Soul Driven Financial Freedom

It was back in 2009 that I started 365 and was committed to financial freedom. It seems as if that journey took a large pause while I tried just to play by the rules and ‘survive’ instead of thrive.

Right now, I’m nearly 35 years old and I have not turned my life into what I had hoped it would be when I started this blog a number of years ago. Despite the relatively fast uptick of interest with the blog, I trailed off and moved my time towards raising my daughters, working in corporate America and in the last four years getting a divorce (amiable) and learning about spirit and soul. My financial journey was not quite going the way I had hoped, but I was certainly caught up in a lot of other areas of education, service and growth.

Financially speaking, I have not taken all my learnings and applied them. I’ve been playing safe. While I’ve saved for retirement and college, and pay my monthly bills with ease, my soul is dying. I don’t mean that metaphorically or to sound woo-woo.

That’s not my thing. I want to thrive. While I have been in hiding the last few years in many ways, learning about healing my heart after divorce and heart break, it is now time to really re-invest in my future and my children’s future by focusing on financial freedom again.

I believe that I am meant to feel free inside and this means finding new and exciting ways to share my stories and my learnings with the world. There’s no better day to restart than today.

Over the time that I first created this blog, I read many books and blogs about investments, online business models and the like. In my career I have learned about the Lean Startup and various ways of creating value for others. I felt conflicted between what felt like a dichotomy of service and self-care. Helping the world and savoring life. What I have realized is that my soul knows how to do both. I have enough talents and an endless pool of creativity inside of me that will help me navigate new options for investments and business ventures. I will not start something simply because of its potential ‘cash flow’, instead I’ll use a system to help myself create a soulful life of financial success.

When I started this blog, I thought I needed to be financially free with passive income to then do what my heart desired.

I’ve realized I had it all wrong. I need to create things from my soul and then earn income in various ways through that means. Multiple income sources, some passive some from deep labors of love. And all while testing their value and success with others before investing too much time and energy into any one thing.

This is the way of the Lean Soul Based Business. And this is what I will follow.

How does one find a soul fulfilling business that helps people without wasting time and effort?

I’d like to develop a canvas or scale for this but the gist of it for now is the following.

Criteria for testing ideas before “Doing”:

1. Does this idea feed my soul (my why, my strengths and talents, unique gifts, creative genius, native genius, joy)

2. Does this serve others? (assumed answer, tested through asking others and lean startup principles)

3. Effort scale (include how much effort to get started and market this)

4. Potential income (ways to earn money and estimates on how much)

 

Financial Mistakes, and What I’ve Learned

Today, I’m on this site to clean it up and remove a lot of old posts that are no longer relevant. That includes app sites that I reviewed that have gone under, as well as tools or investment options that I tried out that I thought would work, and haven’t.

So, there you have it. I’ve tried, failed and learned from my mistakes. In other words they aren’t failures if I’ve learned at a reasonable young age and moved forward with new perspectives.

I’m removing my posts about Whole Life Insurance, with its measly 4% dividends, I’m super un-impressed and admit my folly there. I’m removing posts about Lending Club, while you can still earn a reasonable return (I averaged $10.5%), it is so immensely risky, I lost a ton of money on it. Thankfully, they have a reseller market so you can liquidate your funds there.

Overall, while I have learned about finances during this journey, I have also gotten lost more than once in finding my way, and returning back to it because of the need to pay bills. I have learned to budget, I have learned to be more organized, but I have also learned that if you focus TOO much of your energy on money and if your motivator is from that place, you will not find the inner peace or the financial security you seek. You will only find those things authentically by looking inward and moving confidently forward with a path that is truly aligned with your values.

One thing that I can say though, is that I am still not feeling confident about my investment choices. I am still nervous that the personal financial planner that I have will not understand my needs to find alternate investments beyond the stock market in the US. I don’t trust the current world’s systems for investment, and I really want other options for just reasonable returns on my retirement savings, but I also don’t want to think about them right now. What I want to think about is how to spend my precious resource of time on creating great things for the world.

And so, I take my first tentative step in that direction. Creating my first app for iPhone, writing my fantasy book, and redirecting energy towards true and pure intentions.

Thank you to those few that follow this blog, I do not write on it frequently now, and only really keep it up because it marks a journey of self discovery that others still learn from.

What Country Should I Live in? A Better Life Visualization

While doing a project for my current job, I stumbled across this wonderful site that represents 11 key categories of well being and allows you to rank their importance to you. It then visualizes the countries that best fit your criteria across the world, in sort of a flower visualization design. It is not only beautiful, but highly functional and useful for those that care about this sort of thing. I was intrigued myself, having lived in and loved New Zealand, to see it high up on the list for me. I must admit I was also surprised to see Canada, as it is really just around the corner from my neck of the woods.

How does this relate to my journey towards financial freedom? I think its important to constantly re-evaluate if my life is going in the direction I want it to, and this can largely be impacted by the opportunities, government, quality of life and financial system that surrounds you. This chart serves as a starting point for me to explore other places that we may want to visit or possibly move to in the future if our dreams align with our actions. Which one can only keep hoping and working towards.

My Most Important Asset

TIME

We all know this to be true, and I have said this repeatedly, but it never gets old.

Time is your most important asset. It is a gift. How you choose to use it every day is up to you.

It often seems like time disappears in non-choice related activities and distractions. But every moment you are making choices with how to use your time.

Stop Chasing After Happiness – Choose Happiness

I’ve written a few posts on this blog on the topic of happiness, since as we all know, ‘money can’t buy me love’ – or happiness for that matter. Financial freedom will free me to have time, and I still believe it to  be the first step to focus on the intentional life that I want. But if I’m not in the right place mentally, its useless to have financial freedom. I keep searching for ways to attain what I’ve been calling sustainable happiness.

Yesterday, my husband, quite nicely mentioned to me that one thing I might have a hard time doing is living in the moment. This is why I married him, because he is all to good at this. And it is a quality that I want more of in my life, but struggle finding because of my personality type and ingrained habits.

Today I happened upon and took a short quiz on Oprah’s site, the happiness test, and after answering just a few short questions in this quiz, the insight that I received as my result was amazing to me. To the point where I printed it out in large text and put it on my wall. I reached the category right under the you are always happy category. Here’s what my result said:

You need to recognize the difference between chasing after happiness and choosing happiness.

Happiness is not outside you; it’s not a destination; and it’s not about “getting there.”

When you stop chasing happiness, you allow yourself to be more present, more available and more open.

This way you find happiness wherever you are.

The old saying “Life is journey, not a destination” has a similar meaning. Its not about being happy. Because if I reached the elusive happiness consistently, I wouldn’t be growing or changing, and I would become bored eventually anyway.

The overall concept that I am hearing applied to my life is this:

I need to LET GO of my need to control everything and this will allow me to be able to enjoy the moment.

I need to have faith that tomorrow will bring joy and sorrow alike, but that I will have the strength and courage to not only survive, but also come out a little bit smarter, and happier, than I was before.

I’ve realized, that’s all that I can really ask for.

Can You Have Too Many Long Term Savings for Spending Accounts?

A while back, I wrote a post that I still find to be an extremely valuable, but somewhat idealistic, way to manage your finances on Eker’s Jars budgeting. One of the accounts he recommend setting up is called a Long Term Savings for Spending account. He recommends saving 10% of your income towards this ‘jar’ and you can divide it into sub-jars if needed.

I also found and use the amazing site SmartyPig for Long Term Savings for Spending accounts. This amazing system has gained so much in popularity, its now being bought out by BBVA Compass.

So, now that I am fortunate enough to be making a little more income with my new business, I am eager to get beyond debt and expense payoff, and focus a little more on the long term savings for spending accounts. However, I think I have gone of the deep end. When I actually make a list (ie mini savings accounts) of all the things we want to save for, it is daunting and frankly, way more than 10% of our income. I have reached $5K in a Contingency Fund and have decided that is enough for me to warrant putting funds towards long term savings for spending now.

Here’s All the LTSS Funds I’ve Got Set Up:

  • Savings Goals:
    Car Maintenance Savings
    Laptop Savings
    Lasik for Ariel
    Living Room Furniture
    New Baby Costs
    Presents
    Travel
    Vaccum / Grill
    Weddings
  • I’m thinking this is largely because of the stage of life we are in. Not quite thirty, wanting to make large purchases and build a family. We have our house on the market, and ideally would like to have 60 to buy the next house we want. But that is so unrealistic when you actually look at the numbers. Needless to say, I’ve decided that Eker’s Jar’s needs an upgrade that should be different based on your AGE and/or STAGE in life.

    Also, I have so many graduations, weddings and gifts, that my jar for GIFTS is truly for gifts, not charity or giving in the sense that Eker intended.

    So, ideally I would like to mimic the jars theory that Eker has, but in reality, I believe it is better suited for a higher income, slightly older demographic than my family.

    Start Doing, Not Just Saving

    In responding to a comment on this site, I noticed a sentence that I wrote a few months back that still resonates strongly with me:

    As Americans, the only way to get out of a recession/depression is to face our fears, and start doing, not just saving.

    So many of us have been burned by loss of jobs, loss of their home, loss of their health care, etc that people are struggling to get by and losing hope. But we cannot lose hope as a collective. What our happiness, our lives, our families, our economy and everything around us needs is for us to have HOPE, motivation and drive to move things FORWARD.

    If you are frantically saving and paying down debt, good for you. I’m not saying that’s bad. But getting your finances in gear is not all that is needed to make your life, and all of us as a collective’s lives better, what is needed is to start DOING.

    If you don’t spend any money, the economy can’t get any better. Spending, in the right ways, is a very good thing. Spending and doing creates jobs and wealth in an economy. We just need to be more conscious about WHERE we are spending our money and what impact it has on our lives. Put your energies into putting your thoughts and what you might want to do and making them a reality. You will never know what could be unless you try.

    I am now a firm believe that where your energy goes, results show.

    If you’ve lost your job, see it as an opportunity to DO. Check out this video: http://www.lemonademovie.com/

    5 Months in, I’m a Lot Closer to “What I Want”

    Day 161 of my First 365 Day Journey to Financial Freedom

    On day 1 of my 365 Day Journey towards Financial Freedom, I charted a short list of what I wanted in order to find a more ‘sustainable’ happiness.

    In reviewing my list, I am proud to say that I am a little, or maybe even a lot, further along in my journey than I would have predicted. This blog, and my dedication to not lose my drive and focus, have helped me stay on track and get inspired. This transformation of my life is real, and I want to thank those that are reading and following me along in my journey. I hope some of my stumbling thoughts have helped you.

    Let’s take a look at what I said I wanted and if I am now doing or feeling these things:

    Excerpt from First Entry Oct 26th 2009

    To begin my journey, I wrote a list of some of the key answers to the question: “What do I want?” Here are my answers in no particular order:

      I want to be FREE to move my life forward

    Through much reflection, I’ve learned that freedom is really a perception. Though I felt very stuck for many years prior to starting my journey, I was only as stuck as I allowed myself to be. Things don’t always move or change as fast as I want them to in order for me to feel more free, but many things have changed. Most namely, I quit my FT job and I am choosing to pursue my own business! That is a big step for me toward my freedom.

      I want to get my POWER back

    The main thing I was looking for was an inner confidence in what I am and what I will add to the world. In my journey so far, I’ve learned that success is almost entirely based on your confidence, attitude and sense of purpose.

      I want to WRITE

    I am writing – a lot! I’m writing on this blog, I’ve written articles that have been published on Wisebread and in magazines, and I’m in need of a lot of how to guides and documents for my new business. I also cannot wait to write a series of ebooks on SEO & usability and other web marketing tips I’ve learned along the way.

      I want to LOVE what I do for a job

    Guess what – I now do! I didn’t love the politics where I used to work, they impeded on me enjoying my work. The design and business building of what I am doing is super fun, but my passion is lead generation and marketing. I was discussing it with my husband and realized its a matter of an inner desire to help others combined with a need to influence. Successful online marketing is all about beauty, simplicity and influence. Beyond this, I am looking forward to getting into the health industry once I have started being more successful with business building.

      I want to feel comfortable and at PEACE

    Not quite there yet. I move at such a fast pace, and I have a 2 year old for goodness sakes. Finding time for balance of mind, body and spirit is always a bit of a struggle. Still an important goal for me however.

      I want to take CONTROL of my own destiny

    I feel that I am doing this much more than I used to, though many things always still seem up in the air. I have realized that you can only control things so much, and after a certain point you have to trust and believe that things will shape themselves for you.

      I want to spend more QUALITY time with my family and activities I want to do

    I don’t know that I am spending MORE time, but the time I have with my family is better spent with me happier. Step in the right direction.

      I want to find SUSTAINABLE happiness

    Sustainable? Not yet. Happier? Yes.

      I want to live an INTENTIONAL life

    I think everything I am doing is getting me much closer to this. The largest thing that I have to do is manage my most precious asset, time, as best as I can and filter out what is and is not a priority toward my intentional living.

    So, overall, I think I am a lot closer than I expected to getting where I want to be at this stage in my life. Hooray!

    Overcoming Fear of Failure and the Unknown

    Overcome Fear to “Win Some or Learn Some”

    Today is my last day at my job, and I am taking a step into the unknown. For the last four years, I have worked at the same full time position. In my last post, I outlined the logical and emotional reasons for making a decision on what to do next with my life and career. I also explained that, if all fear was pushed aside, I would choose to follow my heart and do my freelance web design and online marketing, as well as build other business ventures.

    The fearful side of my still keeps saying, are you crazy? In this economy?  What happens if you fail? How do you know you will succeed?
    And of course, the truth is, I have no idea what is coming next. All that I can do is keep my mind in the right place, and put my best foot forward.

    Fear and doubt have a tendency to sneak back into your mind at the most stressful and insecure times in your life, when what you really need are feelings of confidence and strength.

    For me, though I still experience feelings of doubt and fear, I am now able to recognize my fear as a trigger for the fact that I am out of my comfort zone, and that this will be a good learning and growth period of my life.

    The Steps You’ll Need to Overcome Fear and Doubt:

    1. Recognize the emotional trigger that caused you to feel fear, doubt, etc
    2. Accept that there are some logical reasons for the feelings
    3. Acknowledge that, though there are some reasons that you are feeling fear, there is also the strong possibility that things will go the way you want them to
    4. Accept uncertainty and the unknown as a constant part of life
    5. Think positive and be confident in your decisions
    6. Move forward with your best foot forward
    7. Mission Accomplished: Fear is Overcome

    What are the Possible Outcomes of Pushing Past Your Fears?

    1. You Get What You Hoped or Even Something Better
    2. You “Fail”, but You Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On

    Or, in the words of Jason Mraz: “You Win Some or Learn Some”

    I’ve made my decision to give it a try. I have the ability so I am going to take a 2 month test period to see if I can truly build my businesses to support my family.

    Here’s My 2 Month Plan:

    • I already have a few new and a few big projects lined up, including my other recurring work for clients.
    • I am going to re-brand my business, which is currently called AGR Web Designs, to Lead Online Marketing. This will include moving from a sole proprietor model to an LLC, a new website/branding/blog, etc strategy, marketing and better packaged offerings. I have also started to get better with software for my invoicing an estimates (I may to a post/review on those tools)
    • I may also do a bit of additional part time work during this time as I build my business
    • I will continue to build my timeline/planning templates business
    • I’m considering building another small site that focuses on wordpress and/or thesis design, as this market is really booming and I enjoy working in that area

    I am afraid, but I am also very excited. And though it is a slightly uncomfortable place to be, it makes me feel more alive and happy about my career than I have been in the last 4 years.

    Making a Choice Between Entrepreneur or Corporate Life

    Well, its official. I have turned in my two week notice at my current position and I am pursuing other options. We have enough of a padding to last long enough for me to sort this out. (My fear is talking there)

    I’m very happy about this first decision and I have lots of options. Nonetheless, I am very much struggling with this life decision. The lucky part is that I can actually make this choice with the career path that I have in web design and online marketing. Here are my options:

    Option 1: Accept a FT Corporate Job – The “Logical” Choice

    Pros

    • Steady income to support my family, benefits (health, dental, paid time off)
    • Opportunity for learning from others and new environment
    • Career growth potential
    • Escape from the cubicle and florescent lighting

    Cons

    • Not enough time to do my freelance work, be a mom, take care of the house, etc
    • Potential to be ‘more of the same’ in terms of politics and personalities
    • 401 K hasn’t been a reliable investment vehicle for retirement

    Option 2: Accept PT Work + Freelance/Businesses – The “Tempting” Choice

    Pros

    • Flexible hours, variation in work
    • Ability to pursue many projects and avenues (web, businesses, writing)
    • Pontenial to be happier by feeding my creative outlets, feeling of acomplishment
    • Ability to help many small businesses and increase networking
    • Ability to be there for my daughter more, especially when she is sick

    Cons

    •  Inconsistent income, no protection from month to month, no paid time off
    • Have to work at ensuring I have additional work
    • Location of jobs may vary, though remote is very possible in my industry
    • Administrative duties increase, have to take care of own taxes, health, investments
    • Might be lonely working alone majority of the time

    I want to live every day as if it was my last. I want this thing called life to matter. And I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to do that if I can’t do more of the things that I want to do with my time. Having a little 2 year old means that I don’t have any ‘down time’. The time I have is absolutely precious.

    But whether I’m following my heart and whether I’m taking care of my responsibilities might be two separate things. I am the sole bread winner right now in our household. Is this just a timing issue or is it the right time to make the leap?

    I’ve made a hard choice which is to quit my job to start to really craft the life that I want to lead. But now I need to get more specific and really play out what my life will look like depending on what path I choose.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that there are no black and white answers. I’ve  also learned that people are willing to be flexible working with you if they truly value what you offer.

    Often times its fear that prevents us from taking a leap. If I can get past the fear, what choices would I make?
    Option 2 hands down. Can and should I overcome this fear?