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1dreamstime_xs_25648547-copyTrue confessions. I tend to be a worry wart. Anxiety can overwhelm me at times. I over-analyze and desire to know the “why” of it all. This combination of brain chemistry isn’t exactly wired for fun times. It can place a halt on the flow of my life.

One of the things I want to share with you is the difference hiking has made in my life and why I am profoundly in love with it. When my feet move, my breath deepens, I sweat, and in a short while, my body experiences a wash of calm. The thoughts circling in my head tend to disappear. My senses take over, and take me on a journey of beauty, witnessing nature around me. Kind of like an iMax theater experience. I begin feeling relaxation in my body and a sense of one-ness with all around me.

As my feet move, I feel my thoughts move as well. Movement of my feet, opens my mind and expands my view, literally and figuratively. Soon, creative solutions come forth, that did not have room to unfold, in prior spaces of constriction. New ways of framing a situation, a sudden ah-hah about how this thing of discomfort is a blessing in disguise and something I’ve been asking for is now seen. Space, way more space opens up for me…in my breath, my heart and my thoughts.

I begin to notice how the oak trees roots wind around rocks that could be perceived as obstacles. Yet, the roots got to where they were going to receive nourishment from the earth. So I ask, how can I go around my obstacles and get to a place of where I want to be? How might I approach this dilemma from a new way?

What’s this have to do with your money life? Everything. I invite you to take one of your money dilemmas to nature and “hike it out.” Feet to the earth, deep breaths, chest out, beauty magnifier on, soak it all in. FEEL the expansion. Ask nature to open you to a new way of framing your concern. Invite in a new perspective. Ask nature for creative solutions. See what comes. Let me know. I’m curious!





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dreamstime_s_22311907“If I look at my accounts, it will scare me…and then I won’t be able to buy what I want…and if I look, I will see what I don’t have…is a common money belief.”

Ummm…this isn’t always the case. Beth looked and gasped, big gulpy gasp when she saw that she had a little over $100,000 in a retirement account she didn’t know she had. Liz gulped when she saw that unbeknownst to her, her checking account was overflowing with a cushion of about $10,000 prior to her getting paid that month.

Now, this isn’t always the case, where “the act of looking,” is like opening up a holiday gift present. It certainly wasn’t the case for me, when for the first time I opened myself to look at all $60,000 of our debt. A box of tissues helped me get through it all, along with being pissed that we were in this place…that put us into action mode.

I think the first time we “look,” especially when we haven’t looked in a long time, is scary. Our worst fears, catastrophic thoughts, and “holy shit, how am I going to make it,” fears surface. Our throats tighten, stomachs knot-up and hearts beat faster. Deep deep breaths and heart softening help greatly here.

Yet, in the looking…something beautiful happens. We begin to step into the space of clarity for ourselves and our money. This is the only space I know, where change begins, in this space of “looking.” It is in this space where we can begin to bring in the qualities of “compassion, kindness, and understanding.” These are the qualities that “slay” our scared dragon. If we can begin to be willing to release our shame, harsh judgement, and blame, we can open ourselves to coming into a sacred space with money.

I have witnessed hundreds if not thousands of clients now, come into a place of peace with money, by taking the first step of “looking.” What often follows is “wow, it’s not as bad as I thought it was,” or “I can do this,” or “I am ready to create and change this picture.”

And one of the biggest gifts in “looking,” is that we begin to release the story, “If I look, then I can’t have.” We begin to create a new story that might go something like this, “I’m looking, I’m strategizing, I’m creating, I got this money thing.”

I ask you dear reader, “what in your money life is pulling you to be looked at?” What are you willing to open your eyes to, softly? Let me know. I’d love to hear and be a witness for you on your journey.

Blessings xxxx, Denise




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Denise Interviewed by Melanie McGhee

UntitledI had the wonderful pleasure of being interviewed by Melanie McGhee, a deep listener, a lover of rumi, a yogi, and a beautiful soul who helps others to open their hearts, come back to center and to live a life of who they really are.

Melanie says, “I have a foot in two worlds. I am an experienced psychotherapist and coach who specializes in the use spiritual technologies for spiritual and personal evolution. Listening deeply, I help people open their heart and come back to center. In that return to center, my clients learn to live a balanced life and develop a new lens through which to experience their inner world and their outer life.”

This is an interview exploring the relationship between money and yoga and how we can bring the energy of yoga to our money life.

This was a very fun interview for me to do and one of my first. Thank you Melanie my love for this opportunity being with you over this conversation.

And if you want to listen to Melanie’s TED Talk, you can listen here! Her teachings are life changing!




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dreamstime_s_42532895“Denise, put forth a STRONG ASK,” says one of my ever so wise business mentors, Tanya Geisler, while guiding me in birthing a program near and dear to my heart. Her words of wisdom reverberate over and over, sending ripples of awareness throughout, leading me to explore more deeply what a STRONG ASK is for me.

When I ask God for a healing for myself or another, I do that with a STRONG ASK. Often on my knees, I imagine connecting directly with God energy,  plus a council consisting of the Blessed Mother, Padre Pio, Archangel Michael, Jesus, and a few others I grew up with. And when I ask them to intervene, to bless a situation, I ask with my whole heart. And this ASK is one I can feel with my whole body. It is an “ask” rooted in deep feeling from a heart request. A distinct feeling washes over me letting me know I have been heard. Yes, this is a STRONG ASK.

This gets me to wondering if a STRONG ASK, is an ask filtered through the heart, connected to Source energy? That is sounding right for me. An ask of deep desire, pure intention, sent as a request on the wings of angels.

Yes, a STRONG ASK, is void of all my mind chatter. Mind chatter left over from childhood declaring “it is a sign of weakness to ask for help,” or “if you want it done right do it yourself,” or “projecting rejection on the ask before it ever gets asked,” clog up my flow in asking. Or, a moldy belief that “women shouldn’t ask, but wait to be asked.”

Since my mentor lit up my awareness around a strong ask, I’ve been practicing. I have a true story to share with you about a strong ask related to money.

A little background to help out here. About two years ago, our beloved investment advisor retired. A new person took over the management of his firm and we had hoped it would be a good fit for us. It wasn’t a good fit. Lots of fear set in for me that my husband and I would not meet our investment goals over this important next phase of our lives.

My anxiety was growing. My inner knowing was speaking loudly to me, “this is not the right fit. you have enough evidence this isn’t the right fit. move forward.” I appreciated my decreasing capacity to stay in a situation that wasn’t right for me, for us.

I had many talks with the Universe that went “please help us find a person who can help us, a firm of smarts, creativity, similar values and please let this happen soon.”

Then this past year, I gave a talk to a group of financial advisors at their annual get together and ended up staying for the weekend with them. I really connected with one advisor and philosophy of the firm, heart to heart. Tanya imaginatively appeared on my shoulder, loudly whispering in my ear, put forth a STRONG ASK here Denise. So I did, with my full heart. I asked to become one of their clients with my whole heart.

The response back was, “I am so sorry, we take clients with portfolios of three million or higher.” While disappointed and honoring of this boundary at the same time, I asked again. This time for three best recommendations for advisors who take clients with the amount we had in our portfolio.

When I got home from this annual get together, I received an email from this advisor, that said, “I will be glad to work with you and your husband if this is still something you desire. We have like minded values and that is something I value and something that connects us in a wonderful way.”

So, here we are now, working with a firm of heart centered, value based folks with a great reputation. We feel deeply cared for. This all came about from a STRONG ASK. An “ask” that came from my heart. And, a “yes” came from this firm’s  heart.

I am learning. Practicing “asking” on the canvas of my life, with my whole heart for what I want and need. It feels cleaner, more spiritually aligned with who I really am, and I believe the curiosity in this exploration of a STRONG ASK, will open me in a new way, a more expansive way. This teaching is a blessing beyond measure. Thank you wise woman Tanya, for helping me to deepen into a STRONG ASK from my heart in all the arenas of my life.

What is a STRONG ASK for you? What arena of your life do you easily engage in a strong ask? What arena of your life is your ask a bit weaker? I would love to hear from you.



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santaWe all got ’em, those often unwritten, unspoken, rules about how we are supposed to “do holiday gift giving.” These are the internal messages, aka mind chatter voices, that can rule us over the holiday season.

Some of them go like this:

“I have to spend the same amount on each person”

“A lot of little things are better than one big present”

“I need to match the gift I think they will be getting me”

“I have to buy everyone in the family, even cousins a gift, because it’s been done that way forever”

“Gifts can only come from high end stores”

“I have to purchase what was asked for”


When I was a little girl, the unspoken rule around holiday gifting was “one big present, three or more smaller ones,” for the immediate family. Money was mostly given to all other than the immediate family with the thought of “oh this will help them buy what they want.”

When I got married, my husband had a set of gift giving rules he lived by too. He tells me gift limits were “set,” per person, and it was OK to go over the limit set but not under the limit.

Over the holiday, it is good to get in touch with and shine some light on our internal gift giving rules. These rules often determine what we give, how much and to whom we give. We might even ask ourselves if these internal rules are something we want to modify, shift, or release. Consciously “re-designing” our internal rules can bring up conflicting emotions such as guilt, relief, inadequacy, and feelings of freedom. A re-design  of inner rules can also upset the chatter going on in our heads and we can bump up against believing we will be disapproved of if we do gift giving in a different way,  in a way that may better resonate with our values and bank account.

Here are some questions of inquiry to support you in finding your own way of gift giving:

~How much do I want to spend this year and how much can I spend without going into revolving credit card debt?

~What is my main focus this year with gifts? Do I want to give in the way of shared experiences or to give a material item?

~What are my internal unwritten unspoken gift giving rules?

~How are these rules honoring me? How are these rules hurting me?

~If my bank account doesn’t support the amount I want to spend in gift giving, how can I use my creativity to give?

~What emotional capacity do I have or what support do I need to do gift giving in a way that honors me while shifting my internal childhood rules?


Also, if you aren’t familiar with Gary Chapman’s work on the 5 languages of love, here is a link to a great quick test to explore what language of love you and yours most desire and to allow this to be a part of your holiday expression of love.





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dreamsPrior to ever doing an annual cash flow plan, I wouldn’t have believed how the process intensified intimate connection with my husband, Greg, or how at peace in my heart I would feel. There is a “heart skippity do da” that is experienced,  starting the year off with united intentions, an honoring of individual intentions, and being on the same financial page….agreeing on how we desire our year to unfold and how we are going to fund our desires.

I’ve grown to love our January process of planning out our year together and Greg has too. It gives us both a warm fuzzy feeling to have accomplished something that at one time felt impossible.

It wasn’t always this way with us, the planning piece. We used to share our dreams with one another but didn’t do a plan to actually take action on our desires and make them happen. We would say things like, “wouldn’t it be nice to (fill in the blank), and that’s where it ended. This way of living became frustrating and depressing for us. Enough years of lost dreams shifted us into a different more satisfying process that I am sharing with you in this post.

You can modify this process to work for yourself  as an individual or with your partner.

We begin with an inquiry that goes like this:

  • What’s most important to us this year as a couple? How do we want to do fun this year?
  • What’s most important to us individually?
  • What experiences or moments are important to our hearts, so much so that we would feel regret if we didn’t make these happen?
  • What changes if any will happen with our regular monthly expenses, like the mortgage, healthcare, things of this nature?
  • How much do we want to save for retirement this year? How much do we want to give to charity?
  • Where oh where will we direct our dollars to go that brings us the most joy, pleasure + is in alignment with our deepest values.
  • What are our biggest priorities this year?
  • What earnings need to come in for us to create the year we desire? and…if there is a gap between our desires we want to fund and earnings, how do we close that gap?


We reflect, talk, reflect, talk some more, and then we sit and have a pow wow with our spreadsheet on the computer. Over the years the spreadsheet has become the tool in our marriage where we go to create, problem solve and explore possibilities. The spreadsheet houses all the parts of our money life, so we can play with creativity and move our money parts around like pieces of a puzzle, to see what we can make happen.


Each year is different for us. The last two years, we placed a priority on increased visits to the midwest and east coast to see our aging parents (while we look in the mirror and notice our own aging too). We opted to do less bigger vacations and more small retreats. We talked about doing some landscaping vs a new fence vs pavers and opted for the fence.


The process we use as a couple and the visual tool of the spreadsheet is a dynamic dynamite combo that supports us in reaching our goals each year…because it supports us being on the same financial page, united (for the most part) in our desires and dreams. Process + spreadsheet playing = intentions come true. Our dollars become the blood flow that funds our deepest desires and what is most important to us.


For me, this is a process I hold near and dear to my heart to begin our year. I hope this inspires you to create your own annual cash flow plan process and if you need help I am here.



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“How” we communicate can bring us closer together in a warm fuzzy kinda way or pull us apart with feelings of disconnection, separateness and heartfelt hurt. New research is now identifying communication behaviors that neuro-chemically bond or distance us. While the focus of this research was on leadership styles in corporate America, we can apply this to our personal money lives as well.

Judith E. Glaser and Richard D. Glaser have published research that shows:

  • when we have concern for others
  • are truthful about what is on our minds
  • approach discussions with the quality of curiosity
  • stay open and willing to practice difficult conversations
  • and anchor ourselves in a united vision

Then magic happens inside of our bodies…the above behaviors stimulate the hormone “oxytocin,” a feel good or “tend and befriend” hormone. Wouldn’t all of us want more oxytocin with us on our money dates?

Other communication behaviors, such as:

  • not trusting the intentions of another
  • or focusing on convincing your partner rather than understanding his/her viewpoint
  • pretending to listen all the while having thoughts going on in your head of your next response
  • and being highly emotional, which can distract us from active listening

Creates another form of hormone magic, where the stress hormone cortisol gets triggered and floods our body. “When we perceive rejection, criticism, when we feel marginalized or minimized, cortisol, shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists.”

“Cortisol can circulate in the body for up to 26 hours, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.” (taken from the Harvard Business Review)

Deep breath here! This is really important research to help us shape behaviors on our money dates that bring us together rather than separate us. See what practicing oxytocin communication behaviors does for your money dates…with yourself or your partner.






confidenceConfidence. The “I can do” quality where inner calm + belief of being capable, dances with expansive ideas and a take action waltz! This quality can be both seen and felt energetically. In business and in life, it is a quality that attracts others to us. If you are an entrepreneur, it is a quality that can comfort a client’s nervous system and give them the feeling they are in capable hands. Clients that believe they are in capable hands are more willing to open their pocketbooks to the services they desire.

I was fascinated reading, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. A few pointers this book made were:

  • Women, more than men, often won’t apply for a job unless they think they are totally competent in the area they are applying for. The trend this books sees is that women will often choose less competitive fields of work such as human resources or marketing, over finance or investment banking. Men on the other hand lean into greater confidence when applying for a job by thinking, “Who wouldn’t want me?”


  • Men will externally attribute while women internally attribute. For example, if a man and woman are taking a rigorous course, a man might say, “Wow, this course kicked my butt,” while a woman would say something such as, “I’m not smart enough or good enough to be taking a course like this.”


  • Initiating and asking for what one wants is more associated with men than women. Women have a tendency to wait to be noticed, invited or would prefer someone provide the opportunity rather than directly asking for the opportunity. Men initiate salary negotiations 4X as often as women do and when women do negotiate they ask for 30% less money than men do.


  • Less confidence often leads to in-action while greater confidence leads to taking action on one’s behalf. Taking action is what opens us to greater flow in our lives, money being one form of that flow.



Be aware of the energy you are carrying around. Fear and Excitement live on the same continuum. When approaching a new situation, view it as an adventure or a fun puzzle to solve rather than approaching the situation with fear and overwhelm, as if the situation was bigger than the internal abilities you bring to the situation.

On a physiological level, take great care of your body by eating healthy and getting the exercise you need. These basics help give our body, mind and spirit the energy needed to feel positive about ourselves as well as influence the hormones circulating in our bodies.

Let Go of the mindset that you aren’t enough. Focus on your strengths and what you bring to the table of business and life. If there are areas in your life where you need to close learning gaps to make you feel more confident, then take steps to close them.

Become emotionally resilient and surround yourself with people who build you up.

Each day focus on what you accomplished, not what is left to do. When I started to do this one, I felt a big shift in my physiology!

Be willing to step into discomfort in order to stretch yourself. Practice this daily in the way of baby steps. Begin asking for little things and then on to bigger things. See what happens. Put legs on your ideas!

Imagine a time and situation where you were very confident. Pull this memory up to support you in times you feel less confident.

Say “YES” to a new situation and then figure out how you will approach and step into the opportunity.

Bring out your inner toddler. Have you ever noticed how 2 year olds say, “I do it?” or some mutation of those words. And if you try to “do it for them,” there is usually some resistance involved. So bring out your inner “I do it!”

Can the quality of confidence increase your earning ceiling? You bet! Inner confidence can open doors of opportunity for you, that you can then step through, take action and show up for yourself in bigger ways than you are currently doing! And, opportunity opens you to greater flow, money being one form of that flow!

Here’s to believing in yourself + opening yourself to greater flow!


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“A book about money

for people who don’t love reading about finances!”

“Denise Hughes has provided readers with a practical and insightful guide to move from money anxiety to what I call ‘money harmony.’ Read it, do the simple and powerful exercises, and watch your relationship to money transform from stress to a feeling of peace.”

Olivia Mellan, money coach, psychotherapist, author


“Denise has lived through many of the economic challenges faced by her clients. Reading her book is like a personal counseling session in which she shares practical financial advice in a warm, personal, and empathic way. A wonderful way for people to understand their relationship with their money and make it work in more satisfying ways for them.”

Helga Hayse, author 


Earn, Spend, Save, Give should be required reading for everyone, regardless of age, income level, education, or marital status. Simple, organized, and wise. Denise’s nurturing approach blends seamlessly with her financial savvy to give readers a practical approach to finally making the money part of life  ‘work.’ I’ve read countless books on managing finances and this one surpasses them all.”

B. Michelle Pippin, founder, and Business Strategist


This book is a “must read” for anyone learning to manage their money, or find themselves out of control, and needing a financial lifeline.  Denise shares her own experiences of getting out of debt with humor and compassion.  The stories she shares create wonderful images and offers hope regardless of your current financial situation.   I felt like we were sitting in her living room, having an intimate conversation about life and money.  

Cathie Orlowski, Event Coordinator Financial Conversations With Heart


I love this book! As a money coach I have used it as a reference in my money mindset course. Denise offers examples from her coaching practice and explains how she came to this work herself. She also includes practical tools. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to create a healthy relationship to money.

Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, Money Coach Washington DC


As a clinician I see Denise’s book working at a practical, logical, and nervous system level helping to lower people’s money fears. In this book, Denise helps people identify their financial behaviors and how theses behaviors influence healthy or unhealthy financial decisions. The book is smart, articulate, and practical. People make behavioral changes after reading her book and feel a deep sense of relief, no longer trapped by the anxiety of their money anxiety. As a couple’s therapist I give this book to my clients as a resource to support the couple’s work. Denise’s human and practical approach uncovers the knots that tie relationships up financially and offers sensible steps to loosen up the gridlock. This book is a brilliant resource for everyone and I recommend this book to everyone without hesitation.

Sara Bunce, Psychotherapist


I have known of Denise Hughes’ reputation as a financial coach but have not worked with her personally, so was interested in reading the book. This is not a hefty, academic tome that will scare the heck out of you. The author manages to create a tone that is warm, inviting and nonthreatening. She puts money matters into a context that includes the whole of a person’s life and consciousness – which is much appreciated! But what I like best are the pragmatic suggestions that she offers in the “Toolbox Section”. It is a great combination of changing one’s mindset along with practical guidelines that can be used immediately. Highly recommended!

Randy Kasper, Psychotherapist


Many people who most need financial advice, guidance, and perspective that will allow them to turn it around, are too intimidated to read the average book that addresses these issues. For the fearful, phobic, and anyone feeling that they have made a mess of it…this is a book to love. Denise Hughes has years of experience counseling, coaching and advising others in both money and addictions work, but it’s her big heart and underlying beauty of her spiritual perspective that will help people through their money conflicts. I love this book because it’s accessible while being powerful. This is a book that will ease anxieties, take money shame out of the closet, and help people put their financial lives together in ways that will let them sleep at night.

Lisa Briggs,, Psychotherapist


This book is a work of art! It was enjoyable to read and I kept wanting to read more. I am fascinated by the psychology that the author included behind why we do things or don’t do things. Denise Hughes did a beautiful job of blending strategies, psychology and stories. I can tell that this book took a lot of hard work because it feels effortless and simple. It’s perfect. Well done!

Denise Michaud, Long Term Care Specialist


I really enjoyed this book! It’s much deeper than a typical personal finance book. It explores your relationship with money and attitudes towards money beginning with childhood. It illustrates the ways that money can be a stressor in ways that you don’t often realize.

I love the financial “Vision Board Tool” …it’s easy to read, and gives you simple exercises and tips to move into a state of harmony and abundance with your financial life.

David Dillulo, Global Drum Circle

PLEASE ADD YOUR COMMENTS AFTER YOU’VE READ EARN SAVE SPEND GIVE…4 things to do with your money and how to make it all work! 


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dreamstime_s_54090306 copyTwenty-two years ago my husband + I created money vows that we said out loud to one another. Prior to that we kept our silent money expectations about our partnership in our heads (not recommended). When we took our marriage vows, I can honestly say I was fairly unconscious that our collective behavior had anything to do with us creating a state of “richer” or “poorer.” My naivety at the time, most likely thought…”hey, we will deal with whatever life brings us,” rather than…”hey, lets get in alignment from the get go + create “for richer!”

To create “for richer,” many conversations are needed to talk about behaviors that create alignment supporting a united vision. I encourage all the couples I work with to create money vows when we begin our work together + to reshape those vows as needed. A vow is an agreement that speaks to how we intend to show up in our relationships. The work is matching up our verbal agreements with supporting behaviors! Sometimes easier said than done!



1. Vows keep money conversations happening on a regular basis with your partner + can take your relationship to new heights with greater intimacy.

2. When we talk about money + come into alignment with our partners, the body secretes oxytocin, called the “tend + befriend” hormone + we get that feeling of being close, bonded + that warm honey feeling circulating in our body.

3. A vow helps a couple establish priorities + to triage what is most important financially + emotionally + then your money can fund your highest priorities.

4. Vows help minimize conflict + the risk of the relationship breaking up over money. Researchers at Utah State University found that couples who disagreed once a week about their finances were twice as likely to divorce as couples who fought less than once a month.

5. Less fights can enhance your sex life!

6. Vows backed up by congruent behavior supporting them decreases the stress hormones of cortisol + adrenaline in our bodies. These hormones often place our brains + nervous system in a “fight or flight” mode of response with one another.

7. You can show your kids how to talk about money + be role models for them in how to relate to money matters in a healthy way.

8. Vows can help you reach your dreams faster because you are working to be on the same page financially.

9. Saying “I do” to your intentions means saying “I do not” to others + as a couple you get clear on what you are saying “YES” to and “NO” to.

10. You can experience blessing after blessing by co-creating a life of your unique desires as a couple!



“We agree to create a life of abundance in all forms, money being one of those forms. We will honor each other’s contributions to our partnership, holding time + money + energy as equal forms of contribution.  We will each earn to our potential + be equal partners in decision making with all money matters with the goal of building wealth instead of creating debt. We promise to full transparency of all accounts, free of secrets.

We agree to step into uncomfortable conversations with curiosity + discovery rather than fear + judgement if we observe ourselves or each other jeopardizing the integrity of our money vows.”


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