Friday, June 21, 2013

meditation on 2 dollars

As I walked out one morning earlier this week I found 10 krones on the pave walk. That is about 2 us dollars. I decided to take it as a signal. Abundance is coming, soon money will flow into my life, and all my financial worries will disappear...

As I walked to work, I caught myself thinking that now, with these 10 krones in my pocket, I could treat myself to a latte without feeling guilty...., and I realized how typcial this is for my relationship with money. As soon as it flows in, I find a way to throw it out. Everything I earn, is immediately spent. Actually, as I found out yesterday, it is even worse than that. In every dollar earned I find justification for spending a dollar and a half. In the case of the 10 krones and the latte....a latte costs anywhere between 20 and 40 krones. Finding 10 krones in the street does not equal a free latte.

So I took the 10 krones with me to work, put it on my desk, and it is still there, as a reminder that it is possible to have a different kind of relationship with money. A penny saved, is a penny earned.

I am going on vacation, so for the next two weeks I will not worry about weekly planners, and I will probably not blog much either....but I will be back:)

Have a great weekend! /D

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Money: Making peace with the past

The first step in the program introduced in YMOYL involves the following:

A. Find out how much money you have earned in your lifetime-the sum total of your gross income, from the very first penny you ever earned to your most recent paycheck

B. Find out your net worth by creating a personal balance sheet of your assets and liabilities

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to ground zero, to locate you in time and space. The authors emphasize that this should be done as accurately as possible, preferably to the penny….or at least to the dollar. In step B, you are supposed to add the value all of your assets that you could possible sell (craigslist, amazon, ebay). It took me some time to gather all this information. And I was definitely not able to count every cent that I have earned, or to put an accurate price tag on everything I own. But I did my best.

Here is what I found:

Total Money earned: 326,000 USD

My Net worth: -128,000 USD
(my student loan is the biggest culprit for this insane number)
My Consumer Debt: 9,858 USD

After going through step A, adding together all of the money I have earned through my life, I wasn’t sure what to think. I have no sense of whether this number is small or big. Actually it is a bit more than I expected, but still it is kind of abstract to me. If I had every cent that I ever earned in a saving account, I would be able to pay off my student loan. On the other hand, I would barely be able to buy a decent home for my family without a loan. It is perhaps shocking how much time and energy the average person spends in the labor market just to afford their house/apartment. I also can't help thinking about whether it was rational of me to spend all this money on my education.... I guess time will tell.

Doing step B, at first I was a bit shocked how little I have to show for my paychecks. I don’t really have any big assets. I don’t own an apartment, or a car…where has all the money gone? (well I guess food, rent, education, books, travels, clothes, too many cafe lattes....). On the other hand, going through every shelf and every drawer I was still amazed by the abundance in my life. So much stuff. So much luxary and convenience really, when you stop to think about it...

Not surprisingly I found my net worth to be negative (I thought it was nice of the authors to point that net worth does not equal self worth;)). I have managed to spend more than I have earned. In some sense this represents lack of freedom. Because borrowed money, is borrowed time. I owe many working days, in order to pay off my loans and credit card debts.

I have been super bothered by my credit card debt. Although when I look at the consumer debt next to these other 2 numbers, it doesn't look as overwhelming as it used to. But in any case. That is my first goal, to get rid of that consumer debt. At this point I am not sure how long it will take....a year? 5 years? but to start with this number should go down by some number of dollars every single month.

So the fog is cleared. I've stepped on the scale. No shame, no blame. This is where I am at.

And now I can start building up a healthier relationship with money.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

colors and precious moments

When I was living in the US I was impressed by the way most Americans seem to be able to talk about their strengths and talents without seeming arrogant or obnoxious. In Europe, I think, and in particular in the northern part, this isn't acceptable. The highest virtue is modesty, to the extend that you should never claim or believe that you are really good at anything.

So, breaking the rules of my upbringing, I want to tell you that I am really good with colors:) Like some people are with numbers. (Actually since I've started, I am not so bad with numbers either). I have always been interested in and fascinated by colors, and when I was a kid words and names had colors in my head. When I took a painting class a few years ago, the teacher constantly commented on my talent with colors. (And I scored perfectly on this test;)).

So, as someone who loves colors, I am really enjoying filling out the weekly planner in various ones. (The template for my weekly planner comes from the Positivity Project) ...Now I see my time in colors! In my schedule I have different colors for work time and family time, yellow represents appointments, and now bright aqua blue (perhaps I am not so good with the names of the colors...?) represents my precious, precious moments. In these hours I have planned things that will undoubtedly give me some really happy and meaningful moments in my week. Who says you can't plan and schedule your happiness...?

First: I just got home from a weekend getaway with a very good friend of mine. Whole 3 days of walking around the beautiful streets of Amsterdam with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Just chat,wine,chesse,coffee,food,museum,little bit of was absolutely perfect.

Secondly: I finally scheduled massage/spa treatment using a gift card that I received more than a year ago. I think it is crazy that it has taken me more than a year to squeeze this into my schedule. But finally I did. And I am really really looking forward to it.

Lastly: I have scheduled "a cozy night" with my children. En hyggeaften as we say here in Denmark. The plan is to make pizza together and then watch Winnie the Pooh. Not very original or extravagant. But the key here is just to be present, and to enjoy the company of my wonderful children.

So much happiness in one week:):):) Life is good.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I have never thought too much about money. In fact I have probably given too little attention to money in the past. But as I am trying to move forward towards the calmer, simpler, and happier life, I have come to the conclusion that money is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Gaining control over my financial issues will give me peace and space to focus on other more exciting aspects of life. As it is, the stress that money gives me is contaminating other parts of my life.

Money seems to be a “blind spot” in my brain. I spend money without thinking. I buy without looking at the price tag. I think everything will somehow work out fine. Except when I get panick attacks where I think there is no way I can work out this mess. Over time my increasing overdraft and credit card debt have increasingly been causing me to feel helpless and out of control.

So it is time to tackle the problem: get out of debt, accumulate savings, and hopefully one day become financially independent. To help me “face my finances”, I am reading Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. The book outlines a program to become “financially healthy” in 9 steps:

1) Find out how much you have earned in your life, how much you presently own, and how much you presently owe
2) Calculate your real hourly wage, and keep track of every cent that comes in or goes out of your life
3) Create a montly tablulation of all income and all expenses, convert dollars to "hours of life energy"
4) Look at your expenditures in terms of life energy, are they in alignment with your values and goals?
5) Plot your total monthly income and total monthly expenses
6) Minimize spening
7) Maximize income
8) Calculate your "cross-over point" (if you have savings and investments, when will the returns be enough to cover your monthly expenses)
9) Manage your finances

I am going to tackle these steps and will keep you posted on the progress.

Have a great weekend! /D