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Music Mondays – It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Most Wonderful Time

This year, apparently a number of retailers are giving you the opportunity to begin your holiday shopping a day early by opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day as opposed to early in the morning the day after Thanksgiving. Either way, for the next few weeks, we will be inundated with numerous marketing campaigns enticing us to shop for our loved ones this holiday season. This is certainly the most wonderful time of the year for retailer’s bank accounts. However, the reverse is true for most people’s bank accounts. I have a number of clients who do not like to even meet with me between now and the end of the year because they know they are going to be “bad” and spend past their budgets to make the holidays “special” for those around them.

I encourage you to re-think your holiday shopping strategy this year. Take the time to review your financial situation and adjust your holiday shopping lists accordingly. If 2013 was a rough year on your finances; please do not make it even more painful by overspending at the end of the year. Do not be afraid to “scale” back this holiday season. Most of the people you shop for love you and want the best for you. And the best for you is to not put yourself in financial hardship just to buy gifts. Even if you had a great year financially, I think it makes sense to not overspend during the holiday season. I am sure there are a number of goals you would like to achieve in 2014 and holiday savings will get you closer to achieving those goals.

If you would like to scale back, and you are not sure how, here are a few websites to help you plan for less expensive gifts. Instead of falling victim to compelling holiday marketing campaigns, take the time to focus and plan and make sure that this truly is the most wonderful time of the year for you and your bank account.

25 Handmade Gifts Under $5

20 Awesome Gifts Under $25

25 Office Gifts Under $25

Top Ten Things I Am Grateful For In 2013


Top Ten Things I Am Grateful For

In honor of Thanksgiving next week, I thought I would take this time to share with you what I am most thankful for this year.

10) Getting to see Bon Jovi in concert – It’s my all-time favorite band, and they never disappoint.

9) TJ Maxx – I honestly do not know what I would do without such an awesome store that helps me look great whether for work or the weekend and at such amazing prices!

8) Sephora – I just turned 35 this year, and I have people tell me I have great skin all the time. It is only because I partake in regular and “free” facials at Sephora.

7) Becoming a better cook – My husband has historically been the family “chef,” but over the last year, I have challenged myself to create new, yummy and affordable meals, and I have done a good job of it! In fact, look out in 2014 for my Financially Fit Foodie series.

6) My first book – I can’t believe I wrote a book! It’s not War and Peace or anything, but I have had a number of people tell me that it helped them, and that means the world to me.

5) My new company – I feel so blessed that I get to help people and do what I love every single day. There is nothing greater than to love what you do!

4) My friends – They make my life more rich just by having them in it. I am constantly learning from them, impressed by them, and amused by them.

3) My family – We had a number of deaths in my family this year, and as we are winding down to the end of the year, I am extremely thankful to those who are still with me, and for continuously showing me how to move on in life no matter what hardships may come your way.

2) My funny son –  He has his challenges and struggles as a child with ADHD, but he works hard and with humor to be successful in anyway he can be. I almost put a bag in the trash that had money in it (I was unaware of the money), he found the money and told me it would not be very “financially fit” to throw away money. Touché!

1) My supportive husband – It’s easy to love and support someone in the good times and when everyone is “at their best.” But it  takes a true man and partner to love someone through bad times or when she is at her worst. Thank you Bill!

Is Groupon Just a Glorified Outlet Mall?


Have you ever been to an outlet mall?  I have gone to them for years and each time I pull into the parking lot, I get excited about the prospect of getting great deals from brand name stores.  Over the last 10+ years, though, I have become increasingly more disillusioned and less satisfied with the outlet mall experience.  Rather than providing heavily discounted “store” items, it seems that they have become the place where stores can get rid of items no one wants by trying to convince you they are a deal. They offer low-end labels that may be less expensive but they are also significantly less quality.  A “Brooks” label shirt at a Brooks Brothers outlet will typically start to fall apart after two trips to the washing machine.

I feel as though I’m having a similar experience with Groupon.  When it was first introduced, I felt like I was getting a great deal on items that anyone would want.  Now it seems that the “deals” are items that no one would want or you have to read the fine print because if you think the experience is too good to be true, it probably is.  A great example of this is with laser hair removal.  I have a friend who purchased a Groupon for this.  It seemed like a great deal because it was almost half off what you would typically pay; however, the offer was only good for 6 months and according to experts, it usually takes at least a year to complete the full laser hair removal process.  So this Groupon deal would leave you with some wacky looking body hair and the need to spend even more money after 6 months.

How do you feel about Groupon or other deal sites?  Have you gotten great deals? Do you use them? Have you been happy with a Groupon purchase or gotten buyer’s remorse? Let me know!

Music Mondays – The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes


For most of us, the road to financial fitness is a difficult one and often feels like we are in a fight for our lives. Our setbacks frequently frustrate us, and we feel overwhelmed by the work it takes to get ahead. When you feel like this, I encourage you to listen to this song. It is a great reminder of the value of fighting through life. We all need to strive to be fighters in our financial lives. Acknowledging that when we fall, we will end up bloodied and battered, but if we pick ourselves up every time, we will become someone to be admired, a Fighter.

When I meet with clients who feel as though they have been in the ring taking hits financially for years, I encourage them to keep their head up and learn from the experiences they have had. Some lessons are more painful than others, but they are all valuable lessons. So if you fall down financially, pick yourself back up, remember that you have people in your corner to help you out and give ‘em hell!

Top Ten Chick Flicks


I live in a house with men. Even my cat is a man. So, whenever I have the place to myself (which is rare), I like to watch girly movies. The girlier the better. The next time I am home alone, I could be watching one of these movies…


10) Grease 2 – Yes, 2 not the original. For whatever reason, I love the lesser quality copy of the original movie. In particular, I wanted to be a “Girl for All Seasons” I just couldn’t figure out which one because they all looked fun.

9) Terms of Endearment – Whenever I want to cry my eyes out, I watch this movie. Especially now that I am a parent, and I watch the scene where Shirley Maclaine begs the nurses to give her daughter more meds so she won’t be in pain, I lose it.

8) 10 Things I Hate About You – I LOVE when Kat reads her poem at the end about not being able to hate Patrick. Such a great scene.

7) Bridget Jones Diary – Despite the fact that I have a difficult time believing Renee Zellweger is “fat” in this movie, I love it. And I was always a Mark Darcy type vs. Daniel Cleever (see my top favorite chick flick).

6) Love Actually – This movie makes the top ten of many lists for me. I have a caveat, though, I can actually only watch it after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. Hearing “Christmas Is All Around You” throughout the movie just makes me want to celebrate the holiday season, that song and the Christmas lobsters of course.

5) Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion – This is a great example where you can’t judge a “movie” by its cover. From the commercials and promos I had absolutely no interest in this movie. However, once a friend told me she loved it, I rented it and fell in love too. It has such a great message about staying true to yourself and the importance of friendship.

4) Pretty Woman – This movie made girls all over the world dream of being a hooker that is how good it is. Who doesn’t want to meet a wealthy, available, prematurely grey but hot guy who wants to buy us clothes and take us for dates in a private jet?

3) Dirty Dancing – “Nobody puts baby in a corner” is one of the all time best cheesy lines from a movie, and beside that, who did not want to fall in love while dancing with the hot, sexy, older guy from the wrong side of the tracks?

2) Girls Just Want To Have Fun – The first time I saw this movie when I was a tween, I fell in love with it. I had the biggest crush on Jeff and to this day, I still get excited when Janie and Jeff are announced as the new regulars on DTV.

1) Pride and Prejudice – the BBC version – This is one of my favorite books ever, and despite the length of this film, it never feels long to me because it captures the entirety of my favorite book in a movie. And I have had a crush on Mr. Darcy since I was in high school.

Wealth Strategies That Won’t Work – I am going to marry rich!


I had a friend in college who was brilliant and beautiful and literally could do anything in life.  We used to talk about our futures.  I knew from the first day of college that I was going to be a business major, get a job in financial services upon graduation, and tackle the male-dominated world of finance.  She wanted to get her degree, marry a wealthy doctor, and become the most educated housewife at her country club.  This friend is still a great friend; however, she never married that doctor and is in fact still single.  She could have married someone who was financially well-off, but she realized money really didn’t make things better and ultimately he couldn’t give her everything she wanted from a relationship. She’s worked hard to build her career in the non-profit sector, even though she could quite frankly make more money doing other things.  Even though it was never her life plan, she’s learned how to live as a strong, independent, career-minded woman. She actually makes Financially Blonde decisions and is one of the most Financially Fit people I know.  So despite her lower salary, she is able to save and plan for herself long term.

I think we all (men and women) secretly want to marry rich.  It would certainly make some aspects of our lives easier.  The reality is that we can’t choose who we fall in love with. Or we can’t control who does or doesn’t fall in love with us. I fell in love with a teacher.  Some people, like my friend now, think it is better to NOT marry rich. And most importantly, there really aren’t that many “rich” people out there (only 1% of the population would fit into this category).  So, given all of these realities, we need to make sure that we make the best financial choices for ourselves and our future spouse.  Just as my friend did, we need to make sure we can take care of ourselves because we don’t know what life and love are going to bring us.


Music Mondays – Life is a Highway


Tom Cochrane originally performed this song; however, after seeing it and hearing it in the movie Cars, I fell in love with the Rascal Flatts version. Whenever I speak with a new client about his or her financial goals, I always start out by telling them that our adult lives are like a road trip from New York to California. And my job as a financial planner is to help him or her get to California when they want, live in the house they want to live in when they get there, and make all the stops along the way that they want. This song is a great reminder of that journey that we all make. We all take different paths to retirement, but at the end of the day, that is the end goal for all of us. And it is important to remember that the journey is a long one, and just like we would do when we take a long road trip, we should have a road map or plan for the journey. When we have a plan, we are able to do and see more than people with no plan.

Do you have a financial road map for your life? What do you want to see? What do you want to do? We are heading into the end of the year, and this is a great exercise to do at the end of every year. Think about your life journey so far and think about where you want to go next year or the year after. Always remember where you would like to end up and put your plan together. The best way to enforce your plan is setting up a budget. I know that budget seems like a four-letter word, but it really is the best way to keep you on track for your journey. If you have never created or lived by one, start with baby steps and set up a “big picture” budget. The more you practice it, the better you will be and you will be able to work on the “finer” areas of your financial life. Remember that life is a highway and the best way to travel it is with a map and a plan!


Tough Love


I recently met with a client, who confirmed my decision to start my own company focused on financial fitness and well-being. In my previous job as a financial advisor, I was primarily responsible for managing his money (or his assets), and he has significant money.  In my new role, I help my clients manage and understand their assets as well as their liabilities (credit cards, student loans and other debts). This is an important change for this client in particular. Even though he has substantial assets, in the past few years, his spending has gotten out of control to the point that now his debt between his home and credit cards is almost as much as his investment portfolio. When we sat down recently, we started discussing the plan of how we were going to stop some of his bad spending habits and focus more on the lifestyle that he would like to live which would require less money over time. He said to me, “Shannon, I need tough love. I need someone to tell me NOT to buy things.” He wished that his partner was that person, but his partner was just along for the ride with him.

I see this so much in relationships. There is frequently one person who is the “spender” and one person who is the “saver.” This difference in financial personality types often leads to years of fighting and many times, divorce. For those who stay together, it certainly causes strains at various points in the relationship as the saver has a difficult time telling the spender “No” and giving that person tough love. Relationships are hard enough as it is and when you are working through it day in and day out, you pick your battles and sometimes you let the “spending battle” go for another day. The problem with this strategy is that the spending battle does not go away, and bad spending habits as a couple can create huge problems over time. I love that I can now give tough love to my clients so that his or her significant others can give them a different kind of love. But if you do not have a third party like me, don’t be afraid to use tough love with your overspending loved one. They need it. They may not like you for doing it, but they will be happy that you did down the road. Embrace tough love and save them and their finances from becoming a disaster.