Category Archives: Random Thoughts

A New American Holiday Tradition

I don’t know who wrote this, but I agree with the sentiment, so I thought I would post it for everyone to read. If the author steps forward, I’ll be happy to credit them!  I’ve seen this in many places, so you may have read it already.  My additions are in [brackets] to make it more inclusive.

Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy-eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your hometown Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I know I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas [and the other holidays celebrated this season with gift-giving] is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas [and other holidays season] tradition.

  • post it to discussion groups
  • throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city
  • send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments.

This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas [and the other holidays] are about?


Many blessings, and may you find the contentment you seek.  For more on that, please see a wonderful posting at

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Again, Where I’ve Been…

Just as I had planned regular blog postings, some amazingly nasty money-related things started to come to light.  Though astute and attentive, things hidden from you can take you by surprise.  As we teach in Money Coaching, it’s how you handle it and what you do next.  The handling of it and next steps have kept me very busy and away from this venue.   Surprise non-GAAP business issues, family members with identity & other thefts, surprise unemployment for kids, mother-in-law’s passing, businesses closing, and more.  I can’t wait for 2011 to end.  Bottom line, it’s time to move onward!

I hope this will be the longest post you ever see from me.  I’m now seeking to grow my new Money Coaching private practice and I need your help.  Please read on…

First, a little bit about me.  Born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, I spent my college years in Coral Gables, Florida, and my law school years in Cleveland, Ohio, then a year in Akron with an accounting firm in their tax department.  An opportunity arose to join my father in the investment business at PaineWebber (and then at Smith Barney), and after 20 years I ventured out on my own as a fee-only, as-needed financial planner.  And it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ licensee for over 25 years!

Never being fond of ice and snow, I moved to Walnut Creek in mid-2005 to join a friend’s financial life planning practice at another major financial services firm, but found that being back in the corporate environment – and one that again stressed and encouraged “investment sales and asset gathering” over “financial planning” – was not for me, so I again shifted direction and began studying “the inside aspects of money” with Deborah Price at The Money Coaching Institute in Petaluma in September of 2006.

Since becoming a partner in the Institute in 2008, I have helped many individuals to identify and shift challenging money beliefs and behaviors so that they can live their money life differently and in a way which is more in line with their truest desires and beliefs.  I have also helped to train and support Certified Money Coaches around the world as they help their clients to do the same.  It’s what I believe I was put on earth to do, and I’m very much in love with the work.

Money Coaching is the bridge between two worlds – that of practical financial matters and that of human beliefs and behaviors – helping to integrate our feelings with our actions in a way which brings out the best in us as individuals making our way through a constantly changing and challenging world.

After providing money coaching services exclusively with and through the Institute, I recently opened my private money coaching practice and also provide financial and retirement transition education workshops in Pleasant Hill in a space in which I had another venture that closed.

Next, a little about what I can help you, your family, and your friends with.  Review the list below and ask yourself if any of these items apply in your (or their) financial circumstances.  If so, sitting down with me may be a good first step in identifying the unconscious beliefs and resulting behaviors so you or they can envision and implement a different way of doing things.

  •   Letting one partner in a relationship handle all the money issues
  •   Uncertainties over relationships based on have/have not
  •   Heightened sense of fear and vulnerability due to wealth or lack of it
  •   Taking no risks at all with money or feeling extreme saving/investing anxiety
  •   Overly focusing on money as an important factor in life
  •   Excessive risk taking with money, especially to “make up” for the past
  •   Spending more than can be afforded
  •   Keeping money secrets from those who should or need to know
  •   Overly supporting others or giving in to financial requests
  •   Equating money with love
  •   Unconscious agreements to not let children suffer financially
  •   Belief that others will take care of financial matters
  •   Relying on others for financial support or assistance
  •   Fear of financial education and/or planning
  •   Not talking about money in healthy and appropriate ways
  •   Not educating children about healthy and appropriate money behaviors

Money Coaching is a process which can be provided in face-to-face meetings, by phone, and over the internet using web-chat rooms and/or Skype.  It involves an initial four-session commitment to completing the “core process” so that we can identify the underlying unconscious and/or subconscious “hard-wired” beliefs and patterns, determine the money behaviors that stem from these beliefs and patterns, and help you to see how they influence your present financial life.

We then prepare a suggested course of action to help coach and support you through positive change and help you to become financially empowered.  The cost is affordable, starting at $600 for the initial five sessions for individuals and $900 for couples.  And I also offer a sliding scale because I have a commitment to work with everyone who is interested and have a belief that those who can pay my regular rate help pay the ones who can’t.

For those not yet ready to fully explore their money beliefs and patterns through the Money Coaching Core Process, I offer opportunities to “scratch the surface” through my weekly workshops titled “Understanding Your Relationship with Money.”  In these, we discuss the origins of our financial personality, identify our money habits and attitudes using a solitaire card-game approach, and discover the primary and shadow Money Types which are influencing our way of moving through the world of personal and consumer finance.  Come as a family or as a group of like-minded friends!

Speaking of the Family – I am also available in the East Bay to facilitate “Family Money Meetings” in a way which honors each family member’s unique way of understanding and thinking about money.  While you set the agenda, I help to moderate the conversation and keep it moving in a constructive and helpful direction while helping to avoid the conflicts, personal “attacks” and finger pointing that often comes when discussing emotionally-based topics that are tied into our core survival instincts.  Family members gain insight into the ways each other think and respond and develop a more respectful appreciation for such differences.  And couples can come away with a structured process for ongoing communications that enhances their mutual understanding and honors their differences.

Another great workshop I facilitate is “Designing Your Life in Retirement: A Guide to Planning Your Future” from Money Quotient.  This full-day program is held once a month on a Saturday and guides participants in understanding the six elements of a meaningful and successful retirement experience. The titles of this six module program are CHANGE, BALANCE, POTENTIAL, MEANING, WEALTH, and PURPOSE.  More information can be found at my website.

One other service I provide is Cash Flow Modeling.  While not comprehensive financial planning (and not meant as a substitute for it), this spreadsheet approach helps you to see the long-term impact of small shifts in financial strategies and how changes in how you do things can make a big difference over time.  I help you to determine your present cost of living and project how this cost may change over time based upon your life’s vision.  It takes into account over a dozen financial variables which are interrelated, and illustrates how small changes in any one – or several at once – may impact your future financial well-being.  I do not provide investment, tax or legal advice in these projections, but they do give you the information and objectivity you need to seek such advice from qualified professionals.

Bottom line:  call me to set up a time to chat so we can see how the skills, talents and abilities I have may be of benefit to you.  My contact information is on the website at

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Where I’ve Been…

I had intended to keep this blog current by posting at least every two weeks.

I sat down to compose an entry on Sunday, March 14th, with my beloved blue-tick beagle, Farfel, resting next to me.  He had a rough night, showing signs of a tummy-ache.  Little did we know it was the beginning of the end.  He was suffering from a liver abscess, and an ultrasound scan found a liver tumor and very cystic kidneys, both the result of years of medication first for Cushing’s disease and then for Addison’s syndrome.  After 15 years, it was time to say goodbye, which was on Monday the 15th.   Heartbroken, I put the blog aside for a while, because every time I sat down to write, the feelings of emptiness and sadness came up, often overwhelming me.  (Hey, what can I say — I’m a “dog softie”!)

The Last Photo Before Goodbye

As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds” (or you die from them), and it’s now time to get back to work and blog away.  Apologies for such a long absence after such a prolific publishing period (only two articles — get real, Shags!).

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The Mystique of Money

Here is an excerpt from my book, Managing My Life — Managing My Money.  It is currently being updated for a second edition.  I hope you enjoy it.

Money Coach Shags

Money. It’s a simple five-letter word, yet the understanding and comfort most folks have with money is much less than satisfactory. Most people feel that the need for money manages their life rather than them managing the benefits and value of money in their life. Think about it – if you’re uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the way you (and others significant in your life that have an impact on your lifestyle) handle money, this feeling most likely crosses over into other key areas of your life, particularly with respect to employment income and benefits.

Money is a powerful tool when used appropriately and when understood. The role it plays in each of our lives is so unique and yet so common. Money can be used for positive means. It can also be used in destructive ways as well. When our feelings and actions around money seem out of control, we often feel that our entire life is out of control – that’s how powerful money and the emotions we attach to it can be.

Further, money is a servant: its purpose is to support one’s dreams, goals, hopes and aspirations. To be a proper servant, it needs a proper master, and that’s what you could become as a result of improving your financial literacy and your relationship to and with money. We can learn to be good masters and stewards of the money that comes our way by learning, both on our own and from others.

But money is only an exchange medium. That is, it’s the thing we use to place value on both the items we need and want, as well as the time and talents we share with others in order to obtain the money we use. It’s a gift, in a way…a gift we receive from others who feel we’ve added value and meaning to their life – from our talents, energy, vision, and actions. And it’s a gift we give to others for the things they do for us. For example,when you go to the grocery store, you exchange the gift you received from your employer (or clients) for the gifts the grocer stocks in the store that you want to take home and use to incorporate into your life.

Understanding Money is Important

It’s important to learn good money management skills, as they will enable you to feel more in control of the forces money plays in your life. You don’t need to be an expert by anymeans. But you do need to develop an understanding of how to use money in ways which are in concert with your values, your motivations, your goals, and your objectives. You need to understand how to evaluate the adequacy and appropriateness of the advice you receive from “money professionals”. You also need to understand your money habits and attitudes, the origin and nature of your financial personality, and your levels of financial literacy and financial emotional response.

People who do not participate actively in planning their lives simply are visitors to their lives. Most “visitors” cannot  handle money well as they have no grand design to pass their money on.

I’ve often said that “money has nothing to do with life – but everything to do with living.”  And since we often only get one chance to be right or wrong with major money decisions, the best thing we can learn is, when there’s a
need to turn to financial professionals for guidance, not to take their advice at face value…rather use their advice to explore the alternative courses of actionwe face to create a clearer vision. Then, with our own insight into our comfort zones,we can make decisions in a more holistic way, understanding how it may impact our lives for today and for the future.

Planning is Important

Why is planning important? Because without setting down a vision for what you want to obtain from your hard efforts at bringing money into your life, you will never know if you’ve reached your objectives.

Consider the tale of Alice during her visit to Wonderland.  At a point in the story, Alice sees the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” Alice asks.

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—”said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” said the Cat.

“—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Consider also the story of Christopher Columbus. You or someone you know may deserve the “Columbus Award” and not know it. Think about it — Columbus left Spain to find the New World. Queen Isabella gave him three ships. But you know what? He didn’t know where he was going, and he didn’t know how to get there. He went along, and months later found himself on a distant shore. But he didn’t know where he was, and he didn’t know how he got there. Well, they set up a camp, and a few months later he took one ship and tried to get back to Spain. This time he knew where he was going, but had no idea how to get there. Eventually he did make it, but by luck, and then he couldn’t even say where he’d been. Thus, he was the first recipient of the “Columbus Award”.

Planning means you are in control. Nobody would build a house without having a plan… nor can we live a life without having a plan. If you have a plan then you know how to deploy your financial resources to your priorities. It’s often been said that one doesn’t plan to fail…rather one fails to plan. Without a plan, you don’t have a vision for where you are going. And while it’s true that if you don’t know where you’re headed you will never get lost, it’s also true that you won’t know when you’ve arrived at your destination, be it physical or be it financial.

Without the basic knowledge of how money works and how to use it wisely, you won’t be able to develop your plan.  With such knowledge and the confidence gained through it will come a feeling of control…of managing your money well, and consequently managing the financial aspect of your life. When you also manage the other aspects of your life at the same time, you should have a greater feeling of satisfaction with the way your life is going, as you will be doing all you can to maintain the locus of control. And that brings peace to the mind and comfort to the soul.


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It’s Good to Have a Blog!

Here I am, faced with a blank field and contemplating my first blog posting.   I’ve been posting comments on so many other sites that people have told me to start my own.  And so I have!

My intention is to share with you things I have learned (and am still learning) over the past half-century-plus of consciousness dealing in the various worlds of money.   I say “worlds” because there are more than one.

There’s the external world of money — what it is, how it works, what it can do, how to manage it, how to leverage it, and much more.

And then there’s the internal world of money — our financial personality, our habits and attitudes about money, how it impacts us practically, emotionally/behaviorally, and spiritually.

In this last realm I don’t mean spiritually from a religious perspective, but more our “connectedness” to money and how it serves our own spirit.

This is just the beginning, but there will be more to come.  In some cases I will point to another blog posting and then share my comments here so that they are archived in one location.  In others, I will post something original from which I hope readers may  learn and grow.

I welcome your comments, your questions, and your input.

May we grow more wise and strong together…


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