1% Better

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out ~ Robert Collier


Indeed it is! As we consider our money, small efforts add up over time (and small drips do too!) Rather than consider a major rework of your spending or saving, try the 1% better approach.

  • Cut back your spending by 1% this month or
  • Increase your savings by 1% this month or
  • Increase your debt payments by 1% this month

Then keep doing that! Next month 1% more. Inch your way to success.

This is the season of benefits enrollment and updates for many companies. Take a look at your 401k or other retirement plan and increase the contribution by 1%. In 6 months, maybe you increase it by 1%.

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. ~ Chinese Proverb

Let’s not stand still with those money habits; let’s consistently grow slowly.

To your financial success (1% at a time)!







Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg; They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.


What Gets Maximized?

I read one of Seth Godin’s blogs that asked that question. I thought it was a pretty good one. In our lives, what gets maximized? When we spend our time, what gets maximized? When we deal with our money, what gets maximized?

Decide right now, what do you want to maximize financially? Do you want to maximize your 401k savings? Your IRA savings? Your savings toward your kids’ education? Maybe it’s important to maximize your travel fund each year. Or is it maximizing your emergency fund or your debt repayment? Talk to your spouse and see if you are on the same page with what you want to maximize. If not, perhaps that is your first step; come together on what you want to be maximizing.

Next step is to track your time and track your money. See what you are currently maximizing in both areas. How does that match up against what you want?

Now is the time to take steps to fix things if you don’t like what you are maximizing right now. Today is the day!

To maximizing your financial success!


Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg; They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.

Are You a Financial Olympian?

Did you watch the Olympics? Sadly, I did not see nearly as much as I would have liked, but I popped in here and there. The level of discipline, dedication, single-mindedness, and commitment that these athletes have is so incredible! I saw the ski jumpers who train and train for years, and they get just a minute or two to perform. Years of commitment and sacrifice for 2 minutes on the hill. A split-second on the landing might mean a medal or a face full of snow.
That is a crazy level of dedication for a brief shining moment. I know there are other events during the year, but the input seems much greater than the results on the other side. Yet they do it. Hundreds of athletes, thousands really when you consider all of those who came up a bit short in their quests to make Olympic teams around the world, give their all, pour everything they have into one single goal.
What if we were able to do just a hundredth of what they do? What if we could sacrifice just a bit more for the goals that are really important to us? What if we could stay focused on one really important financial goal and not allow ourselves to be distracted by lots of other competing goals? We might just be financial champions in our own little game of life.
I saw Lindsay Vonn in an interview about her come-back – “it’s all I think about” was her comment. What if paying off that nagging debt was “all we thought about.” It’s not quite as fun as imagining ourselves on the podium getting a gold medal, but it will give the same sense of accomplishment! Sadly, there are no cheering fans, no endorsements or interviews for us non-athletes who are striving for our personal goals, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
So, let’s use that Olympic spirit to create and focus on our own financial goals. Let’s apply that Olympic discipline, perseverance, and single-minded stubbornness to defeating debt or going after that promotion or building that 401k balance. It’s never fun in the trenches, not for athletes during the workouts and drills, and not for us making sacrifices and saying no to things we’d like to do, but the payoff can bring gold to both.

To your financial success!





Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of Tana Gildea and are not to be construed as individual advice or the advice or opinions of Homrich Berg. They should not be considered recommendations as each person’s financial situation is unique to her; they may or may not apply to your situation. If you believe that something communicated may be relevant to your situation, Tana strongly encourages you to consult with your individual tax or financial advisor prior to taking action so that the totality of your unique situation is considered.

What’s Your Story?

I just finished reading a lovely book about the magical Waverley women*. If you are a Waverley, you are odd but have a talent that borders on the magical. The Matteson men in the story are prominent business leaders while the Young’s are known for their physical strength. It is a source of pride for some, rebellion for others, but the stories about these families are long-lived and well-known. It makes it easy to know where everyone stands.
Of course, not everyone is ever any one thing all the time and certainly all members of a family aren’t the same. It is interesting the myths that can surround people or families, and it reminded me of a woman who approached me after one of my presentations. She told me how her father always talked about the “Smith family money curse.” The curse being that every time they got a little ahead, something came along to wipe out the reserves. The woman had heard the stories so often that she, and everyone, just believed that their family couldn’t get ahead. (Of course, the other way to view this is that they are fortunate to have extra resources in a time of trouble, but that’s a different blog!)
The interesting thing is the stories. The stories hold the power and can shape our beliefs. What stories are told about your family, both your immediate family and your family of origin? In particular, what money stories surround you and your people? Was grandpa known as someone “with the Midas touch” or maybe someone who had “a hole in his pocket?” Maybe great-grandma was a financial whiz who was ahead of her time (and hopefully handed down this great skill to her kids and grandkids.)
Stories can be powerful because they create beliefs. Those beliefs will take on a life of their own if our faith in them is strong enough. The big question is whether those beliefs are serving you and moving you in a positive direction. If they are, facts don’t really matter. Cling to those stories: “yes, I have grandpa’s Midas touch.” Go with it! If the beliefs are not so great and are holding you back, let’s dig for facts and start dispelling the myth. Even if grandpa had a “hole in his pocket,” you can carefully examine your own pockets and shore up all those seams! It is your choice. Just as the Smith daughter made the choice not to participate in the Smith family money curse, you can choose which part of the family lore you’d like to own and which you can leave to the mists of time.

To your financial stories and the success they may bring,


*First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (but read Garden Spells first as you’ll want to meet the Waverley’s properly.) These are perfect books for a cold day when curling up with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a great book are a perfect escape from the drudgery of your to-do list.


Prosperity is the alignment of your beliefs, values, and actions.

Lorri Palko & Beth Egan

This is a unique way to look at the word prosperity. It puts a different spin on it and makes prosperity that much more attainable and controllable. “Alignment” is a great word to reflect what we truly want in our lives – for everything to be synched up, moving in the same direction, and flowing. We talk about the “stars aligning” or “everything falling in to place” as a nod to order and consistency.

As I was reflecting on that quote, I have a strong sense of the power that is inherent in aligning my beliefs, my values and my actions. The power of taking control, of being in charge, and of making things happen. We don’t wait around for prosperity to find us, we create it! So, to begin creating, consider:

  • What are your beliefs about your financial abilities? Your ability to make money, use it appropriately, and accumulate wealth.
  • What are your values around your financial life? What is the most important aspect of living authentically for yourself in this area?
  • What actions can you take today, tomorrow and going forward to make sure that you are living in prosperity by aligning what you belief, what you value, and what you do?

It is rarely the “big bang,” the grand gesture, or the sudden action that brings prosperity. It is the daily activities, the million small decisions, and the commitment to align your actions completely with what you believe and value.

To your financial prosperity!


Are you in danger of the Five Buck Syndrome?

I have talked about the “5 buck syndrome” before, many times. I have written about it and yet, this week, I did a lot of “5 bucking.” From app purchases to the shopping cart at the grocery store to online shopping’s lure of “only $10 more dollars until you qualify for free shipping,” the pull to separate us from that 5 bucks is strong. And yes, I fall prey to it as much as anyone so I write this to remind myself as much as to remind my readers that the phrase “it’s only 5 bucks” is the financial equivalent of a leaky faucet in your bathroom; it doesn’t seem like that little drip can add up to much until you plug the sink and see how fast it fills! You can build up to a $1,000 credit card balance, 5 bucks at time. The cash you had in your wallet on Friday night? It probably drained out 5 or 10 bucks at a time. Think to yourself how often that phrase runs through your mind, “it’s only X bucks.”

Here is a tip for saving that 5 or 10 bucks instead of spending it: keep an envelope in your purse or wallet that says, “it’s only” on the front. For one week, every time the thought, “it’s only x bucks” runs through your mind in relation to spending, put the money in that envelope rather than spending it. If you had planned to “swipe” for it, write the amount on the back of the envelope. Next time you are at Target, Walmart, or the grocery store, count how many the times you think, “it’s only,” as you look at an item and throw it into your cart. This time, put it back and write down that amount on your envelope. Every time. You will be surprised at how many times you discount the spending because the cost is low. You will be surprised at the dollar amount that adds up to in a week!

At the end of the week, move all the money to your savings account. You just created savings for yourself, 5 bucks at a time! Become aware of all those “5 buck moments” and pay attention. Don’t buy something just because it is inexpensive. Try to avoid buying at all! Ask yourself, “do I really need this?” Also start training yourself to recognize that phrase and stop before you just throw it into the cart, swipe your card, or click the buy button. You can get rich 5 bucks at a time; you just need to save that 5 bucks time and time again.

At holiday time, it is especially tempting to add volume to our gift-giving. More presents for the kids to unwrap, more stocking stuffers, more food around the table, more treats to take to the office. This year, treat yourself to that 5 bucks and rest assured that the gifts you’ve picked are enough; the food around the table is enough; and nobody needs more treats at the office!

To your financial (and holiday) success!

Whoops – Why Did I Do That?

Some mistakes involve doing things we wish we had not done. It happens, but if it happens and happens and happens again, it is probably time to take a closer look at what’s going on. Consider the following whoops areas and see if you fit one:

  • Heat of the moment – you know, at the concert – woo hoo! This is awesome – I’ll buy a shirt and a CD and one of those, and it’s a special night, how about another drink or dessert? If you are consistently caught up in the moment and Good Time Charlie has gotten away with your money again, you may want to make a plan ahead of time and take cash. When it’s gone, you are done.
  • It was a bad day – hate your job, fight with your ex, kids are driving you crazy and rather than “Calgon, take me away,” it’s or the mall that takes your money away. Your brain is looking for a little feel good buzz and new shoes are just the ticket… until the bill comes and then regret is your middle name. If you are an emotional spender, admitting it is the first step. See that pattern and realize that you are looking for a distraction and something to make you feel better. A new gadget is not the best answer. Perhaps address the issue – get out some good paper and pencil and write down your feelings. Address the angst by analyzing the problem and coming up with some solutions. Get outside and get some exercise. Exercise is a better feel good medicine than all the shoes in the world and if you walk in nature, you have the added benefit of the restorative power of trees, birds and the wide open sky.
  • “If I only had ______, than _____” – oh, the lovely lies we tell ourselves! “If I only had a new laptop, then I could write that book.” “If I only had a bigger house, then I wouldn’t fight with my husband.” This is expensive if we go for it and a mirage if we don’t. This thinking is actually dis-empowering because we give the power to the shiny object rather than to our abilities to solve the problem. Reverse that thinking, “Even though I don’t have _______, how could I still _______?” This gets your creative juices going, takes back your power, and saves your wallet. No more regret when the laptop or the house was not the issue in the first place.
  • Fall for the “sale” – whether it is a sales guy preying on your fear of missing out or the banner in the store window, a sale on something you don’t need, is not worth falling for. Think back to all the things that you “had to have.” How many of them really became treasured items? Probably not many. Here is a great place for procrastination – wait until tomorrow and see if you really have a burning desire. You probably won’t.

These are just a few of the situations that cause us regret over actions taken. As you read through them, it may hit the nail on the head or it may remind you of other patterns unique to you. Regardless, identify the pattern, understand the trigger, and make a plan to fight back next time. Keep a journal of those regrets if you don’t immediately identify your pattern. The key to solving the problem is to recognize it and then you can focus on taking steps to avoid it in the future. In the meantime, forgive yourself and harness the power of that regret to take a new action which leads away from the pattern of regret and into the pattern of control over your responses. You’ll feel a whole lot better saying goodbye to regret.

To your financial success!

What’s Your Dragon?

As you have probably guessed if you have read many of my blog posts, I love quotes. Love, love, love quotes. The right quote can hit you right between the eyes, pierce your heart, or stoke your internal fires. Here’s one that I love from The Best of Success:

Overcoming the negative is the price of achievement – the price of greatness.

In a world where “the negative” sells, this is a very applicable quote! All around us (and within us), we see and hear the negative. Right about now is when the credit card bills from the holidays may be rolling in. The tax return documents are showing up in the mail box. The luster of our New Year’s resolutions is getting a bit faded and our jeans may still be a little too tight from those holiday indulgences. Bluck!

Ah, but now the gauntlet has been thrown down – overcoming those negatives is the price of greatness! Wow. Greatness! I can achieve anything; aspire to greatness if I just hack my way through the grit and grime of all that negative.

Where is your financial negative? Is it the credit card bills or the thought of slogging through the tax return? Is it getting your financial life organized or devising a plan to fund that IRA by April? Is it figuring out how (finally) to get your 401k invested? Whatever it is, see that as the dragon that you and you alone can slay. We all love the hero’s journey so paint yourself the hero of your own financial journey. See that negative as the dragon standing between you and your financial greatness.

You get to write the story of how you overcame that dragon, stood tall in the face of fear, uncertainty, and negativity, and came out victorious on the other side. Yes, it’s just a tax return, but that isn’t what’s important about the story; what’s important is that it was your personal dragon and you fought through and found achievement and greatness in this moment.

For this week, when you see negative, picture the dragon and then see yourself, sword in hand, fighting through it, overcoming it, and standing in your greatness.

To your financial GREATNESS!

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