Financial Relationships

Our financial relationships involve connections with others that affect our financial well-being and life satisfaction.  Without a doubt, the complex circumstances and evolving dynamics of each relationship can have a profound influence (consciously and subconsciously) on the big and little decisions we make on a daily basis.

Nowhere is the influence of emotions on financial behavior more clearly illustrated than in family relationships.  In particular the needs and wants of our children and our parents can weigh heavy on our hearts and minds and undermine our objectivity.  The following questions will help you to reflect on and assess your financial responsibilities across generations: (more…)

Taking Charge of Your Life

Many of us spend our lives trying to please others or pursuing goals that others have set for us.  In contrast, the authors of Invest in Yourself, Marc Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler, and Nancy Castleman, advocate the self-designed life—the conscious choice to “invest your time and energy getting what you want and doing what you believe in—not wasting them on things you don’t really want, but think you should have.”  In fact, they wholeheartedly recommend setting the bar high, “no matter what you are aiming for in life.”

The first step to taking charge of your life is clarifying your values and priorities.  The reason this exercise in self-reflection is so powerful is because identifying what is most important to you will increase your self-understanding and strengthen your sense of autonomy.  An excellent resource to help you in this process is Values Clarification by Sidney Simon, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum.  This book is described as “the classic guide to discovering your truest feelings, beliefs, and goals.” (more…)

Goal Setting Outside of the Box

“We should never let reality interfere with our dreams.
Reality can’t see what we can see.”  —Simon Sinek

Goals are targets—something to aim for.  They give life a sense of purpose and direction.  In addition, setting goals is a proactive way of designing your life, initiating positive change, and preparing for the future. (more…)

Review Your Financial Biography

Our attitudes and beliefs about money have their roots in value-laden messages that we have picked up along life’s journey.  These money messages are not only clothed in the words of others, but in their behaviors as well.

The authors of Wired for Wealth (Brad Klontz, Rick Kahler, and Ted Klontz) write that all of our financial actions—or inactions—make perfect sense when we understand what “money scripts” drive those behaviors.

“Money scripts are the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that we hold about money.  Many of our associations are hidden deeply in the unconscious mind.” (more…)

Paths to Personal Growth and Happiness

As we grow older, we also have the opportunity to grow as individuals and to develop relationships that are more “grown-up.”  Here is advice from the authors of three different books on ways, through our relationships, that we can contribute to our own personal growth and happiness.

Creative Aging—
In Creative Aging, author Nancy Bost Millner wrote, “The task of consciously aging people is to stop projecting—to stop demanding that the weather, the children, and the universe do what they want them to do.”  Milner also noted that the self-aware individual will come to realize that expecting another person to complete them, take care of them, and make them happy is not only unrealistic, but also unfair. (more…)

Increasing Long-Term Happiness

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…)

End of Life Planning: Your Five Wishes is a Way to Stay in Control

Five Wishes™ is an advance directive template created by the non-profit organization Aging with Dignity.  It is an easy to use legal document written in everyday language that helps you communicate how you want to be cared for in case you become seriously ill or incapacitated.

Your Five Wishes document lets your family and doctors know:

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself.
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
  • How comfortable you want to be.
  • How you want people to treat you.
  • What you want your loved ones to know.

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Reframing Your Goal Setting Strategy

In his book Getting Things Done, author David Allen wrote, “We know that the focus we hold in our minds affects what we perceive and how we perform.”

Therefore, as you visualize the lifestyle and quality of life that you would like to have in the future, always remember that the secret to realizing your dreams is to maintain that image in your mind.

In fact, the greater your understanding of what is important to you, the easier it will be to “paint a picture” in your mind of what you are working toward.  Whatever you identify and claim for yourself will become the basis for your life goals. (more…)

Values Guided Financial Planning

Financial Life Planning is a holistic process that will first help you to clarify your values and then guide you in defining and designing your unique version of the “rich life.”

When thinking about values, we often think in terms of principles or standards we consider important such as honesty, loyalty, or altruism.  We also tend to think of values in terms of what we hold most dear such as family and good health.

Our values are also those intangibles that keep us motivated.  Motivators vary from person to person, but examples include wealth, recognition, achievement, intelligence, creativity, challenge, adventure, harmony, and so on. (more…)

Life Planning vs. Retirement Planning

In the past, the transition to retirement has been viewed solely as an economic event. As a result, the focus of retirement planning has always been on building a nest egg.

In The Late-Start Investor, author John Wasik recommends discarding this obsolete view in favor of a “flexible life plan that provides for financial, vocational, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.”  He explains, “Unless you look at your future holistically, merely saving up a pile of money will be a meaningless act.” (more…)