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  Darren Barr-Engstrom    

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Finding Financial Abundance!

by Darren Barr-Engstrom

Warning: If you haven’t taken a look at your personal or business finances in a while the subject at hand is going to make you cringe a bit.

The topic of money and personal finance seems to be one area that can be a taboo.  You may know more about people’s sex lives than their personal finances.  And it’s a topic that can carry a lot of shame, especially if you don’t think you are living up to certain standards, if you carry a lot of credit card debt, have declared bankruptcy, or feel behind on saving for retirement. Likewise, some people feel like they’re able to provide for their family and live a healthy life, yet can’t seem to find the extra cash to put away towards retirement, a lavish vacation or to reach out to causes they believe in as actively as they’d like.

This is an area that I help many of my clients to take head on and I’d like to encourage you down this rewarding path.  You can lessen any current stress you might be feeling about money and get on track to meet your financial dreams for your future by tackling some of the homework and answering many of the questions below.  It’s time to take control of your personal finances!

Let’s start with a vision exercise:  

What are you saving for?  What kind of life do you hope to live?  Are you saving for a new car?  For a new house?  What if you could retire at 40, 50, or 60 years old instead of 65, or 70 years old?  What’s your big financial dream?  How much will your dream cost in terms of money?  What would life be like if you didn’t have to struggle, or live paycheck to paycheck?  What would your relationships be like if you didn’t have the stress of making ends meet?  (Most fighting in relationships is around money.)   And for those of you who think that money is materialistic and a waste of time to focus your energy on, how much good could you do in the world if you had more money to give?

Reality check(list): 

When I talk with clients about their money situation, there’s a lot of unknown and a tendency to ignore the areas of their finances that need the most attention.  This is the same as being in a boat with lots of holes that is slowly sinking.  Rather than figuring out where the holes are and patching them, there’s a tendency to sit there in fear and avoidance, both of which will do nothing to keep your financial boat afloat. 

So the first thing I’m going to ask you to do is complete a checklist to see where you are right now (this is from Thomas Leonard’s Clean Sweep Program):Place a check mark next to each statement that is true, then add up all the check marks.

True Statement:
I currently save at least 10% of my income.
I pay my bills on time, virtually always.
My income source/revenue base is stable and predictable.
I know how much I must have to be minimally financially independent and I
have a plan to get there.
I have returned or made-good on any money I borrowed.
I have written agreements and am current with payments to individuals or
companies to whom I owe money.
I have 6 months' living expenses in a money market-type account.
I live on a weekly budget which allows me to save and not suffer.
All my tax returns have been filed and all my taxes have been paid.
I currently live well, within my means.
I have excellent medical insurance.
My assets (car, home, possessions, treasures) are well-insured.
I have a financial plan for the next year.
I have no legal clouds hanging over me.
My will is up-to-date and accurate.
Any parking tickets, alimony or child support are paid and current.
My investments do not keep me awake at night.
I know how much I am worth.
I am on a career/professional/business track which is, or will soon be,
financially and personally rewarding.
My earnings are commensurate with the effort I put into my job.
I have no loose ends at work.
I am in relationship with people who can assist in my career/professional
I rarely miss work due to illness.
I am putting aside enough money each month to reach financial
My earnings outpace inflation, consistently. (My income increases by at least 3% every year)

Number  True  (25   max)


The above test is a quick way to highlight areas for improvement.  Don’t be surprised if your scores are lower than you initially thought they might be.  On a lighter note, congratulations! You just took the first step towards improving your personal finances, figuring out where there’s room for improvement.


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