Gift Ideas to Teach Finance and Economics!

by Miata on December 8th, 2014

ift Ideas to Teach Finance and Economics!

Money Box

As a creative person, don’t you find many holiday gatherings are a little less….creative than they could be? According to the National Retail Federation, more people are giving gift cards this year as presents than ever before. Gift cards? Have we completely run out of entertaining, interesting ideas for our friends?

A friend of mine suggested board games that teach people about money.

What a fantastic idea!

It turns out that each year over a thousand new board game titles are released. If you walked the aisles of Walmart or Target, you’d never know there were many more options than Monopoly, Cranium and Risk.

Most games designed to “teach” people aren’t actually fun. Instead, look for games that help players build a thirst about money, economics or business because they’re having a blast enjoying the topics.

Here are five super engaging and creative games involving finance:

Modern Art – In this game each player ow

ns an art gallery and a handful of art. Your goal is to sell art that’s “hot” and buy artists before they “make it big.” The most fun part of the

game isn’t in the rules: When auctioning off a portrait, try describing the work and the artist’s intentions. You may find the descriptions become funnier as wine flows….

Show Manager – How’d you like to own a theater company putting on shows in different cities, like New York, London and Paris? That’s your role in Show Manager, where you carefully spend money on actors and have to decide when to borrow funds to make productions even better. Your goal is to attract the best talent without running out of cash. An optional rule (it’s explained in detail at the end of the rulebook) involves love triangles on the stage. If two actors fall in love, audiences will feel the chemistry…but if three actors feel romantic tension, the “lover’s triangle” can spoil your production.

Dream Factory – Let’s move from the stage to the silver screen. In this game you own a movie studio and you’re hiring directors, actors, sound engineers and special effects teams. Don’t overpay for talent or you’ll find that while you might win a few rewards, other studio owners who spend money wisely will crank out many more films and win the game! There’s even an award for Worst Film, so studios try to make their own version of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

Bootleggers – Here are some creative types: mafia bosses! Everyone runs a moonshine operation during Prohibition and competes to control and sell goods at speakeasies. Like any business, you’ll weigh decisions carefully: do you add more capacity? Move stills into the woods so the cops don’t find them? Buy more trucks? Hire more henchmen? Careful planning wins the day. There are even rules that allow players to threaten competitors (I’ll play this hit on your henchmen if you don’t pay me money!) And, of course, you have to say “G’s” instead of “thousands,” as in “That’ll cost ya’ three G’s.”

Power Grid – While this game might be the least “creative” of the bunch, for people looking for a Monopoly-style game but with more decisions and less luck, this is your best bet. Players own utility companies expanding across the country. Bid on power plants, maneuver into new cities, buy resources… There is even the option to utilize wind power and fusion….technologies that are very expensive but that can save you big money on resources in the future.

Whether you’re planning on buying one of these games as gifts, or to take over to small holiday gatherings with friends, these are some fun options. Do keep in mind that they aren’t designed to be enjoyed by large groups. For some reason they have yet to create a big party game that involves finance…

I’d love any ideas for an Abundance Bound board game… it could be a real hit!

Looking to Clean Up Your Finances?

by Miata on November 18th, 2014

Looking to Clean Up Your Finances? Copy Successful Health Programs


A brilliant artist friend of mine recently wanted to lose weight. He picked up Tim Ferriss’ book 4 Hour Body and within a few months lost 20 pounds. He and I discussed how he finally was able to take off weight he’d talked about losing for a long time. His answers enveloped many of the themes I’ve covered when I work with people on effective money management. Let’s get creative today and see what lessons about money we can learn from health and weight loss programs!

It Starts With a Spark

One point he made that grabbed me was when he said, “I just one day decided I had to do things differently. It was like I flipped a switch. I’d had enough.” That’s true for better money habits, too. Every person I’ve met who decided that today was the day to get their financial house in order didn’t “take it slowly.” Sure, maybe they didn’t try to change ALL of their financial habits in a single day, but with one decision—to be different—they began either cleaning up their credit card debt, building savings, tracking their expenses….whatever.

I can usually tell when someone comes to me whether they’re going to be successful or not based on their attitude. If they simply say, “I’d like to change,” they rarely do. However, when someone can point out all of the reasons they NEED to handle money differently, I know they’re in business.

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Is a Second “Side Job” the Right Answer?

by Miata on October 27th, 2014


Is a Second “Side” Job the Right Answer?

If you’ve ever thought about earning more money, you might have turned immediately to the idea of taking on a second job. But as artists we know that a side job isn’t JUST about more cash in your pocket… It is important to seriously weigh the consequences on your craft and any other income streams you already have.

The Money Crunch

Everyone’s had a time in their life when there’s more month than paycheck. Maybe for you that’s right now. You see ads all over the place for “help wanted” or “make money online.” It seems simple: you’ll work a little harder. “Put your nose to the grindstone” as my mom says. But should you start searching?

The biggest problem with multiple side jobs is that they sap your number one commodity: energy. They also drain away your second biggest asset: time. You might meet your bills, but you also might lose your motivation to work toward your bigger dreams.

Before you take on an additional side job, ask yourself some questions:

Read the rest of this entry »

Buying a House? Now Might Be The Time

by Miata on October 13th, 2014

I was reading a Yahoo! Finance story this morning about housing prices and saw that for the first time in a long time, prices might be falling. Are you looking for a house? Now might be the perfect time.


What’s happening with the housing market?

Let’s talk first about the market. You definitely don’t want to buy a home when the market is hot….and the trend is in a seller’s favor. But if prices are dipping and the number of people buying is light, you’re more likely to find a steal. However, real estate markets are very much regional, not national, like the stock market. That means that while prices might be tanking in Las Vegas, they could be rising in Miami. It’s important to check with pros in your area to see just how weak your local market is before wandering off into the home buying scene.

A weak market means more desperate sellers, so do brush up on your negotiation skills. A few thoughts on this front:

  • Remember that the seller isn’t your friend. It’s up to them to put their best foot forward and make their best deal.
  • You aren’t trying to “put the screws” to someone when you negotiate. You’re only trying to adequately protect your interest, which means paying as little as possible.
  • Don’t expect your real estate agent to negotiate on your behalf. Studies have also shown that real estate agents prefer not to negotiate (mostly because when you consider how they make money….on the sale price….there’s no real incentive for them to bargain).

Okay, the market might be right, but should I buy?

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The Case for Cutting Cable

by Miata on September 22nd, 2014

Let’s Cut The Cord But Keep Your Entertainment RetroTV

I’m inspired by quality television. I’m against cutting out dramas or a good comedy from my routine, but I absolutely love saving money and getting the same value.

So, let’s start with $100 per month that you saved on cable and see how much we’ll have to spend of it to replace your favorite shows.

Netflix: For a fraction of the cost of your cable bill, you can stream many great (and some original) content from Netflix. Double the fee and you have access to nearly every DVD on earth. Cost? from $8. ($92 left)

Hulu: I get annoyed by Hulu premium plans because they keep commercials AND make you pay. But, then I think….”I was watching commercials when I had cable, and I was paying a ton!” Great point. Most top shows from all the major networks and more. Cost? $8. ($84 left)

Amazon Prime: The newest kid on the block, Amazon Prime, offers TONS of shows from many different sources, including most of the networks. That’s not all: you also get a music streaming service and access to many book-sharing programs PLUS (of course) free two day shipping on many products. Cost? $100 per year or $8.33 per month. ($75.67 left)

Sports: Missing your favorite sport? Sign up to watch them online. Major League Baseball allows people to watch every out-of-market game for $130 per year. Most major sports have similar packages. Cost? $10.83/mo. ($64.84 left)

Using four sources we just cut out the cable subscription and saved around 2/3 of the fee! Plus, you don’t have to wait….watch shows whenever you want!

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Lowering the Cost of “the American Dream” – Part II

by Miata on September 8th, 2014

(This article continues the discussion on lowering expenses found here)AmericanDream2

In our first installment two weeks ago, I discussed ways you could drop the cost of the American Dream by lowering your essential expenses such as groceries, car expenses and apparel. Today, I’d like to tackle lowering the cost of the “extras” that USA Today calculated are important parts of what many consider a happy lifestyle. We’re creative people….lowering the cost of creative activities should be easy for us, right?

USA Today assigns $17,009 to extras, and breaks them down like this:

Family Summer Vacation: $4,580

Entertainment: $3,667

Restaurants: $3,662

Cable, Satellite, Internet, Cell Phone: $3,100

Miscellaneous Costs: $2,000

Good news! All of these costs can be lowered without giving up any happiness. How? Let’s dive in!

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Lowering the Cost of “The American Dream” Part I

by Miata on August 25th, 2014

AmericanDreamA recent USA Today article caught my eye. They said that the “American Dream” now costs $130,000 a year. Wow! Even as someone who works with people on their money, I was astounded. For those wanting to focus on creative endeavors that can feel like an impossible amount.

….then I began reading.

Let’s take a look at their list of expenses and consider how we might be able to make the dream more affordable (for a complete list of expenses and how they arrived at each portion, here’s a link to the actual USA Today story). Today we’ll tackle just the essential expenses, and then in my next blog post I’ll break down the rest of the budget.

These expenses assume a family of four living in a $275,000 home.

Housing: $17,062

Groceries: 12,659

Car Expenses: $11,039

Medical Expenses: $9,144

Education Expenses: $4,000

Apparel: $2,631

Utilities: $1,956

Essentials Total: $58,491

Before I tear into these numbers, it’s important to note that most people don’t know what they spend, so all of these numbers look high. When I work with people on their budget they nearly always find that they’re spending more in each of these areas than they thought. Those little one-time expenses really begin adding up. Read the rest of this entry »

How Can I Decide Which Mortgage is Best?

by Miata on July 11th, 2014

TreeHouseThis week I want to focus on debt. Why? Many people have debts, but few have a debt strategy. If you’re going to focus on your craft, you should minimize distractions with confusing terms and high repayment options.

The biggest debt for most people is their mortgage, so we’ll start there.

Here’s some good news: mortgages don’t have to be ominous, and if you do them wisely, you can come out ahead on your mortgage decision.

Let’s start with what a typical mortgage looks like and then we’ll talk about money-saving strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

It Isn’t Enough to Care (a Guide to REALLY Perfecting Your Craft)

by Miata on June 30th, 2014

BrainFullA friend emailed me asking for help.

“I care so much about (my craft). Why does it always end up coming last?”

There’s a short answer to this question.

It isn’t enough to care.

I’d submit it isn’t even just about hard work.

It’s about systems.

Setting up systems to win is the key to your success. Financially, having systems for the right tasks is equally important.

The Sherlock Holmes Story

In one of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, someone asks Sherlock about a piece of current events. Holmes replies that he has no idea what the person is talking about. The questioner is shocked. The great Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know something? Holmes replies that the mind is only so large. If you fill it with trivia, there won’t be room for the information you really need to be successful.

Practice The Sherlock Holmes Method of Systems

Your goal should be to fill your brain with your craft and the things that really matter to you. Therefore, everything that isn’t important shouldn’t take up very much space. Read the rest of this entry »

How Money Helps You Create Great Work

by Miata on June 16th, 2014

hand holds book of big idea“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”
-Steve Jobs

I was speaking with a friend the other day who said, “No offense, but money people are so obsessed with cash that they forget to create. They’re so obsessed with profits that they miss the point of life.

To some degree, I think that’s true.

There are actually studies that have shown that many uber-rich people are mean and unkind, and money helped them become that way. The issue is when we believe we’ll avoid ever becoming that type of person, by simply never focusing on money.

That’s where the wheels come off the bus, so to speak.

Money isn’t a problem if you’re using it to create good in the world. Money isn’t an issue if you’re developing your craft and trying to ensure that your art is noticed.

Money only becomes an issue when all that you can think about is the pursuit of the next dollar. Read the rest of this entry »