09/17/2012 09:50 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

Are You Ready and Willing to Play the Money Game?

If you want to stop stressing about your finances, quit focusing on how you're a victim of circumstances (as we've all done) and get over your guilt about playing the money game -- and then start giving your money the attention it deserves.

This is the last article in the Money Series, which has been about having the money you want so you're ready to live and give, as you've always wanted. To review, here are the steps to playing the Money Game:

  1. Shift your thinking about your becoming prosperous.
  2. Take responsibility for all your outstanding money matters.
  3. Set measurable financial goals.
  4. Know exactly how you're doing on your goals -- always!

Today I'll be sharing how to achieve the fourth step -- keeping score.

The power of keeping score

As with all games, knowing the score is essential. Because what you focus on is what you get, paying attention to your money brings a great return. Appreciate what you have, take care of it, know exactly what you want, and know exactly how you're doing -- always!

"What you appreciate appreciates... this simple act we call appreciation expands
the freedom, creativity, and ultimately the success we experience, particularly in our relationship with money. Appreciation is the beating heart of sufficiency."
-- Lynn Twist, 'The Soul of Money'

For as long as I can remember Tim and I have had a notebook or ring binder to store records of our progress toward our various money goals. We've created spreadsheets and printed reports from financial management software -- and kept them in this book so we can keep score. Time after time and year after year, this attention and appreciation has led to greater confidence, security, prosperity, and philanthropy.

How to know exactly how you're doing on your money goals -- always!

Below are links to articles and spreadsheet templates to help you keep score on a number of common financial objectives. The sample templates are in Excel, so if you don't find the exact format or objective you need, you're able to change them easily. They have been road tested, and I'm sharing them so you can track and appreciate your money -- and watch it appreciate!

Create More Money

Be a kid, letting yourself play and have fun -- remember, it's a game. I hope these articles inform and inspire you to start creating more money:

The Miracle of Gratitude
Play the Game!
Generate Abundance

Get Out of Debt

Slowing down our spending so that we could pay off our debts has always been a good move for us. Here's a template for seeing exactly where you are with your debts and the exact progress you're making toward getting rid of your debts.

Debt Reduction Planner

Live Within Your Means

Living within your means is usually defined as spending no more than your income. I used to think it meant making sure you had enough money to live and pay the bills each month. You know, as long as we didn't run out of money we were living within our means. Not true. Anything we purchase in a given period, whether we pay for it on the spot or put it on a credit card, is spending.

In the last several years I've developed a spreadsheet that allows us to set our annual budget for income and expenditure, track what happens each month, and manage our debt reduction at the same time. Obviously when we're paying off debt, we have to live below our means to have sufficient income to make these payments.

Here's a sample template for your use. Once you've entered your annual budget for income and expenses, take time each month to enter exactly what came in and what went out over the past month. Your financial software provides a report to give you this data; so entering the data into your spreadsheet takes little time.

Notice also that we use this planner as a way of targeting our annual Income and tracking how we're doing.

Annual Financial Tracker and Planner

Generate Passive Income

Wally Obermeyer, named to Barron's annual "Top 100 Independent Advisors" list for the past six years, defines passive revenue as the "money you receive from previous stored work". In other words, you are moving some of the money you're currently earning from your 'work', to a place where it will earn money for your future. This passive revenue can come from such sources as investments, pensions, savings, rental property, profit sharing, social security and/or book royalties -- and many more. Once we focused on it, we discovered many ideas for generating passive revenue. To get started, make a plan and track your progress, so you'll know how you're doing -- always!

Passive Income Planner

Tim just reminded me that when we started using this planner, planning for passive income seemed like a 'pie in the sky' activity -- but then it started to come true. What you appreciate, appreciates.

Achieve Financial Independence (aka being free to retire)

One of most folks' biggest goals is to reach the stage in life when you no longer have to work in order to pay the bills. The earlier you begin planning seriously to achieve this goal, the more quickly you'll reach it -- and the more money you'll have when you do.

Peter Rosenwald, a good friend and reader of this series, let me know he had devised a retirement planner for himself. He offered to spend time revising it and improving it so that I could pass it on to you. Thank you so much, Peter, for paying it forward in such a generous way!

Peter"s Retirement Planner

Your Money Game Checklist

  • Start with the right motivation, e.g., integrity, generosity, contribution.
  • Shift my limiting beliefs to a new money paradigm -- and keep it alive.
  • Continually take personal responsibility for my money.
  • Remember that gratitude is the source of miracles.
  • Know exactly what I want and know exactly how I'm doing -- always.
  • Use financial management software and spreadsheets to keep score.
  • Play the Money Game confident in the knowledge that I can be trusted with wealth.
  • Pay it forward.

Here are all the articles in this series in case you missed them, need to review, or want to pay it forward by sharing the Money Game with others in your life:

  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$
  5. 5 Steps to Have More Money Now
  6. Tools for Resolving Your Money Issues (this article)

What's Next?

For the time being I'll be publishing fewer articles in order to take care of my husband and to increase the time I spend with my spiritual practice. I'll still be writing from time to time, just not as frequently for a while so I can nurture, relax, and re-energize.

In the meantime while I'd love to hear how much you've enjoyed this Money Series, I'm most interested in what you've done to start putting it into practice. Please leave a Comment below or write to me:

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