08/06/2012 03:00 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2012

Awareness Brings Its Own Reward$

Taking full responsibility for your money has two phases. The first is about making your 100 percent list of tasks to complete so you can honestly tell yourself that you've taken total responsibility for your money.

The second phase is Awareness, the ongoing discipline of taking responsibility for your money. In our home we call it the Money Game because the better we play that game, the more money seems to come our way. You may laugh, but we've been doing it for over 30 years, and it's paid off big time. We call it a game because it's all about keeping score and knowing where we stand at all times. It's made finances interesting and fun, while giving us the security of knowing we're masters of our own financial destiny.

For example, would you be interested in the Olympics if gymnasts weren't rated, swimmers weren't timed, neither soccer team won, or runners had no finish line? In fact, if the Olympics weren't 'Games,' the show would have closed after the first event in Athens. Same issue with money. If you're not playing the money game, you can't win it!

Not that we haven't lapsed. I remember times when we spent with no idea what was in the bank or what we owed on our credit cards. We didn't know if we were winning or losing the money game because we had no idea what was happening. Not only was this madness, we were getting nowhere except deeper in debt.

In this situation you're out of control with no idea if you're winning or losing. What is in charge is your bag of excuses and justifications. And worse your lack of integrity and responsibility slam the door on your chances of generating more money.

Money miracles can't happen in a money mess!

That's why I call this article 'Awareness Brings Its Own Reward$'. Although this discipline takes us about three or four hours a month, we're well paid for every minute -- great ROI!

What do you need to do?

Here's what we do or have done at different times of our life. Perhaps not everything on this list is appropriate for you now, but carefully consider them all.

Use a personal money management software system.

  • Examples are Quicken, Money, and iBank (for Mac)
  • Search the web or ask someone you know who's good with money
  • Allows you to enter all financial transactions, get reports on spending, track investments -- more information about your money than you can imagine

Update your checking, savings, and credit card accounts every week.

  • Done frequently, it takes only a little time -- know where you stand
  • No surprises at the end of the month
  • Gives you a chance to plan ahead or change course

Balance all your accounts, once a month.

  • Make sure that checking, savings, credit card statements match what your records (software) shows
  • Run an income/expense report for the month
  • Analyze where your money is going. If you're not happy, make adjustments

Make an Annual Plan/Budget for income and expenditure and update monthly

  • Your software may do this for you, but I made a spreadsheet to see all the information we wanted
  • Find out if you're spending more than you're making -- not as easy as you think!

Find out exactly how much money you owe -- all debts.

  • Make contact with the person or company if you don't have the information
  • Include money owed to family and friends
  • Track this total regularly -- is it going up or down? -- what's you goal regarding debt?
  • To take 100 percent responsibility for debt, make payments as agreed to everyone to whom you owe money -- it's not necessary to pay all your debts in order to be responsible
  • However, at different times in our lives we've cut way back on expenditure in order to get all debt paid off -- even mortgages. This step increased our Net Worth, giving us a much stronger financial position and far more options.

Calculate your net worth -- the most accurate picture of your financial position.

  • List your assets and their value as accurately as you can
  • Subtract your total debts
  • The result is your net worth

Prepare early so that you'll be able to retire when you want to.

  • Also known as financial independence, the state in which you don't have to work unless you want to
  • Create a spreadsheet to keep track of current and potential passive revenue sources, e.g. Social Security, annual pension payments, investment returns, etc.
  • Invest in savings, pensions, IRA's, and/or investments as early as you can -- stick to your plan and pay yourself first no matter what
  • Set a target for the annual passive income you want in order to retire

Make a long-range financial plan for your retirement

  • Usually in a spreadsheet format that allows you to adjust the forecast depending on different situations
  • Takes everything into account so that your plan is reliable

Yes, it's a lot of work, particularly if you're just getting started. But honestly unless you're playing the Money Game by being aware of where you stand at all times, you're not in charge of your own life -- your money is. When you know exactly what's happening, you're the one who gives the orders!

I think Abraham Lincoln summed it up well:

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. "


In the next week, complete the following:

  1. Rate your belief in your Money Paradigm on a scale of 1 -10.
  2. Complete at least three more items on your 100 Percent Responsibility list.
  3. Read through list of Money Game actions in this article and choose the ones you're going to do. For extra credit, get started!

What's Next?

Thank you for your response and your sharing about this series. Here are some of your answers to the question "What's the biggest challenge on my 100 Percent Money List?"

"My biggest challenge is probably trying to do too much too soon and not giving me space to digest this process."

"I have back taxes to sort out and been putting it off for a long time."

Given the amount of information I've shared with you over the last several weeks, my next article will come to you in two weeks rather than one. The fifth in the series will be: "How To Have More Money". Here's the full list for reviewing or sharing:

  1. Moving from Pain to Prosperity
  2. Power of Your Attitude
  3. What's Stopping You From Mastering Your Money?
  4. Awareness Brings Its Own Reward (this article)
  5. How to Have More Money
  6. Your Money Kit

To make this journey toward sufficiency and abundance more meaningful for us all, please answer this question:

What are you going to do to get started playing the Month Game?

Write your answers as well as your comments or questions either below on The Huffington Post or to

For more by Jinny Ditzler, click here.
For more on mindful living, click here.
For more about Best Year Yet, click here.