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Today, welcome yourself home - Financial Sanity for the Season, Week 3


By Natalie Wagner - December 10, 2018

The holiday season is well underway. Trees are up, streets are alit, and the parties have begun! From dreidels to sleighbells to sugar cookies, there’s no denying the holiday magic in the air. This can be a truly wonderful time of year!
 

With so much to do and so much happening around us, it can be easy to lose focus on what matters most to us. So for today, let go of the tension and to-do lists, and make a little space for your intentions.
 

Find a comfortable, quiet place to slow down and enjoy this meditation. Welcome yourself home, and breathe.



 

Don't miss our live Financial Sanity for the Season meditation on December 20! Click here to join us >>

 

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Don't 'should' all over your holiday! - Financial Sanity for the Season, Week 2


By Natalie Wagner - December 3, 2018

To reinforce how these meditations will hold you through your holiday season, this week, we're taking a deep dive into the 5 foundational steps.

Allow yourself to consider what's truly important to you this holiday season, and breathe into that awareness. Let it carry you into the next week feeling confident, centered and at peace.



 

Don't miss our live Financial Sanity for the Season meditation on December 20! Click here to join us >>



1. What are your “shoulds”?

Our “shoulds” tend to cause a great deal of pressure during the holidays. They can be thoughts like, “I ‘should’ serve 10 holiday side dishes, like my mother did,” or, “I ‘should’ buy my children elaborate gifts, like their friends’ parents do.”

Whatever they look like for you, “shoulds” exist in everybody’s mind. But “shoulds” are disconnected from our genuine values and authentic vision. Because they are so often invisible to us, getting out from underneath them can be challenging. Take time this week to dig deep into your “shoulds” by noticing when you feel external pressure to do something a certain way. Allow this exploration to empower your connection to your true self and relieve holiday pressure.

 


2. Reconnect with your values

The busy-ness of everyday life and the internal and external stories we carry with us muddle our connection with our values. In this meditation, you will reconnect with what is important to you in order to keep your intentions and behaviors aligned with your values.  
      
  
3. Revisit your vision and align your holiday money with it

Take a moment to connect intimately with the vision you created last week. Using this vision as a guide, it’s time to see if you’re on track. Check in on your holiday spending plan and assess if you need to adjust anything to keep you on the path to holiday satisfaction.
  

4. Assess your timeline
          
Getting into a time crunch puts unnecessary stress on our intentions and our finances.  Be careful to avoid this stress by intentionally managing your time along with your money.


5. Relax and enjoy!

Settling into the pleasure of this special season is part of what brings you gratification. Take comfort in the fact that you are creating and living your intentions. Use the above meditation to relax and create some space for connecting with the here and now.  Breathe, and enjoy the beautiful life you’re living!

 

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Start with a Strong Foundation - Financial Sanity for the Season, Week 1


By Natalie Wagner - November 23, 2018

The holidays are here, and this season can really do a number on us – emotionally and financially. To help you cultivate balance and ease with your money this season, use these holiday meditations to tap into and align with your essential self and your finances.


Don't miss our live Financial Sanity for the Season meditation on December 20! Click here to join us >>


Five steps to starting the season with balance and financial alignment.

1. Shuff off the “shoulds”

Mass marketing, tradition, and the people around us tell us what the holidays “should” be like.  These “shoulds” take us away from the present moment and from our values. Releasing the shoulds is the first step in gaining mastery over your holiday money.

2. Connect with your values

Understanding what is genuinely important to you is essential for good money management.  Your holiday money sits inside of your greater financial picture. Getting clear about your values and how the holidays fit within them is your next step.

3. Pick a number

Whether you’ve been wisely saving throughout the year or you plan to find your holiday money in the moment, identify a number that feels balanced within your big financial picture. Honor your situation and your values, and remember to factor in extras and incidentals (happy hours, wrapping paper, sales tax, etc.). And be sure to plan for some whimsical miscellaneous spending – ’tis the season!

4. Connect with your holiday vision

If you understand what is important to you this holiday season, you’re more empowered to use your money to support it. Perhaps visiting extended family is an important part of your holiday vision, or perhaps you love participating in a Secret Santa with a group of friends or colleagues. Whatever it is, getting clear on your vision, in conjunction with liberating yourself from those holiday “shoulds,” will empower you to explore how create it in ways that involve less, or even no money.

5. Enjoy!

When you take these steps, you connect your values, your vision and your money. You’re off to a great start! Enjoy the season. It’s yours!
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"I don't want money to corrupt my work!"

A story of what money can do

By Natalie Wagner - October 23, 2018

My client Sierra worked a hum-drum job for her family’s business, earning just what she needed to support herself and daughter.  The work she considers her true calling, however, is body-alignment energy work.
 
Sierra puts her whole Self into this work and has witnessed the inestimable value her clients receive when their bodies come into energetic balance. It comes from a place deep inside of her and impacts her clients profoundly. There is a single-heartedness here that she is committed to upholding.

Sierra came to me with a deeply held money story. She believed money is a necessary evil, solely materialistic, and corrupts everything it touches.  For her, accepting money for her energy work was incompatible with her devotion to its purity. But, when an opportunity came along to take her daughter on a soul-replenishing, Jamaican whale watching adventure, Sierra was forced to re-evaluate her relationship to this “necessary evil.” The trip called to her, but she didn’t have the money.
Sierra and I were able to get to the root of her limiting money stories: she discovered that she created this story in childhood when dishonesty and pain surrounded the family business. Her money story became a way of protecting herself.
 
In our sessions, Sierra was able to take a fresh look at money.  She recognized that money can be, and often is, used for great good. She recognized that her money story was just that - a story, written for a child, in response to circumstances that no longer exist. With gratitude, she released her moral condemnation of money.
  
Next, Sierra and I turned to her Wheel of Money to understand how she could cultivate connection and balance in her money life.  We started with Sierra’s relationship to her two sources of earning potential: the family business and her energy work. The first was disconnected from Sierra's gifts, she found her responsibilities mundane, it required her time and energy, and it only paid enough for the basics.
 
The second potential income source taps into Sierra’s unique gift for energy work. It too requires her time and energy, but this work also creates energy through a profound impact on her clients and Sierra's powerful experiences of engaging, developing and delivering her gift. However, without charging for her work, it did not give her financial energy and could not bring into her life what money buys.
 
The whale watching trip called to Sierra. She yearned for the experience.  She realized that her energy work had the potential to effectively create this invaluable trip, but only if she charged money for it. She saw that money was a way to turn her gift into soul-satisfying experiences like this one.

Sierra now accepts money for her energy work, and after returning from the whale watching adventure, she told me how her relationship with money has transformed. She explained how charging not only does not sully her work, but actually empowers it to reach its full value potential. In being her source of financial energy, the work that is deeply connected to her heart doesn't only bring profound value to others. It also brings value and energy back to Sierra, because it supports her and her daughter and provides access to priceless experiences like the one in Jamaica.

 
The next time you feel like money could lessen the authenticity of something you’ve created, try flipping it around. Ask: How could money create more value, more good? Explore how rewarding it could be to use something born in essence of your heart to create the money that pays for something deeply precious to you. Chances are, you may discover a whole new relationship to your money.
 
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Quiz: How Healthy is Your Money Life?

How to bring balance to your money life

By Natalie Wagner - September 23, 2018

Today is the fall equinox, a time when the turning of the seasons brings night and day into equal balance. It inspires me to think of the year as a turning wheel - passing through seasons, holidays and birthdays, and circling back in ever-evolving harmony. The equinox reminds us how this wheel of time continuously comes back around, highlighting the natural equipoise across light and darkness, sun and snow.

Imagine the cycle of money coming in and going out of your life as a wheel, turning around and around.  In this money cycle, you start with your Self and the intrinsic value that you hold. How do you tap this as you bring money into your life? How do you replenish your energy, and what kind of value circles back to you as you use your money?
 
I call this exercise the Wheel of Money™ (WOM), and here’s my question: how healthy is your money life when considering the connections between:
  • You,
  • how you create money,
  • how much money you create,
  • and what your money brings back to you?
(Hint: A wheel works best when balanced, aligned and fully inflated. Is your Wheel of Money™ balanced, aligned, and fully inflated?)

When finished, your WOM will highlight strengths in your money life and reveal opportunities to increase balance and alignment. It will invite you to connect yourself to the money you create and to use it in ways that bring value and energy back to you.

Watching the leaves turn red and golden in the fall weather reminds us that the year is spinning towards winter holidays, a time of financial anxiety and worry for many people.

Find clarity and intention now through your Wheel of Money™, and set yourself up for a low stress, cheerful holiday season.

(Note: This exercise requires Adobe Flash, which is not supported on mobile phones! This means you need to slow down for a moment, and take a seat with your computer. I suggest you turn your attention inward and take a deep breath before you begin.  Exploring your Wheel of Money™ may turn into a journey of money wellness.)


Here’s to your harmony,

Natalie
 
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The Money Energy Cycle™


By Natalie Wagner - August 28, 2018


Money is value as energy. Like a calorie is a unit of physical energy, a dollar is simply a unit of value as energy. No more. No less.
 
Like the in and out of our breath or the turning of the seasons, our creation and use of money flow in a cycle of certain energies coming and going around. Through discovery and study, I have mapped this cycle and named it: the Money Energy Cycle™ (MEC). The MEC model allows us to explore our own lives through the lens of this energy flow.  

This reveals powerful new data that merely peering through the numbers cannot. Ultimately, the MEC invites an entirely new way of understanding and relating to money. It begins with the value that every person intrinsically holds in the form of our unique gifts and potential to impact the world around us.
  • Whether we create money through traditional employment, entrepreneurship, successful investments or relationship, we use our own energy to create or produce something that is valuable to others.
  • In exchange for this value, we receive money.
  • We then convert this money into other forms of value by saving, giving, debt repayment, investing or spending on goods and services.
  • This action moves the money and the value-energy it holds back into the world by funding other MEC’s.
We can see that in each phase, the energy is a type of value.  Money is simply one of the forms of value along the cycle. Its primary role along the MEC is to convert the value we hold and create into the value we need and use.  It’s important to note that the cycle inherently connects us to the world beyond ourselves, while at the same time, it begins with and comes back to our Selves.

*Watch our Facebook live, Nature is full of cycles. Money has a cycle, too* 

Clients love this model because it's simple and accessible. It also:
  • Pinpoints the role of money in our lives.
  • Neutralizes emotional charges around money.
  • Reconciles both the overvaluation and undervaluation of money.
  • Invites us to connect money with the deep aspects of our Selves and our lives.
  • Highlights the places of imbalance and lack of integrity within our money lives. This empowers us to deepen our connection and make healthy adjustments.
Importantly, because the MEC connects hard numbers with personal integrity, working the MEC in tandem with our numbers is an extremely powerful place to do the personal work of living in authenticity.  


When exploring the MEC, it's good to keep in mind two side notes.  First, just as every square is a rectangle but not every rectangle is a square, money may be value as energy, but value-energy is not necessarily money. Truly, countless forms of value exist and are exchanged outside of money.  Secondly, money itself is morally neutral, and in fact, does not have moral capacity. Its ethical implications occur via how and why it is used.
~ ~ ~
My father is known for saying, “Money is the most powerful secular force on the planet” (Richard Wagner, JD, CFP®). The perspective shift and following change in relationship offered by the Money Energy Cycle™ have potential to facilitate deep, personal, and large-scale change.  I invite you to click here and read about my vision for how the MEC will transform the world.

Warmly,
  Natalie
 
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Are You Spending on Self-Care or Self-Indulgence?

Sophie's Story

By Natalie Wagner - July 21, 2018

“I don’t need an expensive retreat to have a spiritual experience. I am a spiritual experience!”  
- Sophie E., VitalFinancials client

Self-care is when we do something kind for ourselves that brings Energy in, leaving us feeling satisfied and with a sense of joy.

Self-indulgence is when we go too far in trying to show ourselves affection; the energy that goes out is ultimately greater than what we bring in, and the act becomes hollow.  

But sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which. And when it comes to our money, how do we recognize when our spending will result in self-love, and when we’re buying extravagances that will leave us energetically depleted?

My client, Sophie, deeply values spiritual experiences. When her yoga teacher invited her on an international yoga/meditation retreat, her first instinct was to sign up immediately. Yet, something held her back.

The retreat would cost several thousand dollars. Although she had the funds, she also had other meaningful parts of her life that call for money. What’s more, her current place in life had her inclined towards simplicity, and she felt unsure whether travel would expand and replenish her soul, or leave her feeling tired and yearning for home. She decided to take some time before signing up.

Soon after, Sophie took a trip to the local zoo with her daughter and granddaughter.  The day was delightful – three generations exploring elephants and iguanas, smelling spring flowers and enjoying each other’s company. After spending roughly  $100, she felt like she’d received priceless self-nourishment.

At home, Sophie began to think about the retreat in contrast to the zoo and realized something. Going on the retreat might sound amazing – even be amazing – but the self-care she truly needed was right in front of her. With a confident heart, she forewent the retreat and bought a family membership to the zoo.

I love Sophie’s story because it illustrates the blurry line between self-care and self-indulgence. A spiritual retreat can be an amazing way to care for yourself – but there is more to it than that. Whether something is self-caring or self-indulgent varies from person to person and across the span of our lives. Though this retreat was surely perfect for another yogi, at this point in Sophie’s journey, it was an unnecessary and expensive distraction.

So how did she reach this bold and honest conclusion? In our coaching session, Sophie and I explored the dynamics at play as different forms and amounts of energy moving in and out. While Sophie would have received energy through the spiritually enriching content of the retreat, she saw that the traveling, time away from her home and family, and money spent were all forms of energy going out. For her, the energy out would be greater than the energy coming in, and would leave her depleted. When she was honest with herself about this, the right decision naturally rose to the top.

When you’re looking to send yourself some love, turn inwards and consider the energy you would spend versus receive. Consider the amount of money as one of the valuable forms of energy at play. What does the money mean to you?  How does this fit in with the other dynamics at play?

To be self-caring instead of self-indulging, your actions must ultimately bring energy back to yourself. Using your money intentionally for self-care will sustain you and inspire your inner vitality.*
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Connecting money with your higher Purpose


By Natalie Wagner - May 15, 2018

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.”  ~  Rumi
 
In my mid 20’s, I worked what seemed to be a “good job” in the corporate world. It started great. I enjoyed my team, was developing my skills, and was proud of the money I earned. But when the company changed ownership, my team was replaced and my duties shifted away from my personal strengths. Things slowly turned sour.
 
My days became long and uncomfortable. My sales dropped significantly, and over time I felt smaller and further away from what is special and uniquely gifted about me.  As much as I tried to have a good attitude, my sentiments toward my work and its role in my life spiraled downwards.
 
I chose to stay with the position because of the money. But as my relationship with the job soured, so did my relationship with the money.
 
My spending behaviors changed. In subtle attempts to show myself that I was valuable, I began choosing the more expensive entrees and wines. I splurged on long massages, telling myself that I deserved it for what I endured through the workweek. I felt like my money owed me something.  But, as Lynn Twist writes, “Money cannot replenish the soul.” Truly, that’s what I was asking it to do.
 
After my job ended I came to two profound realizations.
 
The first seems too obvious to need repeating, and yet is too often missed to leave out: Money alone is not enough. The second realization is more elusive: Our relationship with the money in our lives is deeply impacted by our relationship with the source of that money.  
 
When my relationship with the money source became toxic, it contaminated my entire relationship with money. The toxicity was attached to every dollar I earned, and I could feel it in every dollar I used. Considering how often and intimately we interact with money, I felt this effect across my entire life.
 
Not long afterwards, my favorite yoga teacher gave a moving lesson on Dharma: The idea that as unique beings, we each have a something special to share—something we uniquely do better than anyone else. What’s more, engaging and sharing this part of ourselves is our opportunity, our duty, and our Purpose.  
 
The “aha!” came when I asked myself one simple and life-changing question: What if our Dharma was the source of our money?
 
To be clear, it’s overly idealistic to expect each person to work their personal Dharma to create money.  However, there is clearly a relationship between money creation, the work that we do, and Purpose.
 
In my case, for example, perhaps if I had children at the time that my corporate job went sour, there might have been a sense of Purpose in providing for them that would have changed my experience—and perhaps changed what the money and its source meant to me.
 
My story is not the only example that beautifully illustrates the connection. I have a client whose immense family wealth was created in ways that she deems morally questionable. For some time, these ethics defined her relationship with her money, and she felt lost in a sea of its quantity, her perception of toxicity, and the lack of a sense of personal Purpose.
 
Through coaching, she began to take ownership over the money that became her responsibility when she received it. At the same time, she developed ownership over her personal Purpose. Honoring the value of the money itself, she now uses it in ways that connect her to that Purpose, and that help connect others to theirs. She values her freedom from the daily task of making money, realizing she can work and create genuine value in ways that don’t “earn a living.”
 
I have a girlfriend who does not work outside the home.  Even though she works hard and feels connected to her Purpose as a mother, she initially questioned her own value in light of her lack of “a paycheck.”  She generally felt like she wasn’t doing enough, and she didn’t feel entitled to spend money on herself.  Then, she saw the connection between her invaluable role as a mother and the financial benefits of her staying inside the home—including the support it gave her husband to earn for their family. She was then able to connect her Purpose to the money in her life.  This gave her an internal sense of value and freed her to use money on herself.
 
What do these stories demonstrate?  We must connect our money to Purpose.
 
When I was no longer developing personally or receiving meaning through relationship at my corporate job, Purpose fell away. The money was not enough to satisfy me. When we connect our money to our Purpose, however, whether directly through work or indirectly through what our money enables (or both), Purpose flows throughout our lives on the back of every dollar. Our lives build up around it, and ultimately, our life and Purpose become one and the same.
 
As a Money Wellness Coach and Finologist, these are the kind of questions I seek to answer.  I’ve created several tools for understanding your money in light of your life – or if you prefer, in light of Purpose.  Aptly, this work is my Dharma, and I find deep Purpose in helping you use your money to live yours.
 
 
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Africa at 18: Do I say 'I do'?

(a money story)

By Natalie Wagner, CFRC, Finologist - April 26, 2018


One of the best decisions of my life was to spend the first three months of a gap year living in Kenya (yes, the picture is me). Today, I want to share with you a story that I learned from my experience in Kenya — one of my personal money stories.
 
You might guess that Kenya’s financial world is very different from America’s.  Personally, my experience there was drastically different from the upper-middle-class, suburban environment where I spent the latter half of my childhood. Of course, I knew it would be different going in. But I didn’t know what it would be like or what it would mean to me.
  
One of my first glimpses of this beautiful country came when my host Mama welcomed me into her arms and family before even asking my name. “Karibu (welcome), my daughter. Karibu!” I fell in love with how children are communally cared for, and how I could trust any mama in any marketplace to protect me if I needed it.
 
But when it came to money, I experienced a harsh contrast to this strong and caring culture. From the Kenyan perspective, my American nationality indicated extreme wealth. And comparatively, I was immensely wealthy.  I began to feel like a walking dollar sign, and the objectification created a money story that has since shaped my life.
 
I was proposed marriage roughly 30 times in those three months. And sure, I’m a catch (wink wink). But none of those proposals came from love. I was asked to marry for status and money. When I walked through a marketplace, vendors from every direction vied for my attention. Personal relationships—even great ones—inevitably included an ask for money. It hurt.
 
I was there with my whole heart, and generally, I was met in kind. I am deeply grateful for my experiences, and in fact, came to love Kenya so emphatically that I went back later in college. But there were times when my honest intentions felt invisible, and I resented being minimized to merely an economic opportunity.
 
This experience in Kenya created a money story.  A money story is a belief we have about money that is created from our interpretations of the messages we receive, rather than clear understandings based in fact. Unfortunately, because discussing money in personal and detailed ways remains taboo in US culture, our understandings of money messages are particularly vulnerable to misinterpretations—especially when we are young and impressionable.
 
While in Kenya I came to subconsciously believe that anyone trying to sell me something was trying to take advantage of me. Certainly, some salespeople are doing just that. But others aim to serve, and my money story skewed my perspective. I could no longer appreciate or distinguish genuine efforts make my life better.
 
It’s important to note that my money story is my own interpretation of a cultural experience, and could have happened anywhere. Or, I could just as easily have internalized a different narrative. There is no one to blame for the subconscious stories we tell ourselves. The key is to bring awareness to our stories, and to the impact they have on our lives.
 
For me, this story had a tremendous impact. Upon returning to the States, I began to avoid buying things. I neglected to replace tired clothes and would do chores at home while my husband did the grocery shopping.  When it came to bigger purchases, from cars to couches, I leaned against my husband to discern if it was a good or bad buy. My money story made me feel that I was incapable of knowing if I was being taken advantage of, so I just didn’t buy anything.
 
It was years before I realized my discomfort with people trying to sell me, and recognized the subconscious story it came from. I wonder what opportunities I missed as a consumer, or as an entrepreneur selling my own business? I can see clearly how my generalization of salespeople has deterred me from effectively selling the work I love — work I genuinely believe helps make people’s lives better.
 
And so I ask: What money stories are holding you back?  There is no limit to the stories you might have, but some common ones include:
  • Rich people are greedy.
  • Poor people are lazy.
  • Money equals happiness.
  • If it makes you happy, you should do it for free.
  • Money is intrinsically evil.
  • More money means you’re a better person.
  • Money and spirituality never touch. 
Money stories create constraints in your perspective that in turn shape your relationship with money.  There is also no limit to how these stories might play out in your life.
 
So what do you do with a money story that’s holding you back? Here are a few steps to take:
  • Gain awareness. This can be done by writing out your Money Story* or doing a Money Autobiography.
  • Look at where you are now, and at where you’ve been coming from to understand how you got here. Then, consider where you want to go.
  • Is the trajectory you’re on taking you in the direction you want to go? If so, great! If not, what turn do you need to take to be on a path towards the life you want to live? If you need to take a turn, get support to empower your success.
Unconscious money stories may be holding you back, but getting out from underneath them will liberate you to interact with the world in ways that are genuinely fulfilling.
 
It takes awareness and intention. If you’re ready to address your money stories and move forward, call me. I’ll help you construct a strong, movin’ and groovin’ daily money life that is designed by your intentions. It’s worth it to have a life for which you’d gladly say, “I do!”
 
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Spending Time and Money as an Essentialist

Guest Piece by Matt Gray, Rocky Mountain Innovation Lab

By Matt Gray - March 15, 2018

 
“Time and money are energy sisters.” ~ Stacey Bennett

 

Spending Time and Money as an Essentialist

by Matt Gray
Executive Director, Coach and Strategist
The Rocky Mountain Innovation Lab

The feeling of being overwhelmed has pervaded my work recently. Personally, I’ve felt overwhelmed when looking at my finances, or thinking about how to spend more quality time with my daughter, or trying to understand the new political paradigm in which we live and how to respond to it effectively. I have also seen other leaders face off with being overwhelmed, trying to decide which route might be the best choice. And I've seen organizations drastically overwhelmed by wanting to head several directions when they really only have the capacity to head one.

My work focuses on coaching individuals, leaders and organizations to realize their most inspirational visions by implementing a strategy that is truly essential, without being fraught with things that become overwhelming. I want leaders to feel like they are not always restlessly being pulled in a hundred directions, but that they instead have clarity of purpose and vision. Now, that’s easy to say or sprawl across my website. The question is how we really make it happen.

Essentialism, a philosophy and way of life conceived by Greg McKeown, has become a seminal approach to my work. It is not just a book and theory. It is a process to be applied, assessed, adapted and re-applied. Essentialism demands that we look at our life critically, and make careful decisions about where we put our energy.

In the same way Natalie sees money as an expression of ourselves in the world, how we choose to spend our time is also an expression of ourselves in the world. Applying the principles of Essentialism to our work with both of these powerful resources can bring clarity, focus and direction as we move toward the visions we have for our lives, our organizations and the world.
 

 
 
 
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February Finances

The month of February is short. Are you?

By Natalie Wagner, February 1, 2018

Thank goodness the month of February is short! The weather is gray and drab. We’re sick of the cold and ready for the freshness of springtime. But have you ever wondered if you should manage your money any differently, given February’s shorter time frame? 

I’m a believer that in order for your money to support your deep goals and values, it should always be adjusting and flowing with changes in your life, no matter what form those changes take.

February is roughly 10% shorter than other months. I feel an impact, and I notice one in the world around me. One one hand, it's nice because it gets us into the spring of March more quickly. Still, the difference can confuse our regular rhythm, and we should consider how to adjust our money to match. 

In February there are up to 3 fewer days to spend. Three fewer days to feed the family, buy coffee, or drive to work.  This means you may actually use less money than the average month, and it may feel like there is some left to spend.

On the other hand, you pay your rent/mortgage in full for 3 fewer days of housing. Utilities and food are cost we accrue by the day. So what are the real differences?

Let’s consider where you may be gaining a little financial leverage, and where you may be getting the short end of the stick.

First, let's note that pay is generally attached to time worked or value provided, not according to the calendar month.  This means that the calendar difference in February will not impact the money you bring in.

Next, any monthly bills are going to be more expensive per day in February than any other month. For example, a mortgage of $2,000/month will be $71.43/day this February, but only $64.52/day in March. A $100 yoga membership is $3.57 per day this February and $3.23 by the day in March.  These costs are roughly 10% higher!

And last, let's look at areas of ongoing spending, like food, social activities or transportation.  We pay for these primarily according to usage - not according to the calendar year. This means that a short month doesn't make a difference in what the cost means to you, even if there are 10% fewer days of these costs.

The point: Don't let February fool you! The 10% increase in monthly costs and the 10% decrease in days in which to spend essentially balance each other out.  Any sense of deep pockets is an illusion!

Now that we know how February is different, we can adjust accordingly. However, in this case, it means, don't do things differently!  This knowledge empowers us to use our money this month in ways that bolster your deep goals and values.  

Power to you!
 
 
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A tribute to my father, Richard B. Wagner, JD, CFP®

From the Dinner Table to the Nazrudin Circle, Passing ‘The Test’ Along the Way

By Natalie Wagner - August 28, 2017

Whichever way I try to angle it, writing this tribute to my deceased dad is difficult.  I am extremely lucky to have known the profound man who was my father intimately and across many spectrums of his life.  Since his passing, I’ve been grappling with how I package this into a single written piece and send it off to all of you, many of whom love him too.  To make the dynamics more intense, I’m 1-2 weeks away from bringing twin boys into this world to join our 5-year-old son.  We found out we are having two children, rather than one, only a week before Dad spoke his last words.
 
Dad was always passionate about family.  As a little girl, I knew that although his work was deeply important to him and took up much of his time, he would always be there for me and for everyone in our family.  And he was.  Family dinner was a mainstay in our house and a key way that we connected.  At the dinner table we talked, laughed and shared our days.  This is the cornerstone of how I knew my dad.  And to me, he was the best dad in the world.



 

As I grew up and my life became more worldly, Dad stayed right with me.  We had honest and constructive conversations throughout my teen and adult years.  He encouraged me to reach for my best self and to let go of what ultimately wouldn't matter.  He supported me wholeheartedly as I traveled the world and earned my highly impractical degree in Socio-Philosophy.  He taught me to adhere my intentions and actions to a higher purpose and to develop myself so I would be able to do great work.

Back at the dinner table our conversations grew philosophical and tended to explore humanity.  Fittingly, Dad forever had an amazing knack for turning the conversation to money.  Though I often didn’t understand him around investment mechanics or international markets, we connected strongly around what different money dynamics mean to people on a personal level.  My brother also joined the conversation, and Dad loved being able to talk money with family.  It was not uncommon for these conversations to leave the dinner table and stay with us late into the night.  These times prepped my brother and me for our own professional paths.  My beautiful mother, a brilliant architect only moderately interested in financial planning, patiently watched while we explored philosophy, money and people together.

It’s been one of the great honors of my life to expand this connection with my dad from the dinner table to the Nazrudin circle. (The Nazrudin Project is a think tank for groundbreaking financial professionals to explore how we can truly help people navigate modern life amid “money and the fearsome forces it generates” [A frequent Dick Wagnerism].  Dad was a founder as well as a devoted and venerated member).  I always knew my dad was great, and I was aware that he was a leader in the Financial Planning profession, but I had no sense of the reach and depth of his influence.  At each of the four Nazrudins I've attended, I was awestruck witnessing people thank him for his work and describe the impact it had on them.

Moreover, I got to see why my dad had such an impact.  Dad held a certain something in the room, and it was not simply presumed status.  Though he was known for nodding off in the middle of conference talks, he would open his eyes, raise a finger, and espouse an offhanded insight that blew the room away.  He was always thinking of and sharing new ways to up-level our questions and thoughts to bring them closer to being profoundly great.  I found it wonderful to explore with him the existential force that is money and the desire to make the world a better place.  His acumens around money, what it means in our lives, and what we need to do about it are fascinating and inspiring.



But money wasn’t all Dad was about.  If you don’t already, you need to know about "The Test."  Dad loved rock and roll music.  Ever since I can remember when we heard a rock song he would say, “Quick?” That meant, “What song is this and who’s playing it?”  We were long forewarned that we needed to pass "The Test" before we would be permitted to get a driver’s license. From the day we got our permits to the day we took the driving test these pop quizzes were considered test questions.  There was then a final section that I took the day I got my driver’s license.  The winning question:  What was Lou Reed’s first band?  Answer: The Velvet Underground.  (Note: My husband also had to pass "The Test" before we received Dad’s full blessing.)

I consider myself particularly lucky because I think like my dad, though very much with a Natalie twist.  With a knack for thinking abstractly and connecting distant dots, plus getting to the heart of the matter, all while considering greatest possibilities and indulging a quirky sense of humor, Dad and I were birds of a feather.  This and my work as a Finologist (the term Dad coined as the study of our internal relationship with money) are part of his legacy.  However, besides being fundamentally different people, I come from a humanitarian and philosophy background, while Dad’s background was religion and law.  It follows that my work as a Money Wellness Coach is in the vein of Dad’s vision and thinking, though with a very different focus.  My brother, Jake Wagner, has chosen to take Dad’s torch as well, and is supporting Financial Planning as a specialized Digital Marketer.  In each of our ways, Jake and my lives are a tribute to Dad and his life’s work.



As I sit here with two children in my belly who will never meet their grandfather, I am deeply saddened to have lost my father.  But when I consider the work that he did, its readiness to be carried forward by those he touched, the fact that he had a beautiful45 year marriage, plus two adult children and a growing grandson (who also happens to think like him), I believe my father finished well.  He will always hold my love and admiration.  He will always be an integral part of who I am.  In carrying forward our mutual mission as finologists and financial guides to make the world a better place, I send tribute and I give allegiance to his vision.  As his daughter and a mother carrying forward his line, I honor him and give life to his life.

To my father, Richard B. Wagner, JD, CFP®, Finologist

Natalie Wagner,CFRCSM, Finologist
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