What are 3 reasons it's expensive to be poor? I have to go back into time to explain this. When I was first working as an office worker in the Central Valley of California in the 70s, I made $10.00 - $12.00 per hour. That's about what starting office workers make today. Shocking? Thirty years have gone by and the cost of living? Well, you know. I wouldn’t have considered myself poor at that time, but today, at those wages I would be.Read More
Taxes and stress go together like death and taxes. No wonder we get stressed and put off the pain as long as possible. Stress amps up our fight/flight alarm system. Breathing – even 5 or 6 breaths stimulates the relaxation response and both systems can’t be active at the same time.Read More
How do you shift from stressing about money to gratitude, JOY and freedom? That may sound impossible, but it's not. It just takes time, energy and of course: FOCUS.
If you're feeling unhappy about your money situation and there may be very good reason - a job loss, divorce, downsizing, overwhelming debt, finally let your house go into foreclosure, it may sound impossible to feel you'll ever be ok again.
But, you can be and the answer is part perspiration and part inspiration.
Step 1: Let's tackle the fear first:
1) Write down all the money fears you have on a piece of paper that you'll throw away. Go on - do it and do it now.
2) Feel the fear - I know this ain't fun, but "feel it to heal it" is a truism and it only lasts a minute. Notice where you most feel the energy of the fear in your body. Rate the fear on a scale of 0-10 with 10 the worst. Breathe into your body for a few minutes feeling it with the in breath and releasing the fear with the exhale. Rerate the charge of the anxiety on a scale of 0-10 again. Better? Little shift? Repeat until the number down enough to feel relief.
3) Now, if you're ready, ask - what's the blessing of this situation or money fear that I'm having? As soon as we gain perspective because we're not so caught up in the emotion, we can THINK better and be aware of any blessings. When we're deeply IN the emotion we can't think.
4) If you can't go there yet, it's ok. Think about and FIND at least 3 things in your life you can be grateful for right now - List them, feel the gratitude and imagine you have a REMOTE control in your hand that you can dial the number up to increase the FEELING of gratitude in your body and mind. Raise the number as much as you'd like. Repeat this process until you feel complete - may take a few days to weeks. We're all different in terms of how willing we are to let go of the past. When you're ready go back to Step 3 and find the blessing of the money challenge.
Step 2: You know how you read in Oprah Magazine and many other places, about how important it is to be GRATEFUL? Do you know why? Fear and stress lower our energy, depress us and disempower our ability to focus on what we want to create in our lives. Gratitude, love, happiness increase our energy state and therefore increase our ability to see possibilities, focus on what we'd like to have more of in our lives and very important - REFOCUS when we lose our momentum and or stuff happens - and we all know stuff happens to all of us.
A very simple formula is to write down 3 different things you're grateful for every day. I like to do so at the end of the day. Writing it down cements it into your subconscious and then you take those positive feelings into sleep where your subconscious works with it to help you create more of what you want.
If you get stuck on the fear and this is like any CHANGE process - it takes time to RETRAIN the brain (our most powerful instrument) say the words out loud: CANCEL CANCEL and then think about the opposite of the problem you were thinking about. For example: I don't know how I'll make payroll. CANCEL CANCEL and think or say: I know I'll find a way to make the rent. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Your subconscious will start looking for solutions.
Resources about this subject: FREE Monthly Webinar: December's 3 Keys to Turn Holiday Stress into Peace/3-keys-to-holiday-peace Lynn's Money Coaching Programs, Wayne Dyer: Wishes Fulfilled, (CD with James Twyman excellent meditation), Esther Hicks material, Jack Canfield or Mark Victor Hanson.
Financial struggle can become desperation and did with a friend of mine. About a month ago, on a Tuesday morning I got the kind of call you never want to get. A woman friend had ended her life over the weekend. I was shocked and the news hit me hard. While Deb and I hadn’t been living in the same area for years she always lived in my heart. Because of the economy the last few years, we knew Deb had, like so many others been struggling financially.
Laid off from one job she had a great deal of trouble finding another. She was skilled, but over 50 and if you think ageism isn't happening, you're wrong. Rumor was she may not have always had enough to eat or been able to pay her bills. Then she found another job and things seemed better – until she was fired the Friday before taking her life. I can only imagine the fear, perhaps embarrassment, and hopelessness Deb was feeling at that moment. And, then she made a decision many make in the moment of desperation.
But, Deb is not the only woman (or man – perhaps even harder for men to reach out to get help) suffering financially and suffering with the guilt, shame or blame of believing it’s their fault.
Over 24 million women were living below the poverty line in 2009
27.5 % of black women live under poverty line
13.5% of white women in 2009
In Nov 2013 in the State of California food stamp and welfare money was cut. One of my clients lost $100.00 a month from her disability and about $30 a month from food stamps. That's a BIG net loss for someone barely scraping by.
35% of households headed by single moms were “food insecure”
13% of women over 75 were poor compared to 5% of men over 75
Only 40% of women retire with enough money to live on. More women by far retire in poverty than men.
A working wage based on the minimum wage of 8.50 an hour = 17,000 a year – that’s considered below the poverty line.
2010 31.6 % of single women households were poor compared to 15.8 of households headed by single men
How we do help someone who may be in Deb's position? We reach out and past their embarassment or shame with kindness and gentleness by not asking, but just bringing food over for a get together, leaving an envelope with cash for bills, and letting them know we're there for them until they get on their feet again. One person can't solve every problem but a group of friends can make a big difference. I don't think many knew Deb's suffering - she was very private. We ask our connections and friends about job possibilities and try to support the person through the aloneness of struggle.
The larger question is how do we change financial struggle and poverty? Think about it and come up with your answers, but here are a few of mine:
1) We must educate ourselves about money, (there are TONS of resources FREE on the web)
2) Vote our conscience with compassion for those less fortunate
3) Reach out to friends and family if we get the sense they’re struggling more than they are able to say.
4) Collectively: A simple thing we can do is vote for a higher minimum wage to help more people out of poverty. When people are living in poverty they can't spend money on consumer goods as they're able to when more secure.
Money Stress: #1 Source of Stress for 75% of Americans?
True, according to the American Psychological Association. I talk to people every week in the Central Valley of California that are losing their homes, are upside down with their mortgages, have been "downsized," lost their jobs, filed bankruptcy and are in desperate financial struggle. Many are blaming themselves for their financial problems and feel guilty and ashamed as if it's all their fault. That's not the whole picture. (Footnote: Originally written in 2009 and the home market is improving, but there are still many homeowners holding on to homes and struggling financially, or trying to modify homeloans and financial stress is still #1)
While it's true we are ultimately responsible for the good and bad choices we make about money, it's also true that it's hard to make good decisions about money when we get bad information or are poorly trained in money matters. We Americans should be paying attention to the fact that the financial institutions have made a LOT of money in the last couple of years. We need to hold ourselves AND these institutions accountable.
2 Keys to Create a Healthier Relationshio with Money:
1) Raise Your Money Consciousness and assess where you're at by asking these questions:
* Do you avoid the topic of $ or obsess about it or alternate between the two extremes?
* Can you talk about $ with your partner? If not, what's uncomfortable?
* What's your greatest fear about money?
2) Finish Your Unfinished $ Business:
When I was a girl I asked my Dad something about my parents finances and he told me it was none of my "blankety, blank business." That told me money was a scary subject and better left alone. It took me a long time to discover that memory and to realize that avoiding the topic of money made things worse.
Think about and journal: What's my earliest money memory? What's my greatest money fear? How do these positive or negative memories show themselves in my life today?
As we individually work to heal our relationship with money, hold ourselves and our financial institutions accountable, we will shift from being so STRESSED about money and be more confident with our $ decisions.