Three reasons why young people need life insurance

Three reasons why young people need life insurance By Zena Amundsen

As a young adult starting out in the world, I guarantee that the last thing I thought about was life insurance.

By the time I did purchase my life insurance it was almost double the cost I would have paid if I had started years earlier.  Often, we want and need life insurance many years after the cost is affordable.

Does life insurance for young people even make sense?


You do not need a spouse, children or home ownership to reap the benefits of affordable life insurance.  Now, I am not suggesting that you blindly purchase life insurance. There are many different products and it can be costly. This should be a well-informed decision that fits your cash flow plan.

As a parent of a 20-year-old and a 22-year-old, I am willing to pay the $12 a month it costs for each of their insurance policies. It is a cheap gift that they will appreciate and thank me later for.

Here are Three Reasons Why Young People Should Have Life Insurance:

  1. You Want to Pay as Little as Possible for the Long Term

The younger and healthier you are, the cheaper the policy payments will be. Insurance is based on health and age and therefore, the cost rises the longer you wait.  You will want to lock in your cheaper insurance payments and your good health sooner than later.

      2. You Want to Protect Your Ability to Purchase Insurance in the Future

I know it might be impossible to conceptualize our future-self aging along with possible declining health. I remember when I was twenty years old and could not fathom ever being in my forties!  Many things can happen over the span of twenty years and it is important to secure our options for our future financial self. For example, imagine you have purchased insurance young and with no medical conditions, and in ten years time you develop high blood pressure, diabetes, or some other serious medical condition. By purchasing life insurance at a young age, your payments will not increase. You have locked in your current good health for future pricing and you will not be declined coverage.

      3.You Can Convert Cheaper Insurance to a Permanent Policy Down the Road

Once you purchase an affordable term life insurance policy, you can convert it to a permanent policy without having to complete a medical questionnaire.  This means that as you increase your income and become financially stronger, you can start investment savings within an insurance policy. This product is a little more expensive and serves as a more long-term solution for future financial planning. By first purchasing cheaper insurance while you are young, you have left the door open for you to explore this feature without having to qualify your medical history again.

Building a strong financial foundation must include affordable life insurance. As I get older, I often look back and wish that I had the forethought to purchase insurance earlier.  If you are young, I suggest you find out more information and start asking questions. If you are a parent of a young adult, I suggest you start the conversation and consider giving a gift that will pay off for your child’s lifetime.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

Saving Incentive in One Picture By Zena Amundsen

Saving Incentive in One Picture

Saving Incentive in One Picture By Zena Amundsen

Picture this: A tug of war battle between two people. The two combatants are both you- your present self vs future self.  Often, we allow the present self to win. It is stronger, in control and highly motivated.

The tug of war might be about money, time, food or exercise. Personally, I often have the “Bowl of Chips Battle” every night. My present self wants to eat chips and my future self whispers, “Zena, if you eat chips again you will regret it and your tongue will be really, really sore!” A quirky fact is that my tongue flares when I eat too much salt. After an internal tug of war, I often cave in to my present self and jump in for immediate satisfaction with my chips.

Saving money creates the same dilemma.  We think of the future and we know that we should be saving for retirement, but our present self talks us out of it.

How do we resist the battle so that our future self wins?

Daniel Goldstein gave a TED Talk in 2011 titled, The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self.  He discusses the problem of our present self not wanting to save and the decline of retirement savings since the 1950’s. Goldstein has created virtual tools to help inspire our present self to imagine the future. He believes that the greatest tool of our time and the key to success is to assist people’s imagination and help them imagine what it might be like to go in to the future.  Check out his TED talk here

So, let me help you imagine what you could create for your future.

The following picture shows us how much money you can accumulate over time for retirement. The compounding effect of the numbers is your incentive to start saving.

Saving Incentive in One Picture By Zena Amundsen

Imagine how great it feels knowing that you have taken care of your future self. Take a moment, close your eyes and put yourself in the future. How does it truly feel to have the amount of savings above in your bank?  Is there peace of mind, excitement, opportunity?

The key is to anchor on that feeling and then start your action plan of saving. The earlier you start, the better.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

Everything you need to know to create your money values guide – I’ll show you how to match your money to what is most important to you by Zena Amundsen

Everything you need to know to create your money values guide – I’ll show you how to match your money to what is most important to you.


Everything you need to know to create your money values guide – I’ll show you how to match your money to what is most important to you by Zena Amundsen

Think Marie Kondo but with money. (I highly recommend her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.) The author is a master of decluttering and organizing. She believes that you put your hands on everything you own, hold it close and ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it.  

Now it would take a lifetime if we tried this with every dollar we earned, but the concept can be adopted 

If you want to bring clarity to your money and your decisions then it is fundamental to understand what your priorities and your values are. Easier said than done, so I’m going to give you the Financial Values Mind Map to download and complete.

Before you start, you might be asking, what are personal financial values? Simply put—your values represent what is important to you. They are the choices you make and why you behave the way you do.  

Our values will help us grow and develop. Every day we make decisions that are a reflection of our values and beliefs and they are directed with a specific sense of purpose and meaning. The purpose is what is needed to bring a collective and collaborative approach to our lives. When our values are shared within a family, we build a positive, healthy, and thriving unit with the benefit of being able to prioritise effectively.  

After reading this and completing the Financial Values Mind Map , you will have a framework for your financial decisions. Life will get simpler and money choices will become easy.  My business and my personal life use this map to guide our decisions. We avoid a lot of pressure and stress by staying true to what we believe is the most important to us. Our money then flows where we want it to and it matches with what we think is important.  

 I am a fan of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He has inspired a movement that asks, “Do you know your Why?” Your Why is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do. This same concept should be applied with your money. When I meet with clients, we discuss why their money is invested the way it is, why they spend the way they do, why they save, and so on. Everything has a purpose with a why behind it. 

We often talk about priorities in life, but how many of us have actually taken a moment to stop and write down our priorities on paper? Have you spent more time making a grocery list than you have spent writing down what is important to you and why?  

The key is to identify the things that are most important to you at the core. You can have many values in life but you just need to discover the one or two that are your highest priorities.  

So, let’s map out your family values and why they are important to you. 

Start here: Download your Guide to the Financial Values Mind Map

Creating a cash flow system

Creating a cash flow system By Zena Amundsen

I want to share with you the money management system that changed my life.

It is a concept of creating and using a cash-flow system for sustainable money management versus a budget. Drop the word budget from your vocabulary and replace it with a cash-flow system.

What is the cash-flow system?

It’s a way of setting up your money management, so what needs to get paid is paid first.  This system is a way to control the flow, the ins and outs, so that you have peace of mind that you are putting your money exactly where you want it to be.

First, all of the fixed expenses (the essentials that must be paid) are covered and on automatic.  Then, we create a plan for your variable expenses by taking the leftover amount from your income (after the fixed-expenses) and dividing that by 4 weeks to get the weekly allowance that you can spend as you choose.  

Tip – Fixed expenses are the bills that must be paid like mortgages, loans, utilities, insurances, retirement, and savings. Variable expenses are the expenses that you can control and that fluctuate like groceries, clothing, entertainment, and other personal spending.


This system means once your bills and ‘must be paid’ expenses are covered, you spend the rest as you choose using your weekly allowance.

No tracking your variable expenses!

I used this system on my family and practiced on them for six months before sharing with my clients.  I remember thinking, “It can’t really be that easy”. But it was!

Once we implemented this system I felt less spending guilt and less stress. The weekly spending money is guilt-free money to spend as you choose, knowing that you’ve taken care of all the other buckets – the ‘must be paid’ fixed expenses.  

The beauty of this cash-flow system is that you get to spend your weekly allowance on whatever you decide is important.  You can spend without remorse because you have ensured all of your other buckets (fixed expenses) are full and on automatic.

I love it because I don’t have to cut everything I love from my budget. That’s the old-school way of thinking.

Every time I would go to the bank and stand in line, I would see a sign about the “latte factor” shaming people over how much they are spending on coffee each year.  But, I love my specialty coffee! I can’t imagine starting a work day without a grande chai with skim milk and a shot of espresso.

I am happy to spend a portion of my weekly spending money on my coffee.  I happily pack my lunches and menu plan in order to save the money and choose my spending on a coffee. I have even joked about choosing no name toilet paper and no name face cream so that I can spend money on something else – like coffee!

Using this cash-flow system means you don’t have to cut everything you love from your budget. There is a prioritizing mindset that kicks in and allows you to spend on the things that are of value to you. This creates guilt free spending.

Here’s how to set up your cash-flow system:

  1. If you haven’t taken stock of your fixed expenses yet, head over to this post to do this first.
  2. Figure out your cash-flow amount using the formula:

(Income – Fixed Expenses) / 4 = Weekly Spending Money

  1. Set up a separate fee-free account with a debit card for just your weekly spending amount.
  2. Once a week, review your spending for the week and replenish the account with that week’s amount.

You can download my Cash-Flow Planner here.

Your 2019 Financial Resolutions – Taking Stock

Your 2019 Financial Resolutions – Taking Stock By Zena Amundsen

Is the holiday hangover starting to sink in?

I love the 90’s movie Groundhog Day, where the actor Bill Murray finds himself living the same day over and over again. This movie reminds me that January could be another Groundhog Year if we don’t make any changes.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Let’s kick the money overwhelm and guilt to the curb this year by taking stock of where you are right now.

The first thing to do is gather all of your mail. Do you have any unopened mail? You know the unopened bills you put aside until you felt ready.

We are going to take inventory of what things need to be paid, including any new expenses that may have come from the holiday spending.

The benefit of taking stock is that we are creating clarity and removing the mystery around your finances.

One client I worked with had a really tough time with taking stock and creating an inventory of her finances.

We had to work in baby steps and it really took a few nudges for her to start. We met a few times, there were tears, and she shared with me that she felt she had no one else to talk about money to because of the shame she felt.

But once she actually took stock – wrote down her expenses and debt, she felt that the biggest hurdle was over. This step combined with regular tracking of the numbers was incredibly motivating for her.

Full disclosure here, it took some work on her part for a few months while she took stock and created a plan. But, with the continuous progress of her financial goals, she is a new woman now.

  • She has a savings account.
  • She goes on regular holidays.
  • She gained the confidence to apply for a promotion that she previously doubted she get.
  • She paid down debt – a line of credit by $20,000!

Without that essential first step of taking stock, none of this would have been possible for her. It took 3-6 months for these results to start showing up, but these never would have been a light at the end of a dark tunnel if she had remained stuck.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Take inventory of all income coming in
  2. Write down all of your fixed bills (the things you know need to be paid by a certain date on a regular basis)
  3. Write down all of your debts

FYI: Fixed expenses are all of the things that must be paid like the mortgage, utilities, loans, debt, insurances….

You can download my FIXED EXPENSES to help you create your list of fixed expenses.

Gift of Financial Literacy By Zena Amundsen

Gift of Financial Literacy

Gift of Financial Literacy By Zena Amundsen

This holiday season, give the gift that lasts a lifetime -financial literacy. 

Here are a few ideas to share with family and friends to help promote financial literacy this holiday season.  

Five and under:  BOOKS & PIGGY BANK

It’s never too early to start children thinking about the concept of money and a great way to do this is through the use of stories.  The book, Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, tells a story of Mama bear giving her cubs an allowance.

Another book for teaching kids about money is Benny’s Penniesby Pat Brisson. I like this one because the small boy, Benny, buys meaningful gifts with his pennies.

The old-school piggy bank can teach kids about saving and accumulating. The habit of putting away cash will last with them a lifetime.

Seven to 12: GAMES

Loose Change is a board game that teaches counting money. Players try and add up their cards consisting of nickels, dimes and quarters.

We all know the board game Monopoly. Children learn about taking risks in finance, even if it’s with play money. They learn risk vs. reward.  Another game (more complicated) is Settlers of Catan. It involves building colonies, cities and roads by obtaining and trading resources and materials such as brick, lumber, wool, grain and ore.

Teens: FIRST DEBIT CARD -allowance

An allowance on a debit card that is attached to your own bank account, allows you to transfer money as an allowance.  This can teach kids financial responsibility. You can give them a card with an extremely limited amount on it that you can transfer weekly or monthly.  Generally for children under 16, the student debit cards have no additional banking fees.

The card will teach them the connection between plastic and physical cash at an early age. It will also teach them budgeting. For example, if a teen tries to splurge, he or she may find they hit their balance too soon and they will have to wait to earn more.

Movie Pick – Moneyball   This movie follows the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s strategy of using economics to recruit B-list players, with winning results.

 The movie uses the concept of baseball players being valued in terms of dollars paid for bases.  The key is to keep learning about money fun, so kids don’t feel like they are learning at all.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

How to create a positive money message for your children

How to create a positive money message for your children By Zena AmundsenI often reminisce back to when my daughters were young.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let them cry it out as one-year-olds. What if I had nursed them longer, would they have no allergies today? “I should have, I could have” plays out in every woman’s head.

All the love in the world isn’t going to shelter us from making mistakes. The challenge that comes from this is being able to embrace our humanity and not punish ourselves. We all need self-compassion and self-love.

The same is true with our relationship with money because how you feel about yourself will affect how you handle money. Also, how you handle money will affect your children. This is a cycle that can become positive.

By creating a thriving, abundant, healthy attitude with your own money, you can then pass on that same healthy attitude to your children. Like a sponge, they will soak up the attitudes and beliefs around them, even when you think they are too young to understand.

Teaching our children about money is more than a conversation. It is making a commitment to recognizing our own personal money stories. As a parent, we can define what money means to each of us and then decide what values and beliefs we want our children to grow up with.

However, our words and wants need to align with our actions. When they don’t match, our children will notice.

My older daughter Mikayla and I were recently out for a walk around the park with our dog. We were chatting and enjoying the beautiful sunset and summer weather. I had mentioned that it would be nice to plan another family vacation to Tofino and rent a house on the beach.

We had done that a few years back and it was one of my favourite places to be with family and friends. My daughter responded, “Yes, that would be great. But this time can you not stress about money the whole time? I felt stressed about it.”

I stopped abruptly in the middle of the walking path with our dog, causing the couple behind us to have to swerve to the side to go around us to avoid a pile-up.

I was shocked.

We had saved and planned for that trip and had plenty of money. My initial reaction was very defensive. I thought I did everything I was supposed to as the leader of my tribe—we had the cash flow plan, we knew our family priorities and values, and we communicated.

I thought we felt free and unconstrained because of our positive abundant harmony.

What did I miss?

I think the answer is I tried too hard. My daughter shared with me that she would hear a few conversations in the kitchen of me and my husband checking in with the prices of the surf lessons or the price of the groceries.

It was routine conversation to me and part of my cash flow process, but those discussions projected worry on to my daughter.

Send the Right Message

As parents, we aren’t perfect, no matter how hard we try. We want to install healthy habits and to lead by example, but sometimes it is easy to skip the positive money message because of our own negative thoughts and beliefs.

As you work on rewriting your own money beliefs, you can use these tips as reminders to come back to as needed:

  • Get your own finances in order so that you can show your children by example that you are thinking of the future and making conscientious decisions for the family. Be a financial leader.
  • Teach early. Our children are never too young to learn healthy habits. Even toddlers can pick up on our attitudes and actions.
  • Communicate in a positive manner about money. For example, if bills come in the mail, it is easy to throw a few choice, negative words around and make a comment about not having enough money to pay all the bills. You might be venting, but a child might think you literally mean you have no money. Worry and fear could become associated with common bills.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

What are you craving?

What are you craving? By Zena Amundsen

I don’t mean the chocolate cravings I get every morning with my coffee. I mean deep down, in the centre of your core, what are you craving? 

Whatever it is you recognize that you need, I bet self-care is somehow involved.  

My most memorable time of needing self-care and self-love was when I found myself having to rebuild myself after my husband had left. It is what sparked my journey with money.  

And, it is how I found out that my journey with money and becoming financially independent started with loving myself.  

Self-Love = Self-Care = Motivation to become financially healthy. 

I still struggle with this. There are days the gremlin talk is loud and my feelings of self-worth plummet. I just want to hit survival mode.  

Coincidently, this is when financial health plummets as well.  

My countermeasure is to start with practicing self-love and care. 

Here is your reminder to love yourself, take some time out for yourself and dig deep to understand what it is you are craving.  

If you are needing some “you” time, here are a few ideas: 

  1. Try meditation.  

Classes can range from $100-$500 for an 8-week session. If that doesn’t fit your cash flow, try an app on your phone (Aura has a free trial and Deepak Chopra offers a free 21 day guided meditation). 

  1. Find a connection that is uniquely just for you.  

Try coffee with a friend that loves and supports you or connect outside somewhere in nature. These connections are free and won’t cost you anything. A pricier option would be to attend a one day retreat or weekend retreat. These can cost up to $200 a day, not including travel.  

  1. Pamper yourself with a spa treatment.  

If the local spa cost makes you cringe then carve out the time at home to splurge. Put on your housecoat, have a bath and relax at home on your own for free.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

3 Tips to Schedule Unscheduled Time

3 Tips to Schedule Unscheduled Time By Zena Amundsen

I never want to be as busy as I was 10 years ago. My children were in a sport that occupied all of our time. We lived at the swimming pool before school, after school and every weekend. Can you still hear the whine in my voice after all this time?  

This is when the scheduling of unscheduled time began. It became a saying in our house when we were asked to do things on Sundays. Our response was, “I’m sorry, we have scheduled unscheduled time.”  

With the chaos of fall in full swing, do you need to schedule your own unscheduled time?  

Think of this time as an opportunity to relax and focus on your priorities. Whether you are spending this time on a fun excursion or having quiet time, it helps you and your family manage stress.  

This, in turn, is creating an abundant environment and mindset. The brain and body have a chance to slow down, recharge and experience gratitude for this time. Not only will you experience less stress, but you will also be creating the abundant space for your financial health.  

I’m sharing 3 tips for finding that unscheduled time in your week: 

1) Learn to say no 

Sometimes this one is the hardest. This is your permission to be sacred with your time. Prepare the saying ahead of time and share it with people. “I’m sorry but I have scheduled unscheduled time and will have to decline.” They will understand.   

By doing this you may even help someone realize that they should follow your lead and create more time in their own life.  

2) Make it official and put it in your calendar. 

Unscheduled time. Block this off and make it a routine every week.  

3) Declutter your schedule and find your time-wasters.  

What do you spend a lot of time on that isn’t on your essential list or does not have value or meaning to you?  

(Check out my blog – How to Trade $$ For Time).  

Sometimes we do things because we assume they’re necessary, but if you give it some thought you can always find ways to drop them from your life. Cancel or postpone and leave a big blocked off space in your schedule.  

This is my no makeup, no filter Sunday scheduled unscheduled time with Isabelle.


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here. 

Meal Planning: The Ultimate Strategy That Will Save You Money and Make Life Easier

Meal Planning: The Ultimate Strategy That Will Save You Money and Make Life Easier By Zena Amundsen

October is about the time that I start to get off track with a few things: my time management, going to the gym, eating healthy and you guessed it, money.   

Want to know what I found is the #1 thing that helps in all of those departments?  

Meal Planning.  

This is not only a money saver, but I consider it a sanity saver.   

When my daughters were in middle and high school, they both swam on competitive swim teams. We were out the door in the morning at 5:00 A.M. and home after swim practice at 7:00 P.M. I have never been so busy in my life!  

This is when meal planning started in our house. We were spending way too much money on takeout. My waist and bank account were suffering.  

I learned to prep a few meals on the weekend and I bought a slow cooker. My family has not let me forget my first slow cooker meal to this day. I had prepared chicken noodle soup and turned it on in the morning.  

By the time we sat down in the evening for supper, the soup was a mushy dumpling of goo because I had added the noodles in the morning to cook for 10 hours. It was disgusting but I made everyone sit and eat at least half of their bowl. I was determined to stick to the plan. That is how I remember the beginning of our meal planning.  

Here are a few ideas to help you get back on track in the meal department.  

I’ve also included my new favourite slow cooker recipe. Don’t worry, it’s not my chicken noodle goo soup! 

  • Check your fridge and pantry to see what you have in stock 
  • Plan out the week of meals with recipes you like and know 
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it 
  • Prepare meals on Sunday or tomorrow’s meals at the end of every day. 
  • Plan for leftovers! 
  • Get the family involved and on board  
  • Try a meal planning app: Menu Planner, Cooksmarts, Plan to Eat 

Zena’s Favourite Beef Barley Stew

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6-8 hours
Makes: 4 servings 

1-2lbs beef stew meat (1-inch cubes)
Canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, medium size, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup barley
Salt and pepper 

1. In a skillet over medium-high heat add your oil, and brown beef in small batches. Remove from pan, and place in slow cooker. Continue until all beef is browned.
2. Turn heat down, pour a little more oil into pan, and add your onions, carrots, and celery stirring for about 5 minutes. Toss in garlic.
3. Pour in a splash of beef broth, and scrape up all the brown bits from the pan. Add contents into your slow cooker with beef.
4. Add remaining beef broth, bay leaves, soy sauce, ginger, and a pinch of salt & pepper to the slow cooker. Toss in your barley and cover.
5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice. 


If you’d like some extra support in starting your intentional journey with money, you can sign up for my FREE 5-Day Heart of Your Money here.