Category Archives: Self Awareness

Personal Goodwill in 2019

The “holidays” are over. Whether you call it the 12th day of Christmas, 6 January, or the Feast of the Three Kings, those days have passed.

  • Did you survive or thrive?
  • What traditions did you keep, or eliminate?
  • What are your resolutions and goals for 2019?
note notebook notes page
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

These are questions grabbing the headlines on Twitter, your local newspaper (all the sections), and perhaps your favorite podcastBut wait! What is your real goodwill for 2019? In financial terms we call it your balance sheet. For businesses, goodwill is an intangible which represents real value.

“The goodwill of a company increases its value, as qualities such as the company’s customer base, its brands, products, location, workforce and reputation demonstrate the company’s proven track record of generating income.” via Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/010815/how-does-goodwill-increase-companys-value.asp

In a 2014 post on this subject , I urged readers to consider their true balance sheet. This goes beyond the numbers to include personal goodwill, relationships, intangible assets, and experiences.  In 2019, with the 24 second news cycle (no longer 24/7) , market volatility, increasing interest rates, and a government shutdown, I believe it is ever more important to total up our non-financial assets.

A friend recently learned her skills were worth 12% more annually in the job market, but that it would require a heavy loss of professional autonomy. She chose to keep her autonomy and turn down the position. I recently was able to attend a birthday party for a family member where 15 relatives were in attendance; we ate, we drank, and we all enjoyed the surprise live music delivered to her door. It included Happy Birthday, on the bagpipes! As some of us mostly attend funerals, it becomes a priceless family memory.

If you have beloved family members who no longer travel for any reason, you have the experiences of travels with Mom, Aunt Susy, Uncle Sergio, or attending a cousin’s outdoor wedding (cupcake tower!)


Author and her mom at Fort McHenry National Monument. Photo credit to kind tourist.

During a time of job loss, or even getting home from a doctor’s appointment, do you have friends, family or faith institutions who can help you? That goes on your true balance sheet. Do you and your children talk or spend time with other over vacations, holidays or during stressful times? That is worth a lot. For those who have furry kids, same question. For singletons with an extensive chosen family beyond your family of origin, I hope that you find humor,  comfort, and support in these relationships.

Add those to your own bank. Research tells us about how our brain enjoys them more than the acquisition of things. Experiences generate three times the memories, from the anticipation, the actual event, and then the retrospection afterwards. I have a series of #UnfortunateEvents, for example, that comprise many of my personal vacations. They are funny now… but were not at the time. (River rafting accident, drunk guy in the aisle at 30,000 feet, and crying on an expensive Venetian gondola ride to name a few).

Personal and professional resilience count on your balance sheet. Deep breathing during stressful moments counts. (For some, that would be before public speaking. I find yoga more difficult than public speaking, but that’s just me!) Being intentional about your spending adds up. Decreasing debt is important as it leads to greater financial flexibility. Financial resilience and investing in personal attributes (reliability, integrity, courage and caring for others and yourself) loom large on the true balance sheet and are important for both personal goodwill and goodwill towards others in 2019. #IRL

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas, Financial Wellness, For Love or Money, January Financial Tasks, Self Awareness

Back to School: D’s in Personal Finance

Let’s help you get 3 D’s in personal finance this month. As on Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the letter D, because we’ve been trained since preschool to get A’s. Are you a personal finance slacker? This post is for you!

Get a D+ in Personal Finance here!

Get a D+ here!

Let’s consider these 3 D’s: Decluttering, Disaster and Discussion.

Decluttering

  • Three things you can do today! Financial decluttering- included here are things like unsubscribing from shopping site emails, from Groupon to  misleading requests for your bank account number or to “verify” your order from BigBoxCity.com Unsubscribe, delete and mark them as spam until they disappear.
  • Spreading the wealth is not always a good thing. Do you have multiple financial accounts spread around town, or the country? Do you still have an old 401(k) account with a former employer? If you had had a life changing event-did you change your beneficiary? Beneficiary choices always trump your will.
  • Are you still receiving multiple credit card or insurance offers?                                   You can stop them, you know.

Disaster Planning

  • What to have in the house in case you are stuck for 3-7 days, and what to take with you for an evacuation (say, for a wildfire or a hurricane)
  • You might think of your children first, or maybe not….Quick, what are the first three things or people you are going to grab? Start there and then add to the list throughout September, which is National Preparedness Month. #NatlPrep on Twitter
  • Practical digital tasks you can accomplish quickly. Load up an 8G flash drive on a lanyard with scanned important documents and photos-I got this tip from a friend who is a trained Urban Disaster Responder. Place in your disaster box or backpack.
  • Upload these same documents into your regular cloud storage.
  • Complete this handy document created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the US.
  • Actual cash somewhere ($10 in quarters, in case you find a working washing machine) and small denominated dollar bills. Remember the comedian David Brenner’s last wish here-“Bury me with $100 in dollar bills in case tipping is suggested at my final destination”.

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Filed under Back To School, Be Prepared, Family Lessons About Money, Self Awareness

Intimidating: Opting In

Personal finance is intimidating for many people. While we all love to seek out media which is scary, from movies, books, TV, to live theater and other works of art, those are things we generally opt into. Personal finances are a complicated part of modern life and sometimes we feel as if we don’t have the tools to deal with the situations we find ourselves in.  Can you opt out? Sometimes not. 

I meet people who tell me that their own finances scare them. They find it daunting to sit down and confront their balance sheet, regardless of how many digits are to the left of the decimal point. Professionals bandy about words and phrases like tax burden, cash flow, budget and the scariest phrases of all,

“Where do you spend your money?”

“If you have an unexpected bill of between $400-$2,000, how will you pay for it?”

“Have you begun to save for your retirement?”

and in Seattle, “Do you want to buy a house?”

This can be enough to send you screaming from the scene, while nervously looking over your shoulder, while thinking “I never want to see THAT again!”

I read this article in The Atlantic this week, about how people live paycheck to paycheck, even as they live a middle-class life. The online comments were mean and full of blame. To be sure, there is shared and personal responsibility to be had. No, maybe the author shouldn’t have drained a 401 (k) to pay for a wedding; no, he shouldn’t have missed a writing deadline and had to pay back the advance, but let the person out who has never missed a deadline in her life cast that stone. I don’t qualify.

Financial advisors are here to help and support people to make good decisions about their cash, their future and their piece of mind. We also want to help you move forward from bad decisions you own, or which were forced upon you. I believe my job is to meet you where you are, and help chart the path forward. For you do need a path, a vision, or some goals; otherwise you are just looking at your feet, not where you need to travel.

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This path leads to a well-defended castle. Photo by Dana Twight

Opt out of the intimidation, and opt in to a new path for your finances. Collaboration might reduce the fear factor and even generate some satisfaction.

Zombies and Zinfandel: Handling Your Financial Monsters is tonight!

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Filed under Be Prepared, Financial Wellness, Self Awareness, Shame and Blame

New Year’s Resolutions-How Are You Doing?

As a nation, we are making fewer New Year’s Resolutions each year. Usual categories are in the areas of smoking (less), eating (less and better), and finances (all the things). Which ones are easier to keep?

General_Work_Out According to a study by Fidelity: financial resolutions are easier to keep than the ones about smoking and eating differently!

42% of people surveyed find financial resolutions easier to keep than smoking less or exercising more.

And, the top three financial resolutions continue to be:

  • Saving more (55%)
  • Paying off debt (20%)
  • Spending less (17%)

After six weeks, many of us give up forget revise our resolutions (you can ask me about my goals for planks!)

Very different from planking! By the way, I would be most likely to be seen planking in a public library.

"Planking on a people mover" by Danielleevandenbosch - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Planking_on_a_people_mover.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Planking_on_a_people_mover.jpg

“Planking on a people mover” by Danielleevandenbosch – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org

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Filed under Everyday Financial Tasks, Self Awareness

Your True Balance Sheet

Most times I work with a client, we make a balance sheet to show their net worth. This shows what you own, what you owe and shows the difference between them. Some years in life (with mortgages, business, car or education loans) it may be negative; other years it will be positive (with a good trend line).


But these numbers do not not capture your life’s true balance sheet.

  • Some elements of that here:
    Your dreams-what dreams of yours have come true? What dreams so you still have?’
  • Your relationships-family and friends, your business community, receiving a smile from a random person as you walk down the street, seeing a beautiful image, created or from nature; other moments of artistic bliss.
  • Your education and that of others-not your formal education, but the education from being a lifelong learner and seeing lessons shared with loved ones bear fruit in their lives. Being able to continue to grow.
  • Your capacity for love, empathy and compassion for others.

Those cannot be measured by mere numbers, but in the delight, joy and compassion you receive [or give] in your life.

All the best to you and your families, with best wishes for a joyous, abundant year to come.

Seattle’s Victrola Coffee 2012. Photo Credit Dana Twight

Related Link: Share your values with your children; either in late night/early morning chats, stealthy emails or by writing an ethical will. Ethical wills have been used for 3,500 years. http://nyti.ms/1JS0tLv

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas, Family Lessons About Money, Self Awareness