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Live long & prosper


Malena Lott January 12th, 2011

Finding sustainable abundance in a material world

What’s the one New Year’s resolution that could change your life? What if we could all live in prosperity and abundance despite what the bank account balance is? According to four financial experts, sustainable prosperity is available for everyone, but it requires a switch in mind-set and practice. With those Christmas credit card bills starting to hit the mailbox, it’s important not to panic and to make a plan.

All of our experts agree prosperity isn’t about the size of the piggy bank, but about recognizing that “something more” doesn’t come from things.

“Your time is worth more than more stuff. I think a lot of us nowadays have enough and want less. To get rid of stuff, give it to a consignment store. This helps you reduce your clutter and helps someone that may not be able to afford something new,” said Hilarie Blaney, senior vice president at Arvest Bank in Oklahoma City. “Giving always makes people feel like they have more.”

Blaney recommended creating more “white space” and to stop rushing from place to place, including putting down your phones and having more conversations with your kids.

To be penny-wise, she suggested becoming more efficient and smart in our spending habits in the new year, such as looking for bargains, reviewing expenses for unused products and services and looking for ways to increase revenue.

“I always feel more prosperous when I have limited or no debt, especially credit cards, money in savings and have maxed out my 401(k),” Blaney said.

‘BROADEN OUR UNDERSTANDING’

Ben Marlin, a financial services professional with New York Life in Oklahoma City, recommends giving to God and yourself, before paying the mortgage, bills and Visa.

“Ninety-six percent of the population pay their bills and if they have money left over, try to save it. Doing that, they are always broke. By paying yourself first, you’ll be able to see after three months if that savings plan is working for you or how to adjust it,” Marlin said.

He’s seen it work time and again with his clients, as well as in his own life.

“You know you are going to get hit with emergencies, so you have those emergency funds available so you aren’t stressed, and meanwhile, you are growing your wealth. Then you can see a financial adviser you trust to start having your money work for you, instead of just you working for your money.”

“When we hear the word ‘prosperity,’ most of us think about material wealth,” said Darcie Harris, president of Executive Women’s Forum. “We can look for material prosperity, or we can broaden our understanding of the word to include having a wealth of interesting experiences, a wealth of learning, a wealth of warm relationships, a wealth of compassion, and for that matter, a wealth of passion.”

Globally, we have financially been going through fall and winter, but yes, there is a spring and summer.

—Karen Monroy

Harris suggested thinking about the type of experiences you can have with the same amount of money.

“Prosperity might allow me to dine out at an expensive restaurant, but for the same amount of money, I might be able to have six friends over for dinner and cook them all a meal from a faraway country I’d like to visit,” she said.

“That same investment brings me the creativity of cooking something exotic and new, a chance to explore a different culture, plus the richness of the relationships — and I fed six people instead of one! I think we find prosperity when we know enough about ourselves to know what we are passionate about and what kind of experiences we want to have.”

“What do married people fight about the most?” Marlin said. “Money. So with a portion of that money you are saving back, go on a date night. Celebrate. Your marriage stays strong, you keep your kids happy, and it keeps your sex life alive. Go have a party.”

COMFORT FROM CONTROL

Karen Monroy, author of “30 Day Money Master Mind Make-Over” and a financial coach helping businesses and individuals achieve sustainable prosperity, believes money can be our greatest spiritual teacher and that we are all inclined toward authentic abundance. She said the key aspect is “re-thinking what has value to us and recommitting to a life of purpose, anchored from an internal aspect, not from external.”

“So many people are laid off, but they are courageous and say, ‘How can I realign myself so I don’t have the fear monster chirping in my ear? How do I step into my own power?’” Monroy said, noting many of her clients who had lost their jobs took that opportunity to start their own businesses and are striving and happy.

“Sustainable or authentic prosperity is a conscious choice to be in a rightminded relationship with every subject and object of choice,” she said. “You have to use balance and flow. Globally, we have (financially) been going through fall and winter, but yes, there is a spring and summer. My garden flourishes every year because I tend it and divide it, and in winter, I don’t panic. You know that it will be OK in the spring.”

How do we do it? Monroy recommended understanding there is goodness in life: Let go of conditioned thinking and “ego-fear-mind” stuff, which means recognizing you have the power in that moment to not buy something you don’t need and not letting advertising and peer pressure tell you what you need to be happy.

She also said to be careful about finger-pointing, including blaming someone else for our financial woes, whether it’s the government or our boss or spouse. Instead, she suggested we start taking ownership of what we have control over.

“Everyone is that powerful,” Monroy said. “Get to practice right now.”

 
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