Mind over Money: Breaking Down the Barriers to Sound Money Management

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Are problematic habits and attitudes wreaking havoc with your finances?

Super Investing

A groundbreaking book by Eric Tyson helps you recognize – and conquer – obstacles and develop good habits.

New York, NY (December 2005) – You know the fundamentals of good personal finance. Don’t rack up credit card debt. Invest your savings in proven vehicles for the long term. Secure adequate insurance coverage. And don’t forget to have some fun along the way. It’s not rocket science. Problem is, you can’t seem to live by these commonsense rules. Perhaps you feel powerless against the siren song of consumerism – the one that insists you need a shiny new car every two years. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum, putting in 60-hour workweeks and hoarding every cent.

Neither extreme is healthy, says financial counselor Eric Tyson, author of the new book Mind over Money (CDS Books, January 2006, ISBN: 1-59315-238-8). And both represent the types of attitudes and ingrained habits that keep even the smartest among us from reaching our financial goals.

“Although, on occasion, a major illness or some other unavoidable problem causes people to fall short of their financial goals, far more often, long-standing barriers to dealing well with money are to blame,” he writes. “As a financial counselor, I worked with far more people who had to overcome significant obstacles in their attitudes and behaviors than people who simply need a bit of sound financial advice to implement.”

Mind over Money delves into these barriers – from casual acceptance of consumer debt to poor investment trading practices to workaholism to fear-based money avoidance to the all-too-common “spender married to a saver” phenomenon – and offers a wealth of practical advice on conquering them.

Tyson is an authoritative voice on such matters. He has been “in the trenches” for more than two decades, including advising people of all economic means and writing numerous books on personal finance. In the process he has seen the powerful relationship that exists between our personal awareness and happiness and how we handle our money.

Here Are Just A Few Of His Insights

  • Take a “historical inventory” of your money mindset. Set aside about an hour for personal reflection and ask yourself some pertinent questions. Tyson’s book provides a complete list, but here are a few: What personal experiences (good and bad) relating to money do you recall from childhood? Were your parents spenders or savers? How much freedom and latitude did they give you with money? How important were financial considerations in what you chose to study and what jobs and career you sought out?

    “There are no right or wrong answers to these questions,” writes Tyson. “In working with clients, I’ve found that simply taking the time to think about and reflect upon one’s history with money provides valuable insights that enable people to cultivate better financial habits.”

  • If you’re working so hard you’re neglecting your family, consider downsizing your home. Many two-income families know how hard it is to work and spend enough quality time with kids. But Tyson says there are creative ways to cut back on expenses so that you don’t have to work so many hours.

    “I’ve encouraged some parents to downsize to a more modest home, for example, to reduce the pressure for both people to work full-time, after assessing their financial status and their goals, both personally and professionally,” he writes.

    “Many – dare I say most – parents could be less busy and more involved in raising their children and simply spending time with them. Doing so requires making some difficult choices and being candid with yourself, your spouse, and other family members about your priorities, needs, and wants.”

  • Temper your investment strategies with liberal use of the Serenity Prayer. When you invest in stocks and bonds, you must accept the fact that there will be short-term declines, sometimes substantial drops, in your investments’ value.

    Don’t waste your time or energy constantly checking your fund’s performance. It will stress you out and keep you unhappy. In fact, Tyson recommends that you check your investments no more often than once a year. And post these words someplace you’ll see them daily:

  • Grant me the Serenity to accept

    The things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can,

    And Wisdom to know the difference.

Tyson’s Thoughts On Raising Financially Savvy Kids

  1. Insist that kids save a significant portion of their allowance – say, a third of it – toward longer-term goals such as college.
  2. Reduce their exposure to ads. Cut down on TV time. Encourage them to watch DVDs and videos instead, and use digital video recorders to zap out the ads.
  3. Play games that teach good money habits. The Allowance Game, Monopoly, and Life are good examples.
  4. Encourage them to get a job. Your child’s initial exposure to the work-for-pay world can start with something as simple as a lemonade stand. Older kids can cut lawns or baby sit.
  5. Have them invest in mutual funds. It’s a lot more interesting and educational than trekking down to the boring old local bank and putting the money into a sleepy, low-interest bank account.

So Why Did Tyson Write This Latest Book?

He wanted to share his unique inside perspective on the personal financial struggles and issues that plague so many people – struggles and issues that are seldom addressed in the pragmatic, dollars and cents world of money management.

“Best-seller lists are littered with personal finance and self-improvement books,” he reflects. “People are clearly interested in doing more with their money and improving their personal awareness and happiness. To date, however, there has been little integration of these two important fields. I wanted to shed light on the strong connection between the two. I wanted to show readers that the happiest people are those who give sufficient attention to their family, personal life, values, and health. Even if they’re not the wealthiest of individuals, they are the real success stories.”

Eric Tyson is one of the nation’s best-selling personal finance book authors and has penned five national best sellers (he is also the only author to have four of his books simultaneously on Business Week’s business book best-seller list). His Personal Finance for Dummies (Wiley) won the Benjamin Franklin Award for the Best Business Book of the Year. He is also the author of Investing for Dummies and co-author of Home Buying for Dummies and Real Estate Investing for Dummies, among other titles.

Eric writes a syndicated newspaper column and is a former columnist and award-winning journalist for the San Francisco Examiner. His work has been featured and quoted in hundreds of local and national publications and media outlets including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, Worth, Parenting, and USA Today, as well as on NBC’s Today Show, ABC, CNBC, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, CNN, CBS national radio, NPR’s Sound Money, and Bloomberg Business Radio. He was also a featured speaker at a White House conference on retirement planning.

Tired of working as a management consultant to Fortune 500 financial services firms that were more interested in maximizing short-term profits than in providing sound financial products and services, Eric founded, in 1990, the nation’s first financial counseling firm that works exclusively on an hourly basis. He started his new company with a simple mission: to provide objective, cost-effective, personal finance advice, especially to nonwealthy Americans. Through family and friends, Eric had seen many intelligent people make horrendous mistakes in managing their money.

In addition to his writing and counseling, Eric also taught the nation’s most highly attended personal financial management course at the University of California, Berkeley. A dynamic and provocative speaker, he has spoken at many corporations and nonprofits.

His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Mind over Money (CDS Books, January 2006, ISBN: 1-59315-238-8) is available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.