Introduction

“…I know that when my money is funny, my mental and sometimes even physical health start to get shaky too.”
(Written by one of my students)

A lot of Americans have difficulties managing their money: compulsive gamblers and spenders with bona fide addictions, professionals who earn $200,000 a year but somehow still bounce their bank account, entrepreneurs who struggle to determine the worth of their craft while supporting a livelihood, students living off loans in pursuit of the career life, families in poverty who endeavor every day to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, folks at every social strata in every type of debt imaginable.

And then there are those who aren’t in crisis. They have their indulgences, but thankfully aren’t addicted. They are smart, creative, and curious. They have a career trajectory that they feel good about, even passion for. Perhaps they have some retirement savings, a decent benefits package, or even an inheritance. They usually have debts, but have enough income to cover them and keep a decent credit rating. They understand the importance of taking action today to improve the world their children will inherit. They care about their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and strive to make the best choices for themselves and their families that will help them to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. But, something is missing.

They learned about how to handle money from their parents – in both good ways and bad. They might even see certain habits and behaviors being replicated in their own lives. But at the same time, they’re having their own experiences, since the world and rules and the whole game seems to be a different one than our parents had to play. They know enough to know they aren’t seeing the whole picture, that they have blind spots. So, perhaps they went to a financial advisor, except that person was really more focused on helping them protect and build their wealth (or at worst, just score a sale). Or they went to a therapist, shared some frustrations, and left without any structured game plan. They got a book or two on money management, but found it too technical or overwhelming to implement. They didn’t qualify for help at the local nonprofit, since they made too much money. They couldn’t find any accessible (or qualified) financial coaches in the area, even if they knew where to look. What to do?

Talking about money with their friends? Unfortunately, it’s said that we’re the average of the five people we hang out with most… which means their friends are as lost as they are. But even if they weren’t, talking about money is REALLY TOUGH! There’s an embarrassment that they don’t know as much as they think they should, embarrassment over mistakes they’ve made. Talking about money seems to be more taboo than politics, religion, or even sexual lives. So, where to turn? If you’re the “I want to live authentically, and need to get a handle on my money” type, then I invite you to join me on the journey toward financial empowerment.

My name is Jeffrey and I study, teach, and help others with their financial well-being. For me, it’s about being at the intersection of people, money, and social justice. It’s about accompanying individuals on their journey to take ownership of their relationship with money and at the same time, making sure all can prosper. It’s about spiritual and moral empowerment. It’s about behaviors and choices. It’s about addressing those fears we have around money, pushing through, and realizing that it’s actually just an amazing tool we can learn to use to help us fulfill those values and accomplish those goals most important to us, our families, and communities. I’ve been doing this work for ten years, and have accompanied, in different ways, people in all the above circumstances. My intention is that, by accompanying you on this stage of your journey, together we’ll figure out your values, set goals using the best tools behavioral research has to offer, put together a framework for you and your family to make choices and take action in line with your spiritual and moral compass, and really start building that Land of Prosperity for yourselves and your community.

You may not be a politician who can shape laws or a business executive who can wield wealth to your whims. But, you hold within you an incredible amount of power – through choice, through determined action, and working in harmonized activity with others – that can be harnessed to transform the world and yourself in the process. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

This book is a work in progress and we’ll all benefit from your input and collaboration. In the “Leave a Reply” below, please post examples, comments, questions, and needed edits. By posting, you grant permission for inclusion of any content to become part of the book, now or in the future, in whatever form it may take. I’ll give attributions to the extent possible. I know sharing about our financial lives can be sensitive, so if you want to share anonymously, please use the contact form instead and I’ll honor your request.

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