We sure do get this money stuff tangled up, don’t we? This is the place where I untangle pieces of it. Most of it’s about money while some of it’s about something else that strikes my interest. All of it is about noticing how things get knotted up and how to untangle the knots. Oh, and if you have a topic you’d like me to explore, just let me know. I’ll be happy to give it a good shake and see what untangles.
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.
I 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: www.sensiblecoaching.com
“Follow the money” is a catch phrase about how to solve a “who done it”—it’s a way to put the puzzle pieces together. What I’m wanting to do is talk a bit more about how that idea relates to our own money. If we follow our own money what will it tell us?
Let me start by talking about how money works in a company. Money tells us what’s working and what’s not. Following the money shows us where the system is asking for help, and where it’s smoothly running. It’s one of the delights of financial statements. A company’s financials tell you what’s working well, and where the problems are. If customers aren’t paying invoices, it shows up in the Accounts Receivable and it points to a problem. Somehow, the customers aren’t happy. Now we know where to look to help the company.
It’s exactly the same thing with your money. What does your money tell you? Okay, your first response to that question is probably, “There’s not enough of it!” Let’s look a little deeper than that. That “not enough” answer has some emotion (yours) around it, while money is just trying to be neutral and show you what’s going on. Where is there not enough? Where is the money going? Do you know? The money will tell you, if you pay attention to it, if you listen to it. Listening to it may look like using Quicken or creating a spreadsheet to allocate expenses. It may look like hiring a bookkeeper. It may look like paying attention to what you’re spending money on when you spend it. It may look like something more creative than linear, like using my GOSH model. Regardless, if you follow it, it will tell you.
For most of us, the “leakage” problem spending comes through the credit card. It’s money that gets spent easily, quickly, and without much noticing. So take a look. Again, what’s money telling you there?
Here’s a way to look at this: It’s like dieting. To lose weight you have to eat less and exercise more. You can find out what you are doing by noticing what you eat and how much you exercise. We know that if you don’t change those habits, then you will not lose weight.
It’s the same process for food or money!
If “not enough” is the issue, you need to spend less or make more. Money can actually tell you which. And if you choose not to look at where money is being spent and how you earn it, it cannot and will not change.
So what would it be like to actually follow your money and find out what it has to say to you? What might the information it gives you—without emotion—help you to see?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore this idea and get some support in deciphering what your money it saying? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website: www.sensiblecoaching.com
Are you afraid of being greedy? Are you worried that there is a part of you that might want to take all the dolls? Eat all the cake? Cheat others out of their share?
Many clients have expressed that fear to me. Here’s what I know to be true: If you are worried about being greedy, then you aren’t really capable of it. The worry itself points to your awareness of the greed. I think that people who are truly greedy don’t actually think of it as greed. They think of it as their reward, what they have earned, what they have a right to.
Sure as young children we all may have been chastised about being greedy or selfish. It was part of how we learned to share. Sharing is a way of supporting the group as a whole, and not being selfish. All well and good.
Greedy is defined as: “Wanting or taking all that one can get, with NO THOUGHT of others needs.” So by definition if you are worried about being greedy, and worried about taking from others, you don’t actually have greed.
Think of the greed warning as yet another tactic of that voice in your head. You know the one, the inner critic that is always on you about being good enough? Its job is to keep you worried and fretting so you are distracted from being effective. If you weren’t worried about being greedy what would you do differently? And what might that bring? What new thoughts and experiences might letting go of that fear and fret give you?
Who knows? One possibility is that by not worrying about being greedy you might actually amass more that you could then choose to share. Hmmm…
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore this idea about the fear of greed keeping you distracted? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website: www.sensiblecoaching.com
My friend, Chris Venn (http://www.chrisvenn.com) 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: 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.”
For 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMIZGrgWOO4) —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: www.sensiblecoaching.com
How deep does the money taboo go? Pretty deep, if you ask me! I recently experienced a remarkable example of just how systemic this taboo around talking about money is: I signed up for Medicare. Yep, as of October 17th I will pass into one of those milestone years: 65. I wish I lived it a culture where they’d send me flowers, maybe a watch, or even a certificate.
Instead what I got was the ‘joy’ of signing up for Medicare. Frankly, it’s a bewildering experience. For those of you who haven’t been through the adventure, here’s what you can expect:
- A deluge of phone calls from people wanting to sell you Medicare of various parts and flavors
- Warnings that you’d better pick Part B now, or forever pay more money—they don’t actually say how much more, just more!
- Letters from current insurers telling you to contact Social Security and sign up
- A letter from the Social Security Administration telling you to enroll
What you don’t get is any clarity about the process or any idea of the cost. I went on line to sign up. I found it ironic that when you sign up there are not any questions about what carrier you have chosen for the supplemental stuff. It’s more like “do you want this, yes or no?” Oh and up to this point there is absolutely no mention of what it might cost. Hmmm.
So then the magic card comes in the mail, and for me the other card from Kaiser telling me to hide the magic card, and only use their card. Again no mention of money. (I know I’m a bit obsessed with wanting to know about costs—it goes with the territory being a recovering accountant and a money coach)
All this started in early July. Finally I got a bill for the Part A and/or Part B (really just Part B but why make it easy?) issued on August 26th. It was for October through December—so for a quarter—and it was for $365.40. That’s $121.80 per month, which I assume is the going rate for people signing up now since I have one friend that pays $104 per month and another who pays $109 per month.
So the first time I actually received any notification of what it’s going to cost is when I got the bill. That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? When you buy almost anything you actually know the cost first, right? But not with this!
And there is at least one more money thing attached to this that I found totally astounding. You have some choices. You can pay monthly instead of quarterly, you can set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking, and you can pay by credit card (sort of). Actually the credit card option is both archaic and dangerous. Want to pay by credit card? Great, fill out the form on the bottom of the bill from U.S. Department of Health and Services and mail it back to them. Peachy. Then a human (and no doubt a different one every time you send in a payment) will open and process your payment. With all the concerns about keeping credit card information secure this is bizarre!
And just as a side note, the Social Security folks—who are very much tied to Medicare—decided to do this wacky thing earlier this year. They were going to make it that each time you tried to sign on to the Social Security website they would send a special code to your cell phone that you’d have to input to get on line. Sometime after the announcement they backed out of that mess. I guess someone pointed out that. contrary to popular opinion, not everyone has a cell phone, or (like me) has it on all the time!
The reason I felt compelled to write about this is less about the vagaries of money and Medicare and more about how deep the taboo around money goes. Deeper than we think, yes? There is a way it is so deep we don’t even notice that we aren’t talking about it.
Given that money is something we use and think about everyday, it remains amazing how taboo it is. I can’t help thinking that if the conversations were more open and the topic was just plain talked about we’d have less trouble with money… hmmm.
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore your money taboo? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website: www.sensiblecoaching.com
Remember the Money Traps? They are those things where you are just bopping along and it seems like you suddenly fall through a hole around money stuff. Sometimes, when we are trying to make a decision, all sorts of things can get confusing and money traps really don’t help with that process—they impede it! Let me show you an effective way out of one of those traps using an exchange with a current client (with her permission, of course!)
Recently a client, who is in real estate, emailed me between our scheduled calls with a somewhat urgent conundrum. She had the opportunity to take a major real estate workshop through a different company than the one she works for. She needed to make the decision to take the course or not within two days time. She wrote: “Anyway, I need to decide today or tomorrow to enroll. The ONLY thing holding me back is the fee $799. But otherwise I have gotten confirmation after confirmation that it will propel me into the numbers I want in real estate. How do I make this decision?”
Since she was tangled in this, and it seemed like the thing holding her back was perhaps the Money Trap of the actual cost I emailed her with this:
“Let’s ask the ‘deeper’ part of you, how’s that? Stand up, find a spot in the room to stand in, close your eyes, imagine, ‘You have just finished the class’. Really get that sense of that experience. Now scan your body and just notice what sensations you get, and where.
“Okay, now do the same process with other perspectives, moving to a different spot on the floor with each perspective—like, ‘You don’t take the class,’ and, ‘You take another, different class.’ Make sure you try it with at least three different options. Notice what the exercise is pointing to.
“Now if it is about the money (which is likely) do the same thing again but this time it’s, ‘You spend the money on the class,’ ‘You don’t spend the money,’ ‘You put it on a credit card,’ and other options you may think of. Let me know what you discover in the different perspectives.”
She wrote back with: “Okay, I did the exercise. When I took the class my body felt like my feet and legs were secure and grounded to the floor—my head and shoulders light. When I didn’t take the class my body felt very heavy and tight in the shoulders. When I took another class my body felt nothing really. When I spent the money and when I didn’t spend the money my body felt exactly the same.“
Continuing, I wrote back: “Ah, so what does that tell you? (I love this stuff !)”
To which she answered: “It tells me my life will not be drastically changed whether I spend the money or not. It tells me that I will have a more solid foundation in real estate without stress if I take the class, and if I don’t take it I will have stress in my shoulders.”
Translation? It’s not about the money!
By sorting through this in a body way, instead of a brain way, she was able to bypass her inner critic voice that doesn’t want her to try anything new and gain clarity for herself. Hot stuff, heh?
Only one caveat here: don’t ask yourself, “How does it feel?” Instead scan your body and see what you notice. The feeling word asks for an interpretation which sends us back into our heads. I was using this with another client on the phone the other day and she said, “My stomach feels guilty.” I encouraged her to go back to a more descriptive, non-emotional word like jumpy, or achy. After you’ve done all the perspectives then you can make the emotional interpretations—doing it in the middle muddies the water.
So the next time you find yourself in a money trap, find those different spots to stand so you can talk to your deeper self, notice what’s happening, and see what your inner wisdom has to tell you! It’s cool stuff!
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore this technique a bit more? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
The other day, in a conversation with a friend, I realized that it’s not the Multi-Tasking that’s impossible—it’s the Multi-Thinking! I can do two things at once as long as one of them requires little or no thought. For example, folding laundry while talking on the phone with a friend. I can do that!
I both knit and sew (not simultaneously), and can do either one while watching TV. But to some degree it depends on the complexity of the craft and the complexity of the television program. If the program is to engrossing, the knitting trails off. If the sewing requires some problem solving the TV gets put on pause.
Frankly I am no longer a ‘spring chicken’—cluck, cluck—and it is much more challenging to do Multi-Thinking tasks. As a CFO I remember walking down the hall at work and having multiple employees ask me all sorts of questions about varied topics in rapid succession. At the time I relished it. It was sort of like being on a Quiz Show with all the questions being in the category of Accounting and Business. It was true Multi-Thinking.
One of the main reasons that I think Multi-Tasking out lasts Multi-Thinking as we age is habit. “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg was quite illuminating on how much habit supports our daily lives. Those routines are ingrained. I fold laundry a certain way. I’ve done it that way for years. It’s a task I don’t have to think about. It’s a habit.
Cooking is a habit and routine that is often easy for me. However, if I’m following a recipe and having to go step by step it shifts from being routine to needing thinking. If a friend it talking to me while I’m cooking I have to keep reminding myself of what’s next. So when the routine gets interrupted, the Multi-Thinking gets challenged.
Remember that study that showed that when we are interrupted at work it takes more than 20 minutes to get our heads back where they were? Perhaps that too has to do with Multi- Thinking vs Multi-Tasking?
Which brings me to another point. Naming this idea Multi-Thinking really clarifies and distinguishes which things I can combine together and which things I can’t. It’s all in what I name it isn’t it?
For many years now I’ve contended that a major part of the problem with the acceptance of climate change is the name “Global Warming”. I call it “Global Weirding”—and that is right on. Weather is getting weird!
So there is value in having a name for something! It lets us think about and hold it differently. We become more adept at managing it.
Here we are in September, when many of us really get back into our work lives. What might be different if you make the distinction and allow a bit of Multi-Tasking, while banning Multi-Thinking?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore this Multi-Thinking idea a bit more? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
We all need a respite every once in a while, don’t we? I love this word: respite. It means:
We all have different ways to restore and recharge. The possibilities are really endless, it all depends on what works for you. Some of us are more adept at this that others. For example cats! Note my cat, Ponzu in her sunny Pocket of Peace. Not a care in the world.
I recently had my own experience of this that came about in an odd way. I took my computer in for an “upgrade” last week. It was gone Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday. Initially it was truly odd and disconcerting. I’d have some random question come up in my head, something like “Gee how hot is it supposed to get today?” or “Did Oscar Wilde know Winston Churchill?” You know those questions that we now can instantly answer with Google? Except when we can’t because we have no computer. Then there was the “Oh, since I have this time why don’t I call my friend Janet? I haven’t talked to her in ages!” Guess where her phone number is stored…yep, in the computer.
So it wasn’t a complete technology fast. I had the telly, and phone. It was odd, I felt a bit at sea like we do with anything we aren’t used to. And then it started to shift. If became this Pocket of Peace. Somehow I felt calmer. I seemed to have time in a new way. I made a Caftan from choosing the fabric from my stash, to cutting it and sewing it all in one day. Without rush or hurry.
And when the computer came back, although I was happy and thrilled that it now works better, I wasn’t seduced back to the constant call it sends of “Come see what’s on Facebook! Play a few card games! Check your email!” And a week later, although I’m back on the computer, I’m still in a calmer place. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s about stopping so much “doing” so I can experience more “being”! That being place seems to bring things into perspective. They seem more manageable and less urgent to me.
A while back I wrote a blog about Time Travel, and how as humans we do that all that time – go back in the past, dream of the future. In away I was experiencing Time Travel. I was in a slower time that was allowing me more focus and Pockets of Peace…ahhh.
As summer comes to a close in a couple of weeks and we all head back into the scurry of September, let’s remember and make room for our own Pockets of Peace.
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to explore figuring out where your pocket of peace may be hiding? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
This is my friend, Claire, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. You can see by the photo that it’s one of those hazy, almost foggy days. She’s smiling and looking great. And look, what’s that in her hand? That little vial? Oh well, that’s Gunnar, or more accurately some of Gunnar’s ashes.
Claire’s cousin, Gunnar, died on the 4th of July weekend in 2015. He was just 21, hadn’t really had much time or done a bunch of things yet. But oh the places he’s been since then! His extended family (and there are quite a few of them) all have been taking Gunnar on adventures—everywhere! Sometimes he just visits like when Claire took him to work one day. She didn’t want him to get stepped on, so he just stayed in the vial. In other places a bit of his ashes get left like when one family friend took him to see the sunrise in Reykjavik. Gunnar was named for his family’s first immigrant from Iceland, Gunnar O.
Recently, when the vials are empty his carriers refill the interior where the ashes were with the elements of the environment he was left in. Some of the additives are waters, beach sand, or even moss. These are labeled and delivered back to his parents as a souvenir of his journey. He’s even been mixed with a bit of Tattoo ink for a more permanent site visit.
He’s really having quite an adventure. He’s been to a Neal Young concert, one of Gunnar’s favorites, and seen the Pope up close when he visited the U.S. Both NASA and Stanford have had Gunnar visits. He’s been to Ireland and Jamaica. He’s been added to fireworks and gunpowder and shot into the bright night sky. While in New York he went from under the Brooklyn Bridge to catching the view of the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building. Gunnar has been wandering in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming a bunch, and attended a Royals game in Kansas City.
His adventures continue. And as Claire said: “It’s the coolest idea and I am grateful for my family’s willingness to participate and to actually enjoy the celebration of this young man’s life. Maybe his “job” was to bring us closer together. He’s done a bang up job so far.”
Notice that what’s really happening here is that this family is creating experiences that they want to share with Gunnar and each other. Those experiences are what we cherish and remember. It’s an enriching way to spend our time, oh and money too, for that matter.
We all honor those we have lost in different ways. We take a piece of them with us in our hearts if not in a little vial. This family has found a way to be very intentional about that, and strengthen their own connection at the same time. I’m going to be more intentional about sharing my adventures with those that tag along with me in my heart.
Happy trails to you, Gunnar!
Shell Tain, The Untangler
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!
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 www.sensiblecoaching.com