What is Estate Planning?

BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS

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According to Wikipedia

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.

That seems a little complicated to me so let’s dumb it down.
On the most basic level, estate planning is about how you want to get rid of your stuff when you die. If you’re a control freak, you might craft intricate documents detailing how every last penny of your hard earned money is distributed at death. If you’re a free spirit, you might say “who cares? I’m dead!” and let your cards fall where they may.
Ernest Becker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Author of The Denial of Dealth said it best when he said:

What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance. Man wants to know that his life has somehow counted, if not for himself, then at least for a larger scheme of things, that it has left a trace, a trace that has meaning, its effects must remain alive in eternity in some way.

In other words, most of us want to want to believe that our life had some sort of meaning. Our estate is a way of leaving a legacy whereby someone might say “Holy cow! The guy driving the 20 year old Camry had $3 million dollars? He’s starting a foundation? Whoa!” Or maybe they’d say “That guy has nothing to show for his life except for this Instagram account. Wait, when did he go to Nepal? He’s been to Istanbul? Wow? I never knew he left the house.” Either way, it’s all about being comfortable NOW with your legacy when you pass. How do YOU want to be remembered?

The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist

Recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Chopra Center conference call with Lynn Twist. From Lynne’s website:

For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty and hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability.

From working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of the social tapestry of the world and the historical landscape of the times we are living in.

The compelling stories and insights gained from her experiences inspired Lynne to write her best-selling, award-winning book “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life” (W.W. Norton, 2003).

Listening to the talk, you can hear why she’s so inspirational. Enjoy!

 


12 Powers: Life & Money

Yoga

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

Spiritually, life is the mysterious co-creation of our material existence, as life continually unfolds to us.

Emotionally (soul), life is that golden cord that connects us beyond our physical limits of time and space.

Physically, life is represented by your reproductive organs as they form the basis for the creation of life.

What does life have to do with money?

Whether spiritually, emotionally, or physically, life is about finding your purpose. It’s about learning life lessons and growing. When we use our time, talent and treasure in a way that increases the quality of our life, and that of the lives around us, we’re using our life power. Contrary to what one might think, quality trumps quantity when it comes to life. Researchers are beginning to realize this as they discover that it’s our relationships and experiences that matter, not our stuff.

What better place to learn the power of life, than from the dying. Here are the Top five regrets of the dying as told by a nurse caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their life:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Many of these revolve around quality of life. But #5, happiness really resonated with me. Here’s what she had to say:

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to theirselves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

To read the rest of the article check out the Top five regrets of the dying

How are you going to use your power of life before dying?


By | December 18, 2014 |

12 Powers: Release & Money

Rock Flow

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, release is to allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free.

Spiritually, release is letting go of old thinking and changing your mind toward truth.

Emotionally (soul), release is about not holding onto guilt and regrets from the past. It’s about acknowledging them as a stepping stone that lifts us up to the next stage in our life.

Physically, release is represented by your colon or large intestines and the urinary system… for obvious reasons.

What does release have to do with money?

Most of us would agree that it’s easy to release our money, i.e. spend it. But that’s not how I interpret the power of release and money. The power of release involves freeing up and letting money flow. This has to do with changing how we think, feel, and act with money.

For example, I grew up in a household that had the saying “you’re always going to have debt”. That saying impacted some of my family members in that they are always buying things on credit. Then they’re stuck with payments and little cash flow. I even started down that path when I graduated college because, let’s face it, I had little cash flow. But what little cash flow I did have, was squelched by payments on credit cards.

Debt impedes the flow of money. It blocks it. That’s why one of the key ideas that I try to get people to follow is to live debt/stress free. Two years after graduating college, I learned from The Millionaire Mind, another way of thinking: millionaires don’t have debt! So I changed how I thought about debt, and my wife and I have been debt free, save our mortgage, ever since.

If you truly want to get your cash flowing freely, without impedance, you may need to change the way you think about money. Figure out what old money mantras you’ve been holding on to, and let them go. Then find new mantras that ring true for you, like maybe, I live debt free, and go with the flow.


By | November 25, 2014 |

12 Powers: Enthusiasm & Money

Euphoria

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, enthusiasm is intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.

Spiritually, enthusiasm is the spark that moves us forward. From the greek words En meaning “in” and Theos meaning “God”, we are spiritually enthusiastic when we join our life with God’s purpose.

Emotionally (soul), enthusiasm is about living in joy. That’s what we’re really saying when we tell someone to enjoy. En or INjoy!

Physically, enthusiasm is represented by your hypothalamus and medulla oblongata.

What does enthusiasm have to do with money?

First off, you might be asking what the heck’s a hypothalama-thingy and medulla oblonga-who? Hypo means below. So hypothalamus is “below the thalamus”. Recall that the thalamus are cerebral matter between the two hemispheres of your brain. The thalamus represent your power of imagination

Your hypothalamus, along with the brain stem, have specific centers that regulate your body’s automatic functions and cyclical activities that are under subconscious control, including energy levels. It regulates the secretion of the pituitary hormones with regulate the other endocrine glands (power of wisdom).  In other words – enthusiasm subconsciously gives you the energy to move towards your goals. It connects your outer world with your inner world.

Enthusiasm bridges the life we’ve always dreamed of, with the life we are having now. If you’ve always imagined a life where you could work 4 days a week volunteering in a low income medical clinic because you want to make a difference. But you feel stuck working at the hospital because that’s where you can make a living and not have to worry about money. Enthusiasm is what will subconsciously prompt you to seek the life planning advisor that will show you how to align your finances with your goals so that your dream can be a reality. But first you have to imagine a better life. Enthusiasm will bring you opportunities. Then it’s a matter of using wisdom to make conscious choices with your finances.


Creating Your Vision

In order to create a financial plan that will work for you, you need to make it something that you get excited about. It has to be something that you would LOVE to do. Something that when you close your eyes and envision it, your heart aches for it to happen. This is connecting your heart with your vision.

For most people, that’s the thought of retirement. The vision of playing golf 7 days a week, spending a month in Venice or abroad every year, and being warm on a island beach when others are snow blowing their driveway is something most of us dream of in retirement. It keeps us going during our working years.

When you yearn to experience your vision, the next step is to create a financial plan that you understand. This requires you to look at where you are now, and where you want to be, so that you can figure out what you need to do to get there. Sometimes you can do this with spreadsheets. I’ve seen some real doozies in my time. Others can get an idea using online calculators. But if there’s any doubt, you may wish to have a more believable plan created by a Certified Financial PlannerTM, or a maybe even a comprehensive financial plan (think financial makeover) from a fee-only NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. However you do it, make sure it’s something you understand. If you don’t understand it, you may dismiss it as impossible, and it will never happen. But if you understand it, you know what you need to do to make your vision a reality, and you can make conscious choices to get there. You’ve connected your head with your vision.

When you connect your head and your heart to your vision, amazing things happen. You begin to see things differently, which leads to synchronicity. That daily want of the $4 cappuccino becomes the $100 DeLonghi Espresso and Cappuccino machine that pays for itself in 1 month (30 cappuccinos x $4/day) and adds $100 a month to your emergency fund every month thereafter. Your emergency fund affords you the comfort level of  paying down your $15,185 average household credit card debt (largely from cappuccinos). The 14.99% (average debt rate) debt no longer costs you $190/mo ( $2,276/yr). Now you are savings $390/mo from only interest and cappuccinos expenses, all because you fell in love with a vision of what retirement could be and took the initiative to figure out how to make it happen.

By connecting your head with your heart, you’ve linked two of the 3 ways we experience life: intellectually and emotionally. The result is that you physically begin creating your vision.


12 Powers: Order & Money

Weltenbaum

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, order is the arrangement or disposition of people or things in relation to each other according to a particular sequence, pattern, or method.

Spiritually, order is deciding what’s important to you and making a decision to get it done.

Emotionally (soul), order is about focusing your thoughts on what is good first, instead of worrying about outcomes.

Physically, order is represented by your digestive and skeletal systems. Order is reflected in our skin. When things are out of order, our skin shows it first.

What does Order have to do with money?

Money-wise, budgeting brings order with finances. We do this by prioritizing what’s important to you and setting a guideline (budget) that focuses your spending (consumption) there.

Sometimes, figuring out what’s important to us is tough to do. One way to figure out what’s important is to answer the following question in 30 seconds or less. Remember, you have to answer it in 30 seconds or less:

What are the 5 most important things in your life?

For me:

  1. Family & Friends
  2. Health
  3. Being Successful at work
  4. Spirituality
  5. Travel and other Hobbies

When you’ve written down your 5 things, take a hard look at where you are spending your time and money. If family and health are important to you, are you budgeting time for family? Are you budgeting time for exercise? Do you spend money on exercise classes or vacations with family? If time with family is important to you, it’s natural to budget time for day trips and quality time together.

Figuring out what’s important to you allows you to prioritize. Once you know your priorities, you can see if you are indeed spending on those things that are most important to you, or if you should be changing where you spend your paycheck.

For more information about how to budget, check out my blogs on Online Budgeting and Cash Flow.


By | September 30, 2014 |

12 Powers: Understanding & Money

Exercise Plays Vital Role Maintaining Brain Health

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, Understanding is the ability to understand or comprehend something.

Spiritually, understanding is listening to others, yet searching for, and finding your own truths. This is like “doubting” Thomas who had to put his finger in Jesus’ palms to comprehend that it was really Jesus.

Emotionally (soul), understanding is the ability to know that we are all different, and being able to respect those differences. Just because someone doesn’t think the way you do doesn’t make them wrong. Understanding on an emotional level is best accomplished when calm.

Physically, understanding is represented by our five senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. These senses, coupled with the analytic or reasoning aspects of our conscious mind give us our own understanding of something.

What does understanding have to do with money?

Because money principles are not usually taught in grade school, most of us gain understanding of money in two ways:

First, we learn by what we see our parents doing. Like seeds being planted in our subconscious, if we see our parents mired in debt and always fighting about money, we can choose to follow that path, or we can choose to find a new truth. This leads to the next way we learn.

The second way we gain understanding is through experimentation. For example, someone that sees their portfolio grow through monthly investing may have a better understanding that if they want to have money, they have to save and invest. Another way we understand money is through experimentation with investing. Investing in the 90’s was all about return. When the 2008 correction happened, investors began to see the importance of risk as they saw their portfolio values decline. Having experienced BOTH the bull of the 90’s and the bear of the 2008, many investors now understand the importance of balancing risk and return.*

Either through seeds planted by our parents habits, or through our own experimentation, we find our understanding of money. Now send this blog to someone that might need a seed planted.

*For more on balancing risk and return, see my blog on risk versus Return.


By | August 20, 2014 |

Organize Your Finances – Net Worth

Grown-up

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What is net worth?

According to Wikipedia.com Net Worth is the total assets minus total outside liabilities of an individual or a company. Net Worth is used when talking about the value of a company or in personal finance for an individual’s net economic position.

The equation looks like this: net worth = assets – liabilities

If you have more assets (think stuff) than you have liabilities (think debt), you are said to have a positive net worth. In other words, the value of your stuff outweighs your debt against that stuff.

There are several online calculators that can help you calculate net worth. CNN has a nice one here.

Why is net worth important?

Net worth, along with Cash Management, gives you a starting point for directing your finances to accomplishing your goals. It answers the “where am I now?” question and forms a starting point for future comparisons. Then, year after year, you can track your net worth to see if it’s growing. If it’s not growing, you can try to figure out why, and get yourself back on track.

I find it interesting that worth can be substituted with the word wealth. Wealth meaning prosperity in abundance of possessions or riches, from the Middle English wele “well-being” or weal, which is an analogy of health.[1] In other words, wealth is a form of health, but for possessions or riches.

This leads me to the idea that I’ve had in the back of my head for some time now that there is a connection between net worth and self worth. While I have not done the research to verify it, I’d wager, even though a large net worth might not equal tremendous self worth, a negative net worth might reflect a negative self worth.

To improve your net worth read my post Developing a Millionaire Mind with Net Worth.


12 Powers: Imagination & Money

Manhattan Central Park - Imagine Mosaic

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Last year my reverend gave a series of talks on a book he read entitled Twelve Powers in YouThe book describes  physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the 12 powers inherent in each of us. Fascinated by these talks, I’ve decided to expand on them through the money perspective that I often see things, being a financial planner.

According to Google, Imagination is the faculty or action of forming ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. It’s also the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.

Spiritually, imagination is the ability to manifest materially through your envisioning.

Emotionally (soul), imagination is the ability to envision or dream with our senses, adding feeling to our vision.

Physically, imagination is represented by your thalami. What’s your thalami you ask? According to Google thalamus are either of two masses of gray matter lying between the cerebral hemispheres on either side of the third ventricle, relaying sensory information and acting as a center for pain perception. It’s where we “make sense” of things.

What does imagination have to do with money?

Do you remember that commercial about “your number”? You know the one where the finance company said, “What’s your number?” and “Do you know your number?” That’s a way of saying, how much money do you think you need to retire? Once you’ve come up with your number, which most of us financial advisors would gladly help you do, you have a goal. You begin to imagine what it would be like to reach that number. For many, that’s being a millionaire. People think millionaires have fancy cars, a second home in Florida, and whatever else they’ve attached to the rich feeling of having a million dollars.

Having a number allows you to imagine your goal of retirement coming to fruition. It can also limit you. You may say you need $1 million dollars and find out it’s not enough. That’s why it’s important to imagine the lifestyle you desire and re-evaluate the amount every now and then as your awareness of money grows.