Category Archives: Health

Stress, Financially Fit, Balance, Life Balance

You Get What You Focus On: Your Appreciation Journal

Coat of arms of Haiti

Coat of arms of Haiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caught up in the day to day issues of life, it’s easy to forget our blessings. What do you appreciate in your life? Your health? Home? Family?

When you’re learning to budget, don’t get so caught up in the money issues that you forget the more important things motivating you to get your finances in order. An appreciation journal is a great way to remember those motivators. Take some time to reflect on the positives in your life. Write them down and look at them when you grow discouraged. Remember why you’re making these changes and how they line up with your goals.

You get what you focus on. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, look to the positives. You’ll be surprised at how easily you’ll note the good in situations, giving you strength to continue pressing on even during the tougher days.

The first 4-6 weeks of budgeting is often very difficult. Things break, unexpected bills show up, and it is easy to grow frustrated and to start focusing on your problems. I tell the folks I coach that when (not if) this happens, I want them to find $35 dollars or something they can sell for $35 and give it to an organization that will help a child in a country such as Haiti.

Why? The $35 you just sent can feed an impoverished child for about a month. Most likely, the setback you are currently dealing with isn’t anywhere near as difficult the issues the child in Haiti is dealing with on a daily basis. As you reflect on your situation and the situation of that child, you will begin to understand the benefit of using an appreciation journal to track and reflect on what is really important in your life.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

My Financial Life Coach LLC

“Helping You Get Your Financial House In Order”

Delaware, OH 43015



Filed under Attitude, Budget, Change, Family, Finance, Health, Money, Personal Finance, Priorities

If you can’t leave the freshly baked cookies alone, stay out of the kitchen

Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingredients: b...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The kitchen

You’ve heard the saying “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of kitchen.” In my case it should be “If you can’t leave the freshly baked cookies alone, stay out of the kitchen.”

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog, you know that I’m on a mission to shed 20 lbs in 56 days. Today is day 29 or 56. This weekend I made some progress and I fell off the wagon at the same time. My progress was that I ran over a mile this weekend. That is a really big milestone for me.

The cookies

The bad this weekend? …my wife’s home-made cookies. I’m very disciplined except for about five food items and her cookies are one of those items. When she bakes I try to be very helpful…I am a self-appointed cookie tester and it is my duty to test EVERY batch, without my wife catching me of course. (Full disclosure-I may have had two cookies for every batch but let’s keep that between us).  Then I justified having a soda because I was off my diet anyway. Because of this lack of discipline (and logic) I get to work on lb #12 again.

Not following my own advice

I advise my clients that if they have an issue spending money on things not in the budget that they should avoid the stores so they do not have this temptation. Had I followed my own advice this weekend I would have stayed out of the kitchen and I would be working on lb #13 instead of a do over with lb #12. So the lesson is stick with your budget (or diet), if you don’t, you will be extending how long you are paying on debt (or extending how long until you hit your ideal weight goal).

Knowledge or Behavior?

One more point, it isn’t always about knowledge, sometimes it is about behavior. I know that cookies and soda are counterproductive to my weight goal but I did it anyway. But like learning to ride a bike I’ll get back up and start riding again this week.

What goal are you struggling with this week?

Let’s hear about your goal or your struggle for this week.

Remember, you have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper –

Thank you for reading the My Financial Life Coach blog where we talk about money, goals, family, life events, spending, and economic news. We do make every attempt to avoid the topic of politics but we will bring up economic policies that need communicated.


Filed under Budget, Change, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, household budget, Life, Personal Finance

Sara’s Journey Through Balance Up – Days 25-27

Day 25—-Get Smart

(Posting Sara’s (Single Mom’s Ask Sara) journey through the Balance Up program)

Remember SMART? This is important, so we’re going to go over it one more time.


In order to reach the priorities you set, you need a logical (SMART) approach. So what if you find you can’t apply the SMART principles to your goals? No problem. Not being able to apply the SMART elements to your goals, is just a signal that you need to change the goal, or eliminate it in favor of one of the goals you initially removed from your list.

Today’s short lesson gives you time to go back and review some previous lessons. Because it takes a few months to get a feel for managing your money in a new way, reviewing the lessons on working with the paycheck allocation and the “envelopes” are a great idea.

Day 26–Do you have an emergency living expense fund?

Who doesn’t want one of these? Who has one? I have a little one. Because I am focused on eliminating debt, I don’t have a big emergency fund. Both Bryan, and my long term financial planning guy feel this is the next step after you demo the debt.

All I know is that I would love to feel covered in an emergency or a job loss. After having many job losses with no emergency fund, I can say on some pretty good authority that this does not feel good at all!

Bryan suggests you sock away 3 to 6 months of your living expenses, and if you live in a location with greater than 8% unemployment (that would pretty much be the USA these days) you should consider a nest egg of 5-8 months. Sound impossible? It sure did to me.

However, ever the financial ray of hope, Bryan explains that with the joys of compound interest you can truly make this happen.

Needing new tires doesn't need to cause a financial emergency.

Bryan then goes on to explain Sinking Fund Purchases or SFPs (my acronym). You create an SFP to put money away for things you will want or need in the future. Novel concept, huh?

Here’s one of Bryan’s examples. Say you know you will need tires for the car, and those tires cost $400. (I remember when you could get 4 tires for 100 bucks!)

If you need those tires in 6 months, you need to save $67/month.

If you need them in 12 months, that would be $37/month, and if you can wait 24 months, you only need to set aside $17/month.

However, if you buy them at the last minute and charge them, paying over that 24 months, you will pay an extra $111.88 (at 24.9% interest).

Of course it makes far more sense to save for the tires, but we don’t tend to do this. It may take a while to get your thinking and your finances turned around so that you are able to proactively put money away for these purchases, but that’s OK. If you think about it…if you can afford to make the payment after you buy the tires, you can likely make the smaller set aside payment before you buy the tires. Even if you don’t get to the full amount before you have to make your major purchase, in money, every little bit helps.

Day 27: Insurance!

Insurance. We hate to pay for it, we are so thankful to have it when we need it, and we really don’t quite understand it.

Today Bryan shares the ins, outs, and definitions of all those different insurances we need to know about. You will definitely want to print this handout and keep it with all your important paperwork!

So what kind of insurance are we talking about?

Here’s the list:

Property Insurance

Auto Insurance

Personal Umbrella

Life Insurance

Disability Insurance

Identity Theft*

Health Insurance*

Long-term Care*

Just like an emergency fund, insurance saves your behind in a crisis. The only difference is that while your emergency fund is there for day-to-day shortfalls, insurance covers the catastrophic events that could wipe you out financially for a long, long time.

Here are Bryan’s 7 General Principles of Insurance:

1. Understand the purpose of insurance.

2. Know your needs and your coverage.

3. Carry adequate insurance.

4. Understand the real cost of deductibles.

5. Watch your credit score.

6. Avoid filing too many claims.

7. Shop around.

With Bryan’s definitions, coverage details, and tips for decreasing your insurance premiums, you will most certainly have the protection you need should Mr. Mayhem come to visit you!

*Not included in today’s lesson. 

– Sara

Interested in learning more about Balance Up? 32 online lessons taken over a 42 day period for only $29.99.

Bryan Cooper

My Financial Life Coach, LLC

Delaware, Ohio

My Financial Life Coach is a provider of financial education, coaching, web-based training,

and seminars for individuals, businesses, and non-profits.

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Filed under Budget, Finance, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, household budget, Insurance, Life Balance, Money, Personal Finance, Priorities, Time, Time Management

Sara’s Journey Through Balance Up – Days 22-24

Day 22–Balancing Part 2

(Posting Sara’s (Single Mom’s Ask Sara) journey through the Balance Up program).

Today Bryan takes us through the second half of our goal assessment, and he asks some pretty tough questions.

Bryan starts with “How do you feel each morning?” For so many of us, how we feel in the morning isn’t even something we want to think about!

I remember when I was working a lot of hours, getting kids to and frow, and in grad school. I was so exhausted my stomach hurt. Being nearly unable to move I reached for the coffee, which made me feel like a bomb had exploded in my stomach, but got me moving. I am very grateful that was a short period of time in my life, and for a good cause. For too many of us, it is the norm.

Bryan goes on to ask if we are eating correctly, exercising, taking vitamins as needed, and are we resting???

 Is my lack of energy keeping me from the life I want to live?

Ouch! While I know a lot of people who would say they can’t possibly make time to be healthy, I know everyone of them would stop dead (no pun intended) in their tracks if asked the above question. We tend to disassociate our crazy lives from the idea that by living them, we are missing our primary purpose, and our pleasure.

Bryan presses on. Are our relationships getting in the way of having balance in our lives, and/or do we have relationships that are getting in the way of our families? Are we in the career that satisfies our calling? Are we maximizing our income? Can we retire when it’s time?

These are all incredibly important questions. They say cemetaries are filled with ignored dreams. What are your dreams, and are you living in a way that allows you fulfill them? (I have a more information on this topic for those on my mailing list…so if you aren’t there yet, sign up!)

Your money should be used to support you as you move down the path toward your dreams. It should not be the primary cause of your stress and the very reason you CAN’T fulfill your dreams.

If you haven’t signed up yet, what’s holding you back? Balance UP! is clearly the simplest most straightforward method to getting your money and life together in a way that moves your money to a position of support for your life. I am great at squeezing the life out of a dollar, but where I was putting the juice from that dollar wasn’t giving me full benefit. I am excited to be learning a new approach.

Day 23–Prioritizing your goals

Today’s video was less than 2 minutes long, but the instructions will change your life!

Bryan supplies a Goal Brainstorming Worksheet. You complete the worksheet by goal topic area and list what you would like to achieve in each area. Sometimes people get hung up on defining their goals because life is messy and things happen. That’s OK. These are your goals today.

For example: Say you have the spiritual goal of attending church or temple each week. Things are trucking along just fine and then your appendix bursts (I hope this doesn’t happen to you!) and you aren’t going to be leaving the house for a while. Do you get an F in this goal? Of course not! You can table it until you are able to work on it again, or you can change it to watching a service on TV. These are your goals. You don’t have to share them, and you don’t get a grade. You just need to get started.

Once you have your goals established, prioritize them by category. Take your time and think about what you want to achieve in your life. We know that what we focus on, grows in our life. So if you write “I will be out of debt”, what are you focusing on? Debt! Bryan suggests something like, “I will pay an extra $430 on my bills each month.” The focus here is on having an extra $430 each month. Maybe you can make that $430 grow to an even bigger amount!

Have fun with this part. By setting goals, you are defining what you want to do to make your life better!

Day 24…Finalizing that prioritizing

Ok. So we have our goals down from our brainstorming session and we have taken the time to really think about what we’d like to achieve in all the areas of our life.

Today we are going to look at our list again, and we’re going to whittle it down so that we are only working on the 10 or so goals we really want to get started on. We are whittling because our little heads can’t wrap around a large stack of goals. We have to do a few, accomplish, celebrate, and repeat.

If you are working through Balance UP! as a couple, this is where the two of you finally come together. You will pool your goals and whittle them down together so that you know your goals aren’t in conflict with each other, and ideally the two of you are headed in the same direction.

Bryan reminds us to make sure our goals are SMART.


SMART goals help us to assure the greatest opportunities for success. Next, we go back to the Paycheck Distribution Tool…and let me say this is my very favorite thing about the entire Balance UP! program so far. It is so easy to play with where my money goes each month when I use this tool. I can play around with the scenarios until I land right where I want to be for each month.

Using this tool you can easily set aside funds for a vacation, Christmas, a new stove (that’s on my list), etc. Then…handy dandy Form 7 tracks each month’s set aside amount. Wa-la! How nice to see a Christmas, vacation, or stove fund growing each month!

– Sara

Interested in learning more about Balance Up? 32 online lessons taken over a 42 day period for only $29.99.

Bryan Cooper

My Financial Life Coach, LLC

Delaware, Ohio

My Financial Life Coach is a provider of financial education, coaching, web-based training,

and seminars for individuals, businesses, and non-profits.

Leave a comment

Filed under Budget, Finance, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, household budget, Life Balance, Money, Personal Finance, Priorities, Time, Time Management, Uncategorized


Not Settling For Less

Contrary to popular belief, contentment doesn’t mean settling for less. It does not mean that you ignore what you really want, insisting that what you have now is enough. In reality, contentment may actually mean settling for more. It is settling for more of what is important to you- settling for more time with your family and more time pursuing your goals and dreams.

Spend Less Time on the Unimportant

It may mean settling for less time spent on the unimportant- less time chasing material items that will mean nothing to you and have no value years from now.  Remember the saying, “The one with the most toys at the end of life wins?” Sounds like that person should have settled for spending more time and energy on the important rather than on accumulation.

At the end of your life, what will people say you settled for?

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach @ My Financial Life Coach

Visit us at:

Keywords: Budget, Change, Economics, Economy, Family, Goals, Goal Setting, Life, Life Balance, Money, Miscellaneous, Personal, Personal Finance, Relationships, Relationships & Money, Saving, Uncategorized


Filed under Budget, Change, Dave Ramsey, Economy, Family, Goals, Health, Inspiration, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Money, Personal Finance, Priorities, Relationships & Money, Thoughts

Slow Down, to Go Faster

Slow down so you can go faster. So many times, we go ninety miles an hour all day long only to find we either didn’t really get anything done or we worked on the wrong things.  Slow down, get rested, and prioritize what you need to do. An important part of prioritization is removing things from your list. Learn to say no. You may have items on your list that are unimportant, put there by someone else, or will take you in a completely different direction then you want to go.

So how do you change this?

Step One

Stop. Take a look at what all you have going on.

Step Two

Determine what is important to you.

Step Three

Get rested. You will not be efficient or effective if you are worn out.

Step Four

Prioritize. Take what you determined is important to you and make it a priority.

Step Five

Eliminate. Take another look at everything you are doing. Eliminate anything that is unimportant or distracting.

Now you can start back up and take action on the most important items that will lead you in the direction you want to go.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

My Financial Life Coach, LLC

Visit us at:

Keywords: Balance, Change, Culture, Education, Family, Goals, Goal Setting, Health, Home, Inspiration, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Personal, Priorities, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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Body Rhythms

When thinking about time management, many people often overlook a simple area that can save you time and increase your efficiency with relatively no additional work or effort from you. Are you a morning person or a night owl? It is important to understand your body rhythms and to work with them. I am personally a morning person. If I’m working on something that requires a lot of thought, I need to do it earlier in the day because that is when I do my best work. If I attempt to do it in the late afternoon or evening, the quality of my work is not as good nor am I as efficient in completing the work. So, determine when you are at your peak and only work on tasks that require your best work during that time. Work with your body rhythms, not against them.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at

Keywords: Balance, Change, Family, Goals, Goal Setting, Health, Home, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Relationships, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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Filed under Balance, Change, Family, Goal Setting, Goals, Health, Home, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Relationships, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Uncategorized, Work