Forgiveness Drives Out Fear

It was 2008

The Great Recession was roiling the economy. The volatility of the market was upsetting everyone’s sense of well-being and life satisfaction. We were all living in a state of fear. We weren’t paying attention to account values, future projections, or financial plans. We were simply consumed with uncertainty and worry.

I noticed this especially with my own financial advising clients at the time. Even when financial projections proved that my clients would be okay, regardless of the sharp declines, most still reacted with fear:

  • Some clients sold investments into cash, resulting in significant loss.
  • Some postponed retirement.
  • Some came out of retirement and went back to work.
  • Others cashed in life insurance with adverse tax ramifications.

Each decision made came at a cost. Some costs were financial, but most came at the price of their overall well-being and peace of mind.

As a financial advisor, I felt I was not equipped to help my clients navigate the overwhelming emotions they were experiencing. Or the adverse effects it was having on the quality of their decision-making. No one was helping my clients make better decisions.

More than financial advice

It seemed important to know how to teach others to be confident decision-makers instead of fear-driven ones. I knew back then that I didn’t have that skill set. But if I did, I could help people heal their addiction to fear (yes, fear is an addiction) and transform their state of financial well-being.

That is why I decided to transition from financial advisor to coach…and 12 years later, I’m still doing wealth coaching full-time.

Now it’s 2022. We’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, another period of volatility and uncertainty. Financial planners can prove that their client’s financial plans are on track. They can withstand the storm. But many are still scared. Fear is still in charge of their decision making.

Fearful decision-making does not and cannot produce favorable results, nor will it ever improve your state of financial well-being or life satisfaction. Fearful decision-making is reactionary, impulsive, and creates additional problems instead of peaceful solutions.

So, what can you do?

Learn to forgive

Learn to forgive what you think is the cause of your (financial) fears, stress, and conflicts. Explore your relationship with money. You need to understand where your money patterns and behaviors came from and the influence your relationship with money has on the quality of your decision-making.

Once you do, you will sit squarely on the seat of choice. This can be scary because going forward, you are no longer a victim of your circumstances. You’re aware of your financial beliefs and behaviors. You can choose to believe and act in healthier ways, or you can choose to repeat old behaviors, rooting yourself stuck and fearful, with no one else to blame.

Embrace these times of volatility as an opportunity to see things in a different way. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of this volatility? What can I learn?” Volatility isn’t good or bad. It’s up to you what you make of it. Shakespeare got it right in Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Another choice always exists. When financial struggle or a turbulent market brings fear and anxiety, peace is always a choice. Say this to yourself: “I can choose to see peace instead of this.”

Say this “thought turnaround” statement until you actually believe it.

The practice of undoing

The forgiveness I teach is the practice of undoing. Undoing how you think life is supposed to work and look like, financially or otherwise. It is a commitment to the process of change. Undoing is changing your mind about what is truly important to you.

What’s more important when your investments take a dip: peace of mind or insecurity? What about when you make an impulsive purchase: peace of mind or guilt? When you forgive, you “undo” your initial reaction and deliberately choose peace instead.

This forgiveness gets you out of your own way. Accept that the mistakes you made–financial or otherwise–were not sins. They were simply errors. Now that you are aware, you can choose a perspective that matches your values. Better behavior will follow.

Forgiveness is the great restorer of hope. When past mistakes and current fears are put in right perspective, life becomes easier. You don’t avoid reading your investment statements anymore. You know how to make mindful and deliberate decisions. Instead of worrying if your house will sell above asking, you trust that what matters most to you is in charge of the choices you make. Good decision-making results in everyone’s best interest.

Forgiveness is an attitude…and I don’t know of a way of life more powerful and transformational than this practice.

Hear more from me! Join my free webinar on forgiveness and better decision-making, hosted by the University at Buffalo on September 14th:


Choosing well-being, prosperity, and blessedness all year long.

My Word for 2022

Recently, a friend asked me to choose a word that would define the year 2022 for me. I told Madchen, my friend, that I would like to use the word that I’ve been using through the entire year of 2021: Eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia is a Greek word commonly translated as “happiness” or “welfare.” However, a more accurate translation has been proposed to be “human flourishing, prosperity, and blessedness.” That’s pretty good! It’s why I chose it for 2021.

I also looked up the word “flourishing”. Human flourishing is “developing rapidly.” Successfully. Thriving. It sounds like that would be handy, based on the speed of change that’s occurring in our lives. We could develop rapidly and successfully and be thriving. I love that.

I have some questions when I think about human flourishing, though. Isn’t it more of a choice versus a condition of being? Accepting eudaimonia and being eudaimonic. Truly taking joy in your life. Letting your experiences not impact your choice to flourish, to be successful, to thrive.

People Who Choose Eudaimonia

Throughout my life I’ve been presented with numerous examples of individuals who choose their happiness, joyfulness, and blessedness. Who are flourishing while at the same time facing great challenges.

My aunt from Pennsylvania comes to mind. She has had multiple surgeries to address her cancer, and yet when visiting with me at my parents’ home just a few weeks ago, she was as joyful a person–as filled with gratitude–as she has always been. She was thriving in the turbulence of her health. There was even an extra “umph” in her hugs. That makes sense as she faces her own mortality, but it was the only noticeable difference in this joyful human being.

Another extraordinary individual comes to mind. On May 5th 2022, we lost an American Hero: Justin Constantine, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps and an attorney. He deployed to Iraq as a Civil Affairs officer attached to a Marine infantry battalion, part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. During his tour, he survived a gunshot wound to the head, though he faced a long and difficult recovery.

Justin was the keynote speaker for our “Tee It Up for the Troops” Wanakah Country Club 5th Annual golf event on September 11th of last year. He had just received permanent teeth replacements two weeks prior and approached his speaking challenge with a light heart and a sense of humor. In April of this year, I called to speak with Justin. He was a cancer survivor in addition to his combat wound, and was now facing a 2nd recurrence of the cancer and several procedures to address it.

He was experiencing some very real challenges, yet he was so grateful for the expressions of kindness he received from so many people. He spoke about how fortunate he was to be married to his lovely bride, to have made such great relationships during his years of service and in his civilian life. He encouraged me about the 2022 “Tee It Up for the Troops” golf event and said he looked forward to our next visit. Justin, so do I. Rest In Peace my friend.

Staying Centered

We seem to be bombarded daily with stimulus: attempts to win our attention and to shape our opinion. Keeping the word eudaimonia in front of me (taped to my laptop at the center of the inner hinge) centers me on better choices. Finding Joy. Success. To Thrive and to Love. This helps me a great deal.

At times, I am a bit behind on the local and national “news.” I can appear detached from the matters affecting our community! However, my demeanor, my smile or kind words can cause others to momentarily forget what they were worked up about in the first place. I could probably remind them of what was troubling them, but why rob them of their eudaimonia?

Can a state of mind impact our ability to flourish, move us away from being eudaimonic and enjoying eudaimonia? And perhaps if we let it, does choosing not to be a constant student, not to be curious as a child is curious, lead us to stop developing? I think so.

The Wisdom of Others

I have friends who have shared with me that they don’t like to read. They completed high school and/or college and that’s where they left their student self. They get their “education” about what’s impacting the world from the TV and/or Social media. Scary! I am not quite certain how one can “flourish” with these sources feeding your mind.

I am grateful to authors like Monty Moran for Love is Free, Guac is Extra; Michael A. Singer for The Untethered Soul; Ray Dalio for Principles; Thomas Sowell for numerous books such as Intellectuals and Society; Gary Keller for The ONE Thing; Jill Bolte Taylor for My Stroke of Insight; and Jack Carr for his numerous fiction (but close to real life) novels. I love the richness of their experiences. The gift of their writing skills. I cannot put Jack Carr’s books down once started.

In addition to reading, there is the opportunity to learn from meeting people from diverse backgrounds: race, beliefs, opinions, etc. I, for one, am not always right and have benefited from meeting smart and wise people. Through conversations with them I have learned of my own misconceptions and knowledge gaps.

Being curious about others’ backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, opinions and behaviors has afforded me the opportunity to flourish within my professional and personal life. I have had some disappointments by being open to others and their differences. Yet none of them would be as damaging to my well-being as being judgmental and closed off to others.

The Curiosity of a Child

We should be as curious as a child. If you’re blessed with children or grandchildren, or perhaps great-grandchildren, sit quietly and watch them explore their life. And as an adult let’s emulate that. That’s true learning. 

I think we make too many assumptions about what we know, and we miss the opportunity to learn what we don’t know to truly thrive. To develop as a child does develop, rapidly and successfully. Can we prosper without developing? I don’t think so. Can we truly achieve blessedness? Being blessed and recognizing that we are all blessed?

Can we prosper without developing? I am doubtful that one can prosper without developing today, largely due to the pace of change in all aspects of our lives. How does one age in a successful manner if they don’t develop their mind and body for inevitably getting older? Many of us know one or more individuals who have chosen not to keep pace with technology. They find it difficult to seek out certain services: medical, social, recreational and many more. Losing out on these services when needed can have severe consequences on one’s ability to prosper. 

Deciding to not participate in one’s community or narrowly defining one’s community will have negative implications for prospering. Not reading. Not engaging. Approaching life through a narrow lens. Judging others. These are all poor choices and most assuredly stifle our development. I struggle to see how anyone can truly prosper without regular development.

Our Many Gifts

Can we do this without honoring the gifts that have already been bestowed upon us: innovation, change, new technologies, and opportunities to learn? Without honoring and showing gratitude for the gifts we have and receive along our journey? 

God. Loved ones. Friends. Employees. Coworkers. Neighbors. Technology. Financial Capital. Our Homes. Our Assets. Yes, even Our Liabilities. Each is a part of our blessing and flourishing. Ignoring these, such as not honoring our liabilities or debts, will have a significant impact on our self-perception as well as the perceptions of others, in particular those we harmed through not owning our responsibilities. 

Ignoring your gifts and blessings puts you at risk of never finding what you are searching for. Remaining unfulfilled. Tomorrow might always be better: the next job, the next neighborhood, the next friend, the next spouse, etc. Yet, tomorrow never comes as we live today

You cannot learn if you cannot see the gifts right in front of you. You are too blind to learn. 

Not just formal learning, but informal. It’s at our fingertips, whether it’s in video form, written, or digital. We have tons of opportunities to learn, we just have to seek them out.

Choosing Well-Being

Prosperity is the “state of being prosperous.” Can we achieve success and wealth without flourishing? By wealth, I do not mean financial capital. I mean the 12th-century definition of wealth where it was really about well-being. Can we get to this well-being, the “state of being comfortable, happy, or healthy?” Judging life positively? Feeling good doing it? Can we get there without well-being? No. Can we achieve true wealth without being eudaimonic, without human flourishing? 

So I encourage each of you to choose your well-being. Choose to be as curious as a child is. Choose to be continuously learning. Do that and you will find eudaimonia. You will find your happiness. Your welfare. Your prosperity. Your blessedness. You’ll be a human flourishing

May you all flourish well. I hope you enjoy the word eudaimonia. I hope you find your word to define your 2022 and perhaps for the rest of your life. God bless you all.

Addicted to Anxiety, Part II

Letting judgment go so that you can grow.

Read Part I first.

A Question for You 

What do you think causes someone to file for financial bankruptcy?

What is the very first thought that comes to mind when you read that question?

Now, humor me, write that answer down. Note how you feel as you answer. No filtering please!

What if I told you that this person is 39 years old at the time when they file, lives in the suburbs, is a 15-year veteran financial advisor, and has to apply for HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) to get through the winter?

Did your opinion of what causes someone to file for bankruptcy change? If so, how? Now write that down.

Here is a little more information … this person, when they file, is a single woman.

How does that affect your original answer … if at all? Now write it down.

This 39-year-old single woman, financial advisor of 15 years, living in the suburbs, applying for HEAP because of significant debt … is the mother of a 2-year-old and 6-year-old.

Did that last piece of information change your opinion of what causes someone to file for bankruptcy? If so, how? Please write it down now.

Wait … there’s more.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, this woman is married to an abusive alcoholic who, over time, gambles away most of their money. Two weeks prior to the birth of her second child, she files a restraining order and has her husband removed from their house. Six months later, they divorce. To protect herself and her two small children, she absolves her husband from all financial support if he agrees to an indefinite period of zero custody and zero visitation. He agrees.

Did this final piece of information somehow change your opinion about those that file for bankruptcy? If so, how? Now write it down.


When you look at your first answer and then your last, what do you notice?

If you are like most that I have posed this scenario and question to, you probably realized that your first answer is quite different from the last. And the reason for the change is that the more information you received, the greater your capacity for understanding and compassion grew.

We are quick to judge, yes? Quick to make assumptions about people and circumstances that we know almost nothing about. And we are just as quick to judge ourselves as well … most of the time not even knowing it.

The Whole Story

I was that 39-year-old woman. The former financial advisor, mother of two, and divorcee.

Regardless of my circumstances, I was my own worst judge and jury, constantly berating myself. In my mind, there was no room for forgiveness. I was much too comfortable playing the role of victim.

And I wasn’t willing to look at the true cause of my embarrassment, my constant worry, and my fears. So, I hid from it. I painted a smile on my face that told others “Everything must be well in her world”.

Then I noticed the physical manifestation of my anxiety … I couldn’t breathe. I could no longer inhale deeply. I was suffocating.

It was the Buddhist practice of “daimoku” that first showed me how to turn inward … to stand back and simply look and notice my responses to what was happening.

From there I was introduced to other practices and processes, metaphysical and spiritual in nature, that taught me how to truly see myself, increase my self-awareness, and let go of judgment.

Letting go of the thoughts (judgments) of “I’m a failure”, “No one will trust me”, “I’m not good enough” is what brought me to the peaceful decision to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy was no longer a shameful event, but one of transformation and liberation.

On some level, we all experience stress and anxiety and, if we are being honest, we experience it every day. And therein lies our addiction.

And its cause? Judgment.

Where Judgment Leads

Judgment of ourselves and assumptions about ourselves are a perfect recipe for anxiety.

It can show up in different ways …

Anxiety could look like the person struggling to let go of their business and/or retire because they are afraid of envisioning their future. Or the husband who has been diagnosed with a debilitating sickness and is afraid of making the wrong decision financially for his family and keeps his fears to himself. Or the woman who is constantly comparing herself to others, thinking that she doesn’t “measure up”, so she doesn’t apply for the promotion.

While the stories all sound different, they all share a common element: judgment. Which then leads to worry, fear, anxiety.

It’s not that we should not judge, it’s that we cannot. To judge rightly, we would have to be fully aware of a wide range of things – past, present, and future. And that is impossible.

I believe that what you give your attention to makes all the difference. This is why wealth coaching is important – because there is value in understanding your current mindset and how it is affecting the quality of your decision making and your state of well-being (happiness).

So, if what you want is a life without anxiety (stress and worry), then do yourself a favor and learn to release judgment and forgive. I have every confidence that when you do, your life will transform in unimaginable and magnificent ways.

If my story resonated with you or you need to let go of your own self-judgment, please hear more from me and register for my free webinar hosted by University at Buffalo on March 23rd: Addicted to Anxiety?

Addicted to Anxiety, Part I

A wake-up call to pay attention and forgive.

The light dimmed. Darkness overtook her mind. She was about to faint. 

Her patterns of financial anxiety were the norm for many years … even while she was a financial advisor. She was successful, but she suffered from low self-esteem and low self-worth. When her business began to suffer, she hid the truth from her husband. 

She will never forget that feeling. Standing in the middle of the kitchen and suddenly overcome with a sense of heaviness. 

Miraculously, she caught hold of the edge of the kitchen counter and fell, almost gracefully, to the floor. Her anxiety had reached an all-time high and was begging for attention.

She sat on the floor, her husband looking down at her, partly in shock and then with concern. She told him that their conversation … well, their argument … over money … would have to wait.

She got up off the floor, steadied herself, and headed to the living room. As she sat down on the couch, she thought, “never again.” She pulled out her journal and archetype cards, her chosen tools to better understand herself, her relationships, and effect positive change. 

First, define “anxiety”:

Noun; a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Her anxiety had reached such an intense level that it had thrown her into a “panic attack”. This all-consuming sense of terror and impending doom, accompanied by a lack of Faith, had rendered her “out of control” and falling to the floor. 

Next, recall two lessons from her years as a practicing Buddhist:

  1. The quality of our environment and experiences reflects the quality of our inner condition.
  2. Faith is the belief in our own limitless potential and in all people to establish lives of unshakeable happiness. 

Her panic attack wasn’t because she was upset with her husband and money, it was symptomatic of her thoughts … her “attack thoughts”. She was reminded that she could choose to have faith in herself. That her potential to reach an unshakeable happiness hadn’t been lost … 

She was done with anxiety. The only way to be rid of it was to look directly at it. 

She wanted to understand where she was “stuck” … where her thinking was “stuck”. So, she drew a card from her Archetype deck. 

The “Addict”.

It didn’t make sense at first. Then it hit her … the “Addict” helps you recognize when an external force has more power over you than your inner spirit does. Her relationship with money was riddled with fearful thinking …  she was afraid to share that her business was suffering. 

She was afraid to tell her husband that she didn’t know how she was going to meet her share of the household expenses. She was afraid he would be angry. She was afraid of being seen as a failure and not good enough. 

Over and over and over, she chose money as the symbol of her fears. And the habitual pattern of choosing “fear in the face of money” had become her addiction. 

In the book, The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron states that it is through pain that one learns to pay attention. 

Nearly fainting from a financial panic attack was a painful experience. It was up to her to decide what to do with it: pay attention, learn, and forgive to come back to peace. Or ignore it and play victim, fully aware that her addiction to fearful thinking and anxiety would continue. 

She chose to pay attention, learn, and forgive. 

With peace of mind restored, she began to change her mind about her relationship with money and herself. 

Once upon a time and many years ago, that was me. Since then, I have coached countless others with similar stories in releasing their anxieties. Did any part of my story ring true to you? If so, we should talk

You can rid yourself of your financial anxiety … then share your own story to encourage others too. Contact me directly at

What’s your financial advisor paying attention to?

I often hear financial professionals talk about the wealth they manage. They usually talk about how the market has impacted financial capital. Or about what the next exciting stock is going to do in the next quarter. I rarely hear them talk about their clients.

A lot of financial professionals focus on the net worth of their clients. They may not pay enough attention to what their clients are actually going through in their lives. Do they want to purchase a second home? Are they worried about their children taking over the business? Dreaming of a long-overdue vacation? Just received an unexpected medical diagnosis? These things are the important determinants of their financial situation – not the stock market.

Conversations with my clients about what’s happening in their lives go a long way towards creating a direction for their investments. Time spent in these discussions is a far cry from market forecasting, but it is never wasted.

What you give your attention to makes all the difference.

Who’s Got Your Back?

Have you ever explored the full meaning when someone says, “I’ve got your back?” 

Is it that they’re committed to watching out for you and taking care of things that you are likely to miss?

Are they dedicated to being that second set of eyes and hands for you when necessary?

Is it someone willing to help when you need assistance, even before you know you need it?

How about somebody who will literally enter into a physical battle on your behalf?

Have you ever taken the time to consider who’s got your back in your business? 

Perhaps it’s an advisor who has a single-minded area, whether it be law, accounting, or lending. 

Maybe it’s that individual who’s able to rise 30,000 feet for a broad view of your world and then tell you how your business fits in your life, particularly during stressful times. 

Maybe it’s the person who can keep the bigger picture in mind when aiding you in your day-to-day business battles. Or someone who can pull you aside – despite your protests that you ‘don’t have time’ – and offer strategic perspectives and advice you can trust.

These “have your back” individuals will ask questions that stop you in your tracks, that allow you to take a deep breath while the stress of the moment leaves your body. They do this without fear that their questions might be simple, naïve, or lacking a complete understanding of your business. 

They don’t worry if they’re the biggest thought leader or genius in the room. They’re focused on helping you slow down, making certain that you’re not ignoring the larger implications of whatever task is at hand.

They maintain the big picture, yet they are at the street level, working right alongside you. They open their network and introduce you to the accountant, the attorney, the banker, even the medical professional, and ask them for exceptions on your behalf, all because they truly believe you are exceptional. 

These are the people who see you for who you are, believe in what you are trying to accomplish, and give all they’ve got to help you get there. In effect, fully defining what it means to say, “I’ve got your back.” 

We all need someone like this, don’t we? I know who it is for myself and the impact they continue to make in my world. Who has your back, in your business, and in your life?


“What’s your AUM, Tom?”

During financial industry conferences and meetings, this seemingly innocent question surfaces almost without fail.

AUM = “assets under management.”

To me, that question is a veiled and vulgar way of trying to find out the total assets being managed by our firm. When using the term “assets,” the person inquiring doesn’t mean the humans and their lives that we’re helping to navigate. Rather, it’s all about the dollars and cents under our direction. The question they’re really asking is, “How much of other people’s money do you control?” To many in our industry, this is the badge of honor that they believe measures success.

I believe that “assets under management” is a crappy way to categorize clients.

I also believe that if all you have is financial capital, then you don’t really have all that much.

While it’s an important data point for valuing a business, it unfortunately doesn’t indicate the true value of a financial professional or their client base. At Note, we have a different standard of that value for both.

We like to think in terms of “lives under management.” 

When considering the “assets” we manage, our focus turns to people we advise. The human beings we help to successfully navigate their personal and financial challenges. Challenges such as:

  • Investing their limited resources of time and money in starting a business. 
  • Taking on the financial capital risks of borrowing money to begin and/or grow a business. 
  • Sweating-out the personal guarantees needed to secure loans in early-stage businesses, or businesses under stress.
  • Lost sleep and compromised health due to the pressures of financial and business risks. 
  • Business distractions that prevent clients from being “present” with their family, spouse or significant other, and the resultant dissatisfaction over a loved one being mentally somewhere else.

Often when we begin advising clients, they find themselves in uncharted waters as we help them navigate their “lives under management.” Yet because of our years of experience, we know the management plan we are creating for them will deliver results. We’ve seen it. We can smell it. We know it, often before those we are working with actually experience it.

We also know that helping people transition their sweat and tears into something of value, and extracting that value over time in the form of financial capital, can give them valued independence. People can live in ways that allow them increased control over their time. They can enjoy extended vacations. They create the ability to transition their business to family or employees, or sell their businesses and move on to their next venture with a smile on their face.

Most importantly, they become fully aware that they are not simply “assets under management.” They are human beings who we value and whose lives we are helping to build and enjoy.

Great Advisors Ask Great Questions

In the decades I’ve spent advising individuals on their businesses and their wealth, I’ve observed that people are often concerned about having the “right answers.” It makes sense. We all want to be correct, feel affirmed, and know we’re on the path of success. However, I’ve learned that to arrive at the “right answers,” you need to ask the right questions. At Note, we believe great advisors ask great questions. The kinds of questions others might not.

Questions you never get to fully contemplate in the day-to-day demands of running your business. 

Questions which, by the time you recognize they should have been asked and addressed, rob you of valued financial capital and time. 

“What made you decide to start this line of work?”  

“Are you still doing it for the same reasons?” 

“What has to happen over the next three years for you to feel professionally fulfilled and successful?” 

“When was the last time you took off a couple of weeks, or even a month, from your work?”

 “If you don’t have the support in place to take a month off or more, what do you think would happen to your business if you become unable to work for an extended period of time due to illness, injury, or premature death?”

These kinds of essential business questions don’t stop there. For many business owners, there are succession concerns that can implicate partners, family, and employees.

“How do you plan on getting out of this business alive?” 

“Are your children working for you? If so, do they expect to own the business someday?”

“Can you identify key employees in your company?” 

“Do they know they are your key employees?”

Some business owners have shareholder involvements. 

“Have you reviewed your shareholder agreement to make sure those integral to your business aren’t robbed of ownership positions, like your children?”

“How might this impact partners and co-shareholders you might have?”

“Does your shareholders agreement address liquidity needs that may occur during their lives—college education funding, unanticipated expensive medical care, helping a child with a home down payment or a grandchild with their education?”

“Can these needs create the unintended consequences of diminished business focus, or loss of a key shareholder?”

There’s also the challenge of managing relationships with varied business advisors.

“Do you have a collaborative team of advisors—an accountant, a tax expert, a lawyer, an operations pro?
“How do you coordinate communication among them all? 

“Do you have one core advisor facilitating such communication? Or do you find yourself spending your business time interpreting the work of each one of your advisors for everyone else?”

“How’s that working for you?”

If any of these questions hit a nerve, I want you to know that I see you and the challenges you’re facing. That’s why I’m passionate about asking great questions that grab your attention and give you pause. Questions that inspire the right answers for your family, your business, your wealth, and your legacy.

If you’d like to start a conversation filled with great questions, I can be reached at

How Would You Rate Your Financial Know-How?

If someone asked you to rate your financial know-how on a scale of 1-7 (with 7 being the highest) where would you place yourself? 

financial literary quiz.jpg

If you are like the Americans who participated in the 2018 Financial Investor Regulatory Authority (FINRA) National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), you would probably give yourself a pretty high score. 

In that study, 76% of respondents placed themselves in the 5-7 range. The reality is that only 34% of those who participated could correctly answer at least four of five basic financial literacy questions on topics such as mortgages, interest rates, inflation and risk.

Curious about your own answers? Here’s your chance.

Click on this link at the bottom of this post to take the Financial Literacy Quiz. It not only gives you an immediate score, it shows you how you compare to others in your state. 

Whether the quiz confirms your knowledge or serves as a personal wake-up call, the generally low results of the NFCS definitely demonstrate the need to improve financial literacy in our country. The good news is that there’s tangible proof that financial education works.

  • According to the 2018 NFCS, nearly half of Americans (49%) who have received more than ten hours of financial education report spending less than they earn, compared with 36% of people who received less than ten hours of financial education.
National Capability Study June 19.300.jpg
  • Research from the 2020 Council of Economic Education Survey of the States shows that students who receive financial education borrow more sensibly, from student and personal loans to credit cards.
  • Results from the PISA assessment show that young people and adults in both developed and emerging economies who have been exposed to high quality financial education are more likely than others to plan ahead, save and engage in other responsible financial behaviors.

The good news is that whether you are a parent, a teacher, an employer or a concerned member of your community, there are things you can do to help promote financial education for everyone in your community.

  1. The Global Financial Literacy Center offers FastLane, with practical ideas and action plans for groups and individuals.
  2. On, you can find the schools in your area that offer financial education and the ways you can start/reinforce local financial literacy programs.
  3. DonorsChoose offers lesson plans and activities for educators that have been created by teachers in the field, for teachers. There are also opportunities to find school programs in your own community that you can support.

At the end of the day, there is a growing global awareness that financial literacy is an essential life skill that means not only greater prosperity, but better choices, increased confidence, and the ability to more successfully handle real-life financial challenges. 

Financial literacy isn’t just about math. It is about attaining the knowledge and skills to confidently manage our everyday financial lives and the need for financial education, which is greater than ever locally, nationally, and globally


Parts of this blog were excerpted from an onlne post by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz,CFP®, Board Chair and President, Charles Schwab Foundation; Senior Vice President, Schwab Community Services, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.; Board Chair, Schwab Charitable

Good Business Fundamentals in any Economy

Over the last three months at Note, we have been engaged in virtual meetings with clients, working on ways to sustain their businesses in these trying, pandemic times. 

Although a crystal ball might seem like the most needed tool in our advisor’s arsenal right now, here are some “good business” fundamentals we regularly share with clients that are important in any economy.

  • Hire the Best CPA, Attorney and Financial Advisor you can afford. Anything less can often become a big expense. Along the same lines, free advice often proves to be the most expensive.
  • Accumulate cash for opportunities and challenges. Keep in mind that other’s challenges may become your business opportunity.
  • Define the Core Values of your business and communicate them to all involved. Make sure to deliver customer service that clearly supports those values
  • Examine how to WOW your customer in a way that Amazon-at-your-door cannot.
  • Invest in the best employees you can attract.
  • Empower your employees to make decisions. Give them a budget for fixing mistakes and providing the highest level of service in their customer interactions.
  • Ask someone brutally honest and unfamiliar with your business or services to act as a customer and then grade their experience.

If you have questions or concerns about your business or need to discuss COVID-19 financial issues, we are here to help. Please contact Sarah Neuner at or (716) 256-1682 to make an appointment to meet in our office, via phone or virtually, online.