It’s January. The days are cold and often wet. The nights are long. And my energetic boys are inside the house at loose ends.

I’m not the kind of mama who lets her kids play on the computer all afternoon. So I had to do some quick thinking. Lo and behold I came up with a new winter challenge. Each boy according to his level needs to do some extra learning, extra reading and extra helping around the house. And when they finish their challenge – they claim a prize.

Now, please do me a favor and don’t spoil it by telling tell them I haven’t yet figured out the prize. (Ice cream is always a good choice in a pinch.) In the meantime, though, I have discovered a new and fun way to track their progress using creative designs from my friend Amy Jones.

Let me tell you a little about Amy. A couple of years ago, Amy Jones was deep in credit card debt. After a firm talk from her financial planner (not me) Amy faced up and decided to get a grip on her money. Borrowing a creative, motivational idea from her mom, Amy drew a bunch of swirls on a large canvas. She colored in her swirls as she paid down her debt $

In Amy’s words, “[c]oloring in those swirls month after month helped me feel like I was doing something. It helped me see that I was making progress toward my goal of zeroing out my credit cards. It felt good to color in those little guys…. With my map on display in my living room, I could see it every day and stare at the art I was creating.”

My boys love Amy’s maps. Her fun, visual approach helps them pursue their goals in a playful way and celebrate their tiny victories.

Here’s a sample from one of the budding Picasso’s in my living room:

abstract swirls portait

And so dear readers, I’m bringing Amy’s idea full circle to you. Since Amy started her creative maps to achieve money goals, it makes perfect sense to share them with you, helping you focus on the small steps it takes to score big wins.

Use these maps to track your financial goals for 2016: pay down debt, build up savings, grow your retirement nest egg and – here’s a biggie – get rid of financial clutter. Seeing your progress flourish before your eyes in “technicolor” will help you feel more courageous, confident and proud of yourself.

And feel free to use these maps for other goals like healthy eating, exercise, piano practice and motivating your children to wash the dishes.

Wishing you a healthy winter and beautiful, sustainable progress in 2016.



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