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Exercises

Quality vs. Quantity

By | Advice from Julie Murphy Casserly, Blog, Exercises | No Comments

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In our society, quality of life has everything to do with the quantity of things you own. How we spend our money is the most obvious way we invest in ourselves daily. With that in mind, are you investing in a life of quantity or one of quality?

Your quality of life is directly related to the state of your finances, but it’s deeper than just how much money you have. How you spend and what you spend on have dramatic effects on how you feel about money. And both of those things also have a great deal to do with how you feel about yourself.

This is where the guilt comes in. Instead of looking at how we invest our money with excitement and pride, we’re stuck with a bunch of stuff we’re not that enthusiastic about. Why? Because we’re a society of collectors – quantity tops quality every time.

If we’re measuring our quality of life by the quantity of things we own, we will never be happy. There’s always something newer, better, and more exclusive to strive for. You are more valuable than any handbag, job title or zip code; stop measuring your worth as a person against things that, in the long run, don’t mean much. Instead of devoting your time on collecting more stuff, focus on the quality of life you are living.

Action step

Do a “quality check” of your finances this week. Pay close attention to what you’re spending on – remember, each purchase is an investment – and decide which are fueling your quality of life. You could even take this a step further and do a total attitude inventory. Those things consuming your thoughts that aren’t aligned with your optimal quality of life are taking up valuable space in your mind. Let go of the “quantity” mindset, and invest your energy in quality.

Facing your fears to flourish in your future

By | Advice from Julie Murphy Casserly, Blog, Exercises | No Comments

Life is a series of choices. We go through the days choosing what we want to do, what we think we should do, what we need to do and what we think will be the best option for right now and possibly in our future. But, when presented with a choice between a safe option and a scary one, do you choose based on what’s right for you or what keeps you in your comfort zone?

For many people, the deciding factor is fear. We want to pursue a graduate degree to switch or improve our careers, but we’re afraid. We want to take our first solo vacation, but we’re afraid to go it alone for a week in an unfamiliar place. We want to create a better financial future, but we’re afraid to change what we are doing for fear of failure.

How often do you find yourself afraid of the future? Afraid to take a risk because of what might happen? It’s pretty common for people to forgo the road less traveled for the safer bet of the one they’re already comfortably navigating. Yet, many find themselves unhappy within that comfort but too afraid to test the waters of doing something different

Being afraid of the future may mean you’re letting your past hold you back. Failures in years gone by and the shame, disappointment and guilt associated with them can leave us with negative feelings. Instead of learning and growing from the mistakes of our past, we let it stifle us. Taking risks terrifies us to the point of inaction, and we find ourselves in an unhappy, unfulfilled place.

Luckily, each day is another opportunity to change your life for the better. So today, make it a point to face your fear. Don’t allow the sandbags in your life to let you sink. Remember, there is nothing wrong with being afraid as long as you don’t allow fear to stop you from pursuing your passions.

Action step

We all have fears. The difference is how each of us copes with that fear. Don’t let the fear you have stop you from from pursing our goals – financial or otherwise. Pick the option that propels you towards them, and let go of the sandbags keeping you in place. So what’s holding you back?

This week, think about the things in your life that are weighing you down. Consider moments when you declined an opportunity that may have opened a door for you. Or reminisce on times when you decided against doing something potentially fun or interesting because you were afraid.

Write some of those experiences down on a piece of paper and think about why you truly said “no” to them. Facing the fears that crippled you in your past and have a hold on you presently will help you overcome them in your future.

In 2012, what do you really want?

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Every January, we have high hopes for the year. We set big goals, make big plans and then hit the ground running towards our future success. Unfortunately though, strong starts don’t always lead to a similarly strong finish.

Since so many people seem to flounder in their “new selves” before the month is out, it’s safe to say that there’s a flaw in the system. It’s difficult to change hard-wired habits. Just because our eyes see 1-1 on a calendar and our minds know that this is an opportunity to make some big leap, our instincts don’t always get the message.

I’ve given you seven ideas to focus on for 2012, and we’ll spend the next twelve months diving deeper into each one. First, though, it’s a good idea to ask yourself what your goals really are. Before you ask for that raise, buy that dream home, lose those 15 pounds or start that business, you need to know what it is you are truly after.

What do you really want?

It’s easy to take a physical inventory of the things in your life right now. You’ve got “X” amount in the bank. You have a job you like. And you like where you live. But you’d like to travel more, have more freedom to create new products/services at work, and you want to lose a few pounds for beach season.

So you set your goals to get all of those things done. And you start making changes (usually, a lot of changes) so you can check that promotion, weight loss, or new car paid for in cash off of your list. But the motivation fades and the desire to go back to what’s comfortable overrides the one to change in the first place.

You may begin to make rationalizations about the things you were doing before. Your job isn’t that bad, and eventually your boss will give you that promotion.

Sound familiar?

This time around, I want to help you reach those goals you set for this year: your best year ever!! So instead of jumping head-first into this new you, take a moment and figure out what you really want. In order to get that long-term change you desire, you’ve got to take some time and figure that out. Remember, New Year’s resolutions start from within. Before you can begin to fix the outside as well as the inside, you need to first get down to the things you actually want.

Your action step

This week, think about the things you resolved to change or improve in 2012. Write them down on a piece of paper. Then, go deeper. Find the root of those desires. Is it to be happier? To have more freedom? To be healthier? Getting to the core of what really want is where long-term change truly begins.

Money Rules for Kids

By | Exercises, Financial Reality, Uncategorized | No Comments

The holidays are a fantastic way to teach your kids about money. Spending, saving, and giving responsibly are lessons all children need to learn.  Why not start with the holidays?

Introducing concepts of money management and instilling a good sense of fiscal responsibility should start at an early age, and be continued throughout a child’s life.  Below are some of the top money rules parents can teach their children during different life stages.

  1. Pre-School

Yes, money patterns start during the pre-school years.  You can start talking to your child about money when they are two or three by explaining that everything costs money – from the food they eat, the clothes they wear, to the house they live in.  These talks need to go beyond the necessities too.  Explain that new toys, accessories or video games are things your family can live without. Introduce new toys to them a few at a time, rather than showering them with over-abundance.  This will help them get used to the fact that they don’t need a ton of toys to be happy. 

  1. Elementary School

By the time your child is six or seven, you can start teaching them about prioritizing their money.  For example, when you are at the toy store, instead of letting them pick anything off the shelf, try giving your child five dollars and letting them choose something that fits within this price range.  For parents who buy their children anything and everything, the child will expect this later on in life too, giving them a sense of entitlement.  Ask yourself, “is this the reality I want for my child 15 years from now?”   

This is also the point to show your child that money is the result of hard work.  Work out a plan with a family friend or neighbor where your child will do housework or yard work for $5-$10 cash. Then give them the power to choose how they want to spend or save their hard-earned money. 

  1. High School

At this point in life, it is critical to create a financial collaboration with your child.  Encourage them to get a part-time job to help pay for their car insurance, their gas or portions of the monthly car payment.   Children should be held accountable for sharing some of these costs with their parents.  Once they get that paycheck, show them how it should be dispersed — 1/3 goes towards that car payment, 1/3 goes towards their future college fund and 1/3 can be spent on whatever they choose. 

During this age, it’s also important to highlight the importance of living a quality life, rather than the quality of things that you own.  Help your children understand that material things like a brand new car when they turn 16, are often a source of immediate happiness, but sooner or later, this happiness fades and they will be left searching for deeper self-fulfillment.

  1. College

Your child is an adult now. Have an adult conversation with them about their finances and make sure they understand how credit works.  Tell them about your experiences with credit card use – the good, bad and the ugly.  Once children are on their own, temptations will always arise and children in this age bracket will more than likely try to open a credit card to fund some of these temptations.  Explain how credit cards can bring a false sense of financial reality.  They make us less conscious of where our money is flowing.  Talk about how the constant struggle to earn cash to pay off debt can take a physical and emotional toll.