Increasing Happiness is a Matter of Intention

For many years, the prevailing theory was that individuals have a genetically determined happiness set point.

In other words, scientists believed that each person could temporarily experience more happiness (depending on circumstances, relationships, and life events), but would then slide back to his or her “pre-programmed” set point.  In fact, less than two decades ago, one researcher was quoted as saying, “It may be that trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.” (more…)

Hey Kids, Here’s How Much Money We Have…

As parents, we want to shield our children from so many of the harsh realities of the adult world. Sometimes we try to “protect” our kids from other facts, too, even benign ones. Many parents resist or avoid telling their children what they earn or how much money they have saved for college.

Some parents feel uncomfortable revealing this information. Perhaps they fear they might be judged or questioned. Maybe they wish they had tucked away more. If teens have their sights set on an expensive college, their parents may be reluctant to explain that a school is financially out of reach. (more…)

Better Financial Advice: New Approaches Gain Traction

 Financial Therapy

Getting people to feel less stressed when thinking, talking, and making decisions about money is the goal of Financial Therapy; a combination of psychology and financial advice that is focused on developing healthy relationships with money.

While a financial counselor usually comes in at a point of crisis—like bankruptcy or intractable financial conflicts between spouses—the role of a financial therapist is to help us understand the stories we tell ourselves, true or not, about money.  These “money scripts” usually reside outside of our consciousness, and act as an invisible force guiding our thoughts, feelings, and decisions about money. (more…)

Bay Area Housing Dilemma

In most parts of the country, buying a home is a rite of passage for a young or newly married couple or someone who has settled into a career.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that at the end of last year, 64.2 percent of Americans were homeowners, but that percentage varies dramatically by age. Of people age 65 and older, 79.2 percent owned homes, but among those under 35, slightly more than one in three—36 percent—were homeowners.

If you live in the Bay Area, you might be chuckling at those statistics. Housing prices in this region are stratospheric and steadily increasing. Between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2017, the median price for a single-family Bay Area home jumped 15 percent, to $825,000, a new high, according to CoreLogic. The dream of home ownership remains out of reach for many people, even when couples are each making six-figure incomes. (more…)

Change Your Money Mindset by Rejecting the “B-Word”

Is it possible to discuss spending and saving without mentioning the word “budget”?

Many people—and plenty of so-called financial experts—insist you can’t pay your bills, set enough money aside for retirement or understand your spending unless you create and follow a strict budget.

Their rationale is that when you see where your money goes, you can then trim your spending and siphon off cash for fun stuff like vacations or obligations like paying off your mortgage or credit cards. (more…)

Allowances: Tool or Tyranny?

In her blog “Good Thinking,” research psychologist Denise Cummins explains why the topic of allowances raises such a high level of concern and confusion for parents.

Allowances are powerful things. They are a child’s first exposure to the power of personal choice that financial means can bring.  It is for this very reason that parents approach it with a mixture of fear and trepidation. 

To some, it is the quintessential way to teach children financial literacy as well as character traits like patience, thrift and generosity.  To others, however, allowances are dangerous things that take away parental power and authority, and teach nothing more than greed. (more…)

Key Components of True Wealth

Learning good money management habits and basic financial knowledge will help to increase your confidence in making good financial decisions.  But, more importantly, a growing understanding of the underlying emotional motivators that shape your attitudes and behaviors will give you the extra edge you need to achieve your financial and life goals.

Therefore, rather than using income and net worth as a measure of your financial health, take a more holistic approach by evaluating your progress in these key components of “true wealth”—Recognition, Resilience, Resourcefulness, Relationships, and Wisdom. (more…)

Making Peace with Your Teen’s “Impractical” Major

Graduation time is nearly here, which means that many high school seniors will hear two questions again and again: “Where are you going to college?” and “What are you going to study?”

Some students may say that they’re thinking about becoming a petroleum engineer, a software developer or a computer programmer. All those careers fall under the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) umbrella. When those students earn their degrees, they’ll have little trouble finding well-paying work with long-term career potential.

A 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicts that STEM jobs will grow 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, a pace exceeding the 11 percent growth rate of other occupations. If your teen has her sights set on becoming an information security analyst, recruiters will be lining up: Demand for workers who can fill that role is projected to grow by 37 percent by 2022. (more…)

Redefining S.M.A.R.T. Goals

chalkboard-smart-goalsMany of us have been taught about setting goals through the use of the SMART acronym. The theory is that in order to be successful in our pursuits, our goals must be:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Tangible (more…)

What you Appreciate Appreciates

The word “appreciation” has at least two important meanings and applications. In the world of finance, it refers to the increasing value of an asset. In the inner realm of thoughts and emotions, appreciation involves recognizing the value of and feeling gratitude for specific people, experiences, and circumstances.

In her book, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, Lynne Twist teaches that appreciative thinking is the opposite of scarcity thinking: “When your attention is on what’s lacking and scarce—in your life, in your work, in your family, in your town—then that becomes what you are about.” (more…)