Oprah Winfrey’s rise from difficult economic circumstances (largely through self-education) to undreamed of socioeconomic status is an inspiration to many. And it’s particularly heartening to think that she did this while helping millions of others improve their well being. Though Oprah’s story is particularly exceptional, the truth is that every one of us can attract wealth into our lives and improve our relationship with money.
Listen to Your Body
Prosperity, like health, is a true dialectic. On the one hand, the energy that manifests as wealth or health is truly unlimited. On the other hand, you need to create a consciousness and a physical structure (accounting, checkbooks, bank accounts) to be able to receive it, use it, and circulate it wisely.
Spiritual and Holistic Options
Step One: Acknowledge that money is important. Though money cannot buy the things that are most precious in life—loving relationships, beautiful weather, or the laughter of an adorable child—the fact remains that money touches every part of our lives. Most of the time, money is associated with worry and stress, regardless of how much or how little you have.
The subject of money can be so stressful, in fact, that it can put your health and your relationships at risk. I know this first hand. Control issues around money became so distressing in my own marriage that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would get sick or die if things didn’t change. (My intuition told me that it would be breast cancer.) Divorce was the way in which I became financially conscious. Though I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, it sure got me up to speed quickly.
Step Two: Know that you cannot afford to let your spouse, or anyone else, assume all the responsibility for your important financial decisions. This issue is so important that financial expert and author Suze Orman only agrees to meet with couples if both members are present and contributing to all financial decisions.
When one member of a couple makes all the financial decisions, it puts the other member at risk. And it may also lead to “acting out.” This is one of the main reasons why one member of a couple may overspend or run up credit card debt that she (or sometimes he) hides from the other spouse.
There’s a myth I’d like to shatter right now. Men are not necessarily better at handling money than women. In fact, one of my financial advisors told me that women often make better investment decisions than men because they are more willing to admit that they’ve made a mistake and thus change course.
Step Three: Face your fears and beliefs and have the courage to update them. Years ago, I heard Joe Dominguez, co-author of the book Your Money or Your Life, describe that we’re socialized to reveal just about every other aspect of our lives except the truth about our finances. And like all secrets, those things that we hide or are ashamed of have a way of leaking away our energy and thus setting the stage for ill health.
Another fact of life is that we inherit our financial beliefs from our parents and grandparents who hand them down to us like heirlooms. And these beliefs, and the behaviors that go along with them, are often crippling and limiting. An example of this would be keeping our money in a savings account at a very low interest rate rather than “risk” a money market fund or other investment where we could earn higher interest rates.
Take a moment right now and see if you can recall your first memory about money or a “money story” that was handed down to you from your parents. How has this story influenced your relationship with money? One of my own limiting beliefs (though subconscious) was that I wasn’t good at managing money and that my husband was far more skilled. Therefore I was happy to let him handle that area of our lives.
A friend told me that when she was a teenager, she began to earn her own money and would occasionally buy things for herself. Her mother chastised her for being frivolous and irresponsible, warning her that terrible things would happen to her because of her so-called indulgences. Her mother often chided: “Your father and I practically kill ourselves working to put food on the table, and you just buy anything you want with no regard for what things really cost.” Eventually, whenever she thought about buying something for herself, she experienced panic, fear, anxiety, and a deep belief that she didn’t deserve to have nice things. For many years, if she saw something she wanted, she’d buy it and give it to someone else, thus enjoying her pleasure while avoiding the fear of appearing materialistic herself.
By bringing this and related memories to consciousness, my friend is beginning to transform her relationship with money. Not surprisingly, her sense of self-worth has also improved. She has started to invest in her own retirement and to buy some of the things she desires. She has also become far better about actually accepting gifts from others rather than always being the one to give.
Step Four: Educate yourself about the basics of money. When my husband and I separated, I had to get up to speed on finances very quickly. Overnight, I found myself financially responsible for my home and children without the benefit of two incomes. I was terrified. But I also had a lot of faith. A friend sent me the book The Courage to Be Rich by Suze Orman so that I could read the section about divorce, which helped me a great deal. (For example, Orman suggested waiting six months after a divorce or separation before making any major financial decisions or changes, because the emotional upheaval caused by a divorce can cloud judgment.)
Learn More — Additional Resources
The following books were extremely helpful and gave me another way to look at and think about money.
- The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman. What I like most about Suze Orman’s approach is the way in which she describes how the connection between our past emotional experiences with money set the tone for our present financial situation. The stories in this book are very convincing and highly motivating. For example, when I read the chapter on planning for your loved ones, I immediately appointed a Durable Power of Attorney in case something happened to my health and I could not take care of my own finances. During the divorce process I also changed the beneficiaries on my life insurance and pension plans. Once my divorce was final, I also updated my will and estate plan to insure that my loved ones would be taken care of properly. This goes along with one of Orman’s chief principles: “People first, then Money.”
- Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. This classic book, written in 1937 right after the Great Depression, is based on the experience of more than 500 individuals (mostly men) who began from scratch and achieved great wealth because of their ideas, thoughts, and organized plans. Examples include Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, and Thomas Edison. Though the writing is dated and sexist, the principles outlined contain so much value and wisdom, that I simply took what was good and left the rest. I studied this book thoroughly, and followed the suggestions to the letter.
The main idea behind Think and Grow Rich is that our thoughts have the peculiar habit of manifesting themselves into their physical equivalents. This means that if we continually think thoughts of poverty and are motivated by fear, then poverty will be our experience. But if we have a burning desire to be successful and are willing to give something back to the world in order to accomplish it, then we can achieve our dreams. Here’s an example. In the second chapter of the book, Hill points out how the emotion of desire can be transmuted into its financial equivalent.
There are many more very practical instructions in Think and Grow Rich. Basically, this book offers tried and true methods for applying the Law of Attraction that states that we attract those things that match our vibration on all levels: emotional, mental, spiritual. The universe will take care of the details and supply the people, places, and means by which you can achieve your goal.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, with Sharon Lechter, C.P.A. You’ve all heard the phrase, “The rich get richer while the poor stay that way or get poorer.” In this book, Kiyosaki explains why, and teaches each of us how to apply this in our own lives. He discusses the importance of seeing yourself as a “business” rather than just an “employee.” He also explains the crucial difference between working for money (living from paycheck to paycheck) and learning how to create cash flow or passive income through investing in our own businesses or those of others.
After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I also bought Kiyosaki’s board game, “Cash Flow”, which though expensive, taught me more than I could have learned from reading a dozen books—and I only played the game twice. The game has an eerie way of reflecting back to each player his or her beliefs and behaviors about money. The idea is to get out of the “rat race” (living from paycheck to paycheck) and into the fast track, which is reached when your monthly passive income exceeds your monthly expenses. I guarantee you that playing this game will change the way you look at every purchase you make. (You can order the board game “Cash Flow” at www.richdad.com.)
Here’s another timely tip from Kiyosaki: “One of the best times to lay the groundwork for wealth is during a recession.” I am far less worried about the current economy than I would have been if I had not learned this. And as a result, my stress hormone levels are much lower.
- Two other fabulous books are The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason and As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.
I also like the work of prosperity guru and multimillionaire, Randy Gage. My daughter Kate and I went to Randy’s “Prosperity Power Experience” in San Diego in June 2004 and got a real “shot in the arm” of prosperity. He, like me, has been highly influenced by the work of Catherine Ponder and challenges people to change their limiting beliefs on all levels. Randy, once an alcoholic who washed dishes for a living, is quite a character and a very dynamic and funny speaker. One of his favorite phrases is, “You can’t out-give the universe.” And Randy lives by this credo—his business spends more on charitable contributions than any other expense. For a free catalog of Randy’s products and seminars, call 1-800-432-GAGE (4243) or visit www.Prosperity-Insights.com.
Nothing is more empowering than getting control over your spending, your money beliefs, and your cash flow. And nothing is more thrilling than seeing your bank account grow as a result of these changes. Anyone can take the same steps I’ve taken to achieve peace of mind and better financial and physical health. The first step is simply knowing you can do it!