Friday the 13th Superstitions and 13 “Funny Money” Habits

Go figure. Jesus is at the center of one of our most feared superstitions.

But, in order to get that part of the article, you have to skip past the fact that almost a billion dollars is lost every Friday the 13th because people are too afraid to conduct business as usual.

But for me, 13 had has a different meaning. 2013 is my money year. The year that I finally embraced mastering personal finance. In honor of my journey, I thought I’d share 13 bad money habits (many of which I’m recovering from!)

1. Not looking at your money daily – up until recently, I was notorious for not looking at my money on a daily basis. I’d check in once a week or when I needed to make a transaction, but I quickly realized that looking at it daily improved my relationship with it. What we see every day matters. Just look what happened when Google was worried that fat employees would impact their bottom line.

2. Setting financial goals with no clear plan – S.M.A.R.T is great goal setting framework when you are focused on results; but mastering personal finance is more about changing behaviors and impacting everyday choices. If you focus on establishing a solid foundation, the results come. Meet Joan. My favorite part of her journey is that she introduced me to “Very Next Steps”. I prefer this methodology in planning. The ‘very’ adds an urgency and a priority and the “next steps” acknowledges that it is one of many.

3. Exception management with friends  – your social circle plays a role in your wealth building. Lenders are beginning acknowledge this, even if you aren’t. Friends and family are often the perfect scapegoats for deviating from our plans. We justify things like ‘splitting the bill evenly’ even if your portion was significantly smaller or offering small loans when you are in no position to handle non-repayment. Establish your boundaries early. Start small, ask for separate checks. And certainly, don’t ‘loan’ anything if you’re not in a position to ‘give’ it.

4. Avoiding money discussions with friends – a money discussion with two teachers sparked my passion for education reform (and subsequently, homeschooling) and non-traditional learning. I was shocked by how little they’re valued in the eyes of their profession. According to DailyWorth, “talking about money with friends who work in other industries gives you a sense of what people of equal smarts and hustle feel they’re worth.” The disparity is incredible. And if you’re a woman, talking to your male friends is often the first clue to determine whether you’re being discriminated against.

5. Not negotiating salary, fees or wages – we should take a hint from our international brothers and sisters approach to economics: anything that has a $ in front of it is up for negotiation. At the end of the day, negotiation is about getting people to believe you’re worth it. Here is a great article if you want to learn the secret to getting people to believe in you.

6. Inserting emotions into money conversations – there are lots of ways embarrassment and shame manifest themselves into money conversations, but it’s usually through disclaimers. When your financial philosophy is shaped by emotions, it causes you have an illogical response to other people’s money. Seth Godin concludes that “if money is an emotional issue for you, you’ve just put your finger on a big part of the problem. No one who is good at building houses has an emotional problem with hammers.”


9/11/2013 – On Spectating, Storytelling and Spirituality

I just finished reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. The book was inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s famous ‘it’s not the critic that counts’ speech. In it, she talks about this “social climate of scarcity” and our tendency to define things by what they are not.

“Scarcity,” she says “thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack”. Not a material lack, but a psychological one. We live in a culture where we are constantly worried about not being good enough. We are always striving, but always finding ourselves lacking (“I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough”).

She goes on to stress the importance of vulnerability and experiencing life with your whole heart. It’s all very fascinating. ‘Dare greatly’ is such an eloquent way to say “let your haters be your motivators”.

But I must say, the most interesting part about her research  is not her conclusions, it’s the timing. She started her research right around 9/11 and says she watched the scarcity epidemic get progressively worse throughout the years…

9/11 was traumatic on levels that we can’t even acknowledge yet. We never recovered and we never healed.  It made us scared. It made us snarky. The impact of a fear epidemic is now so embedded into our culture, it’s showing up in our schools. Brown calls society’s subconscious depreciation a “collective PTSD”. And really, it makes me wonder about the consequences of long-term unresolved trauma.

I know about long-term unresolved trauma. In fact, I used to write about it. 

Every time I used my writing as a means to heal instead of to enhance some professional goal, somebody reminded me that I shouldn’t be so selfish in public. ‘The stakes are too high’, they said. ‘What if someone googles you?’, they said. So I stopped writing and I wasn’t selfish anymore. I actually spent the majority of 2009, 2010 and 11 being “unselfish” (and picking up some other bad habits while I was at it).

By the time I met my (now) boyfriend in 2012, I hadn’t made myself care in a long time.

When we met, we were both pretty broken. Hello, instant attraction! LOL. Luckily, he was at the point in his life where he only wanted authentic, genuine connections with women. And I wanted to care again. I wanted the ability to notice again. I realized I had turned it off.

Robyn and I joke that we only have the ability to fall for extraordinary men – this one was no different. He didn’t want to just be entertained by me, he wanted to be inspired by me. I wanted that, too.

We worked together to become each others muse. Every day he looked at me like I was art, until I realized I was…

I will forever be thankful to him.

This weekend, for my birthday, I got to watch a professional storyteller at the Wren’s House Museum here in Atlanta. She performed the story of Brer Fox and the Tar Baby and she was FANTASTIC – it was such a great surprise! In her introduction, she mentioned that the reason she continues to tell these stories to children, even in 2013, is because she recognizes the importance. She honors the courage of storytellers and proudly carries the tradition so their high stakes are never in vain.

I am so proud to be a descendant of such a rich history of storytelling. Granted, the stakes are different – but the goal remains the same. Our children are sick. Our boys  are not learning and our girls are not leaning. We need more kairos moments.

Last night, I was thumbing through the pages of 15+ years worth of journals and was reminded of what I’ve always known, even as a child: the thing that drives me to write things down is bigger than me.

In one of my annals, I find this quote, “You can’t just be a spectator. Find something to give to God because he keeps finding things to give to you”…

And I start this blog.