Maria Nemeth of Sacramento is the author of "The Energy of Money" now available in paperback (Ballantine, 2000, $14.95).
Billed as "A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment," it's helpful to know that Nemeth got her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at UCLA. She is a lecturer, a writer and the creator of several financial short courses.
"I've reached thousands and thousands of people through the years," she said. "Most of those people end up taking the actions I suggest. Some end up with a lot more money and some don't, but they all learn to use money differently. Instead of having money use them, they turn money into a friend and ally, not something to fear.
"I had my own wake up call when I lost $35,000 in an unsecured loan 17 years ago. It was a humiliating, devastating experience. I paid it back one day at a time. That experience led me to create the 'You and Money' course," she said. And from that course came her first book by the same name.
She says the biggest mistake people make about money is simply wanting more and thinking more is the answer.
"When I was a student at UCLA and living on very little money, I thought just having more money was the answer to my financial problems but the more I got the more I wanted. The more money you make, the more you 'leak.' It's insidious," she said.
Here's a good example of leakage: Nemeth worked with a woman who kept track of every penny she spent for a month. She discovered that she spent $7 a day in coffee and croissants yet she hadn't had a vacation in years. She decided to have coffee and croissants only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and put the rest of the money in savings for a fun trip.
"I got a card from her when she took her vacation," said Nemeth.
If you have problems with money, don't feel like you're alone.
"Everyone has problems with money," says Nemeth. "We think money is survival. Our 'monkey mind' tells us that if we don't have enough something terrible will happen. The fact is, we generally have as much as we need or we will have enough once we wake up and stop wasting what we have. We need to learn to be become a conscious conduit of energy and money is just one form of energy.
"A lot of people tell me that they've read every financial book in the business, but they can't follow them. I say you start by clearing the way, by asking yourself what has real meaning in your life and what you want money for. Then follow some practical steps."
When you decide what you really want to do and start to take the steps, financial and otherwise to achieve it, great things can happen. Nemeth describes a 62-year-old woman who wanted to have a voice recital. She'd wanted to do this for 40 years, but it never got done.
"She used my principles and ended up having 150 people at her recital. She used her money creatively. It's all of a piece. How we use our money affects all other areas of our life including creativity, health and time," Nemeth said.
One of the first exercises Nemeth suggests is balancing your checkbook to the penny.
"It's a fiscal exercise and a spiritual exercise," she says. "It's all energy, one cent or one dollar, and it's all the same spiritually. So when you balance your checkbook to the penny you become conscious about everything. You take care of something on the micro level and that helps you on the macro level.
"If you do the work in the book, it will help you target what part of your finances need to be redone. You'll look at your credit rating, net worth, balancing your checkbook and tracking every penny you spend. We show you, in terms of the relevant principles, why it's important to do this and how it affects every area of your life."
If you'd like information about Nemeth's seminars, check out her Web site at energyofmoney.com.
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