?”  Seems pretty simple to say “no”, the world is round, and was round.  I think a better answer is “It might has well have been flat, based on how people treated things.”  Circumnavigating the world seemed impossible.  Most people believed that it was.  Seems pretty silly to us now since we can see earth from space, and people circumnavigate it every day.  We orbit it because it’s is a ball, and not a circle.

Before the 1950’s it was impossible to run a mile in 4 minutes or less.  Currently Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj holds the record of 3:43.13, which has stood since 1999.  Now it seems like anything lower than 3:40 isn’t possible.  Of course, until it is.

What do you think is impossible in your life?  Is it impossible for you to do better with your money?  To make more? Save more? Be different?  Surely all of those things are more possible than running a fast mile, discovering penicillin, or breaking the sound barrier (October 14, 1947).

I’m going to contend that a bunch of what keeps our personal lives from changing is our belief that something just isn’t possible.  We habituate ourselves to the idea, and as pattern making humans, find ways to reinforce and perpetuate those beliefs.

Several years ago I had an experience that really made me look at what was possible, and what wasn’t.  It changed my thinking.

I was participating in a drug trial to lower the age for the “shingles” vaccine.  Seemed like a good thing to do.  One of my grandmother’s had shingles and it was awful.  I thought it would be a good thing to do to participate in the study, and it was (I got the good stuff, not the placebo J).

Here’s the fascinating impossible yet actual thing that happened:  I needed to have blood drawn before receiving the vaccine and several weeks after.  Both times I had the same phlebotomist.  She was one-armed.  She did have an elbow joint and a “stub” on that joint that she could move.

I don’t know what the story was.  Whether it happened after she was already a phlebotomist or before.  It wasn’t any of my business.  I was frankly pleased that I was able to squelch my urge to offer to help her.  She was efficient and effective without my help, which, on my tiny slippery veins is most often not the case.

What I do know is that for her, being a one-armed phlebotomist was more than possible.  And that’s the point.  Whether she was one-armed and decided to become a phlebotomist, or she was a phlebotomist and became one-armed, she made the decision that the two situations together were attainable and she was going to do it.

Most of us would not consider that a possibility.  It would be too hard to learn, too hard to get someone to hire us, just plain too hard.  And yet she did it. She probably had other choices, as we all do, but something stirred her to do the impossible.

Somehow, if we lose something like a hand we sit up and take notice.  And yet not being in a good place with our money may be just as challenging in the long run.  Was this courage on her part, or necessity or both?  My phlebotomist did not let the word “impossible” stand in her way. So what would stir you to courage or necessity or both?

Money Talk: Personal Life

“What?  Talk about money.  Oh no.  I can’t do that!”  I know that we were all raised not to talk about money.  It is, after all, the great taboo.  Even if you weren’t explicitly told verbally not to talk about it, you were ‘told’ by the actions you saw.

So here you are, an adult, and some sort of entrepreneur*: what do you do with that ‘don’t
talk about money’ thing now? personal

* The odds are really strong that, if you are reading this, you are self-employed, commission based, or an entrepreneur.  The explanation of why that is true is yet another blog…so back to the issue at hand.

Let’s make some distinctions here. Talking about money in our personal lives is different than talking about money in our business lives.  And since it’s such a big place, it’s going to be several blogs over several weeks!  So there!

Money Talk: Personal Life

Simply isn’t done, is it?  You’ve been trained that it’s rude or even crass to talk about money in your personal life.  Ironic, isn’t it, since we use it every day.  Additionally, there is so much emotional baggage around money that we feel weird even trying to talk about it.  This creates a genuine mess for most couples.  Another irony about this, from my perspective, is that money doesn’t actually create the emotion; we do.  Money has no opinion.  Ask money “how am I doing?” and it will say “you have $ 5,432.16”.  It won’t even engage in whether that is good, bad or indifferent.  We do that all on our own.

It’s a challenging thing to change this money talk stuff in our personal lives.  There is a great deal of cultural pressure to not talk about money.  And I think there are two places where you want to throw ‘caution to the wind’ and talk about it.  With your partner or spouse, and with your children.  Yep, you got it, with those people closest to you.

There are both emotional and practical reasons to talk to both your partner and your kids. When couples have money issues, it’s mostly about that the other person doesn’t see things the way you do.  Which, oh by the way, is actually one of the things that attracted you to them.

At the end of a talk I gave, a lady came up to me and said:  “Your talk was really great.  I need you to fix my husband.   He does all these really detailed, weird spreadsheets and wants me to track my spending.  Isn’t that just ridiculous.  I mean really!”  Seems pretty clear they are on different sides of a giant money chasm.

It’s tough to talk about money, not because money is so tough, but rather because what we make up about it is.

Think of it this way: most of us really do want more intimacy with our partner.  If we talk about money that will happen.  We will learn a lot about who they are, what they fear, where they need support.  And they will learn the same about you.

Here’s how to start. Ask about how money was when your partner was young (under 10).  Just be curious.  Try and understand how it was to be living in that world.  Have empathy.  The truth is that your partner is still in that world as far as their money thinking is concerned.  Then, some other time, tell your partner about how money was when you were a kid.  Go easy and slow.  There is a lot to learn here.

What about the children?  For many people, talking to their kids about money is even scarier than talking to them about sex.  You want to talk about money in ‘age appropriate’ ways.  The stock market isn’t what to talk about to a 5 year old.  I coached this guy once that just couldn’t save money.  He couldn’t save money because of what his parents had done.  One day they had broken open his beloved piggy bank and taken all the money.  He decided it wasn’t safe to save.  What actually had happened was that his parents had indeed broken his piggy and taken the money.  They took him and the money down to the bank and deposited it.  He ended up with this little blue book with numbers in it.  Here’s the problem; he was too young for this.  It wasn’t age appropriate.  He didn’t understand the silly old book or the numbers scribbled in it.  He’d had real coins and now he had a book.  Yuck.  Where’s his money go?

You can see that the parents were well intended, but they both went above what he could understand, and didn’t actually talk the whole thing through with him.  He thought his money was gone.

Here’s a caution about money and your kids.  Don’t get your money angst and emotion on them.  If you feel bad because you don’t have enough money for what they want, you are tying emotion to the money, and they will feel that and take it on.   The biggest thing your kids react to and internalize are the emotions you feel or express.  And they tie them to the thing you are feeling about.

Talking to your kids about money is not so much for now, as for the future.  They could have a relationship with money that is better and more effective than the one you have, if you can frame money differently for them now.

Please do start talking to your partner and your children about money.  Let’s change this taboo for the sake of having money be able to actually do its job, which is to tell us how we are doing.

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel for next week’s topic of talking money in business!

Ka-ching

Shell

Tis’ the Season to be Stressed…fa, la, la, la, la…etcetera

The buying frenzy gets wackier every year.  I actually remember back in the dark ages when stores were closed on Thanksgiving…oh, wait a minute, that was last year, wasn’t it?…

Actually I do remember when the sales were after the holidays, and not before.

We all know, intellectually, that this retail extravaganza is driven by stores needing to get stressmore sales.  Many, many stores earn the bulk of their revenue over the holidays.  They want to capture your attention and your money.  Good for them.

However, not necessarily so good for you.

So what is good for you?  What are the parts of the season that fill your heart?  The parts that bring you joy?  The parts that your memories are built on? How about focusing on them?

What if you kept the things that work for you, and ditched the rest of it?  Oh no, wait, you can’t do that!  What about everyone else’s expectations?

Well, what about them?

What do you really want your family and loved ones to experience this holiday season?

It is upon us, we’re past Thanksgiving and into December.  The home stretch. Whether Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, not to mention the New Year, the race is on to get it all together.

How about we flip the process around this year?  Instead of the list of presents, and what to buy, let’s start with the dream.  What do you want the results of this holiday season to be?  What are the feelings you want to have, and what do you want to impart to others?

Start with your intentions, your dreams, your desires.  Then, and only then, create a plan to have those happen.

See if you can’t interrupt the frenzy of shopping, baking, wrapping and entertaining before it really grabs hold, and get both clear and purposeful about in which direction you are going to go.

You absolutely have the ability to create the holiday season you want…truly.  It takes aligning your intentions and actions.  What are your dreams?  What would be truly wonderful?  Once you have clearly identified that for yourself, make sure that all your actions both reflect and align with it.

Create a theme or ‘mission statement’ for this holiday season.  Make a declaration.  Here are some ideas:

          This year we will feel closer and more loved.

          This year the holidays will be fun.

          This year the gifts will be meaningful.

You get the idea.  Just make one simple declaration and let that declaration light the way.  Don’t commit to ANYTHING that doesn’t align with your declaration.  Don’t spend time, energy or money in ways that don’t enhance and enrich your declaration.

The fundamental issue is that if we want things to be different, then we actually have to change both our intentions (dreams, desires, ideas) and our actions, at the same time!  How about letting at least a piece of that be your holiday present to yourself, and those you love?

Ka-ching

Shell

Money and Emotion

One of our biggest problems with money is the unrecognized emotion around it.

Sure we know about our “up front” money emotions.  There is the worry, the fretting and fear that there won’t be enough.  There is the confusion and concern about what to charge.  There is the angst about how to actually ‘afford’ retirement.  Those are all there, pushing and pulling at us.

But what about the other emotions around money?  The deeper, wordless ones?

You probably haven’t considered them, or  thought about the possibility that they even exist.  That’s pretty natural, because they are really, really old.

emotionRemember that thing about how we learn about money when we are really young, starting even when we are still pre-verbal?  And the first thing we learn is that we don’t talk about it?  So we interpret what we see our parent’s doing with what I call our ‘little kid brilliance’.  And that little kid part of us continues to run our money, unhindered and unconsidered for years and years.  Remember that?

Well, there is another piece to it.  A subtle yet important piece to it.  It’s the emotional ‘field’ that happens whenever your parents talked about money.  What was that?  Think of the emotional field as an aura, or a sense of the tone.  You know how that works.  We walk in a room and it just feels funny.  Maybe it has a bad vibe.

When we are very little babies, that is what the world is.  A big mass of emotional fields.  There are no words or concepts, there is just the perception of the field.

And the field around money was probably gunky, grey and unsettled.

Here’s this thing that comes up all the time, is dealt with daily, and every single time, there is something weird, odd and creepy about it.  Based on that repeated evidence, what conclusion would your little kid brain come to?

I’m guessing it would be that money is yucky, scary, awful stuff, and definitely to be avoided.  So there’s the hidden money emotion.  It’s not about specifics, it about the emotional field that is activated every time money comes up.

You have a choice to keep or change that field.  It’s not the only way, it’s simply one possibility.  Changing it is much more available once you recognize that it’s there.  So see what the overall mood is around money, and then choose!  Choose to keep it that way or to change it.It will make a difference, I promise.

Ka-ching

Shell

Except When It’s Not

One of the things that gets us all into trouble is Fixed Beliefs.  Those things we say, or think, with assurance as if they are the absolute truth.  We have these beliefs about all sorts of things, including money.

A few the money beliefs I hear most often are:

          Asking for money is wrong

          There’s never enough

          Rich people are bad, mean, greedy

          You can’t make money doing art

          Couples fight about money

          I can’t do numbers, so I can’t do money

The list goes on.

These beliefs aren’t helping us on two fronts.  First and foremost, they aren’t actually the whole truth.  And second, each time we say them we are reinforcing and strengthening their presence in our brains.  As we keep reinforcing our beliefs, other possibilities become harder and scorpionharder to embrace.  Eventually, we just drift towards stopping seeing or trying them at all.

Let’s make a distinction here between ‘Belief’ and ‘Truth’.  ‘Truth’ is something that is the same 100% of the time.  A  matches reality.  It’s never not, it always is.  There is less and less in life that is the truth.  Rocks aren’t hard anymore…turns out there’s a bunch of space between atoms…geez!  And more importantly our ‘Beliefs’ are not the ‘Truth’.  Our beliefs are ‘feelings’.  They are assumptions, often based on evidence.  The problem is that there are times when they just aren’t the only option.

Look at the money belief list above.  Are those always true?  Is there sometimes enough?  What about Oprah or Paul Newman?  How’s Yoyo Ma doing?  Know some couples that don’t fight about money?  And what does numbers really have to do with money these days?

Hmmm.  What to do?

It’s really pretty simple.  We need to broaden our perspectives just a bit, so the trick is that whenever you make one of those ‘belief’ statements, you follow it immediately with an appropriate version of one of these options:

          Unless of course it’s not

                   Or

          Except when it isn’t

 So:

          Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people, except when they are.

          I just can’t save money, except when I do.

          All used car salespeople are rats, unless of course they aren’t.

          My family never pays me back when I lend them money, except when they do

Get the idea?  It actually is kinda fun, and it both softens your view, and changes your brain, unless of course it doesn’t. (snicker)

Ka-ching

Shell

Good And Bad

There is this really great assessment I like to use with clients – The Strengths Finder.  The test tells you what your top five strengths are.  Things like Focus, Positivity, and Harmony.  For most of us, when we take the test, our response is something like “Yeah, I know that.  That makes sense; those are my strengths.”  But I once had a client who said “I always thought those were my weaknesses!”

You know, I think there is a lot of truth in that.  Truth for most of us.  Our strengths are goodbadthe seat of our weaknesses.  They both serve and hinder us.

It’s a wondrous thing to relax into your strengths.  To own them and to lean on them in times of trouble.  It’s much more effective than to try to do what we are not good at.  They are the things that are easy and natural for us, and of course we want to use them.

Oddly, at least to me, many of us have been trained to avoid that which is easy and instead go for the hard stuff.  Not so clever is it?  Harder isn’t better, it’s just harder.

While they are wonderful,  our strengths can yet provide us with challenges. They can sometimes be in conflict with others.  Someone else, for example, may not appreciate your ability to be more adaptable than they are.   Your talents may limit your perspectives; you may have trouble seeing other options.    And frequently, in life, I find that something that was supposed to be awful, turns out to be quite good. Or often vice versa.

So who knows what is good and what is bad?  All we can do is our best.  And using our strengths as a natural resource is doing our best!

Do just that, use what is easy for you, what you do naturally.  You were given your particular strengths to use in your own unique way.  Go for it!

Your Porridge

Do you think your porridge is the perfect temperature?  That’s what you are betting on when the very first thing you tell someone is how much you charge.

It happens to us all the time.  We meet someone and, right after they ask what we do, they ask what we charge.  Don’t answer that question at that time.  It’s a trap.  What they are unconsciously doing is distracting themselves from actually finding out about you and your services.  And you are helping them succeed at the distraction.

Once you answer the question of what you charge they are no longer present.  They are in that part of their brain that is analyzing what you just said.  And what they are thinking is most likely either: “Wow, that’s a lot!” or “Gee, that seems too cheap”.  The likelihood of your number being perfect “porridge” is pretty slim.  Remember, unless it is perfect, in their mind, you have lost their attention by giving them the number.

Instead, wait until you know more about them, and they know more about you, before you talk price.   Here’s how that works.  By all means, acknowledge the question. If you don’t, they will be wondering why you skipped over it, and again be somewhere else other than with you.  But instead of giving them the number, steer them back to talking about what they might find valuable in what you do.  It could sound something like this:  “I get that you are interested in knowing how much working with me would cost…and…before we go there, tell me more about you.  How might I be able to help you?”

Create rapport and relationship.  Present to them some positives, be they actions that could be taken or results that could be achieved, so that when and if the money part gets stated, there is a context for it.  They will have value to judge the number by. The money won’t be the only thing they are thinking of. They will also be aware of what the result of the expense will really be. The will see the value they get for their money.

That way they much more likely to want your porridge!

Expats

In order to really live your dreams and find your life, most of us have to become “expats”.  I don’t mean you actually have to move to a foreign land.  However, you will have to understand that your dream land doesn’t match the dream lands of those around you.  Your family, your culture, your friends all have dreams and expectations for you.  Mostly they are their interpretations of what is best for you, or what is best in general.  They aren’t all bad, they just may not fulfill your inner desires.

Long ago I was doing a call with a young woman who wanted to become a coach.  She was enthused and dedicated to becoming a financial success.  Part of her dream was to improve the financial position of her family.  To bring them along with her, if you will.  I know I bursted her bubble when I said: “but they won’t want to come”.

Our families, clans and tribes have their internal cultures or “lands”.  They have their own mythology and mores.  A bunch of those concepts are around money.  Some come from struggles.  One that families that came from “depression era” people have is “we know how to get through the hard times.”  It becomes a badge of honor, a beloved quality of fortitude.  If someone comes along and says “well, that’s all well and good, but you can actually have money, comfort and ease.  You can stop struggling”, there is a way in which they don’t want to hear it.  It would fly in the face of truths they have held forever.  They might even feel that they had done it “wrong”.  That’s pretty jolting.  They may not really be ready for such a radical shift.

So if you have dreams that are different than those expected by your family or group, and you really want those dreams, you are going to have to become a kind of “expat”.

You may have to figure out how to live in the foreign country of ease and wealth.

Many of us have already done this “expat” thing in many ways.  We’ve moved across the country, we’ve married people that didn’t fit the prescribed pattern, we’ve made different choices.

I’m just pointing to the fact that in order to make those different choices around your money, you’ll have to strike out into foreign territory, and be more self reliant.  You’ll have to become an “expat”.