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30 minute audio on why people do what they do with money

Last week I was the guest on the Chat With Women radio show. I think you’ll love the conversation we had about money. Listen to us discuss why people don’t talk about money, why people spend more when they visit a brand new store, how women spend differently than men, and how our money story impacts us. All that in 25 minutes. Here is the radio show link. It’s a 60 minute show. I am the guest for the first half.

Give a listen here:


Three tips to help you spend less at the mall

1.    Set a timer. After you have shopped for 90 minutes, you tend to go into a zone- and you spend more mindlessly. You zone out. Malls encourage this by hiding the passage of time. They don’t post clocks or have a lot of windows. This way you don’t know how much time has passed. So simply set a timer on your phone for 90 minutes. When it goes off, sit down and have a cup of tea. You don’t have to go home. Just take five minutes to relax and assess where you are, what you’ve purchased and what else you want to do.

2.    When you go into a store that is new to you, you spend more money. Why? Because you get a hit of dopamine- that feel good neurochemical. Dopamine is released when things are new, novel or exciting. It feels good! And a new store is very stimulating and exciting. So try this: tell yourself you can buy what you want, but you’ll purchase it when you come back a second time. Leave the store and go somewhere else (perhaps stores you’ve been to before) and then return. The second time it won’t feel quite as exciting. It’s not as new or stimulating. If you still purchase something from there, it will be from a more grounded place. It won’t feel so “speedy”.

3.    Don’t carry items around with you in a store. When you are debating purchasing something and you carry an item around, it starts to feel like yours. When you finally decide to return it to its shelf or rack, your brain feels pain- it feels like it is losing something that was yours and you are less likely to put it back. You’ll rationalize why you should have it. If you don’t carry it around with you, it doesn’t feel so hard to put back. Worried that size of jeans will get taken? Go hide it somewhere on a different rack while you think about it. Come on, you’ve never done that?!

The New Face Of Underearning—Is It Time To Earn More And Start Thriving?

Years ago, when I first encountered the term “underearning”, I used the definition of “earning less than you need”. While this is accurate (the pattern of earning less than you need is indeed underearning), it does not describe many women out there. This narrow definition seems to say that the only women who fall into this frustrating pattern are those who “struggle” or are just getting by.

But is it okay to go from surviving to thriving?

I know countless savvy women who don’t see themselves as “strugglers”, but they don’t see themselves as financially abundant either. They make decent money, as relative as that is. And they are really frustrated. Why? Because they know in their minds and their hearts that they could make more. They know, at some level, that they are earning less than their true potential.

Sometimes this is brought home to them by seeing men who do similar work, asking for and receiving far more compensation. Sometimes they have female colleagues who just always seem to make more— money appears to flow easier for them. Oftentimes it is a gut feeling—these women know that the work they do is simply worth more. They get amazing results for their clients. But these results don’t seem to translate into more money.

“Underearning” is simply the pattern of earning less than YOUR potential. It is about the pattern of chronically, but often silently, underselling yourself. (Many women do not consistently ask for the money that they truly deserve. This is the most obvious facet of underearning.)

Underearning knows no professional boundaries. It affects consultants, doctors, therapists and countless women who run their own businesses. Sometime when women are in professions that others think of as lucrative, such as the legal profession, they don’t see themselves as “underearners” because they know others don’t see them that way. But this just increases the sense of isolation and frustration!  Just because you “should” be making a lot of money doesn’t mean you do! I know plenty of lawyers who work really, really hard and still don’t make enough to live the life they long to live. They offer a very valuable service and still many of them earn below their potential.

This is truly a silent epidemic —countless amazing women earn far below their potential, and very few people call this what it is: underearning.

Tons of experienced women are frustrated that their hard work is not yielding more money. These are women who are very good at what they do, but this work and skill does not necessarily bring them the level of financial abundance that they desire and deserve.

What about you?

Take a moment and look back over your career—look back over the last ten, twenty, thirty years – do you see a pattern? Do you see a pattern of repeatedly earning below YOUR potential, or less than you could have earned?  If there is a pattern, as opposed to a one-time occurrence, then it is time to look deeper. It’s not about surviving… it’s about thriving! It’s time that we bring this silent epidemic to light.

Upcoming Webinar:  “MoneyMinder for Business:  How to Earn More, Owe Less, and Create Financial Stability In Your Business”

Do you own a small business? Want to learn about a powerful tool and process that helps you earn what you’re really worth? Join us on February 12th at 5pm Pacific for a one-hour webinar on embracing the Business MoneyMinder.  In this webinar, MoneyMinder founders Karen McCall and Mikelann Valterra will discuss the powerful benefits of using the Business MoneyMinder and how it can help you step into the life you most desire. So if you are a small business owner, consider joining us. You really can feel more in control of your business and be the driver of your own life.

Register for the webinar here

Stop your money worries in 2014

What if I told you that 2014 could be the year you put an end to your money worries, take charge of your finances and become 10-times more confident about your financial future?

What if this was the year you created the financial stability and prosperity you’ve always wanted?

Sounds pretty good, right?

Well, I’m going to help you make it happen.

On, Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET, I’m offering a free teleclass, “How to Get a Fresh Start with MoneyMinder in 2014.”  I’ll be hosting this teleclass with Karen McCall, who co-founded MoneyMinder Online with me.karen-mccall-mikelann-valterra

You may already know but in case you don’t… MoneyMinder is a revolutionary, cloud-based money management system that gives you the power to take charge of your money, plan your financial future and transform your relationship with money forever… in less than 5 minutes a day.

Perhaps you’re already using MoneyMinder. Or maybe you got started and then let it slide. Or you may have never even heard of it before!

It doesn’t matter.

Because on this teleclass, you’re going to get the information and inspiration you need to make a fresh start and become financially fit in 2014.

So, register now!

Let this be the year you stop worrying about money and start to feel good about your financial possibilities. Register now for “How to Get a Fresh Start with MoneyMinder in 2014.”

Warmest regards,


4 Major Costs to Evaluate When Considering Homeownership

Many of my clients grapple with the idea of home ownership and how much buying a house will really cost them. I am not a mortgage broker or real estate agent, so when Zillow asked if I would like an article on this exact subject, I happily accepted. Buying my own home after my divorce was one of the biggest things I ever did in the realm of money. And of course my house continues to cost me money in terms of maintenance and my mortgage. But it also gives me great joy, a sense of security and is one important piece of my net worth.

I build my mortgage payment into my monthly spending plan and on-going maintenance and improvements are part of my annual spending plan. (Before I bought my house I had a category called “house down payment” in my spending plan, where I saved money each month in preparation to buy my sweet home.)


4 Major Costs to Evaluate When Considering Homeownership
By Jay Robert

Typically, a home is the most expensive purchase a consumer will make in his or her lifetime. Therefore, the decision-making process should be well researched prior to accepting the financial responsibilities of purchasing and owning a home. Mortgage choices made early on in the buying process affect the total cost of homeownership by thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars throughout the life of the loan, so it’s advantageous to be informed from the start. Here are four major costs home shoppers should evaluate before buying a home.

1. Interest rate and length of loan term

Consumers considering obtaining a mortgage to buy a home should raise their credit scores as high as possible, as credit scores impact the interest rates offered by lenders and ultimately affect the total cost of the loan. Credit scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent), and lenders generally offer consumers with higher credit scores lower interest rates. Typically borrowers with scores of 740 or higher receive the best interest rates, and even scores of 660 qualify for conventional home loans, though cutoff points vary from lender to lender. Low scores can be improved by paying bills on time, paying down debts and avoiding opening new credit lines before applying for loans.

Next, consumers should begin shopping for reputable lenders who offer low interest rates. While a percentage point difference in interest rates might not seem significant, over the life of the loan it can cost tens of thousands of dollars. For example, consumers who borrow $300,000 over 30 years at 5 percent pay $65,000 more in interest over the life of the loan than someone with a 4 percent interest rate.

Another way to lower the interest rate on a mortgage is to shorten the term of the loan. Borrowers pay more each month, but the shortened length of the loan reduces total interest. A $300,000 loan at 4 percent paid off over 15 years costs the borrower roughly $100,000 in interest, compared with more than $215,000 in interest if that same loan is paid off over 30 years.

2. Down payment and closing costs

Home buyers must be prepared to pay both a down payment and closing costs associated with buying a home. The down payment is typically 10 to 20 percent of the home price; so a $200,000 home might require a $20,000 to $40,000 down payment.

Closing costs are charged to borrowers for credit reports, inspections, appraisal costs, discount points to lower interest rates and attorney and lender fees. In general, closing costs tend to range between 2 percent and 5 percent of the purchase price of the home.

3. Monthly costs

The monthly costs of homeownership exceed the monthly mortgage payment. The cost of homeownership includes the mortgage payments (principal and interest), taxes, condo or homeowners association (HOA) fees and insurance, including homeowners insurance, private mortgage insurance (PMI) and other supplemental policies such as flood insurance. Some experts recommend the total monthly costs not exceed 25 percent of a homeowner’s monthly income. Some lenders advise capping costs at 35 percent. Home buyers should evaluate their level of comfort and financial security before making this decision, because putting down more than 30 percent may lead buyers into debt; after making mortgage payments they may not have enough money left to support their lifestyles.

4. Repairs and maintenance

In addition to mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and condo association fees, homeowners are also responsible for maintenance and repairs on their homes. After placing an offer on a home, the buyers pay for a thorough inspection to determine necessary repairs and then negotiate with the seller to get them fixed before closing. Once purchased, experts suggest budgeting between 1 percent and 2 percent of the purchase price of the home each year to cover home maintenance. For example, a homeowner with a $200,000 home would need to save $2,000 to $3,000 annually for maintenance and repairs.

To minimize the cost of buying a home, buyers should raise their credit scores, look for low interest rates from reputable lenders and compare lenders’ closing costs. Home buyers should establish how much home they can afford while living a comfortable lifestyle before home shopping. Keep in mind closing costs and down payments are only the initial payments, and buyers are still responsible for the monthly costs of mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, fees and standard maintenance of the property. Although owning a home is an enduring American dream, the financial burden can be challenging and isn’t as straight-forward as a monthly mortgage payment.

Ready for more money and meaning in your career?

Letter from Karen McCall on her upcoming training

Let me ask you… what does your perfect career look like?
If you could design it to be just the way you want it?

I’m asking because almost every day I talk to people who feel frustrated, unhappy, under-appreciated and underpaid in their work. Or their job is “okay,” but they called to something greater… something more meaningful, exciting and rewarding.

But they’re not sure what that “something” is.

Recently, I read an article in Forbes magazine that listed The Top Six Reasons People Want Out of Their Careers. I wasn’t surprised to find that the top six included a lack of balance, money, respect, and meaning, as well as the inability to acquire new skills or feel at ease.

It makes sense that people want a career that gives them:

  • the freedom to balance work with their family life.
  • the guarantee of a good income in any economy.
  • the opportunity to hone their skills and abilities.
  • the respect and appreciation of others.
  • the feeling of ease and joy in their work.
  • the joy of knowing their work has a great purpose and meaning.

What about you? Are these some of the qualities you would include in your perfect career?

I remember when I first started out as a Financial Recovery Counselor. I would come home buzzing with excitement. It felt so amazing to help people achieve breakthroughs that radically improved every aspect of their lives.

The fact that my work was in high demand and I could charge fees most professionals would envy didn’t hurt either. It was so liberating to know that, no matter what, I could always make great money and feel great about the work I was doing in the world.

Now, I get that same rush of excitement and gratitude when my counselor trainees begin to sense how profoundly they can improve people’s lives as well as their own by becoming a Financial Recovery Counselor. In a recent training class, for example, one of my trainees blurted out, “This work is changing my life!” And she hadn’t even seen her first client yet!

Starting now, I’m accepting 8 new trainees into the fall Financial Recovery Training.
This training is not for everyone. It requires a level of commitment, desire and willingness to transform your own relationship with money so you can help others do the same.

If you have a genuine desire to help others, and you crave more meaning, freedom and financial compensation from your career, I invite you to apply for the fall training. I’ve redesigned the program so it is more affordable than ever without sacrificing the depth of content, mentorship and supervision. But as I mentioned, I’ll only be accepting 8 trainees.

To give you more information, on Saturday August 24th, at 10am, I am doing a free webinar. Jump on and listen in: “The First Step to Having the Career and Income You Want. Register here.

You can also  head here and fill out this interview form, or give me a call today (415-742-4292) and we’ll set up a time to talk about whether this training is a perfect fit for you.

Warmest regards,

Karen McCallFounder, Financial Recovery Institute

(415) 742-4292

A simple and effective way to track your financial goals

As co-founder of MoneyMinder ( ), I could go on and on about the virtues of tracking, or being able to do a simple monthly spending plan and know I’m okay. Yes! But what about pulling back and working on goals like debt reduction? Or building more savings? What is an easy way to do that?

In MoneyMinder, there is a simple net worth tab. I say “simple” because some people get very complicated when they think about net worth. However net worth is “simply” taking everything you owe and subtracting it from everything you own, and seeing the difference.

But there is an even easier way to jump into this subject. Don’t worry about your entire net worth right now. Really!

Simply use the net worth sheet to focus on your current debt and savings goals.  Or grab a blank piece of paper and do this–

At the top of a sheet, write down your savings goals: perhaps your current savings goal is to start a safety net so you know you are okay if don’t have any money coming in. (Look here for my article on creating a safety net. I call it a “Freedom Fund”. ) And you want to put $100 into it each month and you want to watch it grow. So write down “Safety Net” or “Freedom Fund”. (I recommend setting up an automatic transfer to savings that is small and sustainable to get this going.) Then make a list of your current debts that you dislike- perhaps it is credit cards. Write out their names (and their interest rates next to their names if you want some great incentive.)  Don’t worry right now about big things like mortgages. And you may also want to wait on thinking about student loans.

Now you have a column with savings goals on top and debt goals on the bottom. Once a month, write down their new balances.

Each month, once a month, you simply update this sheet in a new column on the right side – you write in your new savings balances and you write in your new debt balances. You’ll have columns going across your page.  Check out the picture I made of what this could look like. (This picture isavings_debt_picture_newsletters from MoneyMinder- the spending plan software I use with many clients.)

Seeing debt balances go down and savings go up feels sooo good. Over time you may fill in the other parts of your net worth. But for now, focus on your immediate goals. Make filling this out the first thing you do each month. You’ll immediately see if your debt balances went up, which is great for breaking denial and re-setting your intention. (Take your credit cards out of your wallet?)  And you’ll feel good seeing your savings go in the right direction.

Here is a tip: put a reminder in your smart phone on the 30th of each month- “Grab current debt and savings balances”.  You can even put them in a simple note on your smart phone and when you have time, write them in your columns.

With some simple monthly updating, you can make a ton of progress on both your debt and your savings goals. It feels great!

A little anniversary gift for you- conquering underearning!

It’s our 6 month Anniversary! And we want to celebrate with you.

That’s right. Just 6 months ago, in January, we launched the new online MoneyMinderOnline spending plan software system. We already have over 400 users, and they are thrilled with how easy it is for them to stay conscious of and connected to their money.

Did you know that with the MoneyMinderOnline system, it only takes about 5 minutes a day to know exactly where your money is going and what you need to earn to not only cover your monthly spending but live your ideal life? And with MoneyMinderOnline, you can customize your own spending categories so they reflect what’s truly important to you.

Plus it is cloud-based, which means you can access MoneyMinderOnline from any computer, any time. Whether you are at work or home, your MoneyMinderOnline is always accessible to you!

Yes, we’re extremely pleased with how the new MoneyMinderOnline is helping so many people transform their financial reality, plan for the future and feel on top of their money… and on top of their world.

So… here’s how we want to celebrate!

Anyone who orders a MoneyMinderOnline subscription before July 31, 2013, will receive the first two chapters of Why Women Earn Less: How to Make What You’re Really Worth a book written by ME- Mikelann Valterra, MoneyMinderOnline co-founder. These two chapters will give you a greater understanding of how you may be underselling yourself and whether hidden feelings of unworthiness are sabotaging your ability to earn more.

Oh, but wait!

Before you sign up, you need to know this:

We offer a business version of MoneyMinderOnline, designed for “solopreneurs” who own and run a small business. And just like the personal MoneyMinderOnline, it is a complete, cloud-based system that is easy to use, understand and customize to fit the needs of your specific business. Now it’s easy (and even kind of fun) to stay on top of your business income and expenses, reduce or eliminate debt, prepare for tax time and plan for the future.

Whether you order a personal or business subscription to MoneyMinderOnline, you get our anniversary special gift, the first two chapters of Why Women Earn Less: How to Make What You’re Really Worth.  But you must place your order before July 31st.

Thank you for your well-wishes and support during these first 6 months. We couldn’t be happier about the way MoneyMinderOnline is taking off, and we’re so excited about the months to come.


P.S. Do you know anyone who could benefit from either the personal or business version of MoneyMinderOnline? Please feel free to pass on this information so your friends, colleagues and family members can discover how liberating it is to stay connected to their money.

Does Money Make Your Happier? The truths from my burglary

One day a few weeks ago, I turned the key in my door with my son beside me, and instantly I knew—something was wrong. (I KNEW I had thrown that deadbolt.) I walked in with my heart pounding, sensing something was amiss. I walked straight to the TV cabinet where the flat screen, Xbox and other entertainment devices lived, and yanked the door open. EMPTY. Only wires and dust greeted me. I stared and stared, and then with a jolt I ran into the kitchen where I had left my (very) old smart phone on the kitchen counter. I upgraded a couple of months ago to an IPhone, and had not taken the pictures off my old phone yet….

It was gone. With all the pictures on it.

I went into the living room and sank onto the floor- and started to cry. After a few minutes, I realized I needed to call the police and see what else was missing….

Time passes. I am okay. But what is clear to me is what I am the saddest about. It is not my stolen STUFF but my lost pictures. They captured a year of experiences- family holiday dinner parties, outings with my son, my first trip to Europe, his 13th birthday party.   So while the insurance company talked dollars, I only thought about those lost pictures.

In a recent blog I wrote about the hotly debated connection between money and happiness. At first, after this burglary, I felt there was no connection between money and happiness. I didn’t care about the expensive stolen TV. But on reflection, I realized that my experiences- some of them- cost money too. And spending money on them had given me a lot of happiness.

The truth is that there IS a connection between money and happiness, if what you spend your money on are experiences. Studies even confirm this truth. And the fact that I spent a week crying about my pictures and not the two stolen laptops and TV, cements this truth forever in my heart.

Researcher Leaf Van Boven, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that we’re happier when we choose experiences over material things.  It’s about doing, rather than owning. Whether it’s vacationing on the coast, taking a pottery class, learning to play the guitar or going on a hike to Mt. Rainer, “Experiences contribute to the process of self-actualization,” Van Boven reported.  Part of the reason is that experiences translate into memories, while “stuff” quickly loses its luster after the thrill of the purchase.  (Read more: Can Money Really Buy Happiness? – Good Housekeeping) Luckily, I do have my memories!!! But pictures help me remember.

Experiences help us become the type of people we want to become. And we enjoy reflecting on our experiences- we like making memories.  It’s one reason we take pictures- to re-live the moment. We rarely take pictures of stuff we bought. (Though truth be told, my insurance company wishes I did!!) We become who we want to be and we create memories of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. And in the meantime, we are enjoying living life in the present.

For example we love to travel because it nourishes our sense of adventure, our social nature and meeting the unknown.   We enjoy anticipating it- planning it. We love the actual experience. And we like to think about it and remember it when it’s over.  I had a million pictures of France….

Buying a new blouse never gives us all that.

Travel costs money. Many experiences cost money. And these experiences bring us far more enjoyment than stuff. It’s really about spending money on what you value.

Of course there are many experiences that are free. As human beings, we thrive on discovering and experiencing new things. Make a list of all the experiences you can take part in that are free. From hikes to connecting with people in new ways to trying out a new hobby. This is where our happiness comes from- not stuff.

What we buy does not make us happy in the long run. It’s who we become that makes us happy.

I think I’ll go take more pictures.

Three Reasons Tracking Your Spending Will Shift Your Relationship to Money

Recently, I was interviewed on the psychology and brain science behind the “power of tracking”- why tracking our spending is so powerful.  (Link: )

Tracking is simply recording our income and outgo – it’s about taking the time to “write down” our financial transactions.

What?! Many people think that they don’t need to, since on-line banking shows their transactions, or various software programs do it automatically for them. But I strongly disagree. Here are three benefits to tracking your money yourself.

First of all, the act of tracking will often give you pause and help you think about what you’re doing. You simply become more mindful. That is a huge benefit.

Imagine that you could log in at the calorie bank and see where you “spent” your calories last week. You didn’t have to track what you ate – you could just see it. Well, most of us would not want to look. And besides, what’s the point? We already ate that cheesecake. Now it may be true that in a calm moment, we could rationally analyze the week of food we ate. But the truth is that if you record what you eat yourself, the act of recording makes you more mindful. And it often changes what you eat.

Tracking money can be just like that.

When you track your money, you become more aware of your behavior around money. And people who track their spending are simply less prone to impulse spending. They are connecting to the experience of spending.

This leads me to the second benefit. When people track their spending, they find that when they do spend money, they are more at ease with it.

In fact, people who track what they spend report being happier and calmer about money in their life. Who couldn’t use more financial happiness and calmness?

And tracking spending only takes five minutes a day. Less time than cooking or working out.

Here’s a third benefit of tracking. With the rise of “one stop shopping”, automatic tracking software (for example, or your own bank) simply cannot know what you bought at Amazon, or at Wal-Mart. You may have one purchase that is part clothes, part food and part gifts. And a part of you may want to forget about some of the items you purchased…. Tracking gives you clarity. When people don’t have clarity, they tend to feel uneasy and anxious about money. The money fog drifts in. So tracking helps you see clearly where you are really spending your money, to help you make powerful decisions about where you’d like future money to go. You simply can’t get to where you want to go financially if you don’t know where you are or where you’ve been.

My money mentor, Karen McCall, taught me the power of tracking when I went to see her about my own money issues many years ago.  Karen says, “Tracking may seem like a very simple practice, but it will give you important feedback about your money behaviors as well as the chance to alter them. This is a big part of developing a healthy relationship with money.”

I have found this so true.

So I leave you with two questions that my own money mentor, asked me:

  • What are you afraid you will discover if you track your money?
  • Is it worth becoming conscious of your spending and earning in order to have a healthy relationship with money?

I decided creating a healthy relationship with money was definitely worth those five minutes a day. It’s brought me a lot of calmness and peace. And I’ve never looked back.