It’s Not About the Money: Can Discovering Your Money Type Set You Free?

I had double jaw surgery just over a month ago. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. Recovery was the perfect time to continue reading. While spending time in my hometown for the Fourth of July weekend, I came across Brent Kessel’s 2008 book It’s Not About the Money: Unlock Your Money Type To Achieve Spiritual and Financial Abundance in the library. I’m soooo glad I found this gem and my lil’ ol’ library.

Kessel is a renown financial advisor and yogi, so he offers a unique perspective on money. He discovered that people need to understand their core financial story in order to make meaningful changes. The book helps people identify themselves in 8 money Brent Kessler's 8 Money Archetypesarchetypes, provides information on how each archetype can revamp her finances, and provides exercises and meditations to inspire a fresh approach to her relationship with money. Meditating and looking at financial decisions more objectively can help you detach from emotions and make better decisions.

The exercises and meditations in the book are so helpful, in my opinion. Kessel asks tough questions to really help you understand your conditioning and motives for your financial behavior. He proposes that our “Core Story” was developed in early childhood and created money scripts that you subconsciously play out today. For example, growing up with little food and parents who worried about how to pay the bills could force one to try to make as much money as possible (like the Empire Builder) or worry about every cent that goes in and out of the home (like the Guardian).

The archetypes include:

  1. The Guardian is always alert and careful.
  2. The Pleasure Seeker prioritizes pleasure and enjoyment in the here and now.
  3. The Idealist places the greatest value on creativity, compassion social justice, or spiritual growth.
  4. The Saver seeks security and abundance by accumulating more financial assets.
  5. The Star spends, invests, or gives money away to be recognized, feel hip or classy, and increase self-esteem.
  6. The Innocent avoids putting significant attention on money and believes or hopes that life will work out for the best.
  7. The Caretaker gives and lends money to express compassion and generosity.
  8. The Empire Builder thrives on power and innovation to create something of enduring value.

Before reading the full descriptions of the eight archetypes, I realized that my money archetypes and philosophy have changed (for the better) over the years. Before getting serious about debt repayment and saving, I was the “Pleasure Seeker” and the “Innocent.” My pleasure-seeking lead to racking up credit card debt without regard to the future impact. The “Innocent” in me made think everything would work out even if I didn’t have a plan to reduce debt and set goals. Why did I think this way? Well, my mother exhibits this behavior. Apple. Tree.

Wow. It’s all just conditioning. I don’t have to act like that anymore. — Brent Kessel

Now, I’m much more vigiliant, realizing that being irresponsible wouldn’t help me in the long-run.  The “Guardian” and the “Saver” best describe me. I aim to become secure and wealthy by shedding debt, being careful and accumulating assets. This quiz on Kessel’s website can help you determine your archetype(s).

There are bad sides to each archetype, too. “For example, Savers rely on their habits to feel secure and safe, and Guardians turn to compulsive behaviors, constantly analyzing their financial affairs in the hope of finding some reassurance.” In the past week alone, I called about my loans, tweaked transfers and so on to try to gain the least bit of edge. My wheels are always spinning. It’s as if I’m become obsessed with my finances after years of apathy as a Pleasure Seeker and Innocent. Kessel wrote: “Often it is the archetype we reject that we most need in order to create balance and freedom in our lives.” He encourages you to find the “Middle Way”, a balance, among the archetypes to create a fulfilled life. We move toward balance “when we are not caught in the mind’s strategies to become secure or happy.”

…with just a few of the right tools, no matter what your history with money has been, you can earn and keep money, and even grow wealthy if that’s what you want. — Brent Kessel

What makes It’s Not About The Money awesome is that Kessel gives specific tips for each archetype on the following topics: cash flow and budgeting, investing, insurance, taxes, gifting and estate planning, and philanthropy and generosity.

Kessel suggests that you suppress the “Wanting Mind”, which constantly tells you that you are not enough or don’t have enough. That feeds the negative part of the Core Story. He spends most of the third part of the book talking about generosity. He wrote: “…when we are focused on the greater good, we are not as consumed by our own self-involved Core Story, and hence more is possible.” When you look to help others, you often forget about your own hang-ups and move toward balance and freedom.

We are free when we move from a focus on getting love, abundance, peace and freedom to being love, abundance, peace and freedom. In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels sufficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort. — Brent Kessel

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How to Be Financially Successful in Your 20’s

Weeks 2 and 3 oHowToBeSuccessfulMillenialf the Live Richer Challenge were full of tasks that I had already completed after applying lessons from previous readings, which is a good thing. The Budgetnista’s in line with other financial planners.

This week (Week 4) is all about credit; and the next, investing. I’m excited for the investment portion for sure. That topic often scares me. The Budgetnista has a way of breaking down tough concepts into simple measures so most can understand it. That’s great for her target audience of young, black women.

The main points I took away from Weeks 2 and 3 were the importance of automation and notes from this free ebook The Budgetnista contributed to on MoneyTips.com — The Millennial Next Door [Revealed]: How To Be Financially Successful in Your 20s. The survey answers from other 20-somethings helped me see where I am among my peers.

  • The majority (55%) earn from $25,000 to $75,000
  • 63% have less than $25,000 in assets
  • 30% say student debt has impacted their ability to be financially independent or successful
  • 87% of successful millennials have set financial goals and are on track to meet them at least to some extent
  • 85% successful millennials keep budgets
  • On average, successful milleninals save 21% of what they earn
  • 91% say they are financially literate

The top 5 financial concerns are:

  1. Saving enough to live comfortably in retirement (47%)
  2. Earning enough to afford the lifestyle I/we want to live in the future (46%)
  3. Pay off student loans (35%)
  4. Living within my/our means (34%)
  5. Maintaining my/our current lifestyle in the event I lost my job and/or can’t find work (29%)

The biggest financial missteps so far include:

  1. Taking on too much consumer debt (23%)
  2. Spending frivolous (22%)
  3. Racking up college-related debt (19%)
  4. Making investment decisions they later regretted (8%)
  5. Not saving enough (5%)

The e-book featured great tidbits from financial planners and bloggers.

Words On Budgeting

Matt Becker said he understood that budgeting isn’t something that works for everyone.

“I think it sets people up for failure by putting the focus on spending less instead of the real goal of using your money purposefully to get more of the things that make you happy. Instead, I encourage my clients to focus on three things:

  1. Automate savings
  2. Tracking spending (so you can make informed decisions)
  3. Creating good habits that align their daily lives with their long-term goals”

Words On Debt

“The biggest financial misstep I see millennials make is taking on large amounts of unnecessary debt for things like home, vehicles, or college. Many of these same millennials would say they place a high value on flexibility and freedom, when in reality they are getting neither. Debt almost always limits flexibility and freedom.” — Ben Wacek, CFP

Words On Setting Goals

“While finance is very mathematical, it’s also very emotional. People tried to accomplish their goals faster when they’re tied to something that’s exciting to them.” — J. Money

Words On Investing

“Just get started. Many people do tons of research and are victims of paralysis by analysis. Trying to decide whether they should invest into load or no-load mutual funds, ETFs or dividend-paying stocks. Take a small amount and invest into something. Even if it ends up being a crummy investment you’ll learn a ton by going through the motions versus doing more and more research.” —Jeff Rose, CFP

New Year’s Resolutions: The Importance of Setting Financial Goals

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. On New Year’s Eve last night, I was in the same place—my apartment. However, I was in a different mindset. Earlier in the day, one of my friends came by, and we completed our vision boards. This was such a fun exercise. It was my first foray in vision boards. I dedicated aVisionBoardPost Money section to fiscal fitness. It features a hand grabbing cash, a cute piggy bank and positive sayings to remind of me of goals for the year (and the rest of my life, for that matter) such as:

  • “Your money. In your control.”
  • “Take control of your retirement”
  • “Cut costs.”
  • “Add a little richness to your life without spending a fortune.”

For weeks, I had been trying to get perspective on my money goals for 2015. One day, I looked back at my Debt Dash Plan created in January 2014 during the 21-Day Financial Fast. Four small debts are paid in full. Awesome! I had unknowingly completed non-fiscal goals, including dating more (well, at all, but that’s for a different blog), cooking new recipes, reading more and so on. I wrote down all of those goals earlier in the year, but misplaced the paper and wasn’t tracking them. The practice of simply writing them down must have helped manifest them, though. This year, I want to track my progress.

So many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. According to a Fidelity survey, the top three financial resolutions for four years now are:

  • Saving more (55 percent). The median commitment is an additional $200 a month.
  • Paying off debt (20 percent)
  • Spending less (17 percent)

The Fidelity survey also found a correlation between expressing a financial goal and improving one’s financial life. About half (51-percent) of those who made a money resolution last year said they are now “better off financially,” compared to just 38 percent of those who didn’t set one. One out of two. Not bad.

About half (51-percent) of those who made a money resolution last year said they are now “better off financially,” compared to just 38 percent of those who didn’t set one.

Furthermore, for those who made a resolution last year, almost two-thirds (74 percent) succeeded in at least getting halfway to their goal. Even better, 29 percent were completely successful.

I completed two of the goals I set in June, and got halfway through the third one. Progress! It’s all about progress!

Here are my financial goals for 2015:

  • Save $53 per pay period to have an additional $1378 in the emergency fund by the end of the year (That’s how much I would have saved doing the 52-week money challenge, but I like saving consistent amounts instead of $52 one week; $51, the next, and so on.)
  • Learn more about investing by reading at least one book or completing an online tutorial quarterly
  • Reset Roth IRA contributions to contribute at least $100 per month
  • Pay off two of the three remaining credit cards in full using the Debt Dash or snowball method
  • Pay at least one extra student loan payment within the year by making a small extra payment each month

Unfortunately, the extra student loan payment will go toward interest not the balance, but I gotta do something. It’ll make me happier to know that I’m, at least, trying to speed up the repayment process.

In You Don’t Have to Be Rich: Comfort, Happiness and Financial Security On Your Own Terms, personal finance champion Jean Chatzky says just working toward your goals —not even completing them — boosts happiness.

“People who are steadily working toward their goals are much closer to the happiness levels of people who are already there then those they’ve left in the dust. … You don’t have to hit your marks to be happy. Just making the effort to a point at which you start to notice results makes a tremendous difference.”

“You don’t have to hit your marks to be happy. Just making the effort to a point at which you start to notice results makes a tremendous difference.”— Jean Chatzky

Chatzsky also says writing down goals helps you see them clearly, realize all the interim steps you need to take to accomplish them, see how much money you need to put toward them and think of the trade-offs.

“And—oh yes— it makes you happy,” she writes. “Goal setters are happier with their finances and less likely to worry about their money. Likewise, financially happy people are more knowledgeable about the amount they need to save in order to reach their goals, and are more likely to be on track to do so.”

Follow more of Chatzky’s tips below:

The Four Steps of Setting Goals

    1. See what you want. (Visualization is key. Be specific. Be clear. Once you have your vision, focus on how it makes you feel. To become a better forecaster of your own happiness, you have to think about how those things, people and outcomes will make you feel if and when you get them, ex. winning the lottery.)
    2. Write your goals down.
    3. Turn your goal into an action plan. (Break it down into manageable parts. Saving $5,000 in a year turns into saving $100 for 50 weeks.)
    4. Understand the time involved. (It won’t happen overnight.)

The Six Keys to Achieving Goals

“People who have at least started to achieve their goals are much more likely to feel useful, content, and confident.”

  1. Begin.
  2. Recognize the obstacles in your way. (i.e. emails from daily deals, hanging with certain people, driving by a certain store.)
  3. Build better habits. (“Many people make the mistake of looking at goals as a point in time some distance away. You’re better off if, instead, you can look goals as a series of lifelong changes you have to make to achieve those desires.”)
  4. Automate where you can.
  5. Set up reminders.
  6. Focus on tomorrow (not yesterday).

In Good Debt, Bad Debt: Knowing the Difference Can Save Your Financial Life, author  Jon Hanson writes that goal setters should consider the BDO method (Be, Do, Own) to understand why, not just how, you’re going to complete goals.

  • Who will you become?
  • What will you be doing to achieve these goals?
  • What do you see yourself owning?

That’s why it’s great to name your goals and savings funds, like folks do on their online Capital One 360 accounts. Give goals names and meanings. And, hopefully, you’ll be on your way to success.

Cheers to 2015!

Lessons learned from “The Frugalista Files”

Frugal is the new blackSaturday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was so beautiful that my 30-minute walk turned into a 3-hour-and-30-minute outdoor, love fest. The temperatures hovered around 70 and the cool breeze swept over my skin to give relief from the sunlight. I sat on a park bench finishing up “The Frugalista Files”.

I still have no idea why it took me so long to read this book. It’s like I’m sitting in Natalie’s shoes, just 5 or 6 years later. I guess things come to you when you’re open to them.

When she was writing about going to the NABJ Convention in Chicago in 2008, I recalled my time at that very same place. I was a student, working on the convention newspaper. I wish I would have met her then. She could have warned me about the dangers of debt.

Like Natalie, I knew I’d work at a newspaper for a long time and eventually win the coveted Pulitzer Prize. But I wasn’t thinking about frugality then. I was headed into my senior year of college, spending money on credit cards that I didn’t plan to pay back. I probably charged some of my convention wear to those cards. I didn’t understand credit. I just knew that I wanted what I wanted… and right then!

I love Natalie’s candor about everything. More importantly, I loved seeing her mindset completely transform. It’s the same transformation I’m undergoing – not getting my hair done every month, cooking at home more, freelancing more to increase my income, and realizing that I can’t go to every party or trip with my girlfriends. One of my good friends keeps talking about taking trips to Las Vegas or Miami. But she lives with relatives, and doesn’t have any school loans or credit balances. She might be able to do it, but not I. My one big trip is to New Orleans. Decisions, decisions. But I like where I’m going now. I must stay on the frugal track.

Within 8 months of frugal living, Natalie realized:

“I haven’t starved. I still have friends. I still have a roof over my head. Someone remind me, why was I such a spending slut?”

LOL!

She realized that so many things are out of her control, but spending and using credit can be tamed. Amen, sista!

Natalie brought up Suze Orman’s advice for anyone under 35 years old: “…do whatever it takes to pursue your passion to build your career.” I was talking to my co-worker about the fact that I’m becoming obsessed with money and tracking my spending. She said maybe personal finance is the thing that wakes me up every day. It’s my morning coffee. Maybe she’s right. I hope to get out of this debt hole and be able to help other women achieve their goals.

Natalie took a buyout from the Miami Herald, continued blogging and freelancing, and never looked back. She went from a “cubicle rat to a take-charge career girl,” owning The Frugalista brand. During 2008 alone, “The Frugalista” reduced her debt from $21,021.24 to $14,876.30. That’s almost $6,150 or 30 percent! By April 2010, she was debt free. Awesome! That’s just the motivation I need. I’m so glad she shared her story.

Seeing myself in Natalie P. McNeal’s “Frugalista Files”

I accidentally left Your Man and Your Man at work, so I decided to jump into another personal finance book. I’m so glad I stopped by the library yesterday and picked up five more books. It’s as if I have to keep reading and exercising the savings muscle every day to keep from going off track. In between reading Michelle Singletary’s books, I read Glinda Bridgforth’s “Girl Get Your Money Straight: A Sister’s Guide to Healing Your Bank Account and Funding Your Dreams in 7 Simple Steps. Tonight’s reading: The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving up The Fabulous Life.

I’ve been following Natalie on Twitter for years and read her blog. We’re part of a national organization for black journalists, so my local chapter was able to snag Natalie for our Twitter chat on personal branding. I led the chat with our members in Greensboro. It was a great to talk to an industry celebrity of sorts. We’ve been loosely connected for so long, but I’m learning so much from reading Natalie’s book.

She cracks me up. After reviewing all of my expenses February last night, I needed these laughs. I needed to hear how another young, black lady balanced being frugal and fabulous.

I am her. She is me. The parallels are endless. From the print journalism connection to the mother-daughter shopping trips to learning how to cook better to save money – it’s all right there. I’ve blazed through the first four months of her year-long journey while sitting under the dryer. I got my locs professionally styled two weeks ago and am determined to get more wear out of it. These double-strand twists are the gifts that keep on giving. I took them down from the updo and washed my hair still in the twists. I’ll keep it twisted until I take them out Saturday. I have two events to attend that day. As I’m reading, I start laughing to myself because Natalie is learning how to do her own hair, too. I feel like a pro now because I’ve been able to go two full months without seeing a styling. The hooded dryer I bought a few years ago has been a great investment.

It’s weird that I picked Natalie’s book now. It was published in 2011. But stuff comes to you when you’re ready for it. I’m ready for it now.

Takeaways from Your Money and Your Man: Part 1

From Michelle Singletary’s Your Money and Your Man: How You and Prince Charming Can Spend Well and Live Rich

Part 1: First Comes Love

  1. Women can’t afford to wait for a man to plan their financial future.
  2. Buy a home as soon as you can afford one–and you may be able to afford one sooner than you think. Don’t wait for Mr. Right before taking this critical step.
  3. Likewise, start financial planning as soon as you can, including retirement, insurance and estate planning.
  4. The first date is too soon and the honeymoon is too late to discuss personal finances. If you’re still at the stage of dating just for fun and you’re not really ready to settle down, keep your personal financial business just that–personal. But if you are ready for marriage, start talking.
  5. During the dating process is the time to ask the right financial questions: Does your boyfriend have to have the best of everything even though he isn’t making a big salary? Is he living above his means? Is he a miser? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can honestly determine if you are willing to do what it takes to live in financial harmony.
  6. Figure out your financial deal breakers. It doesn’t make sense to continue dating someone and fall in love with him if fundamentally you can’t stand how he handles his money. Very few people can change their financial ways without a lot of hard work or counseling.
  7. Remember that the first C in a successful relationship is to communicate.
  8. If money is a motivation for your marriage, you’ll have a bankrupt life. Besides, financial battles are fought by couples at every economic level–low income, middle income, upper income, and obscenely rich. It’s how your man handles his money, not how much he makes, that can put you on the path prosperity.
  9. Even you if decide to date your financial opposite, you can learn to compromise (remember, that’s the second C)–but the compromising should come before that commitment to be couple. And if you ignore the fact that you love to save and he loves to spend, you will be spending a lot of time fighting about money.
  10. if your boyfriend has some serious problems with his money, don’t bail him out. Help him out by giving him the number of a good credit counseling agency. The same advice applies if you’re the one in debt trouble. Handle your financial mess yourself.
  11. Don’t cosign. When you cosign, you are on the hook for all of the debt.
  12. Don’t get a joint credit card with your boyfriend. If you do, do your credit could take some serious dings if he misses payment, pays late, or maxes out the card.
  13. Don’t lend money you can’t afford to lose.
  14. Don’t think cohabitation makes the dissolution of your relationship financially easier. It doesn’t. Unmarried couples face great difficulty establishing financial security for their partners and their families because many of the rules and regulations governing these areas are geared toward unmarried couples.
  15. Once you get engaged, come clean about everything financial–your credit history, debt load, income, retirement plans. Discuss everything. It’s vital that you exchange your views and values about money before you exchange wedding vows.
  16. Before you get married, you and your fiancé should share credit reports and credit scores.