Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Let's Roll with It!!

It's April 15, and the $54,000 dollar question that's on lips of everyone is..."have you done you taxes yet?" If not, you've got until 11:59 this good eve to get it either in the mail or an extension filed. As for me, it's a wrap and on to other matters at hand such as producing this forum. Unfortunately, for some of you and you know who you are, you're not done and might be in crisis mode. I know the feeling since I discovered that I didn't have a document that I thought I had received and later on wasn't sure if If I really needed it, then was trying to find out who was suppose to supply me with it. As my net assets have improved of the years, the whole "tax" thing got me doing a McCauley Caulkin face slap. However, at least I got it done and filed, despite the body politic's defiance otherwise. So, in honor or whatever, here's our Tax Day post...Let's Roll with It....

QueerCents: Since we are on the subject of money and taxes, I came across the interesting website that got me with it's moniker, "We're here, We're Queer, and we not going shopping without our coupons!" Now, how could you avoid reading a site with that for a catchphrase.
It's written by many contributors across the country and sharing it with you became a priority for COP. This forum is still committed to our three tier mission statement of :educating, empowering and entertaining. The issues of your money and what your are doing with it may need tweaking in these challenging economic times. This article is unedited and reprinted as a online subcriber to QueerCents. (http://www.queercents.com/) So, read on soldiers and take heed...and oh yeah, let me know what you think.

It's Time for a Reality Check

Ever since I wrote about Recession Proofing Your Mind I’ve been thinking more and more about this whole concept of recession, how it affects my business, and the impact it is having on millions of others. As media and water cooler conversations water the seeds of panic, I was thrilled to death to see Suze Orman on The Oprah Show once again, this time giving “emergency financial advice”. She said people should not be worried, they should be concerned. Her explanation of a recession was the best I’ve ever heard.(I’m paraphrasing here…)
Suze explained that a recession is simply a contraction. Much like we breathe in (expand) and out (contract) in order to have life, the same holds true for money and the economy. At different times throughout history (and approximately 4 times since 1980) we simply go through a period of contraction where there is less of everything for everyone: less money, less jobs, less capital appreciation, etc. Following that contraction we often experience great periods of expansion. What she offered up is that it is a fine time for a reality check - that is for each of us to ask “Where in my life have I expanded when I should have contracted?”
It is so natural that the minute we have some success - a little added cash flow, get a raise, fall into a lump sum - we tend to want to spend it. We feel we deserve it and we want to celebrate our success, so why not? That is part of the problem that has gotten us to where so many people are right now - in a financial emergency. We expand instead of contract.
For instance, if you are due a tax refund this year, how are you going to use it? A big splurge? Catch up on debt?
It’s been hard to let go of some of it (especially my jewelry and bag collection), but I feel happier because I feel like I’m finally being true to myself. I don’t want “things” to define who I am anymore…I want to define who I am. There are days when I feel like my friends’ lives are going on without me, and that I’m stuck in time. Those are the days when I remind myself that I needed this break to get a big reality check. Had I not quit, I would’ve still been living on autopilot - using retail therapy to ease my work-related misery, drinking too much on weekends, and hiding my head in the sand in terms of my finances.
When things define us, we are at the mercy of the whims of stuff, experience an insatiable desire to have more, and often end up stuck on a treadmill of consumption and treading financial waters. I think the general sense of panic going on right now shows just how many people are on that very treadmill. I can remember being at a previous corporate position during a time of layoffs. Several mid and upper level managers were wandering around muttering about how if they get laid off they would have to sell their house right away. Right away they would have to uproot their family! I stood there stunned that someone could make that level of salary and bonus and have their financial life be so tenuous that they would instantly be in trouble. These were people making good money at one of those companies that everyone is just dying to work at. Again, I used these stressful situations around me as a wake up call.
So what do you really need in terms of money to live on? First off comes the harsh reality of need vs. want. You don’t need cell phones, fancy cars, big TVs, etc. Those are all wants. Things that enhance our lives but again, only if we are building a life and not a lifestyle.
In “The Basics - why money trouble comes in threes” K&Y Household Organizing suggests:
Do a realistic cost-of-living assessment. If you add up the likely cost of life’s nonrecurring or unpredictable expenses for the next, say, five years, then divide that total by five to reach the yearly amount you potentially should set aside to pay for them, “it’s going to be a big, big number,” says Pond.Still, it’s a number worth calculating.
This kind of number can be shocking. The problem is that so many don’t bother calculating it and then when the inevitable “life happens” moments happen or the economy takes a downturn, all of a sudden you’re faced with a financial life that tumbles down like a house of cards.
Sounds to me that now is the perfect time for all of us to heed another wake up call and really take stock of where we are personally on that expand/contract cycle and take action now with an eye towards the future so we can simply ride the ebb and flow rather than thrash about in a panic.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses the way the want rather than how they were told they “should”. Get the free 12 part eCourse “How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin” http://www.coaching4lesbians.com/ and start taking charge of your own success.

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