Thursday, November 10, 2011

When Do We Get to Have Fun?

I was talking to some friends who didn't understand what getting into debt meant. They told me they had debt, but that it wasn't so bad. Debt, no matter how many leagues under the sea, can be crushing. If it isn't, then you're one of the lucky few. Generally, debt will throw you a curve ball and knock your socks off. Even if you don't get into trouble with your debt, do you really love paying all that interest which compounds over the course of the debt's life?

For those of you who are finding it difficult to do everything the Financial Genie has offered here and wondering when you might start feeling lighter and more relaxed about your situation, consider the story of the tortoise and the hare. The slow tortoise plodded along while the hare slept, ate, slept some more and malingered his almost certain win. Malingerers do that, they plump themselves up, over confident that whatever needs to be done will get done...eventually.

This means that while the interest is climbing out of sight, the vagueness has made you sleepy. No one wants to actually get up off the couch and go find all those statements and begin the work. So another nap. Meanwhile, the calls and mail from creditors keep coming in.

But the Financial Genie can guarantee that the fun begins when one commits to taking the action of tearing up the cards AND closing the accounts, of contacting the creditors with a payment plan - however small - and ensuring the daily income and cash flow are recorded with accuracy.

Slow? Tedious? Time consuming? Sometimes it can be. But the alternative is worse.

So the Financial Genie has an offer to make. You do the mundane work, and in a very short while you'll be enjoying a modicum of prosperity. You'll be sitting in the driver's seat and enjoying no more phone conversations with creditors AND you will have more money available to you than ever before.

It really doesn't matter if they've socked you with added interest. They'll see you're making every effort. You're just not taking the path of the boisterous, arrogant hare, but the path of the slow, steady, unassuming tortoise who has outwitted that lazy, old hare.

"Life begins each morning...Each morning is the open door to a new world - new vistas, new aims, new tryings." ~ Leigh Hodges

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Giant Dumpling of Positive Expectation

I was watching my life turning from color to black and white film.
In and of itself, that wasn’t such a bad thing. But the characters in the film were bad and mean spirited.

I chose to throw out the film, start over and cast new actors.
I drew the lines and boundaries, I blocked each act and knew it was going to work. And this time it did.

Everyone knew their lines. Everyone performed with such precision, it was as if I had expected it to be that way.

So here's your great big dumpling of positive expectation:


Someone once told me she never expects anything to go well because she knows it won't. I could hardly hear her words. I've always believed that if you expect something to go well, it will. And in my case it usually has, sometimes even better.

"But," you say, "that's not realistic."

You right. But I don't care about reality. I can recreate my reality in a second just by changing my thinking of a thing. Good? Bad? Something in the middle? I no longer disaster plan because to do so means to stay in the problem. Back in the old days when I was a worrier, the things I worried about never materialized. So I wasted energy. That, and worrying about anything brings on physical maladies.

We could pound our chests for years and rue the day we took out unsecured debt. Or we could become grownups and take the bull by the horns and not retreat from our responsibilities. There's a short window of time when making these financial changes is uncomfortable. It may mean you'll have to cut out certain unnecessary things, the X Box, the movie dates, the dinners out. But eventually because you're working toward solvency, things will start to return.

At the end of an interview, the host said to Harrison Ford, "May the Force be with you," to which Harrison Ford replied, "Force yourself."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Are Not Alone ~ A Case Study

Among my many friends, one stands out as having the worst time of it, the it being difficulty paying off debt and student loans. The following is a brief description of what she went through.

Shelley's existence, if it can be called that, is a dramatic study in frustration and poverty. She's about to graduate from Columbia University in New York where she's given her life to a post doctoral program in clinical psychology. Every effort to pay for this degree has been thwarted. All she has to show for her efforts are calluses on her knuckles from knocking on so many doors.

She survives on a $1.44 bagel she buys from the "Hot and Crusty." When she treats herself, she buys a hot dog from the vendor, but puts up with men lurking nearby who steal furtive glances as she squeezes out the mustard and eats her hot dog.

In search of a summer job to pay the rent and light bill, she attacks department stores like Attila the Hun. But all her attempts are shrouded in failure. With only $18.00 to her name, she hears of an agency that will buy fertile ovum for $3,000. This sounds intriguing and worth investigating. But at 41, she discovers she's too old to qualify.

Finally, on a late Thursday evening, a bit of fortune comes her way. Talbots is hiring and the lady likes her. She accepts the application and asks for references. Shelley gives her a few names, but when Talbots calls and asks one of the references if he is Dr. Albert Schein, he says no and hangs up, thinking it's a sales call.

Shelley does not suffer from any apparent mental or physical handicaps. But after two years of duking it out with the fates, she begins to worry about her sanity. There is nowhere to turn unless it's the Park which makes her feel uncomfortable. That leaves her with the steady din of New York traffic and treeless streets. Still, she does have one friend who calls to tell her it might be fun this year to exchange birthday gifts. "This year," she tells Shelley, "I'm going to send you a beach umbrella."

Shelley, who by now has run out of panic buttons, stifles laughter. A beach umbrella?? Her slightly frayed neurotransmitters search to make the connection. Of course, what cardboard box on the street would be complete without a beach umbrella.

By now, she's developed a strange batch of schizo-affective symptoms in combination with a dark sense of humor. She's crumbling before her own image and tells herself she is one with everything, every panhandler, every homeless person, every mendicant. But, she's also one with Donald Trump.

Still, it is her lack of hostility and excessive composure that scares me. She's spending too much time in her 400 square foot studio staring at her beautiful long red hair and threatening to sell it because there's a market for red hair in China.

Her student loans are inching their way skyward and the calls keep coming in.
The student loans are exorbitant and she simply cannot pay them. She knows she will be paying for at least ten or fifteen more years.

Fast forward this case study and you'll see Shelley's picture looks radically different. Her student loans took 10 years to pay off. Did she mind? Not at all. Her goals and dreams were riding sidesaddle along with her debts. Only she reached her dreams long before the student loans were paid off. She now owns a business and is financially prosperous.

What did Shelley do that worked so well? She got out of debt on her timetable.

"Slow motion gets you there faster" ~ Hoagy Carmichael

Monday, October 31, 2011

Finding Happiness Despite Debt

There comes a time when you just get sick and tired of keeping numbers, phoning the creditors, writing down the phone conversation you had with them and paying off the debt ever so slowly.

You wake up one morning and life still hasn't gotten you where you want to go. You find yourself in the middle of the wreckage of your life or to be more concise, a bad dream. No matter what words you use to describe it, it really is a pain to go through all of this. You've gone this far, and now think you'd like to coast for awhile. You think 'I can just do a little more shopping than I actually have the money for and maybe I don't really need to look at the numbers and write them down daily and maybe that old credit card I put in the freezer can be thawed and I'll get it and .....'


It does get tiresome. You haven't arrived at the point when all the statements have zero balances. I'll give you that, having been there. But despite the children wanting a new iPAD, you needing new golf clubs, the oven burning everything, I'm going to tell you to keep on keeping your numbers daily and going to the mailbox daily and opening the mail daily. And communicating regularly with your creditors.

Just don't give up.

Some of you might not have this exact problem, but when you were using credit cards, all the things you did before didn't exactly work for you the way you'd hoped. Right? So you might as well stick it out and get to the end of all this chaos.

If you want to feel good, you can.

If you don't want to feel good, you can.

So here you are paying off the debt slowly, thinking to yourself, 'Well isn't this just a tea cup ride.' I get that. I would wake up with vertigo so bad I couldn't walk. And each time the phone range, I'd get another migraine. Now is the precise time to keep your chin up because it will payoff. And better than you think.

Here's what I would suggest. If you're feeling agitated and you're outdoors, go indoors. Go anywhere else than where you are. Meet a friend at a coffee shop. Vent if you must, but consider that you may be on the threshold of something wonderful and it may just be around the corner. You're being treated to life doing what life does. And your role now is to have fun. You're allowed. You're worthy of it. You're doing a helluva job getting out of debt and becoming a very bright light to your loved ones who need to see you getting out of debt, even if you're whining and pouting.

Going without an iPad is precisely the right thing to do. Your children love being with YOU! That's an entire Universe better than an iPad. Doing things together will transform your family life into something you could never have imagined.

This is it. It isn't the next lifetime. It's now. Go for broke. Play, laugh, enjoy yourself and be happy. Truly happy, not just ho-hum happy. But giddy happy. Putting a smile on your face has proven at the cellular level to make you happy. So keep smiling. Sounds trite? Sure, but smile anyway.

"Your life is supposed to feel good to you, and you are meant to feel happiness in your life - and you are meant to satisfy your dreams." ~ Abraham-Hicks

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Getting Out of Debt On Your Timetable

Many readers may find these solutions overwhelming.

Overwhelming? Is that not what your debt is?

Some may say, "But my situation isn't that bad" and then go on to describe exactly how bad their situation actually is.

Of course I'm not in your exact situation. I can't be in anyone's exact situation. That's why I've discussed the underearner as well as the compulsive shopper. That's why I say the amount of your debt is not the issue. Donald Trump once owed over 9.2 billion dollars to 99 banks. In the middle of a dark and rainy night, he ran 15 blocks ( the limo was not available) to make phone calls to all his creditors from another's creditor's conference room where he confirmed he was good for the debt and would pay it off in due time, and it wouldn't take a millenium. In the book, he said his big mistake was promising to always pay the interest, then advised to never promise anything. The Financial Genie agrees with that sound advice.

All of us at one point or another, made a decision to take out unsecured debt and then we purchased lots of things and the things became more things and those things had baby things. And now we're screeching like banshees about how bad things have become.

This book is about debt and offers a way to get out without giving in to your creditors. You're going to be doing things on your timetable and in a way that's convenient for you. We are not about to tell you to obey the orders of the creditors. They are not managing us. We are the drivers of this locomotive and as such will come up with inspiring solutions, at which point we get to say I did it without caving. We did it because it felt good to act like a professional business person doing business with creditors.

You are the solution dealing with the problem, which will over time nest itself somewhere in a cabinet drawer out of sight and soon out of mind. Payments will be made. Offers of 50% off the debt will come in. My advice is not to accept that offer, but thank them for the kind offer and continue to make your regular payments. Why? Because you will have to file a 1099 form at the end of the year which means the 50% they discounted you is counted by the IRS as income. So don't do it. Unless you want to pay more in taxes. In this instance, the call is yours.

Continue to pay what you can and steadily and slowly over time your life will start to improve. Just how will it improve? The old way of shopping for all the schlock you thought you couldn't live without is going the way of the Edsel automobile, a good idea at the time, but not a very good purchase. You'll find more time to spend on the important elements of your life, your hobbies, your vocation, your job, fun playing with family and friends, going to the games, going to the mountains or the beach and taking time away from everything. Now you get to be CEO of celebrations, in charge of all the fun.

The Financial Genie believes this is the party planet. I know. I know, the Genie gone wild. Don't you want to relax and play and have fun and be happy and free? Freedom, remember that? That's how I felt when I graduated from high school and went to the beach with my classmates, alone without parents, the radio blaring in the VW. Suntanned, happy and joyously free.

This is when you might consider writing your own Mission Statement or Declaration of Independence, a template of how you'd like your life to be going forward.

"For a while, the only evidence of your financial progress will be your improved emotional state of being, and if you will let that be enough - taking no score of financial progress - the financial improvement will show up." ~ Abraham - Hicks

The Single K and Other Things You Didn't Know

The Single K is a 401K for single self employed people who cannot establish a 401K because of their self employment. This little known Single K or Individual 401K has great tax implications. There are any number of financial institutions that will not charge a fee to establish your Single K. This means that your Single K will have a manager and the amount you fund will be invested in quality investments. Your tax liability will be reduced as you will be able to take a tax deduction on both your personal income as well as the business's income.

There will come a time when you have more cash flow and can't decide what to do with it. The Single K may be an ideal fit for you and your money to rest safely while earning and giving you and your business a tax break. This qualifies it for no-brainer status.

There's also a little known item I learned while paying off my car. I was sending in the amount I owed every month two to three weeks earlier than the due date. This meant that the daily interest was reduced and more was going to the principle which brought the final payment date closer.

There are numerous benefits to seeing money as a friend, not an enemy. Ridiculous, you say. Maybe not. We all live in a yellow submarine - of sorts - and when we go to our neighborhood Ace Hardware store or to our local restaurant, dry cleaners, shoe repair or nail salon, we are in essence sharing and spreading the wealth. This is what many of the good money managers know. Money abhors a vacuum. The labor done by those who bring us the service also brings us the opportunity to spend money. Okay now I'm not talking about compulsively spending the money. What I'm saying is, spending money is a good thing, especially for those of us who used to be underearners.

When you're taking care of yourself in this way, the Universe sees a means to bring more. The Law of the Vacuum is in effect. Cleaning out your closet to get rid of something usually brings with it a new wardrobe. With money, it's the same. Did it please you to spend the money at the dry cleaners? Did you enjoy some rare fine dining and give the waiter a decent tip? If it gives you pleasure, there's more to come. But if you hoard the money and feel ripped off every time you spend money, the joy of spending it is reduced to the degree that you dislike doing it. Money has to flow. Like a giant river, it must do that. And it will always come back. Always!

I used to hate paying taxes. I walked into the accountant's office in fear and trepidation. With little money to pay the IRS, I was in a state of apoplexy about what to do. Numb might be the perfect word to describe me back in those days. But that was then and this is now. Today I say,"I get to pay taxes." More importantly, behind those words are some values I have about the country, state and city I live in. It helps to reevaluate the good things that happen to us as a result of some forward thinking state politicians and board members in charge of municipalities. If you live in this mind set, you'll notice a big change in how you look at your life and everything will take on a rosier glow, including your finances.

I have a friend who was out of work for ten months. But he wasn't all that upset about it. He was paying down the debt and was well on his way toward being debt free. What happened next may surprise you.

After he was fired from the awful job he'd been doing for ten years, he took his family on vacation for a month all over the United States. He instinctively knew he'd get a job when he got back and he had trust that God would provide for him and his family. That he had a prudent reserve helped to a degree. When he returned from his much needed adventure, he was adamant that he was not going to take just any job. He would consider his options long and hard and wait until the perfect fit came his way. And in short order it did. He didn't agonize. He didn't pound his chest. He didn't race all over applying for work. He waited. And then, because he was allowing all that good to come his way, he got the best job he ever had, describing it as his professional home.

Sweet might be the word to describe my emotional state today. The IRS is no longer the enemy. If you think a thing is going to be hard or difficult, you may be right. If you think a thing will go smoothly, you may be right.

Choices. You always have choices.

"Financial abundance does not occur in one's life because of hard work or good luck or favoritism - financial abundance is simply the Universe's response to consistent thoughts and feelings of abundance." ~ Abraham - Hicks

Friday, October 28, 2011

Imagine Your Life

When you imagine how you'd like your life to be, while acknowledging and appreciating where you are in the present, there's less to worry about.

Imagine what it would feel like if you walked to the mailbox and there were no more credit card bills. Imagine what not having a $43,000 balance due would feel like. Imagination can be potent when you realize you no longer have to duke it out in the ring with creditors about late fees, interest rates, or being sent to collections. That show is over. And it didn't win any awards!

Visualizing this in a quiet moment, eyes shut, drowning out sound and picturing in your mind how this would feel is an awesome experience. Living life with no credit cards means having more money available. Never mind the naysayers. You can rent a car, you can pay for a cruise and you can buy a house without a credit card or score.

Since 1997, I've been credit-card-free and my life has become a whole lot simpler. Over the top simpler. I haven't looked at my credit report for over four years. Life is simple. Life is good. Life is not complicated or full of chaos or crises. The first time I walked into a store and paid cash was a watershed moment. I felt it viscerally. Now when I go into a store and pay cash, I look around to see if there may be anything else I want and pay for that with cash. As the ads say, cash is king! Incurring new debt is not even on the radar. It has blown away in the icy winds of a nor'easter. Think you might like to buy a house or car and pay for them in full with cash? You may even be able to do that sooner than you think.

Eventually, you may even have more cash reserves than you had contemplated and, if you're like me, you may find it difficult to know what to do with so much cash! Trust me, this is a problem lots of people would like to have. Be aware that our dearly departed credit card companies will still offer you new cards along with rewards to make you come back. But the best reward is living without plastic. Can you imagine that?

Try imagining more about how your life would look. Are there trips you'd like to take, classes, new home furnishings? I've always wanted to create an endowment for the arts and just recently started a seed fund. Remember earlier I mentioned the "Gracious Living Fund?" Well, now is the time for that. Start putting aside a sum of money for such things. Want to sail in the Greek Isles? Take classes at the Cordon Bleu in Paris? Go scale Mount Everest? Anything is possible. Soon things will begin to look up and your life will morph into something wonderful. Visualizing a change of career or meeting someone wonderful may be in your vision. Keep doing the imagining and watch what happens. It may turn out light years better than you could have imagined. I know because I quit a job I really loved in order to work for myself and there is no going back for me.

Here's a promise from the Financial Genie. If you stick to these simple and easy principles, you will succeed and be prosperous and have unimaginable abundance in your life. And by that I mean abundance in all areas or your life. Get ready for some fun, more play, more laughter, happiness and freedom. It's out there waiting for you.

Abundance expands proportionately to meet desires. ~ Abraham-Hicks