Friday, November 30, 2012

9 Ways to Mind Your Money


There are several books, websites, articles and television shows that talk about how to save money, spend money wisely, and invest your money and more.  None of these tools can help you if you don't take the time to realize how your thinking affects your spending habits.

Money can be used to help you achieve your dreams, and can help identify any painful or traumatic experiences you have had with money.  If you overcome those experiences and move on you can begin having happy experiences with money.  You must learn how to remove your negative emotional attachments to money such as fear, doubt, worthlessness, stress, depression, guilt, hurt, jealousy, envy and anger.

Negative thoughts become negative feelings. Negative feeling become negative words, negative words become negative actions.  If you continuously make negative statements about your financial situation you will manifest those statements into reality.

Financial Planner Vickie Champion has a quiz that determines if you need to change your relationship with money.  The quiz can be found at The first step to change the way you think about money is to admit that there is a problem.  Face the problem head on.  By doing this you will be able to eliminate those negative thoughts, beliefs and emotions that are attached to money and be able to turn them into positive thoughts that will manifest themselves into positive actions and prosperity.

Decide if you want to continue to struggle with your finances or if you want to improve your financial situation. You will continue to struggle with your finances and experience financial crises if you:
  1. Buy things you don't need
  2. Spend more money you can’t pay back
  3. Continue to bounce checks or pay overdraft fees, late fees or other fees
  4. Use payday loans, checking cashing stores or cash advances to pay your bills
  5. Don't have a monthly budget or don't stick to your budget
  6. Don't have a saving or retirement account
  7. Don't have health, life or disability insurance
  8. Live paycheck to paycheck
  9. Have creditors calling your house day and night or sending harassing letters
  10. Are depressed and stressed out over your money situation
  11. Are afraid to spend your money
  12. Have credit cards that are maxed out
  13. Unable to buy or pay for basic necessities due to your financial situation

Here are 9 ways to mind your money:
  1. Remove the following phrases or any negative phrases you say about money from your vocabulary: I can't, I don't have, I will never be able to, I am a loser, I am broke, I have nothing, I will always be in debt, I don't have any money, I will have to work until I am 65, I will never be able to buy a house, the more I make the more I will spend, money is the root of all evil, I am not good with money, etc.
  2. Be thankful and responsible with the money you have. If you cannot be thankful and responsible for what you have now, how will you be able to handle your finances if you gain more in the future.
  3. Think about your childhood and identify any traumatic or painful experiences or beliefs you had about money and write them down.
  4. Write down why you felt that way regarding each experience.
  5. Write down how those thoughts have affected you as an adult.
  6. Ask yourself if you really believe those thoughts, have they just become habits or someone else's thoughts or habits. If they are someone else's thoughts or habits then you can easily eliminate them. If they are your own thoughts, then you have to make a commitment to yourself that you will stop having negative thoughts about money.
  7. Each time you have a negative thought or make a negative statement about money or your current financial situation and immediately write down why you feel that way. Then write down a positive statement that is the exact opposite of that negative thought.  If you need additional reinforcement buy some books on positive affirmations. You can also put an empty jar or water bottle somewhere where you will see it often and place $5 in the jar every time you think or speak a negative thought about money.  Repeat this for 30 days.  By the end of 30 days you will have begun to change your thoughts about money. Whatever money you have in the jar after the 30 days use that money to pay a bill, put in a savings account or investment account.
  8. Create a budget and make a serious change in your spending which will require sacrifices.
  9. Set a monetary goal that you wish to accomplish and a deadline for that goal, i.e. I will pay off my Visa credit card by June 30, 2013. Once you accomplish your first goal continue to make additional financial goals and continue this throughout your life and you will see your financial situation improve and your negative thoughts turn into positive ones.

You must believe that money does not make you smarter, nicer, more successful, more intelligent or a better person and that money will not solve all of your problems.  Your character determines all these things not money.  If you were a mean person when you had a few dollars you will continue to be a mean person when you have more money. 

Make this affirmation, "In the past I have used my negative thoughts to create debt but from this day forth I will use positive thoughts to create wealth."  I leave you with one of my quotes, "Money has the ability to generate debt or generate wealth, you make the choice". Remember to mind your money.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Debt Free Canadians and What Americans Can Learn From Them


According to an annual RBC survey more Canadians are living debt free this year compared to 2011.  The survey found that 26% of respondents had no personal debt - excluding mortgage debt in 2012.  However, the survey found that on average Canadians are carrying $13,141 in non-mortgage debt. The survey found that 51% of respondents feel it’s more important to pay down debt instead of saving and investing for the future.  

 Unfortunately when you are paying down debt the worst thing you can do is skip saving. It doesn’t matter the amount as long as you save on a recurring basis even if it is $5 a week, save something as a starting point and then gradually increase your contribution to save more.  The survey also found that 76% stated they are doing better financially than their neighbors. 

According to a survey by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals 83% of Canadians have at least 25% equity in their homes.  Homeowners are making substantial efforts to get out of debt early – 23% are increasing their monthly payments, 19% are making lump-sum payments and 10% are doing both.  The average outstanding principal is just $170,000.  Approximately 3.75 million Canadians are mortgage-free.  The results show that Canadians are focused on reducing their debts amid government warnings about rising household debt.

According to Christina Kramer, CIBC executive vice-president of retail distribution, ``Debt management is top of mind for Canadians, and these poll results show that many Canadians are taking steps towards reducing their debt,'' said.

Americans borrow money for various reasons and many times think about the consequences later or not at all.  In other cases Americans are in debt because they were impatient, acted on impulse, didn’t comparison shop or didn’t read the fine print.  The easiest way to get out of debt is to make getting out of debt your top priority.  Making a become debt free also requires developing financial goals that you want to achieve after you get out of debt such as:  paying for college, planning for retirement, starting a business, buying investment property, purchasing a home or investing in a profitable business.

Becoming debt free takes a certain mindset and skills. You must have patience, organization skills, negotiation skills, discipline and fortitude.  If you don’t have these skills, don’t worry after a few discussions with your creditors you will learn a great deal about what works and what doesn’t work.
Paying down debt shows who you really are.  You true character surfaces when you are struggling with debt or facing a financial crisis. 

Being in debt steals your peace of mind.  Each time you make a payment to a creditor you are stealing money from yourself and making your broke. Being in debt prevents you from having financial security and being able to take advantage of opportunities such as buying an investment property or starting a business. Here are 17 ways to become debt free.

  1. Create a budget. Create a budget use pen and paper, a spreadsheet or an online tool such as
  2. Sacrifice. Getting out of debt will require great sacrifice and commitment.  You may have to downsize or downgrade your lifestyle at least until your debt is manageable. Changing your lifestyle is only a temporary state until you get your finances in order. However, once you do, don’t make the same mistakes that got you into financial trouble.
  3. Thankful.  Be grateful for what you do have and not for what you don’t have.  Don’t worry about what someone else has and don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t worry about what other people think. The people who make negative or hurtful comments about your situation are probably going through the same thing you are or worse. But you were smart enough to do something about it.
  4. Prepare for the unexpected. Develop a Plan A, B and C with an action plan to handle certain unexpected events that may arise such as illness, death, divorce, unemployment, reduce pay or benefits, etc.
  5. Create a debt payoff plan. Prioritize your debt by listing each company, amount owed, monthly payment, interest rate, and create a target date to pay off each bill.  Prioritize your debt from the smallest bill to the largest bill and begin paying off each bill one at a time.  If you are able to pay multiple debts at the same time do so.
  6. Move.  Consider moving to a small home or apartment.  If you live in an apartment consider renting a room or moving back home with your parents even if it’s just for a few months.
  7. Create an emergency fund. Create an emergency fund of savings to cover all of your monthly expenses for 9-12 months.
  8. Reduce Expenses. Consider reducing spending 30-50% until you debt becomes manageable.
  9. Use Extra Money.  Get a part-time job or find ways to earn extra income to help pay down debt. Once the debt is paid off you can use the extra income to help you achieve your financial goals. 
  10. Adjust Taxes.  Adjust your withholdings for 6 months to increase your paycheck instead of getting a lump-sum tax refund at the end of the year.
  11. Be Accountable.  Get a friend, relative, co-worker, mentor, life coach or credit counselor to help you become accountable and ensure that you remain on track to pay down your debt and save.
  12. Reward.  Once you reach a financial goal feel free to reward yourself by going out to eat or buying yourself something but don’t go overboard. Pay for the item with cash and try to limit the cost to $100 or less.
  13. Make debt a bill.  Make paying debt a part of your budget and treat it as a household bill.  Pay necessary expenses first and then pay debt. Any money left over can be used for extras or fun stuff.
  14. Automate. Setup online bill payment.  Setup automatic payment or paycheck deduction to contribute money to a savings account on a recurring basis.
  15. Pay Debt Faster.  Pay at least double or triple the minimum payments or more when possible to pay down the debt faster. You can also send multiple payments a month to pay down the debt.
  16. Encourage. Encourage yourself and ask your accountability partner to encourage you.  This will help you during the rough times and help you stay on track to achieve your goals.
  17. Target. Set a target date when you want to become debt-free, preferably before retirement age.

There are many benefits to paying off debt: no more fights with your partner, less stress and anxiety, money available for unexpected expenses and the ability to retire earlier.  Getting out of debt and staying out of debt requires you to save money no matter how much you make.  Cutting back on expenses helps but if you don’t have a savings account you will continue to struggle.  The bottom line is everyone should stop what they are doing and focus on paying down debt and create an ultimate goal of being debt-free.

Friday, November 23, 2012

35 Things to Do Instead of Shopping on Black Friday

I saw an article by that encouraged people to avoid shopping on Black Friday and have called it “Buy Nothing Day”.  A video in support of this initiative was banned by MTV and other networks.  “Buy Nothing Day” is an international day of protest in North America on Black Friday and on November 24 internationally. It was started in September 1992 in Mexico and adopted in North America in 1997.   It is now celebrated in 65 nations. renamed “Buy Nothing Day” to “Occupy Xmas”.  Instead of going to large stores they encourage consumers to support local and small businesses or make your own gifts.

I am not against helping the economy. I am against consumers following prey to the gimmicks, marked up prices and false advertisements to lure people to the stores to go into debt causing people to fight, trample others, argue, act rude and lose sight of the meaning of the holidays. If you have the cash to purchase gifts by all means do so.  If you don’t this is where the problem lies.  Going into debt:  doesn’t help the economy if you don’t pay off your debt, prevents you from paying another bill and doesn’t enhance your life.  

I was intrigued by the article and realized I was one of few Americans who would not be at the store on Black Friday.  I started thinking how different would the country be if we did not participate in Black Friday and used that time and energy for others things. We could eliminate hunger and poverty in the U.S., we could ensure all those without food had a meal every day, we could buy from local and small businesses which employ over 50% of employees in the U.S., we could pay down personal debt which would help businesses earn revenue and more. Here are 35 things to do instead of going shopping on Black Friday.
  1. Hide your credit card and debit card so you don’t make any purchases today
  2. Clean your house
  3. Do volunteer work
  4. Spend time with your family and friends
  5. Donate your time and money to a charity
  6. Develop a new idea to start a business
  7. Take time out for yourself to relax
  8. Exercise
  9. Organize documents to file your taxes this year
  10. Balance your checkbook or bank accounts
  11. Pay bills
  12. Learn a new skill
  13. Visit the sick and shut-in
  14. Make new friends
  15. Attend a networking event
  16. Reconnect with old friends
  17. Apologize to anyone you may have hurt in the past
  18. Give back money you borrowed from friends or family
  19. Water your plants
  20. Give a word of encouragement to someone who needs it
  21. Wash your car
  22. Clean out your garage
  23. Rake leaves in your yard
  24. Walk your dog
  25. Turn off the TV. and read a book
  26. Full up your gas tank
  27. Take your car for maintenance/repairs
  28. Make a commitment to eliminate one bad habit
  29. Create a plan to pay off your debt
  30. Create a plan to start an emergency fund to cover all monthly expenses for 9-12 months
  31. Review insurance policies and beneficiaries and make any necessary updates
  32. Help your children with their homework
  33. Write down 5 things you are grateful for
  34. Tell your family and friends how much you love them
  35. Watch a comedy movie