This Much I Know is True

The Art of Love & Money This Much I Know is True

Today is my birthday, and this much I know is true:

I know more today than I did in my early 30’s and I knew more in my early thirties than I did in my twenties, although I am still wrong sometimes, probably much more often than I know.

I don’t believe in regret.  Not really,  The only thing I have ever regretted, truly, is the anger and the yelling.  I have spat my ugly vicious anger at the people I love most in this world and I will never have the opportunity to take it back.  It’s there, like a scar, you can remove the nail, but the wound remains.  Bad decisions?  They make great stories.  Failure? You get over them.  You learn.  Having my daughter too young?  Still to this very day the best thing I have ever created in my entire life.  The wrong boy?  Well, it was fun at the time, and I got my daughter out of it, so I can never regret that.  Not that he was the only wrong boy.  There were many.  Financial mishaps?  You can always make more money, and make better decisions next time.  Missed opportunity, well.  Yes.  Do try to be more daring and brave and serendipitous, but you can’t be two places at one time, and I still think I’ve done damn well for myself.  Loving too much, giving too much?  Well.  Yes, that stings, but not nearly as much as not loving too much, not giving too much.

I still haven’t found my tribe.  Yes, I have friends, and some of them are long time friends and some of them are close friends and know almost everything about me.  But, I have lost many friends along the way for no particular reason I can think of.  I used to think it was me, that I had done something wrong, had rubbed them the wrong way, was not good enough, or  “too good”.  But now I am learning, that is not it at all.  I just have more people to meet.  In my late late 30’s having had most of my friends most of my life and having lived within a 20 mile radius my whole life, I still have only one friend that I can think of that would show up for me, really show up, if I were dying.  And I don’t spend nearly enough time with her.

Friends who hold your hair back so that you can purge the contents of you stomach on the side of the road on the way home from girl’s night out are not the same as friends who will hold your hair back as you are dying.  Not that I am any where near close to dying, but the realization I had this year that I have but ONE friend I can trust to be there for me in that time, has me at a point I can never come back from, this is not my tribe, and therefore I must continue to put myself out there, so that I can meet them, I know they are out there.

You don’t know that you are with the wrong boy until much later.  Not even at the break-up do you really know.  It’s years later before you know.  There are red flags, but you blow straight past them.  Try to focus on them, though.  To save yourself some heartache.  The wrong boy will have you second guessing yourself all of the time.  You’ll keep trying to make it work, but it just won’t.  The wrong boy won’t connect to your family, your friends will have some things to say that you won’t want to hear.  The wrong boy will feel like the right boy all the way until you are well into the next stages and phases of your life.  Until you are with the one who IS the right one, and you would have bypassed completely if you had stayed with the wrong one.  That makes it tough to know.

My husband is far from perfect.  But, really, how awful would that be?  Can you imagine the suffocating pressure of being with the perfect man, how you would never measure up?  To be quite clear, I am far from perfect as well.

I drive him crazy.  Just ask him, he will tell you, in all things, good and bad, I drive him completely mad.  And then back again to pretty darn near perfect.

My husband lights me up in ways that I have never known before.  When all is right with him, I feel a lightness in my step, a lifting in my chest, an airiness that all is right with the world.  When things aren’t right with him, all else goes dark.  Even good days aren’t even remotely okay.  I wear the darkness over me like a cloak.  I’m working on this, and have gotten better at it, but I also have been learning – I am an empath who takes on discomfort felt all around me, and when it is with someone I am close to it can be debilitating.   I need to remove myself physically and mentally from the present.  I need to take a long walk, I need to journal, I need to work on a project that envelopes my thought processes.  And I need to trust, that this is a valley and tomorrow or the next day or the next week will be a mountain top.  It will all be okay eventually.

Our kids will never know the depths of the love we have for them.  The planning and orchestrating we put into juggling every available resource so that they could have what they want, we had wanted for ourselves, or wished we had had but didn’t get for whatever reason.  The completely irrational pride we feel in seeing them hitting their stride.  Yes, we know their life is their own, but they are bit and pieces of us walking around in this world, carrying out some parts and degrees of our own values and ethics, drive and hunger, mistakes and follies, and when things are going well for them – the sun and the stars align, and when things are even a little bit hard for them, we get so uncomfortable that it takes every ounce of will power we possess to not jump in and do it for them.  Because that would rob them of the lessons and the experience they will need to succeed any further in life.  For we are capped at our own potential, and if we do for our children as we would have done for ourselves, they may also be capped at our own potential so we must let them flounder through it, our hearts melting down the center of our chests.

All the best things in life have little to nothing to do with money.  Yes, money is nice.  Yes, I believe that managing your resources – time, energy, and money will make your life exponentially better – but money doesn’t translate into phone calls from your grown kids, or adoration from your grandchildren, or complete and utter joy of a beautiful glimpse in nature, or a fulfilled marriage, where you partner well together and things just flow.  And when they don’t flow, one of you swoops in and fills in the slack.  Because, you know, Goals.  You have them, you know his goals, he knows yours.  You give each other plenty of space to complete them on your own, but if something needs to be done, there aren’t any negotiations about it – just some communication about the situation, what you need, and when.

When you worry, you rob yourself of the mental capacity to actually be able to handle the situation.  When you find yourself obsessively worrying over a problem, it’s time to walk away.  It’s best if you physically get up and go for a walk.  Outdoors, with sunshine, fresh air and heavy physical breathing.

There is always a means to get to where it is you need to be going.  You might not get there today, or tomorrow or the next.  But you will get where you need to be one day – if you put in the work.  Stuff doesn’t just happen.  It really doesn’t.  Luck is opportunity that has been prepared.  If opportunity comes by and you have not prepared, it will pass you by.

Judgement of other people has more to do with you than it does of them.  When you catch yourself repeatedly judging, look internally for the answer.  It’s there, but you have to look inside to find it. If you think someone is lazy and screwing up something over and over, is it possible that you are still kick yourself over missed opportunities, that you have your own regrets, that you are procrastinating yourself, etc.  Seek ye first.

Jealously.  Jealously is your wake-up call.  Seething that someone else takes better vacations, has better hair, is employed in your dream job?  That is your wake-up call to put in the work to get what you want.  Do the work and thank them later.  Be inspired to rise up, don’t pull others down.

The time is going to pass one way or another, you might as well be intentional about where you are going by organizing your resource – time, energy and money – by your priorities.  Put the bulk of your efforts where they matter most to you .  Time, money, and energy are all finite.  Don’t spend them frivolously.

I know a lot now that I didn’t know before.  I can’t wait to know what I’ll know next year that I don’t know now, but I won’t wish the time away because if I know one thing for sure, it’s that time truly does go by so quickly, and you can’t get it back.

This much I know is true,


ACTIONABLE STEP:  Take time today to journal about what you know to be true – please send me your thoughts via email or in the comments.


Read Oprah’s What I Know For Sure Columns.  Growing up as a little girl, as a teen, and as a young woman I watched Oprah.  Oh, did I love me some Oprah, especially as I got older and I watched her evolve from the talk show host along side the Phil Donahue’s and Maury Poviche’s of daytime television to THE talk show.  Period.  She is wise, and kind, and thoughtful and discerning, she introduced me to mindfulness, to self-awareness, to personal development, and to Maya Angelou.  I have always loved her ‘What I Know For Sure’ segments and her ideology that every person has a story.

Read Anna Quindlen’s book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  I love this book.  I love it so much that I bought a copy for every woman in my life the year I turned 35.  My friends got one, my book club girls got one, my mom, my sisters, my daughter, my niece.  Every woman I care about, because this book is to me, like your best girlfriend throughout your life stages that you can flip to and learn from.  Every year for my birthday, I get it out and skim through it.  It is like sitting at the feet of a wise older friend who has lived many more lives than you have, who is willing to be introspective and go there with you.  I appreciate and celebrate this memoir so, so much and I hope you enjoy it, too.

Watch Anne Lamott’s TED talk.  Love her simple, straightforward wisdom with a hint of humor.  In a way that things are funny because they are so innately true.



Celebrating Summer

The Art of Love & Money Celebrate Summer

Summer is quickly slipping through our fingers – what have you done to celebrate your summer?  I hope you have laid by the pool, taken long night walks after the sizzle of the day has faded away, fired up the grill and chilled with a beer in hand as your dinner charred to perfection.  I hope you savored a Popsicle as its sticky sweetnes dripped down to your elbow and you have chased the fireflies in the dark of night.

Did you take any trips – Day trips, weekend trips, long vacays, explored your own backyard communities?  Comment below with pictures and share where you have explored and your best recommendation for those locales.

Do you still have plans to go somewhere or have summer list items to secure?  Take some time this weekend to refine the details so you can make it happen.  Don’t put your life on hold ’til someday.

Do something you love, do something you have always wanted to do, do something to celebrate the summer season in all its glorious sweltering heat and beauty.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Review your summer list.  If you don’t have one – make one!  If you did make a list and/or you went on a trip or did something you are excited about, please share it with me or comment below!  I love to get new ideas and I love to live vicariously through others.


Track Your Net Worth (Free Download!)

Track Your Net Worth The Art of Love & Money

Hey, there!

I can’t wait to share this with you today, so let’s get right to it.

Last week, we discussed the importance of tracking your net worth and you took a stab in the dark at it with your best guess numbers.

But, TODAY, I am going to share with you my super simple net worth tracking system.  It’s in excel, but don’t be scarrred.  I gotchu.

If you are already a numbers geek, or you know your way around a computer, you will catch right on to this.  It’s simple and easy for a reason – I want to make sure that it is accessible and doable for everyone.  I don’t want for this to be a taxing, time consuming chore.  I want it to be something easy that you look forward to and something that can be done a couple of times a year within 15 minutes to half an hour.

Setup a spreadsheet to track your net worth. Or use mine.  All the heavy lifting is done for you.

What you own – what you owe = Net Worth.

Tracking your net worth will help you to see and appreciate your progress over the months and years.

This is important because our financial lives are scattered throughout so many different documents, bills, and statements it is hard to have a grasp on where we really stand.

Check out the the sample made-up numbers below.  I plugged in some average statistical numbers below and made assumptions for where this case study would be in about 7 months of progress.

The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker – Sample – Assets Sample – Assets

The Plus/Minus column is a simple function Column B – Column E = Column F

Assets & Liabilities are totaled at the end of the sections.

The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker
The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker – Sample – Liabilities


So now that you have seen a sample and you are ready to set up your own.


Save in your Download files and place a copy in your documents directory.  Create a Finance directory if you don’t already have one, then create a sub-directory called ORIGINALS.  Make this copy read-only so that you can refer back to it as needed.


Save another copy in your finance directory (making sure this is not ready-only).


From there, you can replace Partner 1 with Your Name and Partner 2 with your Spouse’s name, or right click and remove the row if you are single.

Name your labels as descriptively as you need to to suite you and so that you know exactly where to find it – Joint checking account is fine if that’s what you call it, or Wells Fargo checking, US BANK savings, CAPTIOL ONE 360 savings buckets, etc.

The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker
The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker = Instructions – Assets
The Art of Love & Money Net Worth Tracker – Instructions – Liabilities

For today, just set the file up.  Make it your own, personalize it with your name/names, to fit your unique scenarios.  Next week we can fill in the numbers.

Questions/feedback? Please email me!  I want for this to be an awesome resource for you.

Want to share with a friend? That is amazing!  But can you do me a favor, and send them a link, so they can get their own copy?  I want to get in touch with people and for them to know where to find me if they are looking for more resources.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Download my FREE net worth tracker and shoot me an email to tell me what you think.  I love feedback , answering your questions, and helping get you on track.  For today, just set the file up.  Make it your own.  Next week we can fill in the numbers.


CAN’T BEAR TO GO IT ALONE? The first 5 people to send me an email at will receive a free 15 minute personal financial coaching session via skype and we will walk through your scenarios together.

What does that look like?  I run the excel spreadsheet template, ask you to look up your numbers in a conversational manner and by the time we are done – you have a completed spreadsheet set up for life.  Just because I love ya and I want good things for you.

Let’s get to it,


Follow Up Friday

Follow Up Friday Get It Done Art of Love & Money
Follow Up Friday Get It Done Art of Love & Money

Hey, there!

I am so excited to share what I am working on with you next week – but in the mean time – it’s Friday and I want to follow up in case you missed these posts earlier this week and to remind you to take action on these two very important items.

This weekend, I want to challenge you to make art for your own joy and creativity, and I am really curious to see how close you can come to guessing your own net worth!  Next week we will begin diving in, so get out a scratch pad and write down all that you OWN (assests) minus all that you OWE (Debts) and circle your final number.

If that makes you all sweaty and clammy – no worries, mon!  This is all about getting started where you are at, and won’t it feel amazing to look back on next year to see how far you have come?  I mean the year is going to pass one way or another, you might as well get. it. done as the time flies by.

Much Love,


Do You Track Your Net Worth?

Track Your Net Worth The Art of Love & Money

Do you know your net worth?  Do you track your net worth on a regular basis?

If this question leaves you at a complete loss, it’s time to get out a pad of paper and a pencil and get to scratching down your numbers.

I like to track our net worth about twice a year – once around the New Year and again around our anniversary in July.  It’s become a sort of sentimental ritual that shows us what we can accomplish when we set about working on shared goals and how much progress we really are making even when – especially when –  it feels we are trapped in the mundane of daily living.

Your net worth is basically what you own minus what you owe.

First jot down all of your savings accounts, retirement accounts, the fair market value of your vehicles, your house if you own one.

Now all of the debts that you owe, money your owe to credit cards, department store payment plans, student loans, credit cards, car loans and money you may have borrowed from your parents, friends or family members.

This is your net worth.

Why is it important?  It’s your barometer.  Your net worth shows you how you are doing from year to year, what your progress is, if you are gaining or losing ground.  It can serve as your encouragement when you feel like you are standing still, in limbo making payments to your loans, and faithfully contributing to your retirement accounts but your checking account balance is rather paltry.  It can really amaze you when you look back over a 7 year period to see how far you have come.  It can ground you when you think you rock because you finally have a healthy checking account balance –  but owe so much on your car that you are still in the red.  It can spur you forward when you are on the brink of overflowing into the next $10,000 benchmark.

It can encourage you to see all of the progress you have made since you began that new habit, read that last book, started that new system.

Want to track your net worth with me?  I’d love to see your progress from beginning your journey of reading this blog, adapting my systems as your own, implementing new habits.

You know what else can be really eye-opening about tracking your net worth?

Tracking your own net worth against the political climate and realizing that you have more control over your own personal finances through personal habits than Wall Street, the President of the Untied States, the economy, and the job market.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Get started with a slip of paper, a pen and your memory.  Next week we will take it a step further, but for now, just give it your best guess.




Monday Motivation

Creativity is intelligence having fun - Albert Einstein

“Creativity is Intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein

Do you have a creative outlet?

Do you have something new you’d like to try? Some art form you have always admired?  Something you wish you could do?

Perhaps it’s sketching, or painting on a canvas, or making pottery, the mud all over your hands dripping to your elbow, the hypnotic spinning and gradual shaping of a lump of clay guided by your finger tips.

I want to encourage you to pick up a new artistic hobby if  you don’t already have one.


Because as Brené Brown found in her ground-breaking research,

” Unused creativity is not benign–it metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame. “

In the past few years I have taken up pencil sketching in my bedroom on Saturday mornings while I drink my coffee, a pottery class at the local community college, acrylic and water painting at the local art museum wine & art nights, guided acrylic painting at local paint with me studios, and now a lettering challenge by the lovely & talented Kira Bui Design on facebook.

P>S> Watch the 30 Days Creative Genius Series by Chase Jarvis.  Just – Wow.

It has changed my life in words I can not even explain, giving me the courage to step outside of my comfort zone in many more ways than just trying to sketch out a design in the privacy of my own bed – which was still scary!  We are taught in elementary school that we are either artistically talented, or not.  We hold our designs up to an other’s and determine ours is no good, so we stop.  It’s like not dancing because we don’t look like Beyoncé when we dance.

As if that was ever the point of dancing!  No!  Dancing is for your soul.  So turn up the volume and get to it.  Let me know what small and/or impactful ways it changes your life.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Take a small step to do something creative in your life today.  Then make a list of all of the creative things you’d love to try someday.  Grab a local guide and find classes in your area, or find some resources online to guide you from home.

Much Love,


Happy Friday!

It's Friday! The Art of Love & Money

Is there anybody out there?

<<< Insert Pink Floyd Sound Track>>

But, seriously – it’s like crickets out there so – somebody, anybody – please let me know what you have planned for the weekend!

I have plans to enjoy a local production of Shakespeare in the park – bringing my dog , a lawn chair, and perhaps a water thermos full of sangria – but it’s hot and muggy out so we’ll see how that goes.

I also am planning to see West Side Story at another local theater.  Do you love theater?  Do you have local community productions you can take advantage of?  What are some cool local activities your parks & recreations host?

Maybe get some bigger house maintenance chores done on Saturday, perhaps break out my new nail polish.

Sunday we are going to get a chance to enjoy a barbecue with a couple of my husband’s cousins in town from Colorado – and meet a baby.  I love babies.  I love my husband, and his entire family.  I seriously consider them the luckiest people on earth – and I tell my kids all the time “If you were born into the Rodriguez Family, you are among the luckiest people on Earth.”  I married into the Rodriguez family, and I think I’m damn lucky.  This family, they love, and they laugh, and they talk and they play games and hang out all day.  When we get together for Christmas, or Mother’s Day, we don’t go for an hour and then do the dishes and head out.  We stay from 2 in the afternoon until it’s time to go home to get ready for work the next day.

“If you were born into the Rodriguez Family, you are among the luckiest people on Earth.”

My husband’s grandfather used to sit and tell us stories.  Stories of his youth, of when they met at a baseball field – she came not to watch him play the game but to be able to borrow his bicycle while the game lasted, of his time on a Navy ship during WWII – where they did more painting than they did warfare and the crew at one point got so sick of painting they threw the paint supplies overboard, only to have a new delivery the next day. outrageous stories of how his brother walked him far across two town one side of a town to the opposite side of another town just to knock on a bully’s door that had been messing with one of their brothers. His big brother went on to tell the boy’s father that he was there to fight his son because his son was picking on someone who was much smaller than he was, and the father opened the door and called his son out into the front yard to fight this obviously much older teenager!  Stories of growing up in a box car community, a Mexican barrio, where the families literally lived inside of the box cars, instead of houses or apartments.  This is especially magical to me as we sit in their large four-square home that they have acquired in their lifetime, and raised their 8 children and several nieces, nephews and grandchildren in.

The family consists of Mexican, Native American and Black heritages, of people who have been blessed with steady, stable lifestyles, and of those that have seen horrific struggles.  They are mostly still local, but they are also flung far and wide across the country, but they all still come home to visit their matriarch an patriarch, who have been married 70 years and counting.

It’s a beautiful thing.

ACTIONABLE STEPS: Make some weekend plans – include at least one summer wish list item. Summer is going by fast and you don’t want to miss it!

Happy Fri-yay,



Project Your $100 Snowball Pay-off Date

Project your $100 Snowball Debt Pay-off Date The Art of Love and Money

Last week we looked at how to Create a $100 Debt Snowball.

Today we are going to reap the benefits and sow the rewards of that effort.

By October of 2004, I am paying $307 monthly on student loans.


Making quick progress, by October 2005, I eliminate the student loans at the remaining $296 and immediately apply the left over $61 to the last remaining debt – the loan to my parents for the down payment on our house.

296+61=50 = $357

The next month, November 2005, I pay the entire $357 on the down payment loan…until the last debt is decimated in August 2007.


See all of those zeros?  Those are the months I was projected to be paying on these debts, paying the minimum amount due.

Instead, I put that money into a savings account.  Starting in July 2007, I finish off the payment with $199 and immediately put the remaining $156 in savings.  The very next month, I put the entire $357 to savings and continue the whole time I was projected to be paying on these debts at the minimum payment due.


Wait, Hold up.  Did you catch that? >>> $45,854.

Look at how much money we keep when we pay it to ourselves instead of the banks, to our dreams instead of our debts.

Speaking of our dreams – what was our dream list?  Let’s check out our WHY.  What could we  have done with that money instead – what experiences, memories, travels, improvements could we have instead?

Top 5 Big Dreams >>>

Jamaica $4,600

Kids to Disney World $7,000

Dream House – WHO KNOWS??!

Australia $10,000

Attend the Music Awards $3,500

We could have done most of these big, crazy dreams with $20,754.00 left over for a down payment on our dream house for the same amount of money in the same amount of time with very little intensity and zero income increases.

For more on the debt snowball, see all things Dave Ramsey.


Email me for a working example of my spreadsheet.  I want to share it with you!

Add $100 to the minimum payment until the first debt is wiped out, add all that money to the next lowest debt, continue through your pay-off schedule until all the debt is wiped out.  See how much time you have snatched back for your financial freedom.

Just for fun, when the largest, last debt is wiped out, continue to place that money in a projected savings column.  Continue to do that through your original minimum pay off date.  Look at that number.  Feel it pulse through you.

That is what debt costs you.

Now go back to your WHY.  How many of those items could be accomplished within the time frame that was originally set aside for minimum debt payments?

Now, think on that a bit.  What items can you check off your dream list by paying just $100 more per month on your lowest debt?



BONUS POINTS: Send me an email to become one of my case studies.  If you are chosen, you will receive a free 15 minute personal finance coaching session via skype and your case study will be spelled out for you in the system that I used to walk our family out of the red and into the black.



Monday Motivation

If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. -Zig Ziglar The Art of Love and Money

If you aim at nothing – you will hit it every time – Zig Ziglar

Notebooks, scratch paper, post-its, back of a napkin or an old envelope.  I write notes.

A lot of them.

I think it’s important to get all that floating in my head down on paper so I can track it.  I often end my week by going through a stack of notes on my desk or in my purse, crossing off things that I have done – ACCOMPLISHMENT!

I love a big, thick, black sharpie squeaking across the page – SUCCESS.

I then take out a new piece of paper and put all of the unfinished items on there.  If these same items continuously end up overflowing to the next week they take special consideration.

Do I still want/need to do this one?

If yes, Why am I procrastinating? >>> Determine the Barriers >>>

Break it down into smaller steps >>> Accomplish >>> Reward

If really an icky task, plan a small reward for getting it done – a bath, an hour in the backyard with a good book, a special piece of dark chocolate, it doesn’t matter what it is but there is a special pleasure in an indulgence that I have earned because I have accomplished a task.

The real magic in planning isn’t in hitting the mark 100% of the time, it’s how much further along you are getting 67% of planned tasks done than have no planned tasks.  Or goals that were never written down and scheduled, which are actually called wishes.

If no, Let it go. 

I remove it from the list and my mental space so I can focus on what is actually important to me.  If it’s something that I think I’ll come back to at a later time, I’ll stick that note in a file folder in my file cabinet labeled Goal Planning.  This is a special folder that holds a lot of scrap papers that I may or may not have got to yet.

If I have done it, it’s fun to look back at that big, thick, black sharpie line.

If I have not done it yet, I can reevaluate at that time – Do or Nah?  It’s up to me.

But, it’s not lost in space where it would be if I never scribbled it down in the first place.



ACTIONABLE STEP: Get out a piece of paper and write down all of the things you want to get done this week.  Pick 3 to do today – put those on a Monday post-it note. Cross ’em off with a big black sharpie as you go.  Rinse, wash, repeat T, W, TH, F.  By the end of the week you’ll have accomplished 15 things.  If you only do half of them, you’ll still have more than 7 accomplished. But, IF you add in the weekend, it could be 21!  At the end of the week, you can review all of your daily post-its, and decide if you still want/need to do those items and add them to your next week’s list.

P>S> Comment with your best note taking strategy or let me know if you try this out and get any big wins this week – how much more can you get done with some lists?