Kim Hall, Author at Engaged Marriage

All Posts by Kim Hall

About the Author

Kim Hall created Too Darn Happy to help you build stronger and more joyful relationships through offerings of fresh perspectives and practical advice. Having been a wife for thirty years and a mom for almost as long to two daughters, she also shares occasional cautionary tales of her own character building life experiences. Kim recently authored her first ebook, Practicing Gratitude and Discovering Joy-Thirty Days to a Happier You. You can connect with Kim on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, too!

How to Say Good-bye to Limiting Financial Beliefs

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

good bye to limiting financial beliefsPersonal money management has two very important, but unequal, parts.

The how-to is actually only about 20% of the equation, while your behavior holds the overwhelming majority of the control.

The nuts and bolts of the how-to are easy ones to address, but your behavior is a more interesting matter.

Your behavior is guided by your core beliefs: what you value, what is appropriate, what is possible, etc.

As a married couple, that makes handling finances all the more interesting, because you each bring different beliefs to the table.

Core beliefs can help you see a world full of possibility in successful money management, or they can cripple your movement forward.

History is littered with examples of limiting beliefs:

It’s impossible to sail around the world.

There will never be a true flying machine.

Humans cannot run a mile in less than four minutes.

Fortunately, pioneers existed who didn’t share these sentiments.

They broke through the barriers and set new standards of what was possible.

Self-limiting beliefs are psychological barriers that get in your way.

Here are five self-limiting beliefs and examples of how they might show up in your conversations.

Hopelessness.  “There’s just no way to get out from under all the money we owe.”

Helplessness.  “We’ve always been clueless about money management. It’s just too complicated.”

Uselessness.  “It doesn’t matter what we do. There’s always something that sets us back.”

Blamelessness. “It’s not my fault. My parents never taught me. My spouse is the problem.”

Worthlessness.  “We’re just not meant to have enough money. It’s just the way things are.”

There are many other shapes these can take.

Pay attention to the chiding voices in your head and the negative things that roll off your tongue to identify yours.

However, if one or more of these already resonates with you, that’s actually good news.

Being aware of a limiting belief is not much different than realizing your foot aches because there’s a pebble in your shoe.

You aren’t going to be able to achieve a fitness goal, whether walking regularly or becoming a marathoner, until you take care of the pebble.

Similarly, you need to say good-bye to limiting beliefs to clear the way to setting and achieving financial goals.

Saying good-bye to limiting financial beliefs

Identify your self-limiting beliefs about money. Note that these are typically so deeply ingrained you and your spouse treat them as the absolute truth. They are not. Take note of the beliefs above that resonated with you. This is critical because you will remain stuck in an unhealthy financial place until you deal with these obstacles.

Recognize your mind is really, really, attached to these beliefs. Your mind will automatically go in search of evidence to support the beliefs, even when there may be much more evidence to the contrary. 

In Stop Saying You’re Fine! Mel Robbins writes about what happens in your mind when you’ve been stuck, and you begin entertaining some game-changing thoughts.

It’s a constant battle between your game-changer thoughts (lose weight, start a business, find love) that want to upset the current order of your life, and the protective thoughts (I don’t feel like it today, what if I get hurt) that want to preserve order by keeping things the same. Your mind is always scouting all the incoming signs from the outside world, and trying to make predictions about what might happen next, all in order to maintain a high level of safety and a reduced level of risk. When it sees a threat of any kind, it finds a reason to retreat. It’s the wet-blanket theory of motivation. If your mind can kill a great idea by dampening it with emotional turmoil, it will.

Now that you have the tactical advantage of greater awareness, you can take the next step.

Ask quality questions to help bust those beliefs.

Author Jay Arthur shares simple ones:

If you believe “It’s hopeless,” ask “How is it possible?”

If you believe “I’m helpless,” ask “What do I already know about it?”

If you believe “It’s useless,” ask “How is it desirable?”

If you believe “I’m blameless,” ask “How am I responsible?”

If you believe “I’m worthless,” ask “How do I deserve it?”

Pull examples large and small from all parts of your life, not just the financial area. Sometimes your spouse is much better at seeing where you have been successful, so ask each other for input. Be sure to be encouraging, supportive, and open-minded in this conversation. Read stories from and about people who have walked this road before you and have help and hope to share. Dustin has great resources on money and communication, and here’s a Pinterest Board devoted to Debt Freedom stories.

Take action and create new beliefs in their place.

When you look at the list of limiting beliefs, you will see they can all be transformed by gathering more accurate information that contradicts and undermines them.

Hopelessness turns into possibility when you see the ways different families have successfully tackled debt, and you take one or more of those strategies on as your own.

Helplessness is replaced by capability when you learn the simple steps to creating a home budget.

Uselessness changes to purposefulness when you envision how wise financial management is desirable and doable for your family

Blamelessness becomes empowerment when you embrace the satisfaction and growth that responsibility brings.

Worthlessness evolves into value when you realize you are able to not only provide well for your family, but also to help others, too.

With each step you take, every dollar you control, your hope and confidence will grow.

Your belief in yourselves to truly be in charge of your finances will strengthen, and your marriage will be healthier as well.

Comment: Which limiting belief do you struggle with the most?

The Tale of a Red Envelope and a Job Offer

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

red envelope and a job offerHave you ever been so tired of or discouraged with what you do that you are ready not just to change jobs but switch to a completely different field?

A young woman I know was in that very difficult place.

She had been employed in the healthcare industry for over five years, working her way from a per-diem position to full-time, and she had recently been promoted from assistant manager to a management position.

She was very excited about her new responsibilities, but it wasn’t long before she realized the fit was not right.

After lengthy discussions with her fiancee about the pros and cons of the situation, they decided it was time to not only time for her to leave the job, but to leave healthcare altogether.

The opportunity cost of staying was too great, and it was time for a big change.

After taking stock of her skills and what she loves to do, and then researching businesses that might be a match, she decided to apply to a company that caters to creative consumers like herself.

They do not accept online applications, so Ellie filled out the lengthy questionnaire, tailoring her experience to the needs of the company, making sure her responses were complete, well-thought out, and neatly and legibly written.

When she was ready to hand in the paperwork, she wanted to make sure it would stand out.

She knew she’d be in a large pack of potential employees because the company pays considerably above average for the area for hourly part and full-time employees.

Plus, the company didn’t even have any positions posted at the time.

After brainstorming different ideas for making her application memorable, she decided to put her creativity to use.

She wanted to fashion a colorful envelope, something that would be eye-catching.

It would need something on the outside—decorations, or perhaps a name or message—for some extra pop.

She found the perfect inspiration on the company’s website career page where there was a statement in large, bold letters: We’re looking for you!

She proceeded to create her envelope from bright red felt and applied white letters to read the following: I heard you’re looking for me.

This light-hearted project would potentially set her apart and make her memorable in other ways as well:

Showcasing her creative nature

Sharing her sense of humor

Illustrating her awareness of the company’s desire for great employees

The most important role of the envelope, of course, was to get the right person curious about what was inside so she would be invited for an interview.

When Ellie brought her colorfully packaged application to the business, she asked to speak to a manager.

They spoke briefly, and he explained they weren’t currently hiring.

He was amused by the envelope, however, and commented positively on it.

With the delivery of her application complete, Ellie thanked the manager for his time and again expressed her interest in working for the company.

A couple of months later, Ellie received a call from that same manager asking her if she was still available.

She went for her interview, and the first thing she noticed on his desk was her red envelope.

The manager told her there had been a hiring freeze, but he had been intrigued enough by her approach to read and keep her information close by so he could call her when an opening came available.

The questions and conversation began, and Ellie was hired that day.

Her skills, personality, and experience were a match for what the business needed, and she did all she could to be sure her information was seen by the person who makes the hiring decisions.

Consequently, this tale of a red envelope and a job offer had a very happy ending.

The good news is that while the red envelope may not work in your situation, there are other similarly clever and related ways to get your application to the top of the pile and in front of the right person.

As Dan Miller notes in his best-seller 48 Days to the Work You Love:

The major difference between successful and unsuccessful job hunters is not skill, education, age, or ability, but the way they go about their job hunt. 

So, get thinking, get intentional, get creative, and get hired!

Comment: What have you done or can you do to stand out to stand out to a potential employer?

Enabling your children can weaken your marriage

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

enabling your children can weaken your marriageWhen Kansas farm girl Dorothy closed her eyes and murmured longingly, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” she was speaking as a twelve year old who had come to recognize the true magic of home, not as a young adult comfortably and seemingly permanently ensconced under your roof.

Home is a wonderful place, and it’s no surprise that millennials find the idea of moving back in—or never leaving—appealing.

Certainly there can be healthy arrangements for adult children and families living under one roof based on respect, gratitude, and good communication.

However, if you are ready to throw your door open wide in the spirit of financial helpfulness, or if you already have, you’ll want to be vigilant so you don’t weaken your marriage.

How do you know if you are helping or enabling?

Christian Personal Finance defines the difference:

Helping is doing something for someone else that they are not capable of doing for themselves.

Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves.

It is all too easy, as my hubby and I and many other parents will attest, to subtly and unwittingly transition from a situation that began as helpful to one that is enabling.

Helping, for example, is allowing your newly minted graduate to move back home for the summer while they continue to look for a job.

Enabling is still having that same child, now 27 years old, living at home, while you provide for their every need, plus footing the bill for those college loans, because they’re still weighing their options for the future.

If you have become an enabler, what’s driving you?

So many emotions might be at play:

Guilt: You are your child’s protector and provider.

Fear: Your young adult will fall onto extremely hard times, become homeless, go hungry, or will suffer in other ways.

Doubt:  You’ve never seen evidence they can actually take care of themselves financially.

Shame:  What will people think if they see your child living in poverty while you lead a comfortable life?

Discomfort: It’s easier to just keep giving the money than handle a confrontation.

Control:  As long as you write the checks, you get the major stake in continuing to run their life.

Pride:  You feel self-righteous as you sacrifice, believing you owe your children everything.

Responsibility:  It’s your fault you never taught them how to be self-sufficient.

Enabling your children can weaken your marriage

Very simply, it may put the opinions, needs, and the desires of your spouse below those whom you are enabling, thereby going against one of the most basic foundations for a strong marriage: putting your spouse first.

Husbands or wives may disagree on the amount and length of support needed, feel they are being taken advantage of, and especially may resent not being able to enjoy this season together as empty nesters.

Even if you agree as a couple that you both have become enablers, the financial stress in addition to the other difficulties that arise from this arrangement can spill over and create tension and arguments in other areas.

Learning to let go of enabling behavior

Remember that when you financially enable, you are effectively saying your offspring is not capable and is devoid of marketable talent or skills.

It’s time to change the message you are sending.

Get on the same page as your spouse. This may be the first of several uncomfortable conversations, but it is foundational to the ultimate success of launching your child into self-sufficiency. Here are a couple of terrific communication resources right here on Engaged Marriage: Thinking StylesImprove Communication

Put some breathing room into your life. When you are overwhelmed in general, problems can loom larger than life, and your response is often outsized in return. Use the ideas here to brainstorm with your spouse to create an environment that works for you, your marriage and your family.

Love your child enough to say No More Money, it’s time to make a plan to go. It is the ultimate in tough love and frees your child to behave like the responsible adult they have the potential to be. For more in-depth help on the how-to, here are some resources:

Slouching Toward Adulthood:  How to let go so your kids can grow up, by Sally Kowlow

How To Stop Enabling:  When Our Grown Children Disappoint Us, a thorough round up of articles and books

The Enabler:  When helping hurts the ones you love, by Angelyn Miller

Realize you may feel worse before you feel better. When you are asked to imagine your favorite dessert, you conjure up an image of an incredibly delectable dish. Conversely, when you think about how the conversation will go, you imagine the worst about what will happen to your relationship and for your son or daughter’s future. Generally, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Your situation likely has taken years to evolve, and you have been a party to prolonging it.

It’s time to draw that line in the sand.

The kids know what is appropriate, but they will push the boundaries just like they did when they were 2, and 7, and 12 and 16 years old.

Be the adult in the room and the loving parent you were designed to be and provide the guidance and wisdom and boundaries your children need so that your marital and family relationships can mend.

My husband and I have walked this path in addition to helping a single mom get the ball rolling, and I know you can do it, too!

Comment: What is your opinion on enabling your children?

Make Better Purchasing Decisions with the Power of 10-10-10

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

make better purchasing decisions with the power of 10-10-10Every so often you hear or read about an idea so simple and useful that you automatically add it to your life “toolbox”:

Using the 3 Door Rule for more peace of mind in a situation

Implementing the Five Why’s to get to the bottom of an issue

Remembering there’s a pony in there somewhere when the going gets difficult.

Last fall I read the book 10-10-10: 10 Minutes, 10 Months, 10 Years, A Life-Transforming Ideaby Suzy Welch, and my entire family picked up another powerful tool that changed the way we make decisions in all areas of our lives.

The concept is to make decisions by deliberately considering their consequences in the immediate present, near term, and distant future.

It is a reliable and methodical way to arrive at a sound decision that really works, yet takes into consideration your emotions, feelings, and values.

Here’s how to make better purchasing decisions with the power of 10-10-10

Begin with a question. You’ll want to define and refine this so you know exactly what problem you want to fix.

Recently I had had it with our side-by-side refrigerator. It came with the house we bought last year and runs just fine, but it doesn’t hold much, particularly in the freezer section. I began to dream about a shiny new French door model, and actually shopped a bit with my husband, but then caught myself. What problem was I trying to solve?

After doing some brainstorming, I realized the problem was more about my irritation and dislike of side-by-sides because I have to be more careful about how much I purchase or cook so I do have room to store it.

The question then became this: Can we buy a refrigerator we’ll love, that will meet our needs, that is within our budget?

Move onto the information collection to determine options.

For us, that meant figuring out what our optimum storage needs would be and gathering information on pricing. It also meant looking at buying used, as well as what it meant to keep our existing fridge.

Determine the short and long term effect of each option.

This is where the 10-10-10 comes in. The first 10 is the present and could represent today, tomorrow, next week.

The second is that point in the foreseeable future when the initial reaction to your decision has passed but its consequences continue to play out in ways you can reasonably predict. This could be 10 days, 13 weeks, 8 months, depending on your situation.

The final 10 is quite a distance out—so you’ll estimate the effects in more vague terms.

We determined the effects of our options thusly:

The present: We’d have an awesome new fridge that went way over budget, or we’d buy a used one and stay under budget, or we’d keep the one we have until it dies. We’d have plenty of space for storage if we bought something different.

Near future: In about a year, the effect is still the same, although each passing year means the existing unit could stop working. If we bought new, we may really need that money we had to take out of another part of the budget to cover the shortfall in the refrigerator budget, and that might create some hardship.

Future: In five years, we wonder how our need for storage may change, especially since we’ve had closer to three to four persons living here most of the time rather than just the two of us. Also, we’d like to remodel the kitchen and realize the plan would have to work around the newer refrigerator. If we wait, we can save more money and buy what we want and need, assuming the existing unit lasts. That’s a calculated risk we’re willing to take.

Analyze the information alongside your values

Once we started to analyze the effects in concert with our values, the decision was incredibly easy to make.

Living within a budget has given us so much more peace of mind and freedom than we used to have because we are not spending endlessly and mindlessly.

We deeply value our debt freedom, our commitment to be wiser with our finances, and to be great role models for our family.

wanted a new refrigerator, I did not need a new refrigerator.

We already owned a good used refrigerator, so we decided buying another used one at this time was silly.

We weren’t willing to buy a new refrigerator unless we loved it and it met our current and potential future needs, and we couldn’t do that in the budget we had.

So, the old refrigerator still hums along in the kitchen, but I don’t hate it anymore.

I love that it runs the way it should so that we can continue to save towards a different one down the road.

Sound decisions create a life you love and can live with

When you make your decisions using this process, you will come away with a solution that really works and with which you are really comfortable.

Every time each of us uses 10-10-10, we are thrilled with how it slows the adrenaline rush to buy just enough so you can make a decision that works for today and for your future.

Once you start using 10-10-10, you’ll discover it can be applied in all areas of your life including work, friend and family relationships and responsibilities, marriage and parenting, and finances, and eventually becomes an automatic part of your decision making process.

I highly recommend reading the book for more information and insight!

Comment: What decision can 10-10-10 help you make today?

12 Surprising Takeaways from our Debt Freedom Journey

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

12 Surprising Takeaways from our Debt Freedom Journey.001My husband and I were Ostriches.

You know the breed: Not exceptionally self-aware, since when they feel threatened they will try to flatten their nine foot tall, 350 pound bodies against the ground in an effort to become invisible.

Assuming that move fails, they can run like the wind from predators at sustained speeds of over 30 mph. Contrary to popular belief, however, they don’t stick their heads in the ground.

When they are doing their I’m invisible! routine, their bodies are so large, that their heads appear to be buried.

Yes, that pretty much described us.

Thankfully, we have undergone a metamorphosis, much like a caterpillar into a butterfly, except we transformed from large, ungainly, birds that hide from financial trouble into gazelles.

With our transformation into intentional spenders, savers and givers very much in our rear view mirror, we were chatting recently about the surprises we encountered along the way.

Here’s our list of 12 surprising takeaways from our debt freedom journey.

1. We didn’t know we were ostriches. It seemed there was plenty of money in the checkbook every week, so how could there be a problem? Besides, budgeting was like taking cod liver oil. Yuck.

2. Budgets can be fun. Yes, fun and satisfying. It’s a lot like coming around to loving exercise because you love the results.

Which Budgeting Software Is Best for Busy Couples?

If you're looking to get started or revamp your budget so you can become debt-free, be sure to check out You Need A Budget.

We LOVE it and it really does make budgeting fun!

3. We are both more nerdy than we ever realized. I really dislike math and never liked balancing my checkbook. But, we are list lovers. Drawing up a budget is creating a different type of list that notes where we choose to have our money go.

4. Our discussions about money got more difficult at first. We were always on the same page financially because we always spent pretty much what we wanted. When we started budgeting, we had to start saying no to some things so we could say yes to others.

5. The process gets you communicating in ways you never have before. See #4. This is truly hard if you are conflict averse, but this communication is critical to the health of your relationship.

6. Your invisible scripts about money and marriage will bubble to the surface. See #4 and #5. Beliefs on earnings, priorities, goals, rewards, etc, that you may not have known you have will create questions that must be answered and agreements that need to be reached.

7. You really do feel more hopeful the further along you go. But first, there’s the abject terror when you experience a big life event, like an accident, job loss, or a pregnancy, and realize your finances are not up to the challenge.

8. You will backslide, especially once you become debt free. We were warned about becoming complacent, and we fell off the wagon anyway. Not in a big way, but enough so our budgeting—if you can even call it that—got sloppy and even non-existent. Once we realized what we’d been doing, we got back on track and started moving forward again.

9. You can change in ways you never thought possible. If you had told me that I would love creating and living within monthly budgets, I would have had you committed. Turns out you would have been right.

10. There is an easy to follow process to get your debt freedom train rolling. Often times, even if you are aware you need to change, you are stumped by not knowing how. We used Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, as did Dustin, and he details them here on the site.

11. You are role modeling terrific money management behavior for your children. One of the greatest gifts you’ve given yourself you are now able to pass on to your children so they will be wise money managers.

12. You will have so many more opportunities and so much more freedom. When you aren’t bound by debt, you can make choices to move to a job you like better, to be a stay at home mom, or move to a different part of the country, for example. You can also give more generously if that is on your list of desires.

You, too, can make the transformation, just as we and so many thousands of others have done.

Yes, there will be difficulties to iron out, conflicts to settle, conversations to be held, and mountains to climb, and maybe even climb again when you tumble backwards. 

I have no doubt you will experience surprise, delight, frustration, hope, and so much more.

Trust me, though, when I say that it will be well worth it!

Which Budgeting Software Is Best for Busy Couples?

If you're looking to get started or revamp your budget so you can become debt-free, be sure to check out You Need A Budget.

We LOVE it and it really does make budgeting fun!

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