Thursday, July 23, 2009

Being A Wise Financial Consumer

Knowing your money personality—how you think and feel about your money; your habits, true values and priorities--is essential to being successful in money management. Yet, so many people are unaware that financial success begins and ends with their actions and responsibilities.

Financial Success Is Up to You

Whether you are attempting to develop a workable financial plan, a suitable investment strategy, or a relationship with a trusted advisor, your success begins and ends with you and the actions you take. Too many people leave themselves and their unique needs and wants out of the process for predicting success.

If It Works with Health, It Will Work with Wealth

We wouldn’t dare go to the doctors and be uninformed about our bodies. We’d be able to discuss exactly how we felt and what we needed from the doctor. We’ve learned to be “assertive and active patients”. Unfortunately, we have not done the same for our financial lives and well-being.

We’ve learned that we must be in control of the services and benefits that we receive to assure that we remain healthy. If we don’t take control, we become victims of the medical system.

It’s really no different in the financial arena and system.. We will either learn how to master the system or be victimized by it. It’s up to us to become better clients by knowing more about ourselves and what questions to ask and what is reasonable and realistic to expect from financial advisers and institutions. For too long, we have turned over money management to others to determine what’s right. We can still turn over the money management but it must be with knowledge, confidence and trust.

Become Your Greatest Financial Asset

Knowing more about ourselves—our financial personalities, needs for comfort and security, and priorities-- is imperative in becoming our greatest financial asset.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Psychology of Money: Where Money Meets The Mind

Have you ever wondered why money seems to work so well in some people’s lives and so destructively in others? Why some people control money while others allow it to control them? Or why some of us can manage it so effortlessly to fulfill life’s plans and goals, while others never stop to question how they want it to serve them?

Questions like these are not typically explored. Why not? I believe it’s because the answers do not lie in cold financial facts. One must look at both the financial and psychological factors involved in money matters to make sense of why people do what they do with money. This blog, as well as others on this site, attempts to do just that.

For most of us, money and our feelings toward it tend to veer to extremes. We love money or we hate it, we fear it or we worship it—but we certainly never ignore it. And yet, we know so little about why we experience these emotions toward money and the effects they have on our very existence.

As a psychologist specializing in money-related issues, I confront these money emotions every day. I have worked with hundreds of men and women from all backgrounds and income levels: company presidents who make million dollar-decisions in the board room but make disastrous personal financial decisions; couples who never cease arguing over “my”, “your”, and “our” money; parents who know better but spoil and indulge their children, never giving them a chance to enjoy the connection between effort and reward.

I’ve learned that most of us fail to realize how our feelings about money affect our financial habits and the degree of satisfaction we get from the money we have. There is an inseparable link between our unconscious attitudes about money and the way we relate to money in our lives. Like it or not, money can enhance happiness and prosperity, or it can destroy them. No one simply drifts to the pinnacle of success—you have to climb.

Not only do we have a physical self, an emotional self and a social self, but we have a financial, or money self. This money self influences the way we interact with our money. You have a healthy money self-concept when you know how you affect money and how money affects you. You have a healthy money self-concept when you like how you deal with money more than you dislike how you deal with money. If you have a negative money self-concept, you can alter your attitudes and formulate a new money style that provides richness instead of deprivation.

Ultimately, money success comes from self-validation: as you think about money and yourself, so you become.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson: A Life of Triumph and Tragedy

I'm sure we're on information overload with all of the media coverage of Michael Jackson's tragic death, but there's a fascination that people have all over the world with the "king of pop." He's another example of a celebrity that couldn't make a successful life for himself. He had it all but had nothing.

The media has tried to understand what went wrong with such potential for a quality life. I ask how he could have succeeded? Celebrity life takes a strong inner-core and ability to find serenity with one's self to deal with the fragility of fame. If your self-esteem is dependent on what others think of you and you're a sensitive person, you're at the effect of others' approval and love. Unfortunately, Michael's core of self-love and his sense of himself was always dependent on what the world thought of him.

He came into this world whole but his self-esteem was chipped away by his father whose message was "you're not good enough." Your nose is too big; you have to strive to be better; and your life is not your own to make." The hole inside him was so deep and the external world so threatening that he tried to fill it as best he could. Not being familiar with that currency that really matters for fulfilling a sense of self-accepatance and self-love, he sought the most obvious currency. His excessive shopping sprees are very characteristic of someone who is trying to fill a void and feel full. So, he both sought and rejected the rewards of fame as the money never filled the void. When he gave it away to others and saw their joy, he was most fulfilled.

What I find most triumphant in his life and what I would describe as one of his greatest achievements was his ability to father as well as he did. That was a remarkable feat as he had no role model to emulate and no innate sense of what it felt like to be loved by his father. Yet, he succeeded in giving enough love to his children that they felt cared for and loved unconditionally. His daughter gave him the ultimate reward for a life well-lived; she told the world how loved she felt by him. His children will have the potential to make healthy lives for themselves with core self-esteem and empowerment to take on this often times cruel world of celebrity as that will be their destiny. So he may not have been able to make a serene life for himself but he succeeded in filling his children's lives with a solid foundation. Unfortunately, he won't be around to see his great work fulfilled.