Many of you find my site through your interest in money and not necessarily on the consciousness information, mind/body stuff, or even my books! Often, those with the desire to attain financial success get perhaps a bit impatient with the other topics! Let’s look at the relationship between them, and why there is a good reason to include them when understanding financial success. After all we want to be happy, fulfilled, satisfied and healthy, not only well off financially!
As we move through life, we all look through our own unique filters, which creates our perspective of ourselves and the world. Just as there is a vast range of perspectives among us, there is a corresponding level of consciousness for each and every one of us.
Consciousness is the basis of our existence. Before anything there is the unmanifest, as it moves it becomes consciousness. It not only permeates everything, it creates everything and yes, most of us call this God, but we are just looking at one attribute here, the levels of awareness. They ripple up from the underlying energetic field and its vibration.
Basically, everything has consciousness, and as we look on the higher ascending levels, we find sentient beings becoming ‘aware’.
Of course, now we are talking about humans. Eckhart Tolle says we have been at a level up to this point of being mostly unaware of our ability to manifest reality, (we may be on the verge of consciously manifesting in our evolution, but that is another conversation).
What does all this have to do with money? We are each operating at a level of consciousness. At the lower levels there is no personal integrity, a lack of empathy and compassion, and there is not even the honoring of handshakes or a promise. If we use Dr. David Hawkins scale, this would be at a 1-3, with 10 representing a completely enlightened, evolved being; Jesus in his example. Most of us today are grouped in low to middle.
Someone with relatively low consciousness can create wealth. We all know of people like Madoff or Harvey Weinstein. There is no exact correlation with how financially successful you are and on what level of consciousness you are operating.
But, having what I call financial health is tied to your level of consciousness. When you have financial health, you aren’t stressed about money, (Do you think Madoff wasn’t stressed about how he was making his money? Keeping all those balls in the air? He must have been.). When you have financial health, your money is organized in accounts with purposes: savings, retirement, investments, insurance, etc. You have confidence in your financial plan; you have the discipline to protect your assets and not irresponsibly spending or losing it. You are able to delay gratification, and at the highest levels of money consciousness, you are provided for by an income stream without struggling or working long hours that you don’t enjoy. It also involves trust or faith that your future needs will be met.
I’ve been a financial advisor and planner since 1983. I have seen all types of people and their money consciousness displayed before me in a steady stream through my office and, for the most part, the clients with faith in their future do quite well. They have enough of a grasp on how money and securities work to feel comfortable with their plans.
Those who are lower on the scale may look upon the wealthy with envy, projecting negative attributes on them. This reinforces their own distrust of the financial world and supports a belief that truly good people are not rich.
Let’s do something fun. Let’s combine these individual manifestations of money consciousness with Ayurvedic mind/body principles. Ayurveda is the 5000-year-old health system of yoga from India. There are three main mind/body types called doshas. In Ayurveda mental and physical diseases are the result from imbalances in these doshas. If we use this to determine an Ayurvedic-based money consciousness, it would look like these examples below.
Doshas at Lower Levels of Money Consciousness, unbalanced:
1) VATA Anxious. The anxiety of investing causes poor decisions—buying and selling based on emotions, the worry of uncertainty causing delayed planning, often changing their mind, the fear of what ifs creating so much stress that they cannot follow good advice, and perhaps some impulsive spending. Job insecurity, perhaps too many job changes, flighty.
2) PITTA Distrustful. Viewing the financial community as corrupt, difficulty putting trust in others, desiring to do it all on their own, moving from one financial professional to another, always blaming downturns on some conspiracy or groups with nefarious motivations. They don’t see themselves as responsible for their situation. Can be overbearing, controlling, irritable, which may affect their ability to do their work. Makes it more difficult to find financial wellbeing.
3) KAPHA Procrastinator. Always putting off getting their affairs in order. They will do it someday, it’s nobody’s fault, they just don’t want to think about it. Money stagnates in low to no interest-bearing accounts, or ‘orphaned’ accounts, those not paid attention to. They rarely get around to making a good financial plan, and just might go take a nap instead. Could easily miss opportunities to advance in their career by a lack of motivation or lethargy.
Doshas at Higher Levels of Money Consciousness, Balanced:
1) VATA Inventive. Uses creativity and ingenuity to solve financial problems. Is in touch with their intuition and inner guidance to make better decisions. Vivid imagination to follow each choice to its probable result. Finds a career path that fills their need for expressiveness, communication, creativity, passions and service. Work is more like play, and their ‘play’ is fulfilling and monetarily rewarded.
2) PITTA Leadership. Excellent organizer, charismatic, disciplined, ambitious, colorful, and self-determined. Good ability to formulate goals, financial plans, assessing problems and mapping out logical solutions. Natural entrepreneur. Their estate plan is in order, retirement plan enacted, insurance and investment needs are covered, and periodically reviewed. Mapped out their career, knows the trajectory, and is confident they are on target. They are admired and listened to. Life is good.
3) KAPHA Stable. Dependable, consistent, loyal, caring, nurturing, the glue that holds families and companies together. Ability to stick with a good financial plan, understands long-term strategies, patient with market volatility, good ability to save, thoughtful through career, money and relationships. Good employee and a favorite beloved family member.
All of these higher consciousness types have an underlying confidence that their financial life with be in line with the fulfillment and success in their personal lives, mind, body and spirit. From an Ayurvedic perspective, this is accomplished much easier when we have our mind/body in balance; when we have vitality, sound sleep, physical and emotional comfort, passion, and depth of awareness along with financial health. This is wellbeing and this is the goal.
You made it to the end of the essay!!! You are awesome.
I just watched the movie, I Care A Lot. It’s about a woman who becomes guardian, appointed by a court, to oversee seniors’ care who aren’t able to care for themselves anymore. Yet, she is very malicious and corrupt, and she preys on these vulnerable people along with others who comply with her scheme for a payoff, such as a doctor and a nursing home administrator.
The story takes far-fetched lengths for entertainment value, including a Russian mob and bizarre happenings, but the main point is, unfortunately, a real one.
In Florida, if a resident is showing signs of an inability to care for him or herself, and no relatives appear to be available to assist them, the state can assign a guardian through one of the contracted agencies that provide this service. These agencies have attorneys in place to attain court ordered authorization to sell off the belongings, and place the person in a facility. And pay themselves of course. All against the will of the compromised person.
I assume most states have similar practices in place. In the movie the agency/guardians schemed to keep much of the value of the assets for themselves and pay off those in cahoots, as well as charging a high fee for the service.
We have experienced scary situations with our clients in the past, where an agency was sent in to assess and determine if a client of ours was deemed competent to continue living alone. In one case, the doctor reported a woman to our state authorities, I will call her Tess, because she got lost on her way to her doctor’s appointment. Tess was suddenly on a swift process to have a guardian appointed, moved into a nursing home, and her home and valuables, investment accounts and annuities, all turned over to this agency to be used for her care.
I was contacted by someone from such an agency regarding Tess, and you can imagine how alarmed I was. Tess had all her documentation in place. She had a trust, power of attorney, and all possible plans in place to assure her desires would be followed. It ended up being our job, along with her attorney, to unravel the mess it had become. It took about 3 or 4 months to prove to a judge she already had all in place for her care and to place her desired trustee in charge of everything, (which ended up being me temporarily).
We realized she wasn’t able to remain living on her own. We were able to move her to a top, elegant facility, sell her home and deposit all the proceeds into her trust. She kept her cats, her valuables, everything she wanted. Neither her attorney nor I charged her a penny. It cost her $5,000 in court costs in the end, because of the agency contracted by the state, and it cost all of us working for her benefit lots of sleepless nights.
This is just one example of many. The moral of the story is please, please, have all your documents in place to make sure you’re not taken advantage of or end up with a situation you did not wish for.
I have been in business for nearly 40 years. At his point I feel an obligation to help, advise and lead others coming behind me. One of the things that is integral to the successful operation of any business is how you respond to mistakes. It really doesn’t matter if the mistake was done by an employee, yourself, or just some glitch. The most important thing to do right away when customer has a complaint is acknowledge something went wrong. Apologize. Accept responsibility. Find a way to remedy it swiftly. It will do more for your business than expensive advertising if you treat your customers with care.
I had three instances lately that made an impression on me for better or worse.
- We needed some work done on our office building and we were having a hard time finding a company to handle it. When we finally found one, I followed instructions and emailed the signed paperwork to them. I was told by the young woman on the phone she would call me when the permits for the city were ready. That was on a Wednesday. I waited a week and no one reached out, so I gave them a call to ask how it was going. This is the response.
Her “Oh, it’s been ready since last Friday. It’s here on our desk.”
Me “It is? No one called me.”
Her “Well, we were told you were called and told to come sign the permit paperwork Friday.”
Me “Sorry but no one ever called me.”
Her “Well, the girl who told you quit. But before she left, she said she called you and told you it will be ready on Friday.”
Me “You continue to say that. It is as if you don’t believe me. You are in a business, and as a business person it is a good idea to just accept that something went wrong, and apologize. That is just good business practice.”
Her “Well, sorry that happened, but she said……”
Me “I will come in the morning and sign the paperwork.”
- In my professional life I work with amazing, caring people. I am fortunate that I can pick and choose who we, as a company, deal with. One particular day I found a discrepancy on a fee owed to us. We were owed more than what we received. I called one of the companies’ contacts, and he began with an apology, a promise to promptly look into it, and it led to a succession of communications from two more people about the problem, how glad they were I’d noticed it, how they were determined to put in place procedures to prevent it from happening again and how much they appreciated me. (What a comparison)
- I ordered some important health products for someone doing an Ayurvedic detox. We were in a hurry. I ordered on a Tuesday and was so busy I didn’t notice I hadn’t received a confirmation of the order until the following Monday. I called the company and told them. The woman immediately sprang into action to help. She didn’t see an order from me come in until that day! She thought perhaps a computer error or I hadn’t hit the final sale button or something. She took immediate responsibility and expressed the order overnight and it came today, cost $0.
And that is how to run a business. And us ‘mature’ folks need to let the younger generation know how this is done.
Follow this link to read Kasey’s article on the Spirituality & Health site now!
Having walked my clients through planning, approaching, and living in retirement financially for the last almost 40 years, I couldn’t help but pick up on other aspects facing us besides the money part, such as grappling with when to retire, what to do in retirement, and how to plan a full and thriving last third of life? As I heard someone say; what are you going to do between now and dead?
As we near our ‘golden years’, we observe our elders living in a great variety of ways, from scrapping by on social security, to cruising or flying around the world, and travelling between multiple homes. There is an undeniable correlation between financial health and satisfaction in the later years, but this doesn’t mean you need to be stinking rich.
A successful retirement appears to have several moving parts: financial, health and wellbeing, relationships, passions and purpose; and let’s face it, nearing death also brings in one’s beliefs and how they experience their own spiritual life. So how do we prepare ourselves for this last and significant period of our lives?
First, not planning for it or setting goals, not contemplating how you will live in retirement, can cause unnecessary suffering later on. With no plan, with no savings, with no interests outside of work, some retirees may end up spinning in their own exhaust, no where to go and nothing to do. This can be disastrous on the human spirit. Depression and other mental health problems can take hold, leading to unhappiness and even physical ailments. But let’s not dwell on this, because the fact that you are reading this means you are proactive, interested, and willing to learn. Yay you!
This topic could easily be a 400-page book, but I’m just going to give you the briefest of outlines here.
- Never too early or too late to begin saving. Have your paycheck debited for your employer plan, or, have your checking account systematically debited to go into an IRA, as much as you can afford, and then a little more.
- Invest in a broad, diversified portfolio with stocks and bonds, low fees and good, comprehensive management.
- Beware if you have the tendency, like some parents of adult children, to financially help them to such an extent you harm your own comfortable retirement. I remember a client who borrowed against his home, and withdrew from his IRAs, to help a daughter who said she couldn’t find a job. He did this until he and his wife had to give up their plans on traveling with their friends in retirement. He died leaving nothing for his wife, and only after his death did his daughter go to work to support herself.
- We used to say in the financial business in the 1980s, you needed at least as much in savings as your closest decade in a hundred thousand dollars. For instance, at 40 years old you should have saved $400,000, at 60, $600,000, and so on. Typical standards now in financial planning state it really takes much closer to one million to have financial freedom these days to enable no financial worries, and the ability to take care of all your needs. Yet, I have seen people retire with half that and get along just fine.
- Educate yourself on how money works; how the markets work. Order our 30 page $5.00 booklet on the 7 Big Mistakes Investors Make & The 7 Habits of Successful Investors to get you started. You will find it listed on this linked page.
2) Health and Wellbeing
- Of course, take good care of yourself. Eat a good, healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean proteins.
- Get outside every day. Walk, bike, swim, play, explore, move. Take up yoga or Tai chi, dancing or some other social exercise. These good habits will be easy to follow into retirement. With good balance falls become much less likely among many other benefits.
- Find a mindfulness practice you like such as meditation, contemplation, breathing techniques, prayer and self-reflection etc. Conditioning the mind for wellbeing is also essential.
- If you do have anxiety, depression, or other emotional problems bothering you, find a good therapist. Most of these issues are resolved with the proper help. Our society still attaches an unfortunate stigma to getting assistance in this area, but it is so essential, shows emotional maturity, self-care, and can be a rewarding experience.
- Develop a positive attitude toward aging and retirement. Day dream about all the activities and experiences you’ll be able to enjoy, and the friends and family to spend time with. If you don’t have a close circle of friends, join a club or a class. Get involved in something you enjoy, sports, a book club, knitting, hiking etc. and read, I can’t stress how much reading can enhance anyone’s life in so many ways. There are so many great books in the self-help genre, but even a great book of fiction is a positive experience.
- Cultivate peace with your own passing. Our cultures in the West have a poor record of coming to terms with death. It’s not usually spoken about except in dramatic and negative ways; we pretend it isn’t inevitable, we try to extend the lives of our loved ones in often grotesque and extreme ways, making their last days, weeks or months, lying in a sterile facility hooked up to machines and on heavy medications. My recommendation is to have a good plan. Most states have a type of Dying with Dignity form to fill out describing what you want done and how in a terminal situation. Email us if you would like us to mail you one. Other than this, building a solid belief of your own, whether religious or faith in life and nature, can re-frame the end of life as something not to fear. There are many great books on this.
- Fostering good relationships takes time, effort and the ability to forgive—maybe yourself or others. We all say or do things we don’t mean at times, are hurt by others words or actions, and without processing through these productively, we can be emotionally drained, hurt or worse. Forgive yourself and others. I know it’s hard. I will never forget a ninety-six-year-old, long-time client on his deathbed telling me he had been too hard on his wife and children. He was verbally abusive. He carried this all of his life. If he had been self-reflective, brave enough to look within, and been able to forgive himself, he wouldn’t have been so full of pain at the end.
- Approaching this last stage of life, we can take the opportunity to develop a positive relationship with ourselves and others that will nurture us.
4) Passions and Purpose
- What do you envision doing during retirement? So many people have jobs they don’t really enjoy, and so they dream of retiring as soon as possible, looking forward to having endless free days, like permanent weekends. But they’ve spent little time thinking about what they will do in retirement. I’ve seen some retire in their 50s and become bored, aimless and searching. Some go back to work. Some actually lose interest if life. On the other hand, I’ve seen people in their 70s who have no intention of retiring anytime soon because they love what they are doing.
- Studies show the more control you have over what you do at work, who you work with and so on, the more satisfied you are. I believe that is why entrepreneurs often scoff at the idea of retiring, they are already living the life of their dreams.
- To discover what your perfect retirement might look like, create a vision board of activities and places you’re interested in exploring. Think about what you enjoyed as a child.
- Ask, how you may serve your community?
5) Deciding When to Retire
So, I am guessing you are beginning to see its not just at what age you can fiscally retire, it is so much more than that.
One, you want to retire when you are healthy and able to enjoy your passions
Two, you’ve figured out how you are going to fulfill your needs for community, purpose, interests and activities.
Three, make sure you aren’t just continuing to work because you have no idea what else to do with your life. Maybe you aren’t totally satisfied with work, but haven’t invested the time to explore what else might interest you.
Four, what about semi-retiring? This is getting very popular for those who have this option. And if you don’t, perhaps you could retire and pick up a part-time job doing something you’ve always wanted to do, like teach art or be in a counseling position.
Five, talk with your financial advisor about the income you will need during retirement. Take in to account how much your desired lifestyle will cost, your social security, and the amount of investments it will take to produce the income.
All of these subjects require some introspection; knowing yourself well will help you plan your later years to your benefit. Settling in to the idea of being an elder in the community, offering your hard-wrought wisdom, having loving relationships, enjoying the fruits of your labor, knowing how to still play, and exploring the world with a sense of wonder, can make your retirement the best time of your life.
Photo by Tiago Muraro on Unsplash
Life happens pretty fast. Most of us are busy working away, adding to our retirement accounts in a company plan or an IRA. Before we know it, we’re nearing retirement. And there is something I’ve noticed about this.
It isn’t hard to build up our retirement if it’s taken out of our paychecks or checking accounts automatically. We don’t ever really miss it. But we may not find it so easy to do this with our after-tax money. Setting aside money for emergencies, other long-term savings, ready cash for vacations and big ticket items is important also.
We’ve grown accustom to instant gratification, impulsively buying things we don’t need, and we whittle away the money we could be saving in a savings or investment account apart from long-term retirement ones.
In approaching retirement, many people find they have a nice amount in their IRAs or retirement plans, yet not much elsewhere. Once in retirement, or unluckily, laid off, they find they need to not only depend on an income from the retirement accounts, but it also is the place they need to go for big expenses such as repairing big items, needing a new a/c unit, or other big costs. And if they turn 70 ½, now they have to take a significant amount out for their RMD, (Required Mandatory Distribution), because the IRS wants to tax that account you’ve had great tax advantages on for so long.
One scenario: George has $1,000,000 in his IRA. He turned 70 ½ this year and must withdraw $50,000 and pay taxes on that. He may not need it, but he has to take the distribution anyway. He could have directed some of those savings to non-retirement accounts.
Another scenario: Harry, 55, has saved $300,000 in his IRA but has only about $7,000 in savings. He needs a new roof that will cost him $15,000. He needs to take it out of his IRA, paying income tax and a 10% penalty because he is not yet 59 ½ .
The advice here is, in addition to saving for retirement, it is important to set aside other monies that is readily available without penalties or tax consequences. There are several ways to set this up automatically, much like your retirement plan at work.
- Ask your employer if they have an after-tax savings plan you can contribute to that is reasonably accessible to you.
- Set up a savings, money market, or mutual fund and direct your bank to send to this account a set amount at regular periods. Could be around your paycheck deposits.
- When you sit down to pay your bills make a point to pay yourself first. Transfer money from your bank account to your savings online.
- For extra windfalls such as a bonus, monetary gifts, inheritance, etc. save a portion.
There are more ideas, see if you can think of some. Just be aware so all your assets aren’t in a retirement account. Retirement accounts are for retirement income down the road.
Get with a financial planner and figure out a plan that will give you the income you’ll need in retirement and savings for needs while you’re working.