Tally Up Your Debts

Tally Up Your Debts The Art of Love & Money

On Monday, we spent some time letting go of our shame and guilt around our money missteps.  I have had them, for sure. I’m willing to bet you have, too.  It’s okay – we are where we are, we can’t change that.  Focus instead on Your Why and where you are going from here.

At one time, I was blowing hundreds of dollars at Victoria’s Secrets Semi Annual Sale because I had “saved” $700!  My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, shaking his head “You didn’t save $700, you spent $300”.

Wouldn’t have been such a big deal on today’s income, but at the time I was working 20 hours a week at $7 an hour, so 2 weeks’ pay, 40 hours of telemarketing and hundreds to thousands of sch-peels introducing myself as “Jane Brown of Millward Brown Marketing Research; Your opinions are very important to us” in hopes of completing 45-minute opinion research studies on batteries, cars, or air freshener, that resulted in thousands of dial tones (and some shouting) – all for 2 large shopping bags stuffed full of overpriced, pretty unmentionables that no one could even see.

And it wasn’t just the unmentionables, either.  I spent a ton of money on clothes for myself and my daughter back in the day.  We lived in an apartment and the money would have made a world of difference in moving forward with our lives. Paying towards my student loans or even saving for the down payment on a house, or upgrading my car that had no air conditioning.

Let’s not even mention that time I bought a cruise from a cold call over the phone because I had “won” it and I just needed to pay for the second passenger to claim my prize.  Impulse, much?  Let’s just say we never went on that cruise.

Once we bought our house, my shopping habit all but disappeared. We went from having a large walk-in closet in the master bedroom to having a closet akin to a coat closet in our bedroom.

At the time, I had justified the spending on credit cards because I paid it off at the end of every month.  But then there was the 0% interest for 6 months or even 12 or 18 months and soon we had several store lines of credit totaling in the $5,000 range.

Plus my student loans of $7,800.

So now we are making about $800 a week and we owe $12,800 on student loans and credit cards, a $10,00 loan for a down payment on a house to my parents, and we’re not even talking about the mortgage yet.  We are driving old beater cars so we don’t have car payments, but we also have 3 kids that are in grade school.  And that means extracurricular activities, sports fees, day camps, jeans, shoes, and their adorable crooked smiles are hinting at the future cost of orthodontia.

It was time to do something.

List out all of the debts owed.

  1. SEARS – $560 for a new stove for our new house
  2. Helzberg Diamonds – $3600 for our wedding bands
  3. Von Maur – $300 for last month’s clearance rack haul
  4. Gulliver’s Travels – $4,000 for our Wedding/Honeymoon in Ocho Rios, Jamaica
  5. My Parents – $10,000 for a down payment on our house
  6. Student Loans – $7,800 for two semesters at a Technical School after completing my Associate’s degree in Applied Science for Computer Programing with a Grant through the state.

My wake-up call was when I sat down to tally up our debts, listing out our payment plan and seeing how long it would take us to pay off our debts.  I was about 23 at the time and I realized I would be 38 by the time I paid just what we had racked up in our first few years together.

Calculate the Grand Total. Let that sink in.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Get out a pen and paper and start scratching down all of your debts.  Here’s a list to get you started.  Don’t get hung up on outlines for now, just use a piece of notebook paper and pen.  Write down the balance and the minimum payment for each.

  • Major Credit Cards
  • Store Credits/Store Credit Cards
  • Car Loans
  • Student Loans
  • Money owed to Parents
  • Money owed to Family/Friends


BONUS POINTS: Send me an email artofloveandmoney@gmail.com 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.




Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it.-Maya Angelou The Art of Love & Money

We are about to go deep into the systems that I use to master our personal finances.

The first thing everyone says when they begin to learn about money management is that they wish they would have known this sooner.

Listen, I get it.

But you can’t go back in time and learn it sooner. 

The best you can do is dive in now.

You may want to close your eyes and turn away.  You may feel shame and guilt in looking back at the missteps you have made.


Please don’t waste anytime feeling bad about it, just pick up where you are and move forward with me.

As Maya Angelou says, When you know better, you do better.  So, Come along.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Spend some time in your journal, or in your own head letting go of any shame you have around your money past.  We are going to be moving forward this week, so we need to leave all that behind.


Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there doing the work.

Father's Day at The Art of Love & Money

It’s Father’s Day and I want to know what your dad taught you about work, love, and money.

My Dad, he taught me hard work and money management. To live below your means and to be constantly working towards something.

My Mom and Dad were both raised on farms.  Work ethic runs in our genes.  We didn’t live on a farm, but my family lived in a house that my dad designed and built himself that sat on 24 acres of land.  And you can bet that there was always something to be done.

As teenagers, my sisters and I were never really allowed to sleep in.  Mom was up making bacon and eggs and Dad was rounding up the troops by 8 a.m.  There was a yard to pick up sticks and walnuts, mowing and trimming, picking up gravel out of the yard and tossing it back into the driveway, only to later be sprayed back into the lawn by our wheels speeding up the hill for momentum.  There were trees to be cut down and firewood to be stacked.

Then there were the house chores, cleaning up after breakfast and then again after lunch. There was the dusting and the sweeping, the vacuuming and the mopping.  The laundry for the five of us and then time to make dinner, then the dishes so we could do it all again the next day.

We knew what work was.

Of course, as kids, we didn’t appreciate that much.  But now?  Now, I am glad that they gave us the tools that we needed to survive, yeah, thrive.

Opportunity looks an awful lot like work boots.

My dad has a mathematical genius financial mind.  He had crazy convoluted systems for everything.  There was the chore chart, with every chore in the house available in a hand drawn chart.  An X meant that you had done that chore on that day and you got paid fifty cents for that chore.  At the end of the week, they would tally up the chores that we had not only completed but had remembered to write down and that was our allowance.

I remember abusing the hell out of that chart.  It took me a while to catch on, but by the time I was 16 and working for  a paycheck I realized I could make a lot more money per hour doing all the household chores in the day.  My sisters didn’t mind, and neither did my mom.  I could make as much as $40 a week on top of the paycheck I was earning from waitress at Pizza Hut.

I used it to go out with friends, for buying the shampoo in the magazine (instead of the one they were using), my makeup, my clothes.  If I wanted it, I was buying it.

They also let us use their credit card.  When we turned 16 and were driving the car, they made us a user on their account.  It was convenient for them because we ran errands while we were in town,  bringing home groceries, and they never had to worry about us having money for gas or being broke down on the side of the road.  They had a system for us to write down all of our own expenses in the notebook when the bill came in – and to pay it back.  I  once worked myself into quite a hole that took me 18 months to crawl out of  – and that was without even having to pay the interest. To this day I have never used more on a credit card than I could pay in full when the bill came due.

My dad’s craziest hatched scheme was our first cars.  They bought our cars for us, usually from a car auction – my first car started with a screw driver until Dad could replace the ignition –  and they paid for our repairs and our gas.  Pretty sweet deal.

We could drive the car to school in lieu of the hour long ride on the school bus, to work, to hang out with friends, but we had to write down our mileage in a notebook.  Once a month we would have to bring the notebook in the house and tally up what we owed for mileage.  The rate we paid for mileage was based on the write off amounts on the Federal income tax.  Later, I realized how brilliant this was to cut down our unnecessary teenage shenanigans.

At the time, it was just plain unfair.  No one else had to do any of these things.

What I know now, now that I am a parent, is that if your children like everything that you are doing, you are probably not doing it right.  My parents, led by my dad in discipline and financial matters, taught me everything I need to know to get out and hustle for what I wanted.

And for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Thanks, Dad  &  Happy Father’s Day!

ACTIONABLE STEP: Think of the things you learned from your Dad or a father figure in your life.  Think about how it has shaped your life as you are today.  Thank them for it.  And let me know what the best things your dad taught you about all things money, or if you have children, what their Dad is doing to teach your kids about money on the daily.  I want to hear it!

Finally – It’s Friday!

It's Friday! The Art of Love & Money

Hey, all!  It’s finally Friday!

What have you got planned for the weekend?

Time is like money and we can give it all away before we even decide what to do with it.  40+ Hours a week to your employer, countless more hours to your chores and tasks that need to get checked off that long to do list; if you are not careful, you’ll be back at work before you know it with nothing to show for your time off.

Don’t let that happen.

Plan out your time, like you plan out your money.  Make a list of all the fun summery things you want to do, things that you would do if you “could” get an hour to yourself, and then be sure to carve out that time and do something that you actually want to do with your time.

I love Broadway shows, so I decided to check out the local theater scene and write down all of the shows that play this year.  I wrote them in one long list and put them in my calendar and if I am free that night – I go.  Tonight I saw a local community theater performance of The Little Mermaid – and it was really quite good!  Ursula, in particular, was amazing.

I also love to go for long walks.  I have a dog and we will walk for over an hour on the weekends.  This spring I decided to take that long walk off of the usual neighborhood route and explore local parks instead.  I call it my Summer Park Tour 2017.  Every weekend, I am committed to scope our a new park and walk her there.  My original intent was to pack a lunch and a book and a blanket, walk and then spend the day at the park.  We are smack in the middle of graduation party season so I haven’t been able to spend the day at the park yet, but I hope to soon.

Which brings me to the Graduation party that we will be going to, catching up with old friends.  Really looking forward to that!

Then, of course, there is Father’s Day on Sunday.  Family, food, cookouts, games and porch sitting.  Throw in a lazy breakfast and some morning snuggling and you have got yourself a good day!

I have a coffee date scheduled with my husband to talk about plans to celebrate our anniversary and summer list, and dream list.

What’s on your agenda for the weekend? How does it align with what you want to do with your time?  Do you have any weekend rituals?

I want to hear from you – so please comment below.

Enjoy your weekend – Be on Purpose, my friends.


ACTIONABLE STEP: Make a list of things you want to do with your time this summer – and then carve out time to do it.  Let me know what you do!  I want to hear from you!


Discover Your Why

Discover Your Why

I will always remember the first time my husband and I achieved our first lifetime goal.  We had just stepped off of a harrowing 2.5 hour bus ride after a four hour flight and an early wake up call.  We knew where we were going, had been planning it out for months, and yet the utter disbelief, the awe swept over us both simultaneously as we stood in the resort lobby.  Chilling our foreheads and wiping the sweat from our brow with a dampened washcloth, sipping  Champagne on a Wednesday afternoon.  The lobby doors thrown open to a full view of the Caribbean sea, the wind whipping the sails of the cabana tents, the palm trees swaying in the breeze, the Patois of the resort staff flitting in the air.

All I could think was, ‘I can not believe I am here.’

A few years before this had all been a lofty dream.  I was going to school full time, working part time.  He was working full time at a landscaping company.  But we knew what we wanted out of life, and we set about making it happen. Day by day.

What do you want out of your life?  What experiences do you long for?  Where do you want to go, what nooks and crannies do you want to explore?  What kind of things do you want to do for others, those you love, and those who have never met but have a kindred spirit to?

Do you think this life is for others?  Do you seethe in jealousy when friends and family share their plans?  Do you put it off for ‘someday’ when you will suddenly have more money?  Just know it’s not going to happen for you?

Why not you?

I have a few theories.  I think we give it all away before we even take a moment to think about what it is we really want this paycheck to do for us.  What are we hustling and bustling around to do?  To live to work another day, to pay bills and die?  Not me.

Not-ME.Image by Canva.

There has got to be more.

There is the hierarchy of needs in our financial lives, for sure.

But then, there is the peak.

The sweet spot that we are seeking to achieve so that we get to make memories and check off bucket list items.  That euphoric feeling that we get when have accomplished something that we have always wanted to do, but we never really thought it was possible for us.

This is your why.

This is what I want you to connect with so that you can get through the hierarchy of needs and the time and discipline to get through the day to day tasks of paying attention to your finances, your paperwork, creating systems that work for you.

I want you to get out of debt, have an emergency savings account, and a 401k.  But what’s more?  What makes it worth it?  To get to your why.  To make it to the place where your paycheck is going to where you want it to go, to live in the anticipation of planning out your next adventure.

kaboompics_Small notebooks with colourful pencils in a jar on a wooden deskImage by Karolina @ kaboompics

Dream out at least 5 major life bucket-list type experiences.

My husband and I made our list years ago before we were even married.  We have completed 3 of the 5 and the many other must-do, want-to-dos, and need-to-dos along the way.  It’s really remarkable when you look back over the years.

  • JAMAICA √ We went to Jamaica for our wedding/honeymoon. We went again for our 10 year wedding anniversary.  I mean, between the two of us, as kids growing up in our own families a  vacation meant Advenutland in Des Moines, IA or Six Flags Great America in Gurney, IL.  And here we were standing on the beach looking out into the crashing waves of the ocean. 
  • TAKE OUR KIDS TO DISNEY WORLD √  We took our kids on a 9-day trip to            Disney World, staying on site in a resort and eating off the deluxe meal plan. It was an amazing family vacation that I could have never dreamed of.
  • DREAM HOME √ We own our own home. Like own, own it. (Okay so the list says Dream Home, but to be honest I don’t even know what that is anymore.  Houses are more work than they are dream.  #truth)  We may want to move in the near future, or we may decide to travel more and more and keep our modest home base. Or we may do some combination of both.  We like our home and what we have created it to be.  It’s our own joint collaboration art project in constant progress.
  • RED CARPET MUSIC AWARDS. So, this one is still a little obscure to me.  It’s my husband’s pick. We should revisit this one.  If it’s important to him, I want him to do it.
  • AUSTRALIA.  Australia awaits.  And has long since been forgotten.  But to be honest, seeing it on this list has me excited.

 We made this list on a hot pink post-it and tacked it to the refrigerator in my first apartment.  I don’t have it anymore but it is emblazoned in my mind.

Your priorities, lists, and dreams will change over time.

You will have yearly priorities that will cut in front of your dream list.  There will be have-to-do’s and want-to-do’s that will pop up instead.  There may be some cutbacks and financial priorities that should come first. But in between, there will be peace of mind, financial security and stability and sweet memories made at home and smaller family trips and weekend activities to fill the gaps. Every year write down a list of priorities that you want to make happen for that year.  I hope that every year you get to work towards one of your major 5, but if not, don’t put your life on hold until someday.

Living a richer, more fulfilling life is about more than just checking off the perfect financial score card of paying off debt, having 6 months of emergency savings and good credit.  It’s about spending your time and your money on the things that you value, on your own terms, not the rest of society, not your parents, your co-workers or your neighbors.

We live in a noisy world.   Make sure you can hear your own desires.

There are a lot of steps and you won’t get there overnight.  But I don’t want your journey to be a stark and meager existence. I want you to take actionable steps to connect your daily actions to achieving a richer, more fulfilling life on your own terms today.  If your dream is to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, I want you to have plans to hike your local trails this weekend.  If you want to Kayak in the ocean, then find a local spot you can explore at home.  Discover what moves you, figure out how you can get to that place, and how you can get some of that dream life into your day to day existence.

life-loves-the-liver-of-itImage created by Canva.


Don’t wait for some day.  Life loves the liver of it – Maya Angelou


Go Deeper.  More Inspiration found here:

Like Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else”

David Bach’s Dream Buckets (#7 on this list)

How to travel the world, create a life that doesn’t suck, and explore the happiness of pursuit — with Chris Guillebeau by Ramti Sethi

How to Travel: 21 Contrarian Rules with Ryan Holiday & Tim Ferris

Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking by Tim Ferris

ACTIONABLE STEP: Take some time to determine your why.  Write a list of 5 major lifetime dream goals. Then merge them with your significant other, if you have one.  This is your inspiration for making changes to your financial habits.  This is what keeps you going when you’d rather not go any further.  This is what makes it all worth it.

EXTRA CREDIT: Consider making a Pinterest board or a vision board of your top 5 lifetime dream goals.  I think it will come in handy on days when you need a little extra encouragement.

CONNECT:  I’d love for you to share your Dream list with me!  Come back & comment below.


The Art of Love & Money Book Club


I love to read and about the only thing I love more than reading is a great conversation about what I am learning, so I’m launching a Personal Finance Book Club.  But it’s not just any book club.  I want engagement.


Together we will:

  • Read my favorite Personal Finance Books that I have built my system on
  • Break the information down into actionable steps
  • Hold each other accountable as we build a richer, more fulfilling life on our own terms

I will be taking a survey to get your thoughts on how you would like it to be set up.  How many books/ how often to have discussions/how to have the discussions/ what to read.

Please let me know what peeks your interests and let me know what some of your all-time favorites are.


The Art of Love & Money


Art is a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation, the conscious use of talent and imagination, art is creativity.  Art is objective.  What is exquisite to you may be of no matter to me.

Love is a strong affection, an attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion.  The connection that holds us all together, the community  and relationships that shape and alter of lives.  The comfort and support we offer one another.

Money is the currency by which we place value on all aspects of our life, the medium of exchange in appreciation of a day’s work or a coveted possession.  The freedoms of our choices and the stability of our status.

To me, success is the balance between money and love, creative output, our best laid plans that turn into memories. Life is the tight rope that we walk every day, doing our best at getting by, celebrating the moments that make it all worthwhile.  And for me, I think I need all three  – art, love, and money to create that rich life I am searching for.

ACTIONABLE STEP:  Think about what each of these things mean to your idea of a rich, fulfilling life and think about one way you can strengthen these areas in your world.

Looking for inspiration in these areas?  Follow me on Facebook and invite your friends to share with you too, or become part of our community as we search a richer, more fulfilling life in all things love and money, life and experiences, moments and memories.

We will be breaking inspiration down into actionable steps and tracking our progress along the way.  This is not just another page to follow, it’s a community to take control of our lives on our own terms.

Psychology of Money

kaboompics_Woman reading magazines on the floor while enjoying her cup of tea

Personal finance is my geek hobby.  I have read many financial books over the course of my adult life and I have implemented their tactics and strategies into a sort of automatic system to the point where I really don’t need to think about it much at all anymore.

I have always been fascinated by the psychology of money.  What one does with their money varies greatly from person to person.  I have a natural bent towards handling money, yet I have found areas for great improvement over the years by systematizing my finances.

I enjoy discussing money, but, it is a rather taboo topic in polite society.  I thought I would write down my systems in hopes that they could be of use to someone else.  Why?  Because I want everyone to have the freedom and flexibility to chase their own ideal lifestyle.  It’s not the same for everyone, and it won’t remain the same for you even throughout the stages and phases of your life time, but when our finances are in order, our dreams are much more likely to become reality.

I don’t believe that people are “bad” with money.  I do believe that many people don’t want to deal with money.  Not the hassle, or the time, stress and chaos.

The ironic thing is that not dealing with money in a systematic approach will cause you hassle, time, stress and chaos. 

It’s a lot like housekeeping.  I am teased for being a neat freak – people assume I just love tidying up, or that I am OCD.  The truth is I have so many better things to do with my free time.  A little every day keeps me from slaving away all weekend long.  The same is true of our finances.  It’s even better though, because unlike keeping house, it gets easier and less involved as time goes on.  There will always be dishes to be washed and floors to be swept – every day.  But our finances now require very little of my time and need only minimal attention monthly, quarterly and yearly.

Much of life has to do with the finish line.  It has to do with putting in that last 10% of effort.

What to do with my advice? Take it or leave it.  Take one tip or take them all. Incorporate one habit and when that becomes automatic, add in another one.  It is up to you how you will proceed on your financial journey.  My hope is that I can be a helpful resource and guide for you to discover your own personal finance utopia.

I want to hear back from you!

Tell me what was helpful, what you could have done without.  Report back what changed your life and what has given you more returns than you had bargained for.


ACTIONABLE TIP: Get a notebook and a pen that you can dedicate to taking notes and actionable steps on your journey moving forward.

I’m Launching a Financial Book Club!


I love to read and about the only thing I love more than reading is a great conversation about what I am learning, so I’m launching a Personal Finance Book Club.  But it’s not just any book club.  I want engagement.


Together we will:

  • Read my favorite Personal Finance Books that I have built my system on
  • Break the information down into actionable steps
  • Hold each other accountable as we build a richer, more fulfilling life on our own terms

I will be taking a survey to get your thoughts on how you would like it to be set up.  How many books/ how often to have discussions/how to have the discussions/ what to read.

Please let me know what peeks your interests and let me know what some of your all-time favorites are.