Do you think being a conscious consumer matters?

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I think it’s only fitting that today’s post is all about being a conscious consumer.  There are many injustices and inequalities in this world. When we hear Oxfam statistics that says that 62 people own the same wealth as half of the world it can be bewildering.  62 people on this planet have $ 1.76trillion dollars while 3.7billion people live on less than $2.5 dollars a day.  I don’t think we need any convincing that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system.  All is not well with the world, this is true. We have two choices, we can continue to complain and trudge on with our daily lives or we can choose to see it from a whole new perspective and work towards change.

We need a system that would benefit the majority rather than the select few. At the moment I don’t have the answer. All I know is that if we all were to wake up to the reality of our true power, then we can all have a better world to live in. This is not as philosophical as it may sound. In reality it is very practical. When we start being more conscious of how and why we spend we affect the overall demand for goods and services. Our demand is what keeps those 62 people in business. We have to make sure that the things we spend on are done with our true consent and not one that we are brainwashed to believe. This may not be easy at first. Changing one’s behavior requires deliberate action. We so easily default to autopilot. Sometimes this is not a bad thing, especially when it comes to self-protection. However, autopilot doesn’t serve us if it keeps giving us more of the things we don’t like. Breaking the pattern will entail effort, perseverance and patience.

It can sometimes feel frustrating like you are just a cog in the machine and don’t have the power to change anything. The way I see it, is that without the cogs, the machine would not be able to function. If we are indeed cogs we can affect how the machine works with what we choose to do.   While there is a lot to be done, we can all take the first step by becoming conscious of how we choose to spend our hard earned  money.  Tomorrow when you wear purple it will mark the beginning of the transformation processes.  You will have made a conscious decision to reclaim your power to make choices that truly serve you.

There are others who know where the true power resides . Here is a great example:

 

I leave you here with the poem Purple- The Journey Home:

Purple-The Journey Home

by Dr. M

Purple is the colour of love

Purple is the colour of truth

Purple is the colour you wear only if you dare

Purple is the symbol that will take you out of the wave

The wave of mundane existence

 To a place of autonomy and grace

A true place where the ordinary becomes the extraordinary

A place of true power and seeing

A place where there is no more weeping

For too long we have been under your spell

For too long we have consumed everything you sell

For too long we have allowed you to run our lives

Never stopping to think never questioning why

Today is the day we take back our power

Today we adorn ourselves in purple

We are going back to a true place where we can just be

A place where we don’t surrender to pressure

We don’t surrender to manipulation

We don’t surrender to competition

A place free of chains real or imagined

A place of pure seeing

Today we wear purple to get back there

We are on our way

We are on our way

 

 

Dr. M

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/the-purple-campaign.html

 

 

 

If you’re a student, you need to read this!

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Today’s post is based on a discussion I had with my third year undergraduate students.  It was clear from the discussion that students need more information how to use credit cards effectively.  There is the general consensus that it is overwhelming and confusing dealing with credit cards and its many implications.  As a result, I will be discuss credit card basics and how more importantly how to use them effectively.

The first thing that students have to understand is that a credit card is a weapon (referencing last week’s blog).  It is a piece of plastic that can be used to protect you and build you up or it can be used to destroy you. Knowing how to handle this weapon is crucial to your financial success. Credit cards are issued by credit card providers and are conduit for making payments both off and online, nationally and internationally. It is vital that students understand the importance of both having and using a credit card properly, because a lack of knowledge will literally cost you dearly.

The moment you apply for credit card or borrow money, your credit history starts recording, it’s like hitting the record button on your camera. A credit file is open in your name and information is regularly updated with all debt related financial information. In Canada these credit files are maintained by either Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada. The credit report contains information about your loan paying history and the status of your current credit accounts. Lenders use these reports to make lending decisions.

Your credit report is different from your credit score. A credit score is a three digit number that is calculated based on the information on your credit report.  This score is used to compare you to other clients to determine how much risk you pose. In Canada the credit scoring scale ranges from 300 to 900.  The higher your score it means you present less risk of defaulting on your debts. A good credit score is crucial because it determines whether or not lenders will lend you money for a house, a car, or any other type of loan/credit you would need. In some cases it can determine whether or not you get a job.

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For university students it is important to start early building a good credit score because it will allow you to enter the world with a solid financial foundation when you graduate. Here are a few ways that university students (or anyone for that matter) can start building their credit.

Piggyback on their parents

When you are a student without a source of income it is difficult to get a credit card. It is possible, however, to start building your credit if you become an authorized user on your parent’s account. If your parents make you an authorized user on their card you will start creating your own financial footprint. Your credit score will increase once your parents have good credit.

Get a secured credit card

Another option for a student is to get secured credit card. A secured credit card is one that requires you to make a cash deposit as a guarantee of on-time payment. This cash deposit can be equal to or larger than what the limit is on the card.  You can use this card in the same way as you use a regular credit card the difference being that if you default on your payments the credit card issuer will use your deposit.

Get your own student credit card

There are many options available to students to get a credit card in their own name. Here is the link for you to check out some possible options:

http://canada.creditcards.com/college-students.php

It is important that you a credit card that is right for you. Having your own credit card comes with a lot of responsibility. It means that ensuring that payments are made timely rest solely on your shoulders.

Stay in the lines

By this that I mean use your credit card only when you need to and make sure it’s for small intermittent purchases.  Avoid big-ticket buys, except in case of emergency. Your credit card is not free money nor is it an eternal source of funds. It’s a loan that you must repay and if you don’t there are serious consequences that will haunt you for a very long time into the future.

 PAY Off your Balance on time

Nothing hurts your credit score more than late payments. The best thing you can do to build a good credit score is to pay your bills on time. This may be  the simplest advice to build good credit, but it is not the easiest advice to follow, especially if poor choices are consistently being made.

Pay ALL your other bills on time

Your credit score is not solely based on your credit card transactions. It is based on all types of loans and payments that are due. This includes your student loan, library dues, parking fines, internet and phone payments all get reported on your credit report and it is reflected on your credit score. Management of all bills reflects the level of risk you pose on defaulting on your payments.

Pay attention to your balance to limit ratio

It is advisable to keep your account balances below 70%-75% of your available credit. Avoid maxing out credit because credit card companies want to give you credit when you don’t need it and when you actually do, they won’t give it to you! When you don’t need it means you have the resources to pay without taking credit and thus you’re a low risk client. When you don’t have the resources to pay and you really need credit, they won’t give it to you because now you’re more risky than someone who doesn’t need it!

Don’t apply too often

If you apply for several credit cards at once or over a short space of time, it raises a red flag because lenders see it as a sign that you are in financial difficulties. It makes you look desperate and needy for credit.  Note that when you move to a new city and apply for a new mortgage, new loans and utility accounts as well as car rental inquiries your credit score will take a hit. When you check your own credit history or when existing businesses check for updates on your file it does not affect your credit score.

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From this brief discussion   I am sure that you realize that having a credit card comes with a lot responsibility.  Part of effective credit card management is really getting your act together.  Being financially successful is a choice you make for yourself, it doesn’t happen by accident. It requires discipline and having clear goals for yourselves. You can’t reach your destination if you don’t know where you are going. It all starts with you and  if you follow the golden rule of spending less than you earn/have, then you’ll be ahead of the game. In the end it all boils down to being conscious of your spending decisions and making good choices and day after day. On June 15th  wear purple to remind yourself to do just that!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuXF5QJeIgw

 

Dr. M

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

Do you know how to use your weapon?

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If ever there was a time for financial education it is now because more and more the concept of money is becoming abstract. People are spending freely without understanding the real impact that it can have on their life. When you can simply beep, scan or tap for your purchase then it is easy to buy whatever you want. When you have to part with larger and large amounts of physical cash it registers physiologically. The impact of handing over $500 in cash is very different from simply tapping your card. You may know the price and may even understand that it is expensive and out of range, but when you are using a digital form of payment you don’t immediately recognize or appreciate the impact that the purchase can have. When you’re using cash and something to not affordable you experience and understand that the moment you open your wallet. Digital payments methods have removed the impediment of not really having the available funds.  What most fail to realize that the true cost of the purchase is actually much higher.

Millennial and Gen Z are particularly at risk of thinking of money in abstract terms and not connecting it with anything more tangible.   Children today are growing up seeing their parents using digital forms of payment.  For them, money is very much an abstract concept. All they know is that if you want to buy something you just have to use your card, beep it, scan or tap it!  Many think the cards are the source of the money and don’t realize that they are just a conduit for using money.  All the technological advancements are simply to allow a more efficient and convenient way to conduct transactions for all parties involved. It is not an eternal source of funds. It is essential to understand the fallout from the misuse of this technology, namely   high debt and in the worst case personal bankruptcy.

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It is necessary to connect digital spending with real world consequences. The reality is that many don’t make this connection either because of a general lack of understanding, or simply because they rather not think about it. The advances in technology  do not  change the fact that if you spend more than you have, you will be in debt and people can come and take away the things you have ! Credit card companies and payment companies in general make a lot of money when you don’t connect the dots yourself. They are happy to help you beep, scan and tap your way into bankruptcy. They make more money when this happens. I really think that credit cards should come with a warning “misuse can result is a bankruptcy and misery!”

Credit cards and other digital payment methods are NOT bad; you simply have to know how to use them effectively.  A knife for example, can be used as a tool or a weapon. It can help you or it can really hurt you.  Using a knife to prep dinner is a using it as a tool that benefits you.  The same knife can turn into a dangerous weapon that can hurt you or others.   The same instrument can have two different uses. Knowing how and when to use it can make the difference between chopping vegetables and chopping fingers.

This analogy really applies to credit cards and digital payments methods. Just as a knife can be used as a weapon or a tool, so too can credit cards and other digital payments. If you know how to use them properly, it can result in wonderful experience, but when you don’t understand how to use it, you end up in massive debt, stressed and overworked.  To avoid hurting yourself, invest some time in learning the basics of managing your money.  I will soon be releasing a couple of short and simple eBooks that give you the basics on how to handle the weapon you carry around every day. It behoves you to spend the time to understand how to use this powerful weapon that you have in your wallet or on your phone and if you have children it is even more important to start teaching them early the necessary skills  for effective money management.

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I will leave you to do an experiment for yourself. Figure out how much money you spend in an actual day. Then get this  amount in actual cash and put it in your wallet. Spend ONLY that amount for the day. Pay attention how you feel when you pay with cash and how you feel when you see the balance getting smaller in your wallet. How do you feel when you finished all of the cash and you are not allowed to have anymore for the rest of the day?

I would really love to hear what happens, drop me a line and let me know.

 

Dr. M

Subscribe to http://radhamaharaj.com/ for updates on the eBook release.

June 15th WEAR PURPLE

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/the-purple-campaign.html

Breaking the Rules can make you Happier

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There are many paths to financial success and there is one golden rule that holds for all, to be successful you have to spending less than you earn.  I have written a lot about this and have given many tips and strategies to help people incorporate these rules in daily lives. Today the focus is not about adhering to the rules. “He who dies with the most money does not win” I don’t recall where I heard this saying, but is one that has stayed with me because it is true. The goal is not to hoard money. No one wins by having lots of money and being miserable.  We all want to be financially successful for both the security and the freedom that it allows for us to have a satisfying life doing and having the things that we value.   Being both happy and financially successful is an art not a science. We have the strike the right balance between being strict and splurging. Sometimes we have to put aside our practical, logical reasoning and trust in something that is greater than what we can intellectually understand.  There are some things that we are not able to express in words or numbers for that matter, but something we understand so clearly that it speaks volumes to us without needing to say a word. In such a case we have to follow our instinct and go for it not matter the cost!

There are three scenarios where it is always a good idea to break the rules.   The first instance when relaxing the rules is paramount is when the non-monetary return more than outweighs the monetary cost.  If for example you have the desire to go on a particular trip, or see a particular band perform or attend a specific conference. If your desire is both strong and you place a high value on the experience, event, and it is time sensitive then you should go after it.  If this the event, experience or thing  is presenting itself to you at the moment when your finances are not in the best  then you have to find a way to make it work. If you know that this is the last opportunity or the best opportunity for you to do or have the thing that you always wanted, then , cash in the savings, borrow from a friend ( not a normally recommended course of action, except in this case) anything that would allow you to realize your desire.  You will be happier, perhaps even inspired and who knows where that can take you!

The second instance where its okay for us to break the rules is when humanity has to precede finances. Helping a friend or a family member out of a hardship or struggle will have its own rewards.  Now I am not saying that you have to help everyone who asks.  I am saying that sometimes people really need our help and it can have a dramatic impact on their lives and in turn ours.  Sometimes it is not just about the money, but doing what is right. For instance, take your parents on that European vacation they always dreamed off. It may mean you that your savings will take a large hit, but you can start again. Helping or showing gratitude to someone who really deserves it is worth breaking the rules just once!

The final instance where it’s okay to break the rules is when you believe in yourself and know that you can accomplish great things, don’t let finance stop you from reaching your goal. If you want that education or you want to start a business, don’t let those dreams die because of money. Maybe you need to put off retirement or buying that house for a couple of years so that you can accomplish an even bigger dream.  It is better to have tried and fail than to live with regret or worst wondering what if.

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These are the extreme circumstances  where I would recommend that we break some of those fiscal rules. This is not your average splurge to keep you fresh, these are all hell break lose splurge where the non-monetary return by far outweighs the monetary costs.  A very strong world of caution: This is a onetime deal. You can’t be breaking the rules every week or month or even every year because then you would not be doing yourself any favors.  It is my belief that the purpose of our life is to be happy.  The way our world is structured at the moment requires us to have at least a modicum of money to achieve this. It is imperative for us to manage our finances consciously and on purpose and  on our own terms for us not just to survive but also for us to thrive.

June 15th is approaching and until then my posts will be a reminder of the need to be more conscious in our day to day financial life.

The Purple Campaign (5)

 

Dr. M

radhamaharaj.com

 

 

Which do you need-A financial coach or a financial advisor?

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A coach is someone who supports a learner in achieving a specific goal. In the case of a financial coach, it is someone who supports a client in achieving specific financial/life goals. A financial coach is not the same thing as a financial advisor. A financial advisor focuses specifically on investment planning, especially for retirement. Their focus is mostly on where and what to invest in.  Financial advisors don’t usually take the time to help clients understand why they spend the way they do and what steps they can take to change bad money habits. A financial advisor will not take on a client who is having financial difficulties because their salary is tied to the size of their client’s investment. If a person has no money to invest, then there is no need for a financial advisor.  On the other hand, a person who is struggling with their finances is an ideal candidate for financial coaching. Financial coaching is independent of your income level. A financial coaching program may be just the thing you need if you find that you are constantly having money trouble. Financial coaching is also more affordable and accessible for most people because it can take the form of group sessions before transitioning to  individual coaching sessions.

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Most of the time people procrastinate when it comes to their finances for the following reasons:

  • Some find it overwhelming and intimidating. This is the result of a lack of knowledge mixed in with a heavy dose of the belief that handling one’s money is a complex and difficult. Today, this is more pronounced because of the copious amounts of information that is readily available.  One would think that this is a good thing.  In reality it has just the opposite effect. The volume of information makes it difficult for  anyone to navigate.  Instead of making things easier the availability and accessibility of information has actually increase the level of paralysis and anxiety when it comes to money.
  • Some are afraid of what they will find out. This is a typical ostrich in the sand phenomenon. Many of us fall prey to this type of behaviour, not only in the area of finances. We do it with our health and our relationships. It seems that the prevailing motto is to let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Some are not ready to deal with the implications. Others know exactly what awaits them and they simply procrastinate.
  • Others simply don’t understand the ramifications of not being in control of their finances. Most believe that they have time. If they only understood the beauty of compounding they would surely understand that it is never too soon to start planning for your financial future.
  • Finally, some are just waiting to win the lotto!

As a financial coach, I help people achieve their best financial self. My main role as a coach is support and help them align their values and attitudes so as to achieve their financial goals. In the process I equip them with the necessary tools and techniques to achieve their desired objectives.

The process begins with where you are. It usually starts with assessing your current financial situation and exploring spending habits and tracing the origin of these habits. Then we establish your financial goals/life goals. Based on these goals I recommend the necessary systems that must be implemented to achieve these goals. This can range from budgets, investment suggestions to journaling and introspection. Finally, I hold you accountable.

Finance is More than the numbers is not just my tagline it is a living experience. It is truly more than the numbers and the process. Money is an emotionally charged topic and each client is different. There is no cookie cutter solution.  Financial coaching is tailored specifically to the individual to ensure they have both the technical and emotional support needed while building their financial foundation.

Group financial coaching is best suited for those who are nervous about taking charge of their finances. This is because in a group setting you realize that you are not alone and that you have support and a network to help you along the way.   When you feel ready, you can take it to the one on one level and finally you move out on your own which is the ultimate goal.

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For more information on financial coaching feel free to contact me at:

drm@thekidonomicseries.com

 

Dr. M

 

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

Raising Financially Savvy Kids

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Raising financially savvy kids should be a priority for every parent. There are two things we need to have before we can even begin thinking about having a good life and they are health and wealth.  Parents spend a lot of time making sure that their kids are healthy. We also need spend some time to ensure that our children acquire the skill set or behavioral traits necessary to manage their wealth. It is never too early or too late to start, where ever you are at the moment is the best place to begin. Today I want to give discuss four immediate steps that parents can start using to begin the process of raising financially savvy children. These are general actionable steps which have to be tailored to meet the specific characteristics of each family, they serve as a reference point for beginning the process.

The first step that parents can take is to make sure that their children understand the difference between a need and a want. People who are good with managing their money have this distinction imprinted into their core. Okay, maybe that I am being a little too dramatic, but you understand what I mean.  Understanding and implementing this concept is essential for financial success and this holds true for anyone at any age and with any amount of money.  The first book in The Kidonomics Series (TKS) teaches this fundamental concept. Parents and grandparents often report back to me that after reading Shopping Adventure to their kids or grand-kids, it helped them keep this concept top of mind and they found themselves being more conscious when they went shopping.  You can reference https://thekidonomicsseries.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/making-mini-money-manager-2/ for some specific activities that you can start doing today to teach your child this core concept.

The second immediate step is to loving say NO. This is never a pleasant task for any parent.  It always causes discomfort either to one or both parties involved. In a recent poll conducted by Parents magazine they found that 42% of their readers admitted that their child is spoiled and 80% of these readers know that this will affect the child in the long run. There are many reasons why parents spoil their kids. When it comes to money, however, the two main reasons are either  because the parents themselves were raised this way or they had very little growing up and now feel obligated to give everything to their children.  In both cases the result is the same, it fosters a sense of entitlement. This entitlement attitude does not serve the child when he or she enters the “real’ world.  Saying no to a child may be the kindest thing a parent can do for them in the long run (even though it may not seem that way when you are actually saying no).

In the case of less affluent families, it may be easier to say no, because there is no other alternative. Even in such a case, however, saying no has to be done lovingly and with care. This is because we don’t want the child to grow up with a lack mentality.  It is a good idea to refrain from telling the child that you can’t afford it or you don’t have the money for it. Even though it may be true, it’s best not to be so forthright with them. Words are very powerful and we have to use them to empower the child not place limitations on them. It is necessary to find alternative ways to say no.  I purposely did not use the term scarcity in any of the TKS books.  The reason is that I did not want to put a limiting concept into impressionable minds.  It is important that we find a way to reframe limitations into opportunities to be creative and resourceful.

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The third actionable step is teaching kids how to prioritize and make decisions and give them plenty of opportunity to practice. The ability to rank things and task in order of importance is crucial for life in general and essential for effective money management. Children need to understand that basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter are priority. These must be taken care of first and then other things can be considered. Additionally, it is important to develop a child’s decision making skills.  Ineffective decision making skills can be paralyzing and financially draining. Children have to learn how to make good choices for themselves. Parents need to provide opportunities to practice prioritising and decision making.  Perhaps if the child is old enough, they can participate in making some household decisions such as helping choose furniture or picture frames for instance. Even the younger ones can get involved, just the act of inclusion will go a long way both in teaching them valuable lessons while also create a stronger bond with the parent.

And finally we come to the fourth step and most important step. Parents  have to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. It is not enough to say do as I say and not as I do. Parents are a child’s first teacher and we have the responsibility to demonstrate the behaviour we want them to adopt. The chances of you raising a financially savvy child increase exponentially when you become financially savvy yourself.

 

Dr. M

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

Building Trust

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As a parent, it is important for us to build trust with our children very early on. It is common to hear parents say “It goes by so fast” and it’s true. My daughters are not only getting taller (than me) but are growing into their own little individuals. It is amazing to see the change. It is subtle but every so often I have to double take either because they express themselves in a way I could never have imagined or the way they look is different.  Every year a couple of months before their birthdays I notice a shift in their physical and non-physical growth.  It is quite surreal sometimes. In a recent session with parents on teaching financial literacy to children at home, one parent brought up the issue of trust. She wanted to know how to ensure that her children trust her enough to come to her and talk to her about their issues, financial or otherwise. Using examples from my own experience I gave her what I considered to be my top five ways to build trust with children.

My top five ways for building trust are listening, honesty, practicing what I preach, being consistent and following through. Listening is a really an underrated skill.  I think many of us will do well to listen twice as much as we speak (I remind myself of this often). Most of us know what our child is about to say and there is a natural tendency to either we cut them off before they can finish or finish their sentence for them.  I have been guilty of this, but I have worked on making a conscious effort, to just keep quiet and listen all the way to the end. Only then I can really hear the whole story. Usually listening all the way to the end really gives me an insight into how their mind perceives the situation. More often than not  we do not see the situation in the same way. It is really important for us as parents to listen to what our children have to say. This allows us to connect and understand our children and serves as the foundation for trust.  They feel heard and it is more likely that they will continue to come to us when the need arises.

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Honesty is another way to build trust with your child. This can sometimes a hard one to navigate. It is not that I lie to my girls, but sometime back, when they ask where babies come from for example I may have said it was magic! I believe that the child’s age and temperament is important. My girls have very different personalities and deal with information very differently. The older one can handle the truth even at a young age. The little one is more idealistic and I have to be careful of how I explain certain topics to her.  As children grow it is important to tell them the truth because if they start finding  things out from other sources they will not be coming to us with their question, especially if they know that they we will not tell them the truth.

Practicing what you preach is imperative for building trust. We have to be the example for our children to follow. It is not enough to say do as I say and not as I do. This another one that many of us sometimes struggle with, but if we want our children to eat healthy and spend money wisely for instance we have to demonstrate to them how it is done.  Children learn more from what we do than what we say!  I sometimes get a reality check when I see my girls replicate things I do, most of the time it is quite amusing, but it is less amusing when they pick up the unpleasant traits as well! We foster trust and build a stronger relationship  when they see us doing the things we want them to do.

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Consistency and routine are important for children.  A big part of trust is feeling safe. Having a predictable routine helps children feel secure in knowing what’s going to happen next. Many studies have shown that when there are too many unpredictable events in a child’s day anxiety builds up.  Routines facilitate structure and familiarity, a safe zone.  Family routines go a long way in ensuring that children have trust in us.

It is important that we follow through when we make promises and have set expectations. When you make house rules and schedule make sure that it is done regularly. Don’t break the rules just because. I have been guilty of this. I would make some rules and then break them  so much so that my younger daughter, when she was about five or so, said “Mom says no but then she says yes” Needless to say I had to work really hard to change that impression. Now, when I say no, I stick to it. even if I want to change my mind I don’t.  In the long run follow through has served me better than being a softy!

Trust is crucial for developing strong relationships. As a parent, a teacher, a writer and financial coach building trust is essential for my life and my profession.  I apply these five traits to all my relationships.  I try to listen more than I speak. I think sometimes I can be a tad too honest, but it is necessary.   I practice what I preach. I don’t ask  anyone to do things I don’t or won’t do myself and  I consistently support and show up for those who rely one me.  I believe these five traits are essential in building trust in any relationship, whether it is with a spouse, children, friends or clients.

Are you building and maintaining trust in your relationships?

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Dr. M

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

 

Are you afraid to speak up?

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Do you ever hesitate to tell someone that what they are doing is wrong or makes no sense? Do you ever hesitate to tell a friend they are wasting their money or spending badly?

I ask these questions because I think many of us have at some time or another have witnessed some massive and wasteful spending and wanted to say something but didn’t because we were afraid offending the person.  For obvious reasons I have no problem pointing out wasteful activities to close friends and family. Notice I say close friends and family, people that I know well and who in turn also know me. I don’t go around randomly judging people’s spending habits.  People expect this from me because of my profession.  I can do it and get away with it because  I know them well and most of the time they see it as a natural thing I do and don’t necessarily get offended (maybe annoyed but not offended).

In my financial coaching program a client of mine had this very problem. She is a reformed reckless spender. She is currently doing very well with getting her financial life in order. Her bank balance is testimony to how well she is doing.  She was recently out with a friend and she saw a version of her old self in her friend. She recognized the same mindless spending pattern that she once knew only too well. She was tempted to talk to her friend about it, but felt she couldn’t because she was afraid that her friends would resent her for it or feel that she is no longer fun to be around.  After all, not too long ago, they would both doing the same thing. She felt she had no right to say anything to her friend even though she really wanted to.

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My advice to her was if this person is really a friend they would support you and would respect you for voicing your opinion even if they don’t take your advice. We can’t make everyone see things the way we do. The most we can do is to speak up. If they take our advice, fine, if not, then there is nothing we can do about it. If the people you are associating with don’t hold the same views and values, then it would not be long before the relationship fizzles out. If your friends are not respectful of your choices and lifestyle, then the relationship will eventually die of natural causes.

Working through financial issues goes past the numbers. I really mean it when I say Finance is NOT about the numbers.  The numbers are symptomatic of what state you are in. The numbers reflect the state of your whole life. It is important to note that I am referring here to people who are more than able to meet their basic needs and in theory should have a lot of money left over but somehow they don’t.  These are the ones whose bank balances say a lot about them. If they are content and happy with their life, it is reflected on their bank statement.  If they are busy trying to meet social expectations and impress others with their material possessions that too will be reflected back to them on their monthly statement and usually it is it’s not what they want to see. When people start to get their finances in order, it usually means getting their life in order. It means prioritizing what is important and has meaning for you and what does not. It means developing and implementing the skill of knowing when you can and should splurge and when you should hold back.

I have excellent examples of quite a number of   clients  who simultaneously  managed to  fatten up their bank account while dropping a few pounds themselves.  This was usually the result of a change in their lifestyle. They ate out less and started making their meals at home.  This simple action significantly reduced their monthly expenses while simultaneously making a noticeable difference to their waistline! The savings continued because they could fit back into their old (expensive) clothes and didn’t need to buy new ones, this yet another way they saved.

Perhaps not all your friends and family would appreciate you being fiscally responsible but I feel it is our responsibility as a friend and a family member to point out wasteful spending or financial misconduct when we see it. Naturally, it has to be done in a gentle way which does not make anyone feel offended, but rather encouraged about the whole process. We are not aiming at reverse peer pressure. It’s more about making them aware of what they are doing. Perhaps they never realized it themselves and it only becomes evident when you point it out. You might be surprised by a grateful response to bringing this to their awareness. If not, then back off and let them be, it is not your job to change them. Change will only happen when they are ready and not a second before.

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The next time you witness a friend of family member spending recklessly or committing some serious financial misconduct try telling them about it and see what happens. Feel free to drop a line and let me know what happened.

 

Dr. M

https://thekidonomicsseries.wordpress.com/

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

 

Are you doing it right?

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Life does not come with a manual, but being very resourceful we humans have managed to make quite a few manual for ourselves.  Religious texts, social customs, economic, civil and legal system are just a few of the manuals we have made over the years which dictate to us how to live. These man made manuals sometimes work well, but for the most part there are always winners and losers. They also lose their meaning when transported to a different country or even a different state because they are judged by different standards. If something is indeed true or is a fundamental truth, then it would be the same for all, not just some. The fact that these manuals break down when they leave their place of origin is evidence of their fallacy.  Anything that is true will always be true regardless of place or time.  It doesn’t matter what your belief system is, what your customs are or what your legal systems says, if you jump off a tall building, you will die!  The physical laws are the only fundamental truth we know (even this is debatable but will accept it for now). Everything else is, well, made up.

Society needs rules and regulations to be able to function smoothly and effectively. I am reminded of this every day when I drive. I am grateful for these rules because without them there would be chaos. Especially when you live in a multicultural society and drivers are from different parts of the world. I embrace the rules and regulations that serve the greater good the ones that are practical and necessary for society to function.

I do squirm a little at those “rules” that we as a society allow politicians, religious leaders, bankers, marketers and celebrities to make up for us.  We seem to have a compulsion to make sure we are living right and doing the right thing. The proof can easily be seen in the self-help industry. It is a $10 billion dollar industry and every day there is a new book on how to live better, eat better, earn more, do less and earn more, be happy or find inner peace.  We are all in this together, whether we make up our own rules or whether we follow the masses and try to fit in, we all simply want to be happy with the life we have in whatever form that may take.

My new children’s book captures the essence of today’s society from this perspective. It is entitled The Simpletons of Krafanof. It is a story about some pretty clueless animals (similar to us). In this faraway, land things are pretty confusing.  Many believe that they are something they are not, while others blindly follow tradition without questioning whether it makes sense or not. There are those who outright lie and cheat and others pretend not to notice. This is a story about finding out who you really are and in the process helping those around you to discover their true nature as well. This book has something for everyone. The kids will enjoy the strange antics of the animals while their parents can read between the lines and see patterns that are all too familiar.

The book will be out in the summer. You can pre-order your copy at www.krafanof.com

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Dr. M

https://thekidonomicsseries.wordpress.com/

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

 

 

The Power of Pink and the Rise of Purple!

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Today my kids went to school wearing pink, and it’s not because they’re girls. It is pink shirt day at school. The pink shirt a symbol of strength and solidarity against bullies, here is the clip that tells the story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjmf3I1_ZhU

Kids are not the only ones who face bullying on a day to day basis. We adults are constantly bombarded by bullies, but these bullies are in stealth and they are so good that we don’t recognize them.  We invite them into our lives and they listen to them day after day.

Adults face two main recognised forms of bullying, financial bullying and workplace bullying. Financially bullying sometimes occurs with people in committed relationships. Usually one partner limits the amount that the other can spend, they are not allowed to have a credit card, they keep track of all receipts, and they make them feel guilty about certain purchases.

Then we have workplace bullies. Most workplace bullies are master manipulators they use very creative, indirect and deceitful methods to exert control over others. Usually it is under the pretense that they are doing it for the greater good of the company. The truth is they are purely self-serving.

Now, how is this different from all the advertisements we are exposed to day in and day out? Ads find us everywhere now since most of us are connected 24-7. Every advertisement is meant to ensnare us into thinking that we need to get this product. Marketers use various physiological tricks and play at our heart string to make us think it was our idea and that we are the one making the decision. When in reality we are not.

The main tactic used by many companies is “disturbed and motivate” it is a combination of scaring then manipulating. Marketers are very good at figuring out what people are most afraid of and then they use that information to their advantage. They know just what to say to turn their product into a need. It is only natural to fall for these types of ads because it resonances with our fear and it propels us into action. Here is a good example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP7brs3-JYk

There seems to be a new trend in advertising, you know, those inspirational and motivating ads.  I am referring specifically to the ones that leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling about the product. I know I always pick on Coke, but their “Taste the Feeling” campaign is so insidious.  The ads are beautifully shot, I can appreciate that. What I have less appreciation for, is the impudent association of good feelings with coke. When I see these ads they really upset me because they are messing with people’s health.

Their latest ad has the caption:

You may not see it all the time, but your siblings are always on your side. When was the last time you shared a COKE with them? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMDLp2bXwR8

Seriously, if you loved your brother, you would give him a nice glass of water, perhaps with some lemon. Not a drink that has 39 grams of sugar in each can and which can wreak havoc on your body.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1JZ3MLS-k0

It is not that I am against advertising in general or companies making a profit. I am all for it. We need this type economic activity to keep our economy healthy. What I am against is those notorious companies that pedal their chemical concoctions and use a lot of smoke and mirrors to make us believe we are doing something good for ourselves. We as consumers need to stand up to this type of treachery.

Companies like Coke and others, continue to make and sell products that do us more harm than good because we make it profitable for them to do so. I always say that change will NOT come from the top. All the little guys can bring the giants down if we work together. Bullies can only exist when there are victims. Perhaps it is time we  adults start a  campaign of our own and designate  a day  where we wear purple (because purple is grown up pink) to stand in solidarity against all the marketing bullies who bombard us  with ads to sell us products that do not serve us.   I declare June 15th, purple shirt day (when I say purple shirt I mean any type of purple clothing).  Purple shirt day is the day we fully embrace and practice being conscious consumers and not fall prey to deceitful ads and marketing campaigns. Let’s make purple the symbol of consumer solidarity against manipulating marketers.

Who’s with me?

 

Dr. M

https://thekidonomicsseries.wordpress.com/

http://www.radhamaharaj.com/

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