I’m a big fan of Chellie Campbell. Some years ago, a friend recommended Chellie’s book, The Wealthy Spirit, and I loved it. It’s one of those books that you read just one page per day–with a short essay, a wise quote, and an affirmation on each page. I wasn’t a big believer in affirmations at the time, but I was willing to put aside my skepticism and try the book’s suggestions. I started with the basic: “People love to give me money,” and son-of-a-gun, if it didn’t work! My skepticism disappeared as I followed more of the book’s suggestions and discovered that they really worked. Today, I would list The Wealthy Spirit as one of the top five most helpful books I’ve ever read.
So when I recently learned that Chellie has a new book coming out, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about it. She graciously made time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
BJ: This is your third book about money. What inspired you to write it? How does it complement your first two books?
Chellie: My first book, The Wealthy Spirit, I did as a page-a-day book of positive thoughts and stories about money and life. It’s a general purpose book, meant to be read over time by anyone interested in enriching their life in some way.
My second book, Zero to Zillionaire, I wrote in the format of eight chapters as a program that could be followed, like my 8-week Financial Stress Reduction tele-classes. It, too, was targeted to the general public with information that applied to everyone.
This new book, From Worry to Wealthy, I wrote specifically for women in business. Ninety-five percent of business books are written by men – most of them are directed to people with jobs who want to become successful in the corporate world. The few women-authored books, like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel, come from the perspective: “Women have to toughen up and learn how to play the man’s game of business.”
I think we’ve had enough of that! Women have been making great strides in business, both as corporate executives and business owners over the last couple of decades, and I felt it was time for a book that came from the point of view that you could be nice, generous, and kind … and succeed on your own terms. You don’t have to try to grab a seat at the table if you own the table.
That being said, I’ve seen in my coaching practice for the last 25 years that women have some very specific fears related to success and money, and I also wanted to address those concerns. So that’s what motivated me to write the new book.
BJ: Bookstores are loaded with dozens of personal finance books, as well as volumes geared to entrepreneurs and business owners. How is your book different from all the others out there?
Chellie: Most personal finance books target the biggest segment of the population: people with 9-to-5 jobs and regular paychecks. There isn’t a lot of new and different advice you can give them. Basically, it’s: “live within your means, pay off your debt, and save for retirement.”
But today, that advice doesn’t work as well as it once did. College students are graduating saddled with loans and have trouble finding a job. How are they supposed to pay off their debt and save money?
It’s been estimated that it takes $1.25 million in savings and investments in order to be able to retire comfortably at 65 and live for 25 to 30 years. Only 8% of the population makes enough money to be able to save that amount! Pensions have gone the way of the passenger pigeon unless you’re a government employee. The golden years we were promised have faded from view for the average person.
But if you have a calling instead of a career – if your chosen work is something you love doing and people praise you and pay you for it – then you won’t ever want to retire. You might work less and take more time off in between projects, but you’ll still be actively engaged in life, being of service to people, having fun, and still making money! The idea that the only thing you can rely on in your old age is some pot full of money you saved or invested is just an old paradigm that doesn’t really work anymore.
Business books always seem to focus on the bigwigs who made a fortune running GM or inventing Apple or Facebook and have a gazillion dollars. When I started my workshop business, Tony Robbins was the top dog, and he had an infomercial running every night on TV. I watched him getting 1,000 people psyched up and high-fiving each other and I thought, “Well, I’m not going to be doing that.”
Everyone who knew me rather expected that I would want to do that, but I had a different vision: I wanted to be small, happy, and rich. I didn’t want to work 80 hours a week, have 48 employees, and thousands of clients to manage. I just wanted to teach small groups and make about $200,000 a year. In order to do that, all I need to do that is my home office, my computer, a phone, and about 80 people enrolled in my workshops per year. Much simpler.
There are a lot more models for success than most books illuminate, and a lot more people can emulate my vision than can emulate Tony Robbins or Mark Zuckerberg.
BJ: One of the things I love about your workshops and your books is that you deal with both the psychology and the spirituality of money. Tell me more about the role of faith in people’s finances.
Chellie: When I was doing research for this book, I came across a study that said that “almost half of U.S. women fear becoming bag ladies, even many of those earning six-figure salaries.” The financial services industry is always telling us that we’re going to run out of money, we won’t be able to live in retirement, and medical expenses are going through the roof. No wonder people are afraid!
You have a choice: You can either live your life from faith or from fear. When you are positive and optimistic, you act from faith – picturing successful a future filled with good jobs, great clients, houses, cars, vacations and cash. Then you work to make that happen, believing that it’s possible.
But when you let doubt and worry run your mind, you picture debt, ruin, bankruptcy, foreclosure, sickness, and death. Put another way: Fear is faith that bad things are going to happen.
When you have faith in yourself, it’s not a matter of pretending that everything is going to turn out perfectly for you in every detail whenever you wish for it. Rather, it’s a faith that whatever happens, you will survive it and figure out a way to climb back to success.
I’ve had lots of bad things happen along the road of life — bankruptcy and foreclosure among them. But I didn’t think that was who I was. I knew I made some mistakes, learned from them, and rose again. Some people think if you lose everything once, you’re not good enough, you’re done, and then they give up. But if you had the talent and drive to do well once, you haven’t lost your ability! You’ve just made a mistake or had bad luck and you can use your ability to climb back up to the top.
What helps you have faith is your sense of purpose. What are you here on the Earth to do? Who are you helping and serving? And most important, are you having fun doing it?
BJ: It seems to me that there is a fine line between spiritual faith and what some people refer to as “magical thinking.” Where would you say that line is? How do people know when they’re relying on God’s divine guidance and when they’re relying on fantasy?
Chellie: I think it’s a fine line – and it’s a moveable line, too. I don’t think it’s in the same place for everyone. The balance between faith and magic is something we all search for. I’m fond of saying that affirmations are a wonderful “secret sauce” to making your dreams come true, because it will help you be happier – and happier people look more successful and will attract better people to work and socialize with.
But then, how many affirmations would you have to say in front of a piano before you could play it? There’s a point where you have to deal in physical reality, too!
Quite honestly, I am still sorting this out myself. Sometimes I lean on the practical side and say the affirmations are really nice and helpful, but the success I have is because I’ve worked hard. But just this month, I wanted some more money to do book promotions with and was a little annoyed that my income was lower because I spent so much time writing the book last year.
One of my hobbies is playing poker, and it can add some nice money to my budget while I have fun. I was headed to the Bicycle Casino one Saturday, and I just had a conversation with the universe. I said, quite emphatically, “Look, I need some extra cash and I want it now. I’d like to win that $20,000 jackpot at the casino today. If the Law of Attraction and affirmations really do work, make it happen.” I was quite determined in my request – not wishing or hoping. I just placed my order.
That afternoon, I won it. The exact jackpot in the exact amount I ordered. The odds are about .00014. You think that’s an accident or just coincidence? Be careful how you answer – you are creating your future from your feeling about that. It won’t cost you anything to switch beliefs and think more positively. Try it out. Experiment. If it works, use it.
BJ: Money seems to be the last taboo. People will talk about their alcoholism, their drug addiction, the sex lives, and more. But when it comes to money, mum’s the word. Seems to be a lot of secrecy and shame around money. Why do you suppose that is? Do you see that taboo disappearing anytime soon?
Chellie: Society has a lot of work to do if people are ever going to feel good about their money. We laud the billionaires, the movie and TV stars, celebrities who are famous simply for being famous and rich.
Meanwhile, there isn’t any financial education in our school system. How can you expect to feel good about something when you are ignorant of how it works and all you know is that you don’t have enough? No one wants others to think they’re poor, so people spend a lot of money trying to look good. It’s a big problem and won’t be solved until people get a good financial education and start changing things like income inequality and the shrinking middle class.
BJ: Suze Orman has said that one of the biggest disappointments in her career so far is that Americans today still aren’t saving money any better than they were 20 years ago when she started writing books and preaching her financial gospel. What’s your take on our low savings rates?
Chellie: There are so many things to spend money on, and so much advertising to convince you that you must have them that it’s difficult to be disciplined and do without in order to save money. We want to have a nice house, car, dinners out, vacations, cell phones and cable. We want to look good and have nice clothes.
A financial planner once told me years ago that I had to save $800 a month in order to have a comfortable retirement. I only made $2,400 a month before taxes at the time. So I just figured I was never going to be able to retire anyway – and lived a great life spending my money until I reached a level of success where it made sense to put some away.
But I have a bone to pick with Suze and other financial professionals who think saving for retirement is the end-all-and-be-all of financial planning …
In O Magazine last year, a 48-year-old woman wrote in to ask Suze if she could go for her dream and launch a cake-decorating business. She had 9 months of expenses saved to support her effort. Suze said that if she was 22, she’d tell her to go ahead, but that her 40’s and 50’s were her peak earning years and she should stay put and contribute to her 401(k).
I’ll tell you, that made a lot of my Facebook friends see red! Most business owners start on a shoe-string … and often start their businesses later in life too! For instance, I started my workshop business when I was 42; my first book was published when I was 54; and my third is about to be released and I’m 66!
Saving money isn’t the most important thing in life. Figuring out how to create income streams, living your purpose now, and going for the life of your dreams is!
I read about a cleaning woman who worked six days a week all her life, and never spent anything on herself but invested all her money. When she died she left $5 million to the college she never went to. That’s really sad.
I’ve never been afraid of dying but I was terribly afraid of never having lived. So even if I don’t have as much money put aside as others do, I consider every penny I’ve spent has created a wonderful life with memories I enjoy. And I trust myself to be able to continue to create money and make a living. How much money do you have to save to feel safe? I just don’t need much.
BJ: If people could change only one thing about their financial behavior that would make a positive difference in their lives, what should they change?
Chellie: Turn off the worried voice inside your head and turn up the volume on the happy, successful voice that says, “Go for it! You can do it! People love to give you money!” When you start believing in that, you will naturally start taking action … and action produces results.
BJ: Any final words of wisdom for our readers?
Chellie: Ask for the raise, ask for the promotion, create the new business, write an article, a blog or a book. Tinker with your invention. Take a class or teach one. Everyone has a talent the world needs and will pay you for. Find that and you’ll always make money and be happy.
For more about Chellie Campbell and her books, visit http://www.chellie.com/