OK, I am changing things up in here!

For a few years I have been posting irregularly in here, usually about money and money behaviours. It’s been OK but it was a bit boring( actually often a lot boring!!) and I’m not into boring and nor do I lead a boring life.

Sooooooo….. I have decided to change it around and I am going to post more regularly just on what’s happening in my life. It won’t be on all of it, I promise!! I will still focus on money in many ways but it will be more centred on my ongoing relationship with money and where that has led me and the adventures I have along the way.

It may not be pretty, it may not be well punctuated and it may not use correct grammar all the time, but it will be real. It may well contain some of my opinions on other stuff too…so look out!

A catch up first..

As many of you know, for a lot of years I was an overspender (aka shopaholic) and a chronic debtor. I always had credit card debt apart from a few weeks when I had, yet again, managed to pay them off, vowing to never use them again…until I did! Every. Time!

I was living in the USA ( my home is New Zealand) and met a new partner.. A quick explanation here. I usually use “they gave me an ultimatum” but in the interests of really telling it as it is, it was really she gave me an ultimatum. I warned you that my life isn’t boring …I came out as a lesbian at 52 and F was my first female partner! Using “they” has given me a few laughs though! eg a male CEO saying ” so all you needed was a good man!” As if!!!

Anyway, F gave me an ultimatum: either get help for my spending and behaviour around money, or we were through.

So, I found a counsellor and began Financial Recovery counselling. It was a gamechanger! I stopped using my credit cards immediately and began tracking what I was spending. Did I become a penny pincher? No, but did I plan my spending and then  track what I spent? Hell yeah!!

Things were trucking along pretty well…until the company was restructured and my position was eliminated.

Back to NZ I came with F relocating with me. The only problem was I didn’t have a job as I had become too senior (and too expensive) for the local subsidiary. I’d had my fill of corporate life anyway and decided to strike out on my own and Financial Clarity was born. I would help people, women in particular, who had issues around money like I did.

It wasn’t an overnight success..far from it but I began to attract clients and I was able to help them change their relationship to their money. It had hiccoughs along the way and lots of them.

My Mum got ill and died aged 93. I was delighted that self employment allowed me the freedom to spend some very valuable weeks with her before then though. My wonderful Mum’s death derailed me than I thought it would. I thought I was pretty accepting of the inevitable with her age and failing health.

On many levels I was but I missed her more than I thought possible and still do.

Look for part two of the catch up tomorrow!

2215145_blogTwo weeks today ( here in NZ anyway!) we will probably have eaten or be eating our Christmas dinner and the shopping and hurly burly will be a distant memory….hopefully anyway!

Everything you read at the moment is reflecting on the life and death of Nelson Mandela. He was a wonderful man and one of my personal heroes. I remember having an interview at Bayer for a promotion sometime in the mid 80’s and being asked about someone I admired. I said Nelson Mandela. I was challenged on this because he was in prison and was often called a terrorist. (He was only taken off the US’s list of terrorists in 2008!) I’m not sure what my words were but I can remember my passion in delivering my defense of my choice!

I am a passionate rugby fan but my first ever protest march was in Christchurch in 1981, against the Springbok tour. I didn’t watch rugby at all for several years after that!

I am sad at his passing but very glad and grateful for his life and example. I cannot believe that I would have shown the same spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation if I had been imprisoned for 28 years!

Now  to the 12 shopping days left before Christmas! In my MMM of November 11, I gave you some tips about shopping for Christmas. If you haven’t finished your shopping, and I hope you have, relook at them.

This is a very stressful time and it is important to make plans for what you are going to buy and for whom and, of course, where and when! If you can, try and shop in the morning whilst you are freshest and the day is cooler. It tends to be less busy too. Also the earlier you shop on the 12 days the better. The closer to Christmas, the busier it is, the more tired and stressed you are and therefore more likely to spend more money just to be able to cross that person and gift off the list!

As always, I advise that you shop with cash. Debit or EFTpos cards are good alternative options. The reason for this is that you can only spend the money you have and have to stop when you run out! Not only do credit cards allow you to spend money that you don’t have, but research has shown, as I’ve mentioned before, that you spend 20% more when using a credit card as opposed to debit cards! If your spending plan allows for eg $400 for gifts and you spend 20% more, that is an extra $80. I’m sure, like me, there is a lot you would rather do with that $80.

Also try and keep yourself in the moment ie concentrate on what you are doing rather than thinking about all the other things that are on your list to do. It is safer. Yesterday, I wasn’t doing that and was crossing the road when cars started tooting their horns at me. It wasn’t the buzzer for me to cross but rather the other side one! Could have been messy!

Also by being in the now, you tend to be much more effective and things get completed more quickly!

Have a great week everybody and be kind to yourself! It is stressful and the more you can do to reduce that, the better for everyone. Stressed people can be rather cranky!




Are you grateful?

December 3, 2013

Here20499375_s in Auckland the pohutukawa are really starting to bloom, so it’s starting to feel like summer and that Christmas is coming. For you non-Kiwis the pohutukawa trees are often called NZ Christmas trees as they bloom in December.

Anyway, its not Christmas I am going to write about this week, but Thanksgiving, which is celebrated in the USA on the last Thursday of November. ( It is also celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October.)

As some of you know I have lived in both countries but it is the US holiday I am going to talk about.
I lived in California for three years from early 2006 and Thanksgiving was my favourite holiday and I’ll tell you why.

  • It is a public holiday and as it’s on a Thursday, most people get Friday off too.
  • It is a time to celebrate with family, as much as possible, so there are LOTS of people travelling. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is often quoted as the busiest travel day of the year. Whilst this isn’t true it is a very busy day.
  • You get to eat yummy food, often roast turkey with all the trimmings. One of the unusual ones for this Kiwi was brussels sprouts! Many of you are probably going yuk, but trust me, I had never had brussels sprouts fixed like I had on Thanksgiving.
  • It is cool if not downright cold, so it is a great day to eat all of this yummy stuff, unlike our summer Christmas!
  • There are Thanksgiving traditions but I never participated in any of these. Two are big parades eg. Macy’s n NY put on an enormous parade…Think the Santa parade on steroids! The other is watching football (gridiron or American football), either live or on TV as a family.
  • You spend time with your family if at all possible and if not, groups of friends get together. Many families get together at Thanksgiving but maybe not at Christmas.
  • Gratitude and thanksgiving. As it’s name suggests Thanksgiving is for exactly that…giving thanks. It is a time to demonstrate and articulate thanks for the good things in our lives particularly the non-material ones – family, friends, love, warmth, homes, good food are some of the popular ones. I just loved this and in all of the Thanksgiving celebrations I attended we did this around the table during the meal. One shouldn’t need a special day to be thankful for all of our blessings, but when there is a day at least you reflect and express it then if you don’t any other time of the year! For more information on the origins go here.
  • No presents!! I just loved this part of it. It seemed to me that there was more room for gratitude and good family/friends time when there were no links to gifts. You could just enjoy the company and the food without the anxiety that often surrounds gift giving. Gratitude is said to expand the heart and joy…it always felt like that to me.
  • Then of course there is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the USA! It is often described as the day that retailers go into the black! It is hectic and often dangerous! People have been known to be trampled to death in the rush to get the bargains! Great for  shopaholics though!

Take some time this week to reflect on what you are grateful for, not just what you want! What are you grateful for? Let me know.