Folks who are starting to feel that telltale chill in the air might feel a little extra motivation to take a fall trip this year. Outdoor activities are still the safest during the pandemic, and in many parts of the country, winter weather will limit outdoor options very soon. Here are five ideas for enjoying the great outdoors and staying safe inside this fall.

 

1. Go to a movie

 

 

Many families are packing into the car and rediscovering classic drive-in theaters tucked away around the country. Movie screens are also popping up in some non-traditional venues, like on the sides of public buildings or in parking lots outside bars and restaurants.

To drum up business despite the lack of new movie releases, the major theater chains have also added new pandemic-friendly options. In states that have reopened theaters, seating capacity is usually limited so people can maintain social distance from audience members outside their households. Some chains are even giving families the option to rent out entire theaters for private screenings at reasonable prices.

 

2. Take in the colors

 

 

Daytrips are still among the safest pandemic activities. Somewhere within an hour or two of your home there’s a park or forest preserve where your family can hike, play games, eat a picnic lunch, and snap some Instagram-ready photos of autumn foliage.

 

3. Pick apples or pumpkins

 

 

Although public health experts tell us outdoor activities are less likely to spread Covid-19 than indoor ones, it’s still a best practice to avoid bunching together with people outside of your household bubble. That’s why many orchards, farms, and nature centers have started offering reservations and one-way paths through their facilities. Show up at your allotted time, wheelbarrow your way through apple trees and pumpkin patches, and load your haul into the car at the end.

 

4. Book a cabin or cottage

 

 

For longer getaways, consider renting a house that’s adjacent to outdoor activities like fishing or hiking. A well-cleaned vacation home for just you and your family is much safer than sharing indoor space at a hotel. How nice does a relaxed evening sitting around a campfire with friends and family sound?

 

5. Rent an RV

 

 

Have you and your spouse ever dreamed about buying an RV and traveling around the country in retirement? This might be the perfect year to test drive that idea. RVs let you bring your bubble wherever you want to go. For added safety, many rental companies have ramped up their cleaning procedures and upgraded their phone apps to minimize contact with staff. And if you find out you’re not really a road warrior, at least you’ll have something to cross off your retirement bucket list.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to still get out and live life and remain safe. We hope these five ideas spark something in you to make this fall a memorable one and not just let life pass you by.

 

 

Your plans for the future are a story you tell yourself. Some of the chapters are easy to imagine and plan, like buying your first home, sending your kids to college, or picking out dream retirement destinations with your spouse.

But life has a way of throwing unexpected plot twists at you, such as, say, a global pandemic that upends how you live and work. If you feel like your story has lost some of its most important plot threads, use this three-step method to find a new happy ending.

 

 

1. Accept

An unexpected job loss. The death of a loved one. Losing your home in a fire. A major illness.

Life is never the same after you experience these kinds of unexpected transitions. Your lifestyle might change. Your relationships might change. Your daily routine might change. And your long-term personal, professional, and financial goals might have to change as well.

Letting in feelings like sadness, embarrassment, and fear can be challenging. If you’re having trouble expressing yourself to your spouse or another confidant, try journaling. Getting your thoughts and emotions down on paper can help open you up for the conversations you need to have as you navigate through this transition.

 

 

2. Edit

Now that you’ve accepted this change in your life, you need to figure out how you’re going to adapt to it. Significant transitions often feel so overwhelming that they can be paralyzing. Where do you start?

Start with today.

Break the new transition into smaller parts. What is one thing you can accomplish today and can build upon tomorrow? If your doctor says you need to eat better, make a new core grocery shopping list. Need to exercise more? Buy a pair of running shoes. Ready to make a career change? Brush up your resume so you can start a job hunt. Register for an online class to help you make a career change. If it’s time to tighten the family belt, strip out all the “extras” and focus on what’s most important to you.

Racking up small, daily wins will make this transition feel more manageable. It may challenge you, but it may also be the catalyst that pushes you to create new habits leading to a healthier, happier, and more productive you.

 

 

3. Rewrite

In the moment, unexpected transitions can feel like an end. But, as you gain momentum from your new routines, you’ll start to see new opportunities ahead of you as well. As one difficult chapter closes, you begin writing a new, more hopeful one.

Some of the details in this revised chapter may be different than you imagined. Not all change is bad. Maybe, instead of retiring to that beachfront condo, you remodel the family home and are blessed to have your grandkids over more often. Perhaps, being “forced” to hang up your tennis racket isn’t the takeaway you thought it would be as it leads you to take long walks with your spouse and spend more quality time together. If one phase of your career is over, it might be time to promote yourself to the CEO of your own company or finally find the time to volunteer to the important causes in your life.

 

 

Some of life’s greatest moments happen after difficult or challenging times. We can’t control the world around us, but we can control our response to it. Approaching life transitions with an accept > edit > rewrite mindset can help you navigate life’s twists and turns with confidence and hope. As Winston Churchill famously said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem much use to be anything else.”

 

 

You have a steady job that pays the bills and puts your abilities to good use. You have loving relationships with your spouse, children, extended family, and close friends. Your house provides you personal space and security. Your weekends give you a chance to relax and unwind. Your volunteer work improves your community.

The specific details may vary, but most people would consider this scenario the basis for a pretty good life. Yet, for many of us who already check these boxes, it often feels like something is missing. Why is that?

A fascinating new study published by Affective Science asked nearly 4,000 people from 9 countries (including the U.S.) what kind of life they wanted. The results suggest there’s an important dimension to improving our Return on Life that many of us are overlooking.

 

 

1. A Happy Life

Researchers began by asking participants to write down a simple statement that described their vision of an ideal life. Then, participants were instructed to rank 15 terms according to how closely they applied to that ideal vision.

The first five terms characterized happiness:

  • Stable
  • Comfortable
  • Simple
  • Happy
  • Pleasant

If these words describe your life, it sounds like your basic emotional and physical needs are being met. You feel good about where you are, and you most likely have the tools and long-term perspective necessary to make plans for where you want to go.

And, perhaps most importantly, with this groundwork in place, you can start building out other aspects of your life that will be more rewarding.

 

 

2. A Meaningful Life

The next group of words correlate with the sense of meaning people wanted in their lives:

  • Meaningful
  • Fulfilling
  • Virtuous
  • A sense of purpose
  • Involves devotion

It’s here that people who are genuinely intentional about their lives move past their own needs and start thinking about the bigger picture. Countless studies have drawn strong connections between doing good, happiness, and even longevity. People with the highest levels of job satisfaction are often less focused on their income level than they are on how their work makes life better for others.

Meaning can become increasingly important to us as we age out of the workforce as well. Folks who keep their noses to the grindstone, doing work they don’t necessarily love to support their families, often struggle to fill their days in retirement. On the other hand, retirees who made meaning an important part of their working lives often turned to volunteer work, part-time jobs, or mentorship as a means to perpetuate that important sense of purpose.

 

 

3. A Psychologically Rich Life

Not surprisingly, words under the “happy” and “meaningful” categories rated the highest among respondents.

But there was a third group of words that completed the picture of a good life for most people:

  • Eventful
  • Dramatic
  • Interesting
  • Full of surprise
  • Psychologically rich

Why does the initial jolt of happiness after a big-ticket purchase wear off so quickly? Why do so many people change careers, move across the country, or enroll in continuing education classes?

Because if our lives are so “perfect” that we aren’t challenged or surprised, we get bored. We need our curiosity to be stimulated. We need problems we can solve only by rewiring how we think. We need obstacles to overcome. We need to try new things and make mistakes. We need opportunities to learn and grow.

Finding the right mix of happiness, meaning, and psychological richness is an ongoing process. You may find that the emphasis you place on each shift as you progress through various transitions, and particularly as you near retirement.

 

 

I know it’s only September, but let’s talk holiday shopping. Before chastising me for bringing up the holidays already, you should know it’s Costco’s fault. They’ve had Christmas decorations for sale for weeks now and inspired this post. So, if you’re triggered by the words “holiday shopping,” feel free to reach out to Costco HQ and voice your displeasure.

Okay, that’s a joke. Please don’t contact HQ, please don’t cancel Costco. We love Costco. We NEED Costco.

All joking aside, I have to admit, I was taken aback to see Christmas decorations out already. Halloween decorations? Okay, I guess. But, Christmas? C’mon now.

The reality is the holidays will be here before you know it and that means we’ll soon be departing with a decent chunk of our hard-earned dollars. This isn’t a problem if you keep your spending in check. But for all too many of us, it’s a real problem and we end up spending way too much on “Christmas.” And we do it every single year.

One reason is marketers are relentless and it’s going to be even worse this year with the pandemic. Retailers everywhere will be doing their best to get you to spend as much money as possible even if it means you go into suffocating credit card debt to do so. They don’t care one bit about you or your financial situation. Scoundrels.

Of course, we can’t blame retailers when we overspend. No one is forcing us to turn over our money to them. It is a completely voluntary process.

No, it’s not their fault. It’s not our money’s fault. Which just leaves … us.

Of course, it’s “us.”

Over-spending is always voluntary. No one forces us to spend more than we should.

If we fail to accept this fundamental truth and blame marketers / credit card companies / the “system”, we’ll never fix the problem. Sure, it may make us feel better in the moment, to push aside our own culpability, but the problem doesn’t go away.

Deep down inside, we know this. We know while the causes of overspending come from a variety of sources, the solutions only come from one – ourselves.

 

 

Once we take responsibility for our overspending ways, we can take steps to make positive changes to our spending habits and maybe, just maybe, break the cycle of overspending every holiday season.

Here are five ways you can overcome the overspending trap and stay in control of your money. They are simple techniques, but very effective.

1. Set a target spending amount

This is as simple as it sounds. Just decide on a set dollar amount for all of your “holiday” spending.

EXAMPLE: $1,200 for ALL of our gift giving expenses.

This includes kids, spouses, co-workers, parents, siblings, etc. Everything.

If you want to break it down even further, go for it.

EXAMPLE: $600 for spending on the kids, $300 for spending on family and friends, and $300 for food and beverage (at home, going out).

This one super simple act of setting a spending target can set you on the path for financial success this holiday season.

 

2. Use cash

Another super simple idea. You can’t go into credit card debt if you only use cash, right?

In today’s cash-free society society, the idea of using cash seems so 20th century, but you know what? It works.

With that said, we have a minor struggle with this one in our household. Not so much me, but my wife. She’s not the biggest fan of the idea. Actually, she’s not against using cash, but ONLY using cash.

Her reasoning? “Kohl’s cash.”

She argues for using her “Kohl’s” card as she gets “really awesome discounts” when she does and gets “Kohl’s cash.” The woman loves herself some Kohl’s cash.

She has a point. She does gets additional benefits for using the department store card. But, that’s only part of the equation.

The part that’s missing is she’s not factoring in how much more money she’s spending by using her Kohl’s card.

It is far easier to spend money on a credit card than if you use cash.

Translation: you are far more likely to overspend with a credit card than if you used cash even after those juicy “Kohl’s credit card only” bennies.

Think about it. Why does Kohl’s offer you those benefits in the first place? Because they care about you and want you to save money? Of course not, that’s absurd. They give you those bennies because they know it will get you to spend more money. They know you will spend more than enough to offset your beloved “Kohl’s cash.”

If you want to spend less money, use cash instead of credit. Period.

Real Life: Being completely transparent, this is a financial battle I lose every year. Every year I say my piece about why I don’t like using the Kohl’s card and every year my wife uses her Kohl’s card. Which is okay.

We have a conversation where I voice my overspending concerns, my wife acknowledges my concerns, and then does whatever the hell she feels like doing. Perhaps, not the “best” way to manage our money, but a proven way to manage our marriage. Although, I have to say, there always seems to be a disproportionate amount of holiday spending occurring at Kohl’s even after those precious Kohl’s cash dollars. Just sayin’ …

 

3. If you can’t “only” use cash, only use one credit card

Actually, you’re better off using a debit card than a credit card so I’d start there. But, if you have to use a credit card, only use one card for all of your holiday expenses.

A key to sticking to your holiday spending target is to know exactly how much you’re spending and in real time. If you’re using multiple credit cards, checks, debit cards, and cash for your holiday spending, you won’t know how much you’re spending which inevitably leads to overspending.

What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed. If you don’t measure your spending, you can’t manage how much you spend. This always leads to overspending.

Ask yourself: “When was the last time I spent too little on the holidays?”

 

4. Turn off all digital marketing

As previously mentioned, marketers are relentless especially during the holidays. And they’re really creepy.

You know what I mean. You do a Google search on “vintage t-shirts” and the next thing you know you’re getting “vintage t-shirt” ads in FB and IG. Creepier still, you just talk about “vintage t-shirts” and you still get ads on vintage t’s. You know your phone’s microphone is always on, right? You know Alexa is always listening!

Now, you can’t stop these types of ads from popping up, but you can stop all of the email ads you get.

Make it a point to “unsubscribe” from every retailer who sends you marketing emails.

Why subject yourself to temptation when you don’t have to? Take away the prompt and remove the temptation.

It’s another super simple yet highly effective solution.

 

5. Know your Derailers

We all have “Derailers.” You know, the things or people who derail us from reaching our objectives.

EXAMPLE: A spendthrift friend who loves engaging in “retail therapy” and always takes you along for the ride.

Think about who / why / what causes you to overspend at this time of the year.

Perhaps, you find yourself dining out with your girlfriends more often and you’re often dining at places close to your usual shopping haunts. Or, you’re always checking your phone for the latest, greatest sales to drop.

If you’re like most people, you have a list of usual suspects. These are your “Derailers.”

Once you’ve identified what or who they are, have a plan to avoid or overcome them.

Per the examples above:

  • Dining out with girlfriends

Solution: Go to restaurants that aren’t close to shopping centers.

This simple act of putting physical space between you and temptation works wonders. It’s a lot harder to stop and “just take a quick look around” when the shopping mall is 20 minutes away.

  • Checking for the latest sales / deals

Solution: Unsubscribe from all retailer emails.

Delete shopping apps from your phone. Remove all shortcuts from your computer. Turn off notifications on your phone.

This is the digital equivalent of putting “physical space” between you and temptation. Seems so simple it can’t work, but it’s highly effective.

 

 

This holiday season instead of making a “promise” to do better, make a plan.

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan either. If you took two or three of the ideas above and started working toward them – that’s a plan. But, you can’t simply say, “I’m going to spend less money this year” and expect things to change.

We’re still a good 6-8 weeks away from when the craziness really begins. Use this time to get your plan in place and begin executing it. Don’t wait for the craziness to be upon you before you make these changes. As JFK said, “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

 

 

 

Bill Clinton famously said, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Okay, that’s not exactly how it went. James Carville, Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, coined the term and wrote it on a whiteboard in Clinton’s campaign headquarters. It was his way of reminding Mr. Clinton of what the people really cared about.

And he was right. It was the economy. And it still is.

Even in the time of COVID?

Yes, even in the time of COVID.

Skeptical? Stay with me.

Before we get into why that is, let’s get on the same page and establish a working definition of the “economy.”

According to Investopedia:

An economy is the large set of interrelated production and consumption activities that aid in determining how scarce resources are allocated.

In an economy, the production and consumption of goods and services are used to fulfill the needs of those living and operating within it. (emphasis added by me)

 

IMO, this is a darned good definition.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have this definition in mind when we refer to the “economy.” We think of the “economy” as if it was a singular, non-living entity with a sole decision-maker at the top. We think of it in the same way we think about a business, but on a massive scale.

This is a terrible mistake. The economy is not a business. It’s not a singular entity with centralized decision-making at the top. It is not non-living.

The truth is the economy is comprised of people. It’s the accumulated output of people. In short, the economy = people.

I’m talking about real flesh and blood people like you and me.

In America, it’s hundreds of millions of people all trying to have a good life and make the most of our existence. It’s the mom worried about how remote learning will affect the social development of her children. The pilot who wonders if she’ll have a job come October or if she’ll be furloughed. It’s the new homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage because they aren’t allowed to go to work.

The economy is comprised of sisters and brothers, moms and dads, neighbors, co-workers and strangers. People from all walks of life.

When the “economy” isn’t doing well, it means people aren’t doing well. People are struggling to pay their mortgages. People are collapsing under the weight of life without a paycheck. People are stressed to the max worried sick with how they’re going to support their families.

 

 

It’s easy to say “shut it down, it’s only the economy” when we think of the economy as a nameless, faceless, non-living thing. We don’t have empathy for inanimate objects. But, we should have empathy and understanding for people because there is real damage being done to them.

It’s not difficult to understand why so many have this perspective. How we see the world is colored by our lived experiences. For most of us, “shutting down the economy” hasn’t hit us where it counts: our pocketbooks.

Setting aside the unprecedented amounts of government support for the unemployed and small businesses, let’s dig into one of the key components of the economy: unemployment.

Currently, we’re at an unemployment rate of approximately 10%. We can all agree this isn’t a good number by historical standards. Here’s the thing: an unemployment rate of 10% means 90% of the labor force has a job and is working. It means 90% of us aren’t taking on the brunt of the “just shut down the economy” mantra. It’s one thing to acknowledge that a 10% unemployment rate is bad. It’s a completely different experience to actually lose your job.

It’s easy to speak about “making sacrifices,” “doing the right thing,” and “it’s only money, we’re talking about lives” when the burden falls on someone else, when some else’s livelihood is on the line, when the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of others crumble at the feet of a shutdown economy.

Thankfully, most of us aren’t taking on this burden. Remember, 90% of the labor force is still employed. That’s the upside.

The downside is it’s a lot harder to empathize and understand what life is like for those who aren’t working, for those bearing the brunt of the economic shutdowns. If we continue to think of the economy as some nameless, faceless, non-living thing, we’ll continue to be blind to the human costs incurred and that’s a human tragedy we can do something about.

I don’t say this to criticize those who believe shutting down the economy is the right thing to do. That’s an entirely different discussion.

 

 

My point is simply this: we need to be more mindful of the human costs incurred for “shutting down the economy.” We need to weigh the human costs that come with an economic shutdown.

If we do that objectively and ultimately decide the costs are worth the benefits, so be it. But, it needs to be a thoughtful evaluation of what is at stake.

If we think of the economy as real people and determine the sacrifices they bear is the lesser of two evils in the quest to stop COVID, okay then. None of us have a crystal ball and knows exactly what to do. At the very least, we need to treat the “economy” with the same care and understanding we have for our family, our neighbors, our fellow citizens because they are one and the same. The economy = people.

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

Politics aside, whether you’re a fan of our 42nd president or not, he was right on this point. Although, I think I’d change the slogun to, “it’s about the people, stupid.”

 

 

Coming up with a universal definition for “wasting money” is not as simple as it sounds.

We’ve all heard the saying, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That applies to how we use our money.

For example, if I was an avid hiker, spending $200 on a pair of hiking boots may be a worthwhile use of money. But, if I only hiked once a year, spending $200 on a pair of hiking boots would be a waste of money.

It’s all about context. It’s in the “eye of the beholder.”

Consequently, determining if something is a “waste of money” is not that simple.

So, how can we make it more obvious if something is a good use of money or a waste of money?

One way is to embrace the idea of trade-offs. According to the distinguished economist, Dr. Thomas Sowell. Dr. Sowell said:


“There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs; you try to get the best trade-off you can get, that’s all you can hope for.”

 

 

 

There’s so much wisdom here.

First, it lets us off the hook. We don’t need to find the “perfect” solution. It’s not about finding that one right answer.

Instead, there are many trade-offs for us to consider and choose from, and it’s our job to find the “best trade-off we can get.”

Think of it like this, every time we use our money, we are making two decisions:

      1. We’re deciding to buy something and
      2. We’re deciding not to be able to buy something else with those same dollars.*

        *In economics, this is known as opportunity cost. We cannot spend the same dollar in two different places.

And this dynamic occurs with every financial decision we make. There’s no getting around it.

The problem is we don’t think about what we’re giving up when we go to buy something.

We focus on what we get right then and there and pay little to no attention to what we’re giving up. We don’t think about the trade-offs because the costs of these trade-offs – the things we can’t buy in the future – aren’t “paid” right then and there. We fail to consider how our purchase today affects our spending tomorrow.

For smaller dollar amounts, this isn’t a big deal; the impact isn’t significant.

But, for larger or frequent purchases, the trade-off costs can be sky high and affect you for years or even decades to come.

This idea of “tradeoffs” is one of the more important concepts in personal finance. It combats our tendency to make short-term, feel-good money decisions, which are detrimental to our financial health.

Factoring in trade-off costs can help quell the desire to get that shiny object that wants us to buy it right now. It gives us time to think and reason through the impact of the decision before us.

 

 

Would you be a better financial decision-maker if you asked yourself some version of this question before every significant purchase?

“I can buy X right now, but if I do, I can’t buy Y tomorrow.

Is it worth it to give up Y tomorrow to get X today?”

Granted, it takes a bit of imagination on your part to think of what you’ll be giving up in the future, but that’s it’s easy enough.

For example:

    • “I can buy a new car with a $400/month car payment, but if I do, I can’t contribute that $400/month to my daughter’s college fund. This means she’ll have to take out student loans or maybe I’ll have to give up a vacation (or two) to come up with the money myself.”
    • “I can sign up for this monthly box subscription service at $25/month, but if I do, I can’t afford the $300 it costs for the faster laptop.”

Taking the extra step to consider what you’re giving up tomorrow in order to buy something today will make you be a better financial-decision maker. And the best part is it costs you nothing to do it.

If you make this a part of your spending routine, you’ll be better equipped to say “no” to the latest and greatest shiny objects calling out for you to buy them.

 

 

 

One major mindset shift is to realize we have a relationship with money. Yep, that’s right, a “relationship.“

I know that sounds a little odd, but it’s true.

Think about it. We pursue money like we pursue other relationships. We tend to nurture our money like we nurture other relationships. We ask of our money – to do things for us, as we do in other relationships. We have strong emotions about money. Money can control us. It can inhibit us. We fear it. Worship it. We can be jealous when someone has more money than we do. We show off our money as a status symbol.

So, yeah, we have a relationship with money.

And this relationship with money isn’t static. Sometimes it’s really good and is simple and easy. Other times, it requires so much work and you can just feel defeated. There’s also a history you have to contend with too.

As in all relationships, there’s a give and take. It’s not all give, it’s not all take. It’s about finding a healthy balance.

Ask too much from your money – like buying you true love, or ensuring a joyful existence – and you’re likely to be sorely disappointed.

Ask too little and you’ll end up disengaged, disconnected, and living a less than optimal life. Gathering money just to sit in an account, never to be used to live your best life is a travesty.

 

 

Our relationship with money affects every area of our life. Money is a multiplier, it amplifies who we are.

What would happen if we treated our money with the same care and attention that we apply to the most important relationships in our lives? Do you think we’d have better money-related outcomes? Sure we would.

We know how much a healthy personal relationship impacts our life. The same is true of a healthy money relationship. It’s a thread that affects everything. If we have a healthy relationship with money, it allows our best self to burst forth and do good in the world.

And no matter how we try, we cannot separate our money from who we are.

 

 

But, just because we can’t separate our money from who we are, this doesn’t mean our money defines us. We breathe life into our money, not the other way around.

In short, money isn’t a thing to be managed; it’s a relationship to be nurtured.

Are you managing or nurturing yours?

 

 

 

Have you ever heard some say, “I don’t want to be rich, I want to be wealthy” and were puzzled by what they meant? There’s this notion that being rich and being wealthy are synonymous. They’re not.

Being rich is best described as someone who makes a lot of money.

Being wealthy is best described as someone who doesn’t have to worry about money.

If you make a lot of money, you’re considered rich. But, a lot of “rich” people are deeply worried about money, worried about being able to make enough to maintain their lifestyle.

It’s common for rich people to have a lot of “stuff,” nice stuff – big houses, fancy cars, they take lavish vacations, they eat at the best restaurants. They also tend to have a lot of debt. In many cases, the rich are held hostage by their need to make money and to maintain the lifestyle they’ve created.

On the contrary, wealthy people aren’t worried about money. Their money or lifestyle does not control them. While it’s true many wealthy people are rich; it’s also true that many are not.

You can’t be rich without a lot of money, but you can be extraordinarily wealthy.

There are many people out there who are wealthy, not because they make or have a lot of money, but because they have few wants.

“Wealth is a relative thing since she that has little and wants less is richer than she that has much and wants more.”

 

 

Do you see the distinction?

I’ve seen this quite a bit. I’ve seen plenty of situations where someone makes, literally, 10x less money than someone else, but is far wealthier. And often, a lot happier and less stressed out.

Wealth is about having a good quality of life, about focusing on what makes life worth living. For many, you just don’t need a ton of money to live such a life.

This is not to say having a lot of money is a bad thing. It’s not. We’ve made it clear that it’s okay to pursue money and make it a priority in your life. But, there comes a point when you have “enough” and the pursuit of “more” works against you.

Which is great news.

It means money isn’t the sole determining factor. It means we don’t always have to go after that next rung on the ladder or kill yourself to close that next deal.

It means we have the option to choose, to decide if the trade-offs required to reach that next level on the corporate hierarchy are: 1) necessary and 2) are they worth it.

I’m convinced we’d have a ton more “wealthy” people in this country if we changed the paradigm from “More Money is Better” to “Enough Money is Best.”

 

 

It bears repeating: change the paradigm from “More Money is Better” to “Enough Money is Best.”

If people truly understood the implications of the statement “Enough Money is Best,” we’d have a lot more people making Quality of Life decisions versus More Money decisions.

You’d see:

      • More people choosing to retire earlier
      • More people choosing to leave the office earlier to spend time with their kids
      • More people choosing to take time to nurture their passion projects, to do what they love
      • More people choosing to donate their time and money to the important causes in their life

I’m a good example. If I subscribed to a “More Money is Better” mindset, enlightenHer wouldn’t exist.

If “make more money” was my driving motivation, I would never have created enlightenHer. It would have made far more financial sense to focus all of my time, energy, and resources into my other, already established business. I would never have started a new company like this particularly one that is founded more so on advocacy than economics.

But, I mean, hey, I get it. To many, it’s safer to have too much money than to have too little, right? I get that.

But all too often, we blindly pursue more money without ever questioning if that’s what we really need or want. We forget there’s a cost to always wanting more, always wanting better. There are so many people out there who are miserable and selling their souls in the quest for more.

How much better off would they be if they changed their goal from “having more” to “having enough?”

They’d have more time to spend with the people they care about the most.

More time to do the things that brought them joy and life satisfaction. It would allow them a chance to pause and breathe, to lift up their heads and look to the horizon instead of looking down all the time at the road directly in front of them.

Truth is, sometimes, making less money is the best thing to do. It’s the best option.

If our work life is in greater balance with our personal life, and we have “enough” money to live this more balanced life, isn’t that worth exploring further?

More time. Less money. Enough money.

 

 

 

In Ken Blanchard’s bell-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese?, he uses the analogy of a ladder against a wall. Imagine the wall is the obstacle you need to climb to reach your goal, which is at the top of the wall.

So, you grab your ladder and place it against the wall and diligently begin climbing. After much focus and effort, you finally get to the top of the wall only to discover you’ve placed your ladder on the wrong wall!

You look around you and realize you should’ve placed your ladder on the wall over there.

You were so close and yet so far. All that time, energy, and effort expended, and you’re not even in the right spot—what a waste.

Placing your ladder on the wrong wall is an easy way to visualize making an honest, well-intended mistake. You deliberately chose the wall to place your ladder on. Then you diligently climbed every rung of the ladder. You finally got to the top of the ladder, expecting to be rewarded for your efforts, and quickly realized you made a mistake, your ladder’s on the wrong wall.

This is a good analogy for people and money.

 

 

 

We often think we’re using our money in the right way, only to discover we’re not being rewarded adequately for our efforts. We’ve placed our ladder on the wrong wall.

So, what am I getting at here? I’m talking about our consumption-driven society. More specifically, I’m talking about the societal pressures that come with a ‘More is Better” or a “Bigger is Better” mentality.

Now, no one comes right out and says, “yeah, I’m a materialistic person; that’s just who I am, and you should be one, too.”

Does anyone do that? No, no one does that. It’s just the opposite. They say things like, “yeah, we don’t really spend that much money, we don’t go anywhere, we don’t buy anything; we’re pretty frugal.” And then I look at what they’re actually spending, and I’m like (head explodes), what?

That’s how twisted it gets.

No one admits to being materialistic or driven by money or status. They don’t vocalize it. It’s subtle. But boy, they sure tell you all the same, don’t they?

They primarily “tell” you through social media, through their perfect IG and FB posts. They show you this ostentatious life as the pathway to happiness and success. They dine at the best restaurants, have flawless skin, take luxurious vacations, live in 6 bedroom homes, and so forth.

We’ve been taught we need a lot of money to be happy. We equate financial success with how big our house is or the type of luxury cars we drive. We tie our self worth to the suburbs we live in, and Heaven help us if we don’t live in a ritzy zip code.

We’ve been duped into thinking the American Dream is about having “more,” that “bigger is better,” and what we already have is never enough.

We’ve placed our ladder on the wrong wall.

Not only is now the right time to reassess and create a new money mindset for ourselves, but it’s also the time to help our kids create the proper money mindset right out of the gate.

Instead of trying to change bad financial habits, we have the opportunity to instill the proper financial habits right from the start and help them avoid the costs associated with placing their ladders on the wrong walls.

The best way to do this? Be a good example.

 

 

Show them what it means to be content with what you have instead of always wanting more (save the “always wanting more” stuff for personal development). Give your excess to those in greater need of it. Turn your focus inward on what truly drives your happiness. Have a grateful heart and live that life.

Don’t wait for others to lower a rope and pull you up to the top of their wall.

Grab your ladder, find your wall, and get to climbing!

 

Are you aware of the environment you’re creating between you and your teen when it comes to talking about money?

If you find that your teenager isn’t eager or even willing to speak to you about money, there’s probably a good reason as to why. You might be creating an environment in which they feel talked down to, misunderstood, or uncomfortable.

Here are three reasons that your teen might be shutting down when you try to talk to them about money and how you can make changes to improve the conversation.

 

You’re always in lecture mode

 

We’ve all done it. We plan to have a back-and-forth discussion with our teens about money and it turns into more of a one-sided lecture.

As parents, we’re all prone to this way of speaking to our kids, especially when it comes to money. However, no one likes being lectured or told what they should do.

When it comes to talking to your teenager about money try to approach the conversation as if you’re talking to one of your closest friends or work colleagues. You can try the following:

      • Avoid taking an authoritative or know-it-all stance
      • Avoid shaming, judging, or making assumptions
      • Ask questions and promote a two-way conversation
      • Be respectful and talk to them as an equal

 

 

You listen to respond not to understand

 

It’s often difficult for parents and teenagers to understand each other’s perspectives. We can get too wrapped up in our own thoughts and instead of trying to listen and understand our teenager, we do too much talking and teaching.

As the adults in this relationship, it’s up to us to explain the topic of money in a way that our teenagers can comprehend it. We can’t blame our kids for not understanding our message. We must own the outcome of these conversations. We need to try different ways of communicating until we find a strategy that works.

Storytelling is one method you can use to present money conversations in a way that is easy to understand. Share a story about a time you made a major money mistake. Ask your teenager what they would have done in your situation. Then talk about what you learned from this experience.

This strategy can be effective because it shows your teenager that you’re not perfect – you struggled to understand your finances and you don’t expect them to know everything.

It also demonstrates that it’s okay to mess up when it comes to money and to use our mistakes as a way to learn.

You’ve made money too emotional

For many, money is a loaded topic. It can bring up feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, or embarrassment. Often it’s us as parents who take the topic of money off of the table. We don’t want to talk about it because it makes us feel uncomfortable and then we pass down our emotional baggage to our kids.

If you want to break this cycle and prevent your kids from thinking that money is taboo, there are things you can do.

      • Make money a safe topic. Make a point to talk about money often and in a calm manner.
      • Be honest about your financial situation. If you’re going through a rough patch it’s okay to tell your teen, but try not to pass along any stress or fear.
      • When your teenager has a question, always be willing to help them find the answer.
      • Teach your teens that money is not inherently good or bad. Instead, it’s a tool. It’s what we use to buy the things we need and the things that we value.

 

 

 

It’s time to start a new money conversation

 

If your parents passed down their emotional money baggage to you, it’s time to break the cycle. Put the topic of money back on the table and make it something that’s easy for you and your teen to talk about.