Do you know that it takes the average person seeing you 7 times to sign up as your client? I run a trade show for health & wellness practitioners, and find that sometimes people think one form of networking is enough to fill their books with clients. Not so.
So I figured some basic networking review can't hurt. The standard phrase is people need to "know, like & trust" you before they will buy from you. Trade shows work great only when they are 1 of the 7 ways you network your biz!
Here are my free/low-cost tips on WHERE to network(compared to "high-cost", such as print advertising, which tends to run $1000 and up):
This is the strategy I used that helped me have a $1800 day at my coaching booth at the last Conscious Living Fair! ***FYI the folks who signed up had seen me multiple times in the community, and my Fair booth was just the clincher.
1. Make a GREAT BOOTH at a trade show, with lots of color & products/services and clear signage so folks know exactly what you are offering!
2. SHARE A BLOG or WRITE AN ARTICLE for an online or local publication that features your wisdom & expertise!
3. Share FREE PRODUCTS & SERVICES with your email list/social media as a way to generate goodwill.
4. Give FREE/LOW-COST TALKS locally such as at the public library, or online via facebook live or Zoom, this builds your credibility.
5. Join a LOCAL NETWORKING GROUP such as the Chamber of Commerce, Women Entrepreneurs, or Business Networking International.
6. POST FLYERS on community bulletin boards about your offerings. Be sure and include a call to action, such as a date-specific special or discount, or a class with a particular start date.
7. NETWORK AT SOCIAL GROUPS such as parties, gatherings, or even your local church or synagogue.
IF YOU DO 7 THINGS TO NETWORK, I PROMISE YOU, THE CLIENTS WILL COME!
Some final thoughts on HOW to do networking....
*Have fun networking your way. Only do networking that is enjoyable for you! Some introverts may find smaller groups or 1-on-1 more appealing, for example, than large group events. Some of you may love online networking, some of you may prefer in-person connections.
*Don't overspend on networking. Make sure you follow the 70/30 rule for your business, and keep operating costs(including networking!) to 30% of your gross income, or pay for networking out of savings. This is important so you have margin to run your business AND have a decent lifestyle/be able to build wealth. As you build your cash flow & net worth, you will be able to afford higher cost opportunities.
*Give it time. Gardens do not grow overnight. Your business is a garden. But if you plant seeds of connection, and water them consistently, over time they will become a harvest. It took me a year of being involved in 1 particular networking group for folks to "know, like & trust" me, and then business started pouring in.
Have you helped people make big changes?
Are you someone people go to for help and inspiration?
Do you make good money for your services?
I used to be someone who charged "by the hour", until I had a track record of big results. It became really clear to me that I was under-charging, based on the results I helped people get. Then I changed my pricing to reflect more of my work's true value, which is the RESULT.
I started small, which was good for a beginner.
14 years ago my coaching business started as something I did for anyone and everyone who would work with me. I was grateful to get clients for $50-$75/session, and I worked long and hard for many years to walk with people and their goals. I helped people of all walks of life grow their positive mindset, learn to be grateful & generous, and to set and achieve goals. I helped small business owners grow their income streams, pay off debt, save and invest.
This was perfectly natural for someone starting out. I needed experience, and was willing to work. My classes were very affordable for the average working person($50/month), and were a very small percentage of the results I got for them, 1%-3%, in fact.
The average client in my classes paid off debt/saved $5000 in 3 months! And the average small business owner in my classes had a $10,000 result in 3 months!
Tracking these results helped me have more confidence, as I realized that FACTS don't lie. People were becoming wealthy under my guidance. And I was happy to help them succeed!
While this was good for a while, eventually I outgrew this model. I personally use a "tithing" model in which I give back 10% of my results to the places that have helped and inspired me to get big results in my life. Only 1 of these people whom I had helped build wealth gave back to me in any way. And of course it would be unethical for me to demand that gift. I was just shocked that none of them were grateful enough for their results to give back.
This "under-valuing" came to a head for me with the following:
*A couple who already had $100,000 in investments upped their net worth by $100,000 working with me and gave me $200.
*A woman wanted to get free coaching and was not willing to pay even a small fee, after she had just bought a brand new car!
*A client making $100,000 year paid off $10,000 in debt within 1 month of working with me, and wanted to pay me less than 0.3% of those results, $27 to be exact.
*An entrepreneur wanted free advice on a regular basis, but was not willing to pay for a class, even though they had invested thousands of dollars in another personal growth project.
What a wake-up call!
And I realized...none of this was anyone else's fault. It was my own need to value myself and my results more highly! The "proving myself" period of a decade of coaching & teaching was important for my growth, and for me to see how I could truly help others. Now it was time for a new phase.
I began to seek out new mentors, people who charged rates based on results. I calculated the "tithe" amount for the average result I got for people: 10 % of $5000-$10,000 more in the bank in 3 months would equal $500-$1000 in 3 months. I began to see how I could shift my pricing to reflect more of my true value.
And new clients who valued RESULTS started showing up!
I enrolled high-level clients in classes & private sessions. Because I value my time so highly, I now reserve private client work for the highest paid clients. My programs are chock-full of content and support, but in a group teaching context.
I lost a few people. And that is fine! The people who want everything for free, or who undervalue me, are not my ideal client anymore.
My current clients now really value my time and expertise. They tend to also be more personally motivated, and to be working diligently on the materials I provide.
I still do some "charity" work as part of my own giving practice. I recently gave away 10 sessions to local people in need, and that felt great! I give away plenty of free content in this blog, and in my Wealthypreneurs facebook group, with 100% free information, resources & "Money Monday" video channel.
But I don't give away everything.
If people really want to work with me, they are willing to pay for it. And my fees are still under 10% of the results they get. If folks can't afford to pay 10% of what they want to get, then they are not my ideal client.
What kind of results do YOU help people get?
Are your rates high enough?
What could you charge that would work for your clients AND help you feel more valued and respected?
Good luck with value-based pricing, and feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions below!
It's true. I used to be a trophy wife.
I may not have looked like the picture above, with all of modern culture's trappings of wealth, but I had the trendy version: ugg boots, fancy custom home studio with persian rug and plush furnishings, personal growth seminars in resort locations with lots of deep processing about our emotional problems. I invested a lot in "looking good", which included spending lots of money in my business, even if that meant going into debt.
Because I was a trophy wife I didn't HAVE to make money in my business. I wanted to for my own fulfillment, so yes, I did learn to have a decent work ethic and to make a lot of money. But I gave and spent most of it, because I didn't really NEED the money to make a living. My 1st husband and his millionaire family would always send extra cash our way. And I was happy to have my clients pay me with their credit cards, to fuel my out-of-control lifestyle and a business that was also in debt.
Fast forward to 8 years ago: I became a single mother.
That year I made $100,000 but because of my out of control debt load and runaway spending, I could not afford to buy a house for myself and my children in our new town. That was the low point for me, but also one of the best points in my life~when I got real about money. I learned debt can really destabilize working families. When the economy fluctuates, or personal changes & challenges arise, debt keeps marching along, and can be a huge burden.
I learned money is not just for making, it is also for wise giving, saving and spending. Money can be used to feed children, purchase homes, support charities, fund businesses and assets, and build a legacy. With the help of my new fiancee(now husband), working 3 healing businesses, I upped my net worth by $150,000 in 4 years. We purchased a home, and now are able to give 10% of our income each month to charities and put 30-50% of our income into investments.
I now feel passionate about helping people build wealth FROM THE GROUND UP!
It may work for someone with a trust fund to take on debt, knowing their half-million dollar home or their investments are ample collateral. For someone like that, big lifestyle is a pleasant perk. More power to them! But debt and big lifestyle are actually DANGEROUS for someone who is just starting to grow their wealth, or is in the middle stages. Debt eats up cash flow, masks your profit, and decreases your net worth. Plus it puts your family at risk of losing what you do have.
Luckily ANYONE can build debt-free wealth if they focus on it
and take these practical steps:
1. Avoid debt like the plague. Pay cash for EVERYTHING! This keeps you honest, and out of the "impressing other people" trap. If your clients don't love you for your primary product or service, all the extra bells and whistles in the world won't convince them anyway. Let them love you for you!
2. Control your spending. Have a way to track your business and household finances, so you can consciously send your dollars where you want them to go. This gives you plenty of "margin" or money leftover. I recommend the 70/30 rule: only spend 30% on business operating expenses, including coaching & training, and only spend 30% on housing. Even if you live in an expensive area, like I do, you don't get a pass on math. Rent out a room, or live in a cheaper area and commute. You can't afford to overspend on housing or it will eat up all your margin for getting ahead.
3. Give a percentage that is appropriate for your income. Giving does open up more good for you, by upping your "deservedness quotient". People who give seem to be more willing and able to receive. The traditional amount for most people is 10%. If you are giving more than that with a low net worth, you are "over-giving".
4. Save. Set aside a percentage of your income every month for developing 2 kinds of savings: "protective savings" such as an emergency fund for your household or retained earnings for your business, and "growth savings" such as investment accounts, properties, and other assets. Since you are controlling your spending this should be easy.
Even now I cringe when I see a trust funder encouraging their clients to go into debt for their products or services. Yes there is value in taking a risk for your business, But not a risk that puts YOU at risk. If you want to pay big money, I recommend you save up and pay cash for their program or service.
When you are thinking of investing with a financial advisor, think carefully.
Remember where your advice is coming from, and ask yourself: "How did my advisor build their wealth? Did they build it from scratch in my type of business? Or did they get an inheritance or backup from another source? What is their bias and their background?" How wonderful for them if they have a high net worth. You can be happy for them. But what is appropriate for them may not be wise and practical for you.
I recently researched a service provider who sells "wealthy lifestyle" coaching. They made it seem they built their wealthy lifestyle as a coach, and that it is possible for others to do so by simply "thinking positive". What I discovered is that this person built a million dollar net worth, and their own wealthy lifestyle, by working 25 years in the stock market! THEN they started charging top dollar as a lifestyle expert using the technique of positive affirmations, and "feeling" your way into wealth. No mention of the stocks or bonds, or the returns they continue to collect.
Needless to say, I passed on that opportunity.
I am proud that since my "low point" I have built my wealth from scratch in the healing arts & consulting, and can advise people who want to do the same. While I have been blessed to have a few windfalls here and there: a tax refund, a small gift from family, etc. most of the income has been under mine and my husband's own steam. We are regular working people.
And so I always have my clients pay cash.
I know what it's like to grow from scratch, and how you have to keep your margin high.
And if they can't afford it....
Well, I give them free resources.
I'd rather do that than put them into debt.
Kathy Kali is a Certified Financial Coach and Business Advisor. Kathy specializes in helping entrepreneurs and working families to build wealth using practical steps. Kathy also founded the Conscious Living Fair, a trade show featuring holistic & healing businesses in Medford, Oregon and Eugene, Oregon.
For more FREE wealth tips for Conscious Business Owners including "Money Mondays" trainings feel free to join our Wealthypreneurs Changing the World facebook group.
Ever wish you could take a "mental health" day off from your business but can't afford it? Or need to take sick time off of work for yourself or your children and don't have any savings? And what about the millions of women in America who would like to slow down at "that time of the month"? How many of us have that freedom without jeopardizing our finances?
Well I believe entrepreneurship is the way of the future, because we can craft our own schedule based on our own needs. I now take a full week off of seeing clients and doing active work to nurture myself. I still send emails and work "on" my business, but I don't see clients and I don't work "in" my business. I sleep in, put my feet up, take naps.....and stay in my pjs if I want! I plan my whole month around this time which I have come to feel is sacred self-care.
But it didn't always used to be that way.
I used to power right through even though my body told me "no". I worked many days with clients when my body was aching and I was tired. I am thankful I learned mindfulness practices to help me tap into my body's wisdom. And I nurtured myself for short times: during a yoga class, or a massage, or a nap. But even though I could hear my body calling for deeper & longer rest, for many years, a full week off was not financially possible.
If you can relate to this, I want to share how I did this because I know there is a better way. A better way for women, and for the world! Can you imagine what the world will be like when all people are nurturing themselves? We'll have a happier and more productive workforce, for one thing! And I also believe the feminine values of listening, rest, compassion, and support for healing will come more fully into the marketplace.
Women's wisdom is valuable.
So what are the clues or keys to creating an entrepreneur lifestyle that works for you? The first step is knowing what you crave. Maybe you long for a 4-day work week. Or just 1 or 2 days grace period when you need it.... Or perhaps you want to take more extended time off? I know one powerful woman entrepreneur who takes one month off each year for self-care. She uses this time to travel, write a book, finish large home projects, etc.
A great way to know what you crave is to look at where and when you feel the most stressed, pissed off, and fed up!!! Women can look to their inner bitch for her wisdom here! No kidding! She knows what you need. As we know now, many symptoms of "pre-menstrual syndrome" are linked to real emotional and physical needs for nourishment. I personally believe this "syndrome" is a sign of the world not meeting the natural needs of women.
Stress shows you what you need.
But if we want our business to meet our needs we have to create it. Crafting a business in which you have control over your schedule is one key element. Take back control! You are the creator of your life! If you set up the client load you can start to arrange your schedule around your time off. You can begin to have rest during the times you feel most stressed or tired.
Raising your rates strategically over time can also reduce stress. I have always done this with my different healing businesses. As you research the market value of your service, and as you grow your clientele, you will be able to charge more. I find people value my services highly because I build good relationships with them and get them great results. This means you are trading fewer hours for dollars, and this gives you more time.
Financial stability gives you more choices.
If you are deeply in debt and have no savings, and are working hard to get more stable, you may or may not want to take more time off. But I would suggest really take a weekend. Give yourself a little pampering & care. At this stage I used to take 1 day off a month, my most tired day, and that helped me a lot.
As you become more financially stable it can be easier to take longer time off. Once we had emergency funds, home purchased, and our investments on track for wealth-building, I began to take 2 full days off for mental health. I was glad my money was making me money, even when I was not doing anything. So a few days off was not financially stressful.
Lately separating my time completely from my income has helped me to take that full week off. I began to use value-based pricing & packages in my work rather than just an hourly wage for a service. People are happy to pay for the results the package gives them without me always delivering them in person. In addition, hiring help and automating some of my services/products has helped. So during my week off income still comes in without me having to actively teach, speak, consult or perform.
A better world is...here!
So...can we see and feel a better world coming? Or perhaps we know it is already here...the time of feminine values. The time of self-care. The time of nurturing, and allowing our body wisdom to be honored.
It's up to us.
How will we create our businesses and our lives moving forward?
I hope my story is helpful, and wish you many blessings on your self-care!
Well, it's a new year. Again. Hopefully the haze from your holiday hangover has cleared, and you can start to take stock of things. Did you make more money last year? Did you give away more money last year? Did you save more money last year? Did you fulfill more of your life purpose last year? If you answered no to any of these questions, you've got some work to do on....MONEY.
As a creative person, I have always enjoyed "making things up"! I like variety, and the process of inventing something new. But with money I have learned, there are basic laws which are unchanging. In a way, knowing these structures is stabilizing for me as a creative entrepreneur. Before I knew and applied these laws, I was at sea with money, floating this way and that based on my creative whim.
Now that I know these laws, I apply them for my clients, and they provide security, and yes, WEALTH! In my own household we used these laws to up our net worth by $150,000 in 3 years. My clients use these laws to get rid of debt, give and save as regular habits, and build their nest egg. Are you ready to master the spiritual & practical laws of money?
Well, then let's dive in!
1. Make money.
The #1 law with money is that is okay to make some. One of my mentors Toni Stone always said, "Money will come when you are doing the right thing." And I have found this to be true. When I am following my heart and my purpose, the right jobs and chance to serve for me have materialized. And when I give and serve, money comes. And as I continue to ask "how can I serve better?" more money comes!
Some people have an aversion to making money, thinking it is not "spiritual". The path of an ascetic monk is a valid path, just not for everyone! Most of us are householders, raising children and doing work in our communities. For us money is a useful tool. We can be just as "spiritual" if we make money as if we don't. I have been a tither for 13 years, giving away 10% of my income. So I feel pretty dang spiritual, even as a prosperous money-maker.
Are you in action with your life purpose to serve others? Are you charging a good rate for your services or product? Some people believe they can pray money into existence. And yes, prayer and intention are useful. But you also need to be in ACTION. So if we need to work, and act, let's act for whatever brings us joy, and brings us the most income! And money comes as a result. And more money continues to flow, as we continue to serve in bigger and better ways.
Once we make money, then we can start to give.
2. Give money
The #2 law of money is that once we have an income, we have a responsibility to give. Giving, or tithing, a percentage of our money is an ancient practice invented by the Babylonians, then passed to the Hebrews, who then passed it to the Christians. To give is to affirm that "we have it to give", which affirms our own prosperity. When I started tithing I found my income grew steadily, because I was affirming the infinite flow each time I gave. I began to have a spiritual assurance of the flow of money.
And then giving also benefits and supports spiritual work and allows it to continue to help the world. Giving 10% is the traditional amount. And then you create your lifestyle from the 90% that is left over. "If you cannot live on 90% you are not a good money manager," says Dave Ramsey, another money mentor of mine. Using your monthly budget, or tracking system, allows you to give in balance with all your other needs.
Where should I give? Traditionally tithing was done to a temple, then a synagogue, then a church. In modern culture many people receive spiritual guidance from many sources. So tithing can be distributed to any place or places that inspire you spiritually: spiritual centers, temples/churches, counselors, coaches, artists that inspire, etc. Tithing is a personal decision and should never be coerced.
When we give, we have an assurance of prosperity.
3. Save money
The #3 law of money is to save some. Just like giving, saving is a spiritual practice and a practical habit. When we save some of our money, it creates reserves for security and for greater wealth-building. Just as the Babylonians and Hebrews saved grain for lean times, we can save for emergencies, large purchases, assets & investments which will produce income for our elder years.
Dave Ramsey recommends saving 15% of your gross income every month. Once again, use your monthly budget, or tracking system, to manage this. If you give 10% and save 15%, then you can live on 75%. This does mean that you have to have discipline and not allow your lifestyle to get out of control. Millionaires exercise this kind of self-control by eliminating debt and consistently saving money over many years, note Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko in The Millionaire Next Door.
Are you in debt? Debt is a sign you have not been saving, and you need to get rid of it first before you begin to save. Apply the 15% you would save, or more if you can, to getting rid of debt. Then when you are done with it(sometimes this takes a few years) start saving as you would normally. Over the course of a working lifetime most people can build a nest egg of 1 million dollars by saving 15%. If you are starting later in life, you will need to save a bigger percentage of your income.
When we save, we automatically build wealth.
4. Track money
Money loves to be paid attention to. It tends to grow in the presence of attention. When we do not pay attention to money, it disappears. How are you going to pay more attention to your money? One way millionaires grow their nest eggs is by using a monthly budget. This is a tracking system that is different every month based on your changing needs over time. You can use a paper budget or an online system, whichever you are more comfortable with.
Are you uncomfortable with budgeting? Another way to track your money with a budget is to get a money coach. Having accountability from a trained professional helps you to stay in touch with your numbers. A coach can help you meet your goals, whether that be starting a giving or saving practice, paying off debt, increasing income, or acquiring assets.
A final way to track your money is to be in a class where others are practicing tracking their money. The culture of a group can support you to learn the new habit of tracking, or budgeting. Be aware it takes 90 days to learn a new habit. So it is common when we work on our own to abandon budgeting after just one month. That is why my basic class, The Money Makeover, is a 3-month group. In this class, the average household pays off debt/saves an extra $5000!
When we track, we meet our money goals.
If you work on these 4 laws of money, I guarantee you will get results. My private clients and students have been building wealth with these principles since 2005. My hope is that you will start or deepen your own practice of these 4 laws. Good luck and let us know how things go with your wealth-building!
Kathy Kali, Coach, Speaker, Author & Teacher has been helping people make more money and build wealth with it for the last 13 years. Kathy holds degrees in Women's Studies, Certified Master Financial Coaching & New Thought Prosperity Teaching. Kathy’s mission is to help heart-centered professionals build wealth to fulfill their purpose.
When I was in my 20s I read a book called "How To Get What You Want in Life with the Money You Already Have." The author, Carol Keefe, inspired me to keep "dream jars" to save for particular goals. At the time I was a poor bookseller, and all my paycheck seemed to go to essentials: gas, food, car, rent. I despaired that I would ever be able to save for things that I enjoyed: musical instruments, travel, nice clothes. But I started a few jars, and lo and behold, the method worked! I saved for and bought a $1000 Martin guitar that I still use today 20 years later as a professional musician.
And 20 years later my financial knowledge has become much more sophisticated. I am a graduate of a 5 year Prosperity Teacher Training focused on prosperity character trait development. I have a Certification in the 7 Baby Steps of Wealth Building & Investing to help guide people out of debt and into a lifetime of financial security. For 13 years I have given generously to spiritual organizations and charities. My knowledge has grown about banking, saving, and various kinds of investing, including stock market products & real estate. Using the 7 Baby Steps our personal net worth grew by $150,000 in just 3 years.
However, when I think about it, it all comes down to GIVE, SAVE and SPEND. Any fancy financial system is simply a version of this basic balance. If you GIVE, you are a generous person and you develop a sense of humility and deservedness which attracts money to you. If you SAVE, you are wise, and your savings eliminates debt, grows your assets and creates security and peace of mind. And if you SPEND in balance with the other two, you enjoy your life without blowing it all on lifestyle. What a blessing!
So here I unpack the BIG THREE: Give, Save & Spend, and help you decide how you want to use this power trio for your financial health.
"No one ever became poor by giving." ~Mike Todd
What can you give now? We always have something to give. In fact, giving sends a message to our brain which says, "I have it to give." It reframes any scarce mindset into one of abundance. When I first started a giving practice, I gave small. But then I felt a sense of deservedness, and comfort with money. So more money came, and I was able to give bigger. It is an ever-expanding well of blessing.
Giving, or tithing, has been a longstanding practice for thousands of years among spiritual people, who understand its benefit psychologically. The Babylonians invented tithing, and taught it to the Hebrews, who very famously taught tithing as a spiritual practice in the Torah, or Old Testament. Many churches & spiritual centers carry on this tradition as a spiritual practice which benefits the giver as much as the receiver.
However, a few notes on true giving: it must be a freely given gift, not an obligation. It must be your choice, no one can tell you who to give to. And it must be to places that inspire and help you spiritually, as well as provide charitable help to the community. In the Jewish and Christian history of tithing the church or temple provided spiritual inspiration AND help to the poor. In our modern world the two have become separate. Often spiritual inspiration is found one place and charity is found another, and so we can give to both.
"A penny saved is a penny earned." ~Benjamin Franklin
As I've gotten older, and have seen money come and go, and incomes rise and fall, I have learned the power of saving to provide security through all seasons. Saving a nest egg provides for you during the inevitable ups and downs of the economy & life. When you save, you can handle emergencies, and you do not need to accrue debt, which destroys wealth & cash flow. You can cash flow everything!
The Egyptians & Babylonians saved grain in silos, helping to feed a community through lean times. What would you like to have saved for emergencies, for large purchases, for your retirement? Even if you plan to work into your elder years for your own enjoyment & life purpose, wouldn't you like to have choices about how you spend your time? Savings gives you more choice. During the 20th century employers helped to fund an employees retirement benefits. Now that is not the case. It is up to you to create wealth that will sustain you in your elder years.
Start saving now. Have a starter emergency fund of $1000. Pay off all debt. Have a fully-funded emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses. Under $20,000 can be kept easily in a bank savings or money market account for emergencies & large purchases. When you accrue more than $20,000 you will want to look into longer term investing such as in mutual funds or real estate. Having a qualified investment advisor who can teach you about the different investment products is helpful.
"Live below your means and within your needs." ~Suze Orman
Who doesn't love to spend? But honestly, where does the pleasure end and the regret begin? Everyone has their saturation point, where the pursuit of "stuff" no longer gives a thrill. So what do you need to be satisfied & content? I believe the average American can be content with a lot smaller lifestyle than the media tells us. Back in 1950 the average house size was 1000 square feet, and people were happy. Now average home size is 1700 square feet, and are people happier as a result? I don't think so.
No, it's about contentment. Finding a way to be happy no matter how much discretionary income you have to spend on lifestyle. I found when I was getting out of debt I was happy with a little spending money for the occasional latte, or a dance exercise class. Now that we have much more income & "fun money", I find lots of extra spending money does not bring me happiness. What I really enjoy now is work that has purpose and meaning. Now that's fun!
So yes enjoy spending. But spend wisely. Get good bargains for your dollars, and spend your fun money on things that are truly meaningful. One area many folks overspend in lifestyle is housing. Your home, whether rented or mortgaged, should comprise between 25 and 35 percent of your take-home pay, no more. If you find you are spending half your income on housing, wake up! There will be little money left over for giving, saving or spending then. I recommend a down-grade.
True contentment comes from balance. I hope you feel inspired to Give, Save & Spend in a balanced way. Have fun balancing your budget and let us know how it goes!
. "Failure means a stripping away of the inessential." ~J.K. Rowling
My whole life, I was groomed for success. I was the "good kid" while my brother was the wild one, always doing what would make my parents happy. An oldest child of a family who valued education, I went right to college after high school. I rebelled a bit in my 20s by pursuing the arts, music & dance, without much financial success. But I returned to the people pleasing of my childhood by marrying a wealthy man and having children by the end of the decade. I built a successful small business in the healing arts & spiritual coaching in my 30s, and maintained a 5 bedroom house on 8 acres.
It seemed we had it all.
Then failure came along and changed my life.
The underpinnings of my marriage began to unravel....my business was mired in debt....our remote rural neighborhood couldn't support my business....and then I began the arduous, slow process of losing everything I had. With the help of my prosperity coach Toni Stone, I got the courage to let go of what was not working. I lost the marriage, and became a single mom. I lost many friends & clients when I moved from a rural neighborhood to a progressive town. Although I had always made good money, due to my debt load, and out of control spending, I could not afford to buy a home for myself and my children. And then my income itself began to disappear, and I faced real poverty as a working single mom.
But becoming poor was one of the best things that could have happened to me.
I began to look in the mirror and see what was really going on.
I discovered my people pleasing was actually a fault. When I took a Debtors Anonymous course, the common theme in myself that I discovered was "lying". I was "lying" in order to be loved. I took on debt, and spent more than I had, to please others, and appear wealthier than I actually was. A lot of my lifestyle was based on trying to make up for a deep insecurity.
I began to really grieve for the loss of the marriage, and to grieve for many pains that I had experienced in my life. Instead of masking my feelings, I began to speak them, and let people know when they hurt me. I woke up to how I was medicating my grief with purchases, and I stopped the out-of-control spending.
When I did the math, I saw I had wasted about $75,000 in "people-pleasing"!
I found another money coach named Dave Ramsey, and discovered that what I found so shameful is actually a cultural problem. He calls it "Keeping up with the Joneses". We all do it! We look at each other's social media feeds to see how great other people are doing, and compare ourselves negatively. And it's an empty shell game! Who was I really impressing with my large lifestyle? I realized that for years buying the newer car, the bigger house, the prettier clothes, etc. never brought me happiness. The folks I was trying to impress never stuck around.
And my true friends are with me no matter how much money I have.
That was a real shocker.
J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books, said of becoming a poor unemployed single mother: "Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way...I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies."
And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
And so did I. I began to rebuild my life.
I no longer cared what other people thought. My own financial well-being was more important to me than what I looked like. I cut my budget drastically, rented out a room, and hustled in my business. I stopped going out. I stopped buying extravagant gifts for others. I paid off $20,000 in debt in one year, and saved an extra $20,000 the next year. I encouraged my boyfriend to do the same, and he paid off $20,000 in debt and saved an extra $40,000. We eventually bought a house for cash, funded our Roth IRAs, and cash-flowed our wedding & honeymoon. No one has praised us for this.
But it has pleased the one I really need to please: myself.
All of this came because I hit rock bottom.
So if you are facing debt, low income, unpaid bills, low-to-no savings, or financial failure of any kind, congratulations! It may be painful, but failure is nothing to be afraid of. Trying to pretend everything is fine, and continuing to drive yourself into debt, now that is a real danger.
Failure can be a blessing.
It just might lead you to a new beginning.
"If you help enough people get what they want, sooner or later you will get what you want."
Well, friends, the day has come! We just paid to purchase a home, funded our Roth IRAs, and paid for a tropical wedding vacay! I never thought this would happen so soon. My fiancee and I have been working our wealth-building plan side by side for 3 years. I've been teaching Money Makeover classes and seeing private Financial Coaching clients, helping others to get out of debt and build wealth. Our progress seemed very slow but steady. And our longterm goal of buying a home seemed still so far away: as our savings increased so did the cost of homes in our local inflated market! With 2 self-employed incomes we could see our home dreams getting pushed years out.
I guess I have my 12 year old son to thank. Puberty and his need(who am I kidding? MY need!) for him to have his own room propelled us into looking for a larger home sooner! And our landlord raised the rent for each of us another $100 a month. So a few months ago we began looking around on craigslist. And lo and behold, before the holidays we found a beautiful 3-bedroom, 2 bath home with stainless steel appliances, pergo floors, and level streets for biking.
The best news of all is that we have financial balance: we were able to fund our Roth IRAs before the end of the year and also pay $10,000 for our honeymoon in Hawaii. All of these goals have been ones we have been working toward and saving for, thanks to our wealth-building coaches' guidance and having a plan. Sometimes blessings come in 3s! But we could not have predicted that. We only knew they would happen eventually.
Here are our secrets to PAYING CASH for everything:
1. MAKE SAVING A HABIT. Most of my life spending was a habit. Then I became a tither, and giving and spending were habits. It wasn't until I also became a saver that I began to build wealth. Both Steve and I have a habit of systematically putting a percentage of our income in savings each month. It does mean saying no to some of our wants, but not all of them. We still give and spend, just not outrageously.
2. HAVE A PLAN. Decide what your financial goals are, and break them down into steps. You can use the 7 Baby Steps to wealth-building, or simply your own wishes of what you'd like to achieve. Write them down. And use a monthly budget to be able to aim your dollars along the path of your plan. Check out www.everydollar.com, a free budgeting tool to help you get started.
3. BE PATIENT. Rome wasn't built in a day. A garden doesn't grow in a week. And your nest egg takes many seasons to mature. Start now, and keep going. The old story of the tortoise and the hare was not far off: the tortoise ended up the winner through his patient, careful steps forward, while the hare leapt about wildly and erratically, wore himself out, and never made the finish line. Practice contentment in the little things, and then the big things will eventually come.
Celebrate with us, friends! Our story is one of many. Please share your stories of paying CASH for things, and the freedom that it brings! Blessings to you and have a peaceful & prosperous New Year!
"But Godliness with contentment is great gain." ~Timothy 6: 6-7
On the path of wealth contentment is our silent partner. When we embrace gratitude for what we have, the big things, and the little things, suddenly our path becomes filled with grace & ease. Life is not so hard anymore! We can savor the little things in life: a brisk walk crunching fall leaves under our feet, gathering a sweater or warm blanket around ourselves or lighting candles.... This concept of simple coziness and enjoyment, no matter the season, is called "hygge"(pronounced hoo-ga) in Denmark. And I believe it is essential if we want to build longterm wealth and meet our big life goals!
I used to spend tons of money on lifestyle, but I was chasing happiness! I was not happy. My kids and I actually have become more content with some monetary restrictions. We have found joy in spending time together, creativity, and simple entertainment. Ironically, now that I am debt-free, with a good nest egg, I find spending money actually has a cap on enjoyment! Don't get me wrong, I do love to eat out, and the occasional latte! But large extravagances don't create real happiness for me~they are like fancy frames around the real picture, which is the people I love & work I enjoy.
Ways to be more content, no matter which Baby Step you are on!
1. Get a plan for your money. Learn about budgeting and the Baby Steps to Wealth Building. When I started my Baby Steps, I instantly felt more wealthy because I felt I was following a smart plan. I could relax, and enjoy the moments with my children. Stopping the crazy debt cycle and getting clarity on my investments was also liberating. I no longer had the stress of the money fog! The monthly budget helped me see exactly where my money was going and exactly how much wealth I was building. And hearing stories on www.daveramsey.com of other people who had paid off debt and saved money was very inspiring. I gained a million dollars in peace of mind. That was huge!
2. Savor the simple things. Simple meals together, board games, playing music, watching shows on netflix, all became more meaningful for me the last 3 years. Julia Cameron speaks about nurturing your inner child in her book "The Artists Way". She says a little "artist date" does not have to be expensive, just fun! A trip to a vintage store to snoop around, $5 for new paint brushes, hearing a concert in the park....This weekend I had a blissful time resting & puttering around the house....napping, cleaning out the fridge, writing this blog...just letting the spirit move me however. What a treat! Money does not buy happiness. My sweetie and I paid for an expensive weekend trip to a local tourist spot with the kids where we ended up mainly hunkering down together in the living room, watching videos and playing games!! The togetherness was what mattered. And that is free.
3. Practice active gratitude. Speaking out loud what you are grateful for, and being generous from what you have, ups contentment. 12 years ago My coach Toni Stone taught me to say affirmative prayers every day. I've been doing a prayer call with a good friend ever since, and it helps me remember my blessings...especially when I get into a "pity party" because I've forgotten to be content. Some people like to keep a gratitude journal and write down their blessings. Giving also helps when we are feeling tight, poor & constricted. Toni taught me the practice of tithing 10% to churches & charities, and I have been a tither ever since. Dave Ramsey also recommends you continue your tithe while getting out of debt! Giving, even a little, reminds us that we "have it to give", and that we are blessed.
Thank you, and Happy Fall!
Many of us are eager to work the 7 Baby Steps of Wealth Building! And yes, please do. But before you step up on that mountain, get your base camp of the Four Walls together, or you will never make the climb. As a working single mom for 5 years, I can tell you, getting your household in order first gives you stability, and breathing room. Even if you are a 2 income household, you may find yourself out of work, or having more debt than savings. When your Four Walls are in jeopardy, that means crisis.
What are the Four Walls? They are the basics of survival: food, shelter, transportation & utilities. They can also include necessary clothing. The Four Walls help us meet our basic needs, experience comfort, and create the mental clarity necessary to begin to strategize for the future. When your lights and water are about to be cut off, or you don't have a place to live, fear and stress become your constant companions and you can't even think about the future. I know. This happened to me.
When I first got divorced, I had no clue about the Four Walls. I knew how to care for my children, cook & clean, and run my business so that it brought in $75,000 a year. But I was a princess~I had never run a family household on my own, and did not have a realistic sense of what was the appropriate amount to spend on each household category. And I was addicted to looking good, so I spent out of control and accumulated a lot of debt. But that's another story.
The main thing is, as a working single mother I got a crash course in the Four Walls. I learned first hand how it does NOT work to have your housing be 50% of your income, how it does NOT work to have your food budget take up 40%, and how it does NOT work to spend more on credit card bills than utilities. Thank goodness I woke up from my mistakes claimed my status as Queen of my world, and saved $20,000 in 2 years. For families in crisis, this is what I recommend, so you don't make the same stupid mistakes I did~
Write down on a piece of paper how much money you bring in each month. Then write down how much each of these Four Walls cost: Food, Shelter, Transportation, and Utilities. Then divide each wall by your monthly income to get the percentage each wall takes up of your total pay. For the time being, don't worry about paying on credit cards or other collectors. They are not as important as your Four Walls. You can deal with your credit score later, when your life is stabilized.
1. Food, 5-15%. Food is your first wall. This is crucial. You gotta feed yourself and your kids. Ideally food will take up 5-15% of your takehome pay. If it doesn't, don't beat yourself up. You are not alone! Many families are spending astronomical amounts on food. I just spoke with a couple a few weeks ago who found out they were spending $1500 on food, simply because they were not paying attention. Start shopping at the discount stores(yes, they carry organics!), meal plan, eat cheaper items(can you say, rice and beans?) and if your income is below the poverty line, consider food stamps. It is very possible to rein in food costs when you start being intentional. I cut my grocery budget in half simply by meal planning & shopping at the discount stores.
2. Shelter, 25-35%. The second wall is shelter, or housing. Having a roof over your head and a place to sleep that is comfortable and safe brings relief. The recommended percentage for this category is 25-35%. The reason for this is that housing is the place most people overspend, and that keeps them from being able to build any wealth. When I first moved to my new town, I was grateful for a safe home for myself and my children. However, that home took up 50% of my income, so I had little leftover to cover food, debt payments, utilities & transportation. Many people in this inflated housing market are paying very high costs for rent. I recommend getting roommates, doing airbnb, downgrading your rent, or even selling your home if your rent/mortgage is too high of a percentage. It's an incredible feeling when you can cover your housing and then have money left over to save, give, and spend!
:3. Transportation, 10-15%. Required transportation is your third wall. This means the kind of transportation you need to get to work, get to the grocery store, and get your kids where they need to go. Not transportation to take a vacation that you put on the credit card. Not a new car that you lease, or borrow money for. This means basic transportation: bus, train, or car. The recommended percentage is 10-15%. Dave Ramsey often recommends when you are in crisis to drive a beater car, take the bus, or get rides until you can afford upgraded transportation with cash.
4. Utilities, 5-10%. The fourth wall is utilities: lights, water, electricity, sewer, garbage. What it takes to keep your household comfortable in hot or cold weather. Again, if you are in crisis this is the basics, not the fancy version. Can you get a $50 air conditioner off of Craigslist in the summer? Can you conserve energy by turning off lights and taking shorter showers? You probably know the ways you can be more energy-efficient already. Actually in my experience most folks are paying decent prices for their utilities, but sometimes don't prioritize them right. Be sure and pay your light bill before your personal spending or your credit cards!
Now you have a good look at your Four Walls and their percentages. If the percentages are way out of wack, or if your Four Walls alone are more than your take-home pay, this may be a time to make some hard decisions about where you spend your money. Time to cut someplace, and make more money. Time to cover the basics. I can assure you, when your Four Walls are covered, you will breathe easier. And then you will be able to look up from survival mode, and begin to set your sights on the 7 Baby Steps of Wealth-building. Your days of struggle are over!
For a FREE budget form to get you started, click here: