Budgeting for Art

I smiled at this Tweet from Pope Francis:

May artists spread the beauty of the faith and proclaim the grandeur of God’s creation and His boundless love for all.

The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met to discuss budgeting for collecting art. It’s the first time in the six years we’ve run the group that we covered this topic, it was clearly overdue!

As the child of an artist, I have a somewhat biased opinion on the matter.
As a financial planner and budgeting guru, I feel that it’s my duty to give people permission to have beautiful things in their lives.

The wonderful Karen Eckert lead our discussion. A high school English teacher, she shared that most of her artistic purchases were made at TJ Maxx  (not that we’re knocking TJ Maxx) and simply were selected to match her sofa.

Imagine her anxiety when her date (AJ Fries, a professional artist)
invited her to attend an art opening.
What should she wear?
What should she say?
What should she do?

The date must’ve gone okay because not only did she eventually marry him, the two of them created Collect Art Now,  a way for people to start their own art collection by commissioning their favorite artists on the site to make a small piece for them. Ingenious! Karen’s advice, “Don’t fear art.”

Be it a painting, like one of the lovelies by Heidi Zanelli, (I know one of my readers will especially appreciate this),

a piece of jewelry (perhaps by the amazing jewelry designer Sarah Blackman ),

a poem (such as those written by Page Nolker about serving as a caregiver to her Mother who suffered from dementia)

a photograph (like this flower bud one by Gail Denny or the Gallagher Beach pier by Tom Burns’),

a pillow (like this from Back of the Moon Watercolors,

an illustration (this is by Sydney Hafner who explains, “The splatters on the Luna Moth print represent a population map. The gray represents the historic range of the moth and the yellow represents its range. This allows you to get a sense of what once was and what is its current population. If you were to overlay a map of the United States you could see where more exactly they have vanished from and where they may still be found.”),

a hand painted teapot by MacKenzie Childs,

or any form of art (including music and dance), our participants explained that art:

  • has a narrative, an emotional connection,
  • it serves as an escape; it can take us away from other thoughts or cares and, ironically, at the same time,
  • allows us to be present, in the moment, in this moment.

An investment in something that could help you both ESCAPE and BE FULLY HERE is unique indeed. What could I possibly compare it to? Certainly not an index fund!

How is art priced?
Art is priced using a unique combination of subjectivity and market forces: how much does the artist believe it’s worth and how much will a customer pay? And while some people may bristle at the price of some art work (abstracts in particular), bear in mind that most artists needed training, which someone had to pay for, they may work on a piece for hours, days, weeks, even months and require the necessities of life just like the rest of us. They needn’t starve to be artists.

Karen shared that, once an artist sells a piece at a certain price point (be it $15 or $500,000), s/he prices all other pieces accordingly (aka, not less than) because the artist wants her/his customers to feel that they made a good (read: appreciating) investment.

And yet one of my all-time favorite songs is Tom Paxton’s Talking Pop Art:

What would the world be like without artists?

What would your world be without art?

If there’s one thing I know for sure about effective budgeting is that there has to be money for enjoyment.  If there isn’t, you risk becoming resentful, and resenetful budgeters will not thrive.

One of our group members purchases art regularly, partially to provide financial support to artists. She’s kind of a modern Medici; the art patron next door.

The best way to support artists is to visit their studios first and foremost, festivals and shows second. When you visit their studios you get an opportunity to talk with the artists (remember, “Don’t fear art!” – or artists!) and learn about their inspiration, their methods, their passion. Simply ask them about these aspects of their work.

WNYers may enjoy a  wonderful weekend specifically designed for this called “Routes to Art” organized by the Cattaragus County Arts Council). I bought my very first painting on one of these open studio tours. It’s by Nance Jackson, it’s titled “Skeleton Leaf” and I love it. Between you and me, she should’ve charged me more.

At festivals, while you’re browsing, if you like an artist’s work, tell them. It can get kind of lonely, you know. And if you can reasonably afford to purchase some of their work, do so! If you can’t afford a purchase at that point, take the artist’s card and contact her/him when you can.

If you don’t care for their work, at least smile and thank the artist for being there, hauling their stuff out and sharing it with the public. It takes a lot of guts (and tarp, and patience) to do a show.

One of our regulars in the group explained that she saves up a little money each month in preparation for the Elmwood Festival of the Arts so that she has financial permission to purchase items that bring her joy.
Another has a special account at her credit union titled, “DREAMS.” I bet that makes saving money more enjoyable!

Maybe, instead of setting aside money for specific categories of your life, you may thrive by simply saving as much as you possibly can …and living on the rest. Then, if an opportunity presents itself, when time stands still as you gaze upon a piece of artwork, you can confidently say, “I’ll take it!”

When you start to collect art, you’ll have to be mindful of protecting, storing and even insuring pieces. Karen suggests videotaping your items and getting appraisals.

I hope you enjoyed this visually enhanced post, I certainly enjoyed creating it. If you need more than just a blog post to get your financial peace on, http://www.lauberfinancialplanning.com.

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Plugging the Leaks in Your Financial Boat

Some years ago I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer talk about the children’s song, “Row, row, row your boat.” He went on to explain that the song provides a succinct and sweet guide to life:

Row, row, row (don’t try to do anything other than row) your boat (not anyone else’s), gently (take it easy!) down (not up) the stream, merrily (be cheerful), merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream (don’t get too hung up on it, it’s all an illusion).”

The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met to discuss how money leaks out of our financial boats when we’re not looking, when we’re not paying close attention.

Instead of “leaks,” think how money “sneaks” out. It’s kind of like assuming your three-year old tot will continue quietly playing with her toys while you go into the kitchen to grab a much-needed cup of coffee. You blissfully combine the right amount of cream and sugar, take a sip and, oh, no, where did she go?!

Our support group members frequently discuss using money to purchase experiences (adventures, learning, travel, and even hiring people to help you so that you can have time for experiences) rather than stuff, but that may be a reflection of the demographic of the group which tends to be early 40s through mid 70s, when you’re pretty much done accumulating things and in fact are in the process of hiring a professional organizer to help you get rid of the stuff you’ve accumulated. I recognize that many people are still in the accumulative phase of their lives, there’s no judgment here.

Whether you are in the life phase of accumulating things or the one when you’re decluttering, you’re most likely wanting your financial boat to stay afloat with a measure of peace and security, right?

As one of our regulars, sales coach Bill Knoche, says, “It’s amazing what you can learn when you get calm.” Want to plug the leaks in your financial boat? Get calm and be vigilant.

Get calm:

  • Don’t fear the numbers like they’re some kind of financial monster lurking under your bed. One of our regulars, jazz singer Mari McNeil frequently talks about how scary it was to look at her budget after her divorce. To her delight she could afford to have her hair done the way she liked!

Bill advises, “Look at what’s there, rather than what’s not there, the latter has a negative charge to it.” Look at the numbers, what you have coming in, what’s going out and why; you may be very surprised, relieved, or, at the very least, informed. Then you can go from there.

  • Drop the “shoulds,” we can beat ourselves up trying to be perfect with our money. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, just merrily row your boat.

Be vigilant:

  • How do you know what’s “best?” Identify your key values (such as faith, kindness, justice etc.) and your needs (financial as well as mental, such as “I need to reduce my debt” and “I need a sense of order to be at my best.”).
    Does this purchase help you meet a need? Does it align with your values?
    If yes to both = YES, do it!
    If yes to only one = WAIT and check your motivations.
    If no to both = that’s easy: NO, don’t do it.


  • Put on some blinders: Even well-meaning family members and friends will have opinions about what you are doing with your money. The only effective way to combat their commentary is to be aware of what strategies would most benefit you and row your boat merrily and confidently in that direction.

Need more than a blog post? Let’s talk!

Posted in Budgeting, Goals, Living the life of your dreams, Personal Finance with a twist, Psychology of Money, Saving, Tackling debt | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Don’t Trip Over The Thin Line Between Thrift and Greed

My Mom had beautiful, long nails that she frequently painted a deep red but I don’t think she ever had a a proper manicure at a salon; that would be too much of a luxury. Every year, on the day she passed, we gather to celebrate her life by painting our nails red.

I still remember my first professional manicure. I was 21 and it was in a mall in San Jose. I, of course, had them done in deep red.

It was a splurge for sure and I felt happy, excited, glamorous, and just a little guilty because of the indulgence but, heck, it’s not like I had a family to feed.



Many years later I got a tattoo and my God Mother remarked, “Gosh when we were your age we’d be concerned about making rent.” As you can see, messages about money and what we do with it surround us and influence our decisions – sometimes without us being aware of them.

Both of my parents were raised during The Great Depression and both learned frugality and resourcefulness as a way of life. I’m grateful to have learned those skills.
They lived by the adage: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” It helped that most everyone else was in the same boat. Now, I think people falsely believe they’re the only ones struggling to make ends meet and they feel a sense of shame about it.

An example of thrift: My Mom once painted a rug…and later a chair. This activity met the need for something “new” while giving her creativity a useful outlet (she was, afterall an artist). She also sewed drapery weights into the hem of her (polyester, it was the 70s) Mother-of-the-bride gown to keep it hanging straight and from having static cling.

Back to thrift vs. greed.
Thrift allows your inner creativity and resourcefulness to manifest a life of abundance; to make, in essence, “stone soup.”

Greed, on the other hand, is driven by pride which, at its core, means fear; fear that you won’t have enough, fear that others are judging you harshly, fear that you’ll be a failure, fear that you’ll make the “wrong” decision. Pride is an expensive vice and I tell you, no matter what your diet, humble pie is always on the menu.

Greed keeps you from having a manicure not because you don’t have the money but because you’re not willing to give your money to someone else so that they may pay their own bills, maybe get their own manicure.

Greed tells you that your money and values are worth more than anyone else’s.

Greed tells you that you’re not good enough, and then sends you conflicted messages about buying things to show that you’re “good enough” versus “foolishly” spending the money to buy those things. Sneaky bastard!

Quite simply: Greed steals your joy.

That’s why the members of the I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money) support group and my clients spend time researching thier values and needs to determine when they’re making a decision out of joy/love or out of fear/greed.

Want some coaching on how to stay on the “Joy Road” ? Contact life coach Nancy Rizzo, that’s her specialty.

Need more than a blog post? Contact me.

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Drop the Judgment, Nurture Discernment

Raise your hand if you’re tired of trying to please people only to barely survive their judgments of you. Keep that hand up if you’re tired of using your precious energy to judge yourself and others.

There are few areas of life people are more concerned about being judged than how they earn, invest, save and spend their money. Maybe what they eat is a close second. (Note: Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT suggest that you forgo group snacks at your child’s soccer game. I’m still stinging from that social media thread from 2010.)

The “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met to discuss this topic.

My thought for this discussion was this: We humans have a tendency (some more than others) to form opinions about what is “right” and then proceed to condemn people (maybe even ourselves!) who do not live their lives according to our idea of what is “right.”

For example, we may believe that it is “right” to avoid credit card debt. Perhaps we know someone who has found themselves in this financial predicament and think, “Well, she shouldn’t have done thus-and-so. I don’t do thus-and-so and therefore I am right and safe from such a predicament.”

What good does this kind of judgment do? What benefit does it offer?
Answer: NOTHING, it merely keeps us stuck in a thought pattern.
And, just so you know, humble pie is always on the menu.

We had a great discussion about this topic of judgment and how it affects our decisions with money. Janine, one of our regulars, remarked how judgment is essential to navigate life, to make decisions. I don’t disagree, but I think she is saying poTAto and I am saying potato.

You will always be faced with decisions and will need to consult your inner wisdom to guide you to a choice that aligns with your values and priorities.
It helps if you have identified your values and priorities.
Others’ values & priorities may be different
and that must be okay with you if you hope to have peace.

Another regular, Mari McNeil, clarified that the kind of judgment we’re trying to avoid is not the one that assesses but, rather, the one that condemns (self or others). Precisely! Discernment, on the other hand, is seeking to know more and be guided by wisdom, patience and love.

Mari also shared that it is our job to love our family members and friends and that means allowing them to make mistakes – even disastrous ones – and be there to love them anyway. (Did I mention that buying rental property with a boyfriend isn’t a great idea? The fact that my parents and eventually my beloved husband love me despite that choice is huge.)

I work with a lot of people who avoid making any financial decisions because they’re afraid of making a mistake (read: lose money and be judged/pitied). Do you know what happens if you avoid making financial decisions? You’ll be left “wandering and squandering” and PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU ANYWAY!!!!

If we can learn to practice discernment to guide our financial decisions and also practice loving kindness with ourselves and our loved ones, we can then apply it to the broader world around us and lead lives of hope, peace and contentment.

I’m grateful to have received an email from one of my favorite (okay, they’re all my favorite) client’s today that included the sentence, “And for beginners (at whatever stage of life), you explain things clearly, without judgment.” I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful compliment! That indicates that I am doing my job: Creating a safe space for you to learn about money so you can make good decisions (as uniquely defined by you).

Need more than a blog post? Check out my new website www.lauberfinancialplanning.com and go to the “Let’s Talk” tab.

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Can Financial Planning Keep You From Sinning?

“She’s really writing that? Who does she think she is?!”

I am a financial planner who is trying to make the world a better place, that’s who I am.

And for the world to be a better place, we all need to behave in ways that support what “better” looks like. And while that is open for interpretation, in general most people want to be loved, respected, accepted and valued.

We become upset when we are not loved, respected, accepted and valued.
When we are upset, we can do things that aren’t so nice (i.e. be jealous, steal, lie, etc. = sins), causing others to feel unloved, disrespected, not acceptable (not good enough) and not valuable. And on it goes. Yuck!
Therefore, I have a lot of work to do with the medium I know best: money.

Since I also study faith and belief systems as a hobby, I can easily find the common denominator present in all faith (and non-faith) belief systems: The Golden Rule.

The Golden RuleI think you’d agree that most of us want world peace. But we can and will only have world peace when we actively choose it- every second of the day – over our pride and desires in our corner of the world. That’s where financial planning can help. Stick with me here.

I came across this at a networking meeting, a Danielle LaPorte “truthbomb:”Danielle LaPorte truthbomb_114

I pondered this thought for days after the event. What did I desire so much that it felt greedy? Result: I wanted certain family members and friends to acknowledge the value of the work I do, and I thought producing a certain amount of income (I have no idea how much) from the work I do would prove my work’s value; my value.


But there it is. I can now better understand myself and my motives and can extend that understanding to others through the work I do as a financial planner.

Desire, that’s a big part of the equation. Our desire for material things increases exponentially when our needs for love, respect, acceptance and being valued aren’t being met.

If we do not have the resources to purchase what we believe will help us feel loved, respected, accepted and valued, we may resort to theft, gambling, debt and other ways of obtaining what we believe we need…and down the less-virtuous rabbit hole we go.

Financial planning, when done in a compassionate atmosphere, has the ability to shine a light on your life and what you would have it to be and then look to your resources and how you can make decisions with them in order to have the life you envision, to be your authentic self, without the need for outside validation. This leads to self preservation and self-growth; the two beautifully illustrated elements in my company’s logo (the shield and the flower, respectively).

Financial planning will help make clear what resources you actually need and how to obtain them to have a fulfilling life, to feel secure, and to be generous, loving and respectful towards others.

You know the truth, that money won’t buy you happiness or love
but you might be afraid to live by it.

I think it’s because you would have to abandon
what you’ve learned about money, people and life
and that may feel like a betrayal of your own thoughts.

I invite you to just try this truth on like you would a pair of shoes
and see where those new shoes lead you.
“Lead us not into temptation…”

Want more than just a blog post? I help people of all levels of income and wealth (or no wealth, yet) take control of their finances, make good decisions and experience peace & abundance. http://www.lauberfinancialplanning.com

Posted in Charitable giving, Faith & Finances, Living the life of your dreams, Marriage and Money, Money & Spirituality, Money in relationships, Personal Finance with a twist | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Your Inner Fool (But Don’t Give It the Credit Card!)

“Do not talk long with a fool or visit a stupid man.
Beware of him, or you may be in trouble
and find yourself bespattered when he shakes himself.
Avoid him, if you are looking for peace,
and you will not be worn out by his folly.”

~ Ecclesiasticus 22:13

Bespattered, that’s a funny word.

Studies show that you are as smart and as financially sound as the five people with whom you spend the most time.

Our “I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money)” support group met to discuss the topic of the Inner Fool. Here are some insights:

  • The Inner Fool often enjoys splurging & living in the moment, like the story of the grasshopper and the ant.

…And then the Inner Guru (Ant) is left to find ways to pay for the splurges.

  • The Inner Fool believes “I’ll get the money to pay for this.”

…And the Inner Guru has to figure out what to do when the money isn’t there.

  • The Inner Fool spends to please another person.

…And the Inner Guru eventually realizes that it’s not necessary to over spend in a truly loving, respectful  relationship and perhaps Mom was right that buying rental property with a boyfriend wasn’t such a good idea. Oh, right, that’s just me.

  • The Inner Fool is naturally hopeful and optimistic, believes in the Law of Attraction and other forms of magical thinking.

But the Inner Guru becomes afraid with all of this silliness and makes the Inner Fool feel stupid and childish. Somehow having a scarcity (versus abundance) mindset can give the illusion that it’s more practical and in control.

  • The Inner Fool looks to credit cards with low introductory rates as relief and a reason to buy more (the Inner Fool may also feel inadequate and may be driven to accumulate/acquire to fill the void).

But the Inner Guru uses strategy with credit cards to accumulate points,
miles and cash; using time and money wisely, and disciplining him/herself
with healthy habits blah blah blah…

You see, it’s hard to make up your mind when you’re constantly receiving conflicting information in your own head, let alone from outside sources!

What financial role modeling did you receive? What type of thinking do you most lean on: the Inner Fool or the Inner Guru? Are you one of the few who can listen to both?

Here’s the thing: You must Love and Forgive your Inner Fool and give it a voice in your financial affairs, just don’t give it a voice in the practical ones. Your Inner Fool can help keep you hopeful and trying; very necessary positive energies when running the financial marathon that is life. This positive energy will also help you become more empathetic towards others and seek help for yourself.

One of the most loving suggestions of the day was this: Use April Fool’s Day to be truly foolish, like a day pass for frivolity. Just set a budget…and use cash. 🙂

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Budgeting For Self-Care / Budgeting As Self-Care

“Stop asking your life and your body to do things for you
and begin to do some things for your life and body.”
~David Drost, Evolation Yoga“Buffalo Magazine” February 5, 2017

This is the perfect beginning of a post about how budgeting (money, time and energy) can support our self-care efforts, and how taking care of ourselves can help us budget (our money, time and energy) more effectively.
Our beloved support group met February 4th to discuss well-being; “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.” Here are the highlights:

  • Q. What is wisdom?
  • A. Something that comes with age, but you’re never “done,” you’re always improving, learning how to react/respond to life, to know when to let go of things, relationships and thoughts that no longer serve you.
  • Learn to be comfortable not knowing even while you are seeking your own truth.


  • Q.When have you felt “wise?”
  • A. When you care less about what other people think and have the confidence to make the right decisions for you, to pay attention to what makes you come alive and be filled with passion.


  • Q. What aspects of your life contribute to your health & well-being?
  • A. Spending time with loved ones, sleeping, nourishing yourself with good food, art, beauty, music, literature, nature.


  • Q. How can you incorporate more of this into your life?
  • A. Be more intentional with your time and your relationships including your relationship with money, be proactive rather than living on autopilot.  Learn to set limits and nurture healthy boundaries.


  • Q. What aspects of your life are an obstacle to health and well-being?
  • A. Social media can help us get and stay connected (which contribute to well-being) but it undoubtedly is a diversion!
  • A. Work
  • A. Negative self-talk
  • Q. What can be done about the obstacles?
  • A. Set limits.
  • A. Claim some time, schedule it in your calendar, phone, Microsoft Outlook etc. Go for a walk, exercise, get some fresh air, get out in nature; it’ll remind you of the fact that there is a purpose for and an order to all of life.


  • Q. What is one way you could use your time more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Set a timer with the parts of your life that you want to limit.
  • A. See above about claiming time for the things that matter to you. If you don’t make time for it, it must not be a priority!


  • Q. What is one way you could use your money more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Buy healthy, organic foods.
  • A. Decide if you’re using your gym membership or if a scheduled walk a few times per week or a yoga class is more achievable and enjoyable.
  • A. Create personal financial policy statement.


  • Q. What is one way you could use your energy (attention, thoughts, activity) more intentionally to promote your health & wealth?
  • A. Do one small task, create one small change of habit to foster other changes (such as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand).
  • A. Be in the now, practice mindfulness.
  • A. Do a vision board or book, focus on what is good in life that you would welcome more of in your life.

See, you’re not alone, not at all! We all are doing the best we can, with the resources we have, with the time we’re allotted. Be kind to yourself and share that kindness with others.

If you’d like more than just a blog post to improve your financial well-being, contact me to schedule an appointment.


Posted in Budgeting, Living the life of your dreams, Personal Finance with a twist | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments