From Where I Sit – It’s All About Focus

Have you ever noticed that the moment you buy a red car you see nothing but red cars just like yours everywhere? Or if I said “Don’t think about the colour blue,” that’s all you would see or think about? With millions of sensory stimuli bombarding us daily, we need to be able to ignore most things just to keep from going crazy. The reality is: we see what we focus on or think about.

Maybe this is the year you’ve begun thinking about your money or your debt or changing your financial life. Before long you’ll notice books, articles, seminars, television programs, products, and experts everywhere you turn. You’ll talk to your spouse or children or friends about money. You’ll catch Suze Orman’s PBS special Women and Money. If you’re a serious student of wealth you’ll make notes when Suze outlines the eight qualities of a wealthy woman: harmony, balance, courage, generosity, happiness, cleanliness, beauty, and wisdom. Harmony requires that our thoughts, words, actions, and feelings are all one. Without that, nothing else, including financial independence, is possible.

You’ll flip through a copy of David Bach’s Start Late and Finish Rich and begin to believe it’s possible. You will have hope that past neglect, mistakes, ignorance, or indifference can be reversed.

You might even access some of Alberta’s free resources, such as Woman Today: Making it Work! (1), available through the Alberta Learning Information Service website, or Stretch Your Dollars: Budgeting Basics (2) from Credit Counselling Services of Alberta. Both publications are easy to read and grounded in the real world. And the price is right. The budgeting one includes examples, worksheets, tips, and a resource list.

Woman Today offers hope and advice to women returning to or entering the workforce, with all its implications. In addition to the expected chapters on learning, stress management, and creating balance, there’s a big one devoted to money matters.

Perhaps the January 20 Edmonton Journal headline “‘Credit-Card Condom’ Makes for Safer Spending” caught your eye. The article explains the strategy of Sheila Walkington, a Vancouver money coach. The sleeve, which slips over the credit card, identifies the client’s goal (new home, vacation, whatever) on one side and lists four behaviour-altering questions on the other. The questions are: “Do I need this right now? Can I afford this? Could I get it cheaper/free elsewhere? Will it move me one step closer to my goal?” (3). Walkington believes having a goal eases the pain associated with budgeting and debt reduction and motivates people to stick with it to reach that goal.

The underlying message in all this is that boldly taking inventory of our current financial state, re-examining our money beliefs, and making informed, responsible decisions is the only respectful thing to do. Notice the resources, appreciate the serendipity of things coming together, avail yourself of expert advice. It all starts with focus, from where I sit.

(1) Alberta Human Resources and Employment, People, Skills and Workplace Resources (2007). Woman Today, ed. 2. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from http://www.alis.gov.ab.ca/pdf/cshop/WomanToday2.pdf

(2) Credit Counselling Services of Alberta Ltd. (2007). Stretch Your Dollars: Budgeting Basics. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from https://www.creditcounselling.com/downloads/StretchYourDollars.pdf

(3) Edmonton Journal (2007). “‘Credit-card Condom’ Makes for Safer Spending.” Retrieved April 10, 2007, from http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/yourmoney/story.html?id=64b72cf1-f961-42df-b1d1-e0a42bf34f13

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