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Looking at finances as a way to achieve freedom and dreams

As you take time during the holidays to enjoy family and friends, be sure to allow some of that time for yourself. I recommend a book by George Kinder titled "The Seven Stages of Money Maturity." This book changed my life and is filled with ideas to help you "build the life you want from the deepest part of you."

Most people I know like their work, but many people describe unfilled dreams hidden away in a small corner of themselves that they wish could happen some day. Kinder says that the purpose of money is to use it to achieve freedom and your most important dreams. The ultimate goal described by Kinder is to reach the stage of money maturity where you effortlessly give away kindness and wisdom. You do not reach this stage if you are worried about excessive debt and other financial problems. The highest state of money maturity is achieved by learning and correcting the negative experiences you remember from the first two stages of money maturity. The seven stages of money maturity are: 1. Innocence. Brought forward from childhood, most adults carry around negative attitudes, messages and assumptions about money - and no matter what we now know to be true, we won't let these go. These beliefs trap us into current money decisions that work against our progress toward personal fulfillment and freedom.

2. Pain occurs in childhood and feelings of conflict, guilt, and shame carry forward to adulthood. Together, innocence and pain keep us from moving toward money maturity.

3. Knowledge is acquired in adulthood. This stage is demonstrated when we identify goals, connect our existing resources and follow a path toward achieving goals.

4. Understanding is another stage of adulthood that gives us perspective so we can overcome unbearable feelings about money.

5. Vigor describes the energy we use to discover our life's purpose combined with knowledge and understanding. When people can't move forward, it is often because they lack the vigor to throw off messages of innocence and pain that are no longer valid. Vigor gives us the wherewithal to use our financial resources to achieve our life purpose.

6. The highest stages of money maturity include vision and aloha. Vision gives us the insight to include the health and wealth of others in our life purpose.

7. The final stage, aloha, means offering a blessing. This describes the stage where we use our personal and financial resources to extend kindness, generosity and compassion to others. At this stage, we are calm about our money and ourselves and we give without expectations of return.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, one of the most important and rewarding challenges we can undertake is to begin progress through the seven stages of money maturity.

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