MindFULL Money

When was the last time you and your friends talked about money? I mean REALLY talked about it. Not just as a number, but deeper than that. What it means. More importantly, what YOU think it means.

I often say, if we all talked about money and sex, we’d have more of both (and I am pretty wealthy when it comes to generous friends – I am blessed with a few who are willing to share their thoughts on both subjects.) For my parents generation, the topic of money was taboo. So was wearing white after Labor Day.

For the next two weeks, I’ll be traveling to several cities, talking with people about the notion of retirement. It is a sensitive topic and an honor to hear their stories. It is also an opportunity to get a front row seat in the classroom of Life 101.

You see, I carry old family beliefs and behaviors about money that no longer serve me. It’s like wearing an old sweater that doesn’t really fit, but you can’t donate it.  However, something deep inside is telling me “it’s time to hang it up”.

It’s crazy, for in spite of being married to a patient and numbers-oriented man, I still feel unsure of so many things.  My husband uses Excel the way I use words and twice a year we sit down and talk about what we have and why we are doing what we are doing. Still, I lose steam.

In honor of this project, I vow to use what I hear to refill my tank. Yesterday I downloaded Mint to my iPhone and committed to tracking my spending.  Do you know Mint? Check it out.  www.mint.com . It enables you to set a budget and then monitor your success as you work toward your goals. While you are standing in line to pay for something, you can pop the amount into the app and it will automatically calibrate what you have left.

I am also going to make an investment next week. I always talk about doing it and never pull the trigger.  For my own sense of  empowerment, I am going to take a piece of my paycheck and buy a stock. Just one. I have my eye on foreign telecom.  It’s a gut feeling. With Facebook in Bosnia, seems to me there needs to be tech support in smaller countries. Win or lose, I’ll know I tried. I’m so sick of hearing us all say, “If I had just bought Apple…”

And after breakfast, I am going to return the jeans I bought yesterday. I already have 7 pairs hanging in my closet. I’m no rock star. Who needs 8 pairs of jeans unless they are playing the bars on Sunday nights?

Who knows – if we open up this conversation, we might just find ourselves learning something new. Wouldn’t that be rich!


Do you have ways you are MindFULL about money? Let us know!

The Zen of Housecleaning

A few weeks ago, I moderated focus groups for a large financial institution that sought to understand how people plan for retirement. After two days of  active listening, I began to take the pulse of my own financial health.

This is not new for me. Over the years, I’ve done many financial services projects and I’ve always come home with something to think about. Years ago, my first project with financial advisers led to a now bi-annual meeting with my husband at a local Deli to review “where we are” (I find that if we talk in public, I am less likely to cry). For several reasons tho’, last weeks project hit me hard. The night after I returned home, I thought about quite a lot and as I sat in my nook and pondered how I was spending money, I noticed how often I was sneezing. And then, it hit me.

I have never raised a rag to wipe a surface.

Since I was a teenager, I have accused my mother of switching babies at the hospital and depriving me of my royal birthright. Clearly I was not meant to do housecleaning. For 21 years of marriage, through good times and tight times, I have had someone clean for us every 2 weeks.

But let’s be real. We have a one-year lease on a 2,000sq ft condo and it doesn’t warrant a cleaning lady that charges more per hour than my daughter’s teacher is making.

And so, realizing that if I simply picked up a rag and stayed on top of it, I would save close to $3,000 a year, I embarked on a cleaning frenzy this weekend and proclaimed, “I am going to clean the condo and save toward things I want.”

See, it’s not about depriving myself. Rather it’s about reframing money and having a sense of control and choice. I could easily spend the money on a cleaning lady, but it seems to me that I would rather take a trip to China, make a substantial community donation and know that I have a few extra dollars in case of an emergency. Not forever, but for NOW. As my friend Tamara says, ” it’s about doing more with less”  vs thinking I have less for more.

On top of it all, picking up that rag also became a chance to teach my 12 year old daughter that we are fully capable of making smart financial choices that are empowering. Yesterday we went shopping for clothes. We talked while we shopped. When we came home, she redid her closet and folded everything in her laundry basket that really didn’t need to be washed. I cleaned her bathroom and together we cleared off her bookshelves and made her bed. By helping  keep her room clean, she was learning the value of the clothes we bought and how to make a bed when she lives on her own.

We’ll see how long this lasts. But really, who cares. Its about the insight to be conscious and to own the choices we make; to move towards the financial security that we all crave and to let go of thinking that if only we had the life we were meant to have, it would all be OK. It is already better than OK. It’s great. We are all so lucky to have any choice at all. Why not use it to create the life we want?

Do you have any tips on MindFULL cleaning that you can share? Let us know!