I have tons of debt after launching four companies. There has never been a launch that didn’t mess up my personal finances. Most entrepreneurs have no credit – I am like that as well – so I have learned to live with debt and without credit. This is what has enabled me to take risks, set lofty goals, and go after dreams that lots of people tell themselves their debt precludes.

How do I do it? It’s all mental. Here are thirteen ways to think about debt to keep it from ruining your life.

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You are not going to make more money by focusing on income. That’s a way to make small, temporary change. You need to make big changes in your approach to your life in order to make big changes in your financial path. Here are four ways to do that.

1. Stop hoping people will pay you to do something good for the world.
You do not get paid to save the world. You get paid to compromise. There are no jobs where you get paid a living wage to learn and do good and live consistently with your values every second of the workday. Those are volunteer jobs. The farther you get from this all-encompassing goodness, the more you get paid. Read more

Generation X is the first generation in American history that earned less than their parents. Generation Y is the most in-debt generation in American history (and the early American colonies were built on indentured servitude, so that’s saying a lot.) We are in an era of financial ruin. Generation Z will face this with a sense of inevitability. They will feel it is their job to stabilize the failing economy and acclimate to a much lower standard of living.

In the meantime, you are not Generation Z. And you are probably wondering how to adjust to the idea that you do not have the level of financial security you had imagined you would at this time in your life. I have done my own adjusting to this harsh reality, and here are some ways that I’ve shifted my thinking. Read more

Here’s a phone call I had with the Farmer, last summer, when I was at a cello institute with my son:

Me: We have bites everywhere. We are never going blackberry picking again.

Farmer: I don’t have bites. I don’t think it’s blackberries.

Me: They are itching. They are mosquito bites.

Farmer: I think they’re bed bugs.

Me: Country people always think bed bugs! It’s a country thing to think bed bugs are everywhere. I’d know them if I saw them.

Farmer: Well mosquito bites don’t show up two days later.

Two days later, I was up late, reading because I was too itchy to sleep, and a bed bug crawled across my son.
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I am in Boston having post-traumatic stress syndrome from being too close to the town where I went to college. The kids are doing a music workshop and it’s in Newton, which is very close to Waltham, which is where I went to college. So I thought travel planning would be easy since I know my way around. But the cab pulled up to the hotel and I realized it was the hotel where I lost my virginity.

It was not a good scene. Well, the first time I was there was definitely not a good scene, but this time was not either.

“Mom! I don’t want to leave the hotel!”

“Mom! I like this hotel! I want to lay in bed and watch TV!”

I took half a Xanax and we changed hotels. Read more

Fortune magazine has started reporting about family in corporate life.

We all know corporate jobs are messed up. Fortune magazine is a monument to how messed up corporate life really is. In November, Fortune wrote that the company that Sheryl Sandberg, a working mom, runs, has employees “on lockdown” and their kids come to the office to say goodnight before bed.

In December Fortune reported that to get his almost-top spot at GE, John Krenicki relocated his family 11 times while the kids were growing up. Working at GE requires the same type of sacrifice from a family that the US expects from military officers. Read more

When I was growing up, we had stuffed lions from Harris Bank. We had enough Hubert Harris lions to make a whole zoo.  The lions made sense to me, because I thought of the bank as a warm and fuzzy place.

Really, to understand what I’m talking about, I need to tell you about money in my family. And what I learned about money from living the life of a rich kid

1. Big money comes from areas of big chaos.
The money started coming to my family when my great-grandpa got a law degree in the 1920s in Chicago. He didn’t have any clients, so he hung out at the jail, looking for people who needed a lawyer. It turned out that the only people who landed in jail who could reliably pay for a lawyer’s help were prostitutes.

My great-grandpa did a good job representing them, and consequently, he met Al Capone, who was the money behind the prostitutes. Soon my great-grandpa became Al Capone’s lawyer. Read more

Last fall I took my kids to Hermosa Beach. It was a big moment for me because the whole time I was playing professional volleyball, in my 20s, I dreamed I would have a family and live in Hermosa.

It’s a great beach town with top-notch volleyball. There’s proximity to good career opportunities in the LA area, and a culture of kids growing up with sand in their hair.

The day we arrived I realized that it might be really hard to leave. I worried that maybe I’d never go back to the farm. And the more the kids loved the water, the more closely I looked at For Rent signs. I thought maybe I could split my time between the beach and the farm.

But then something happened. We didn’t miss only The Farmer (who doesn’t like to leave the Farm). We missed the animals, and the feeling of being in a cozy warm house surrounded by snow.

Which made me realize that when we think about relocation, we think about the wrong stuff. Read more

The best way to understand earning power—no matter what your age—is to understand the factors that go into it. For example, most people who have careers that are plateauing usually have a learning problem that manifests itself as an earning problem.

And for parents, schooling discussions are really earning discussions. Because you can say that kids with a love of learning are lifelong learners (essential for workplace success today), but truly, who wants an unemployed Ph.D candidate? You don’t want a lawyer who can’t get a job because of poor social skills, you don’t want a kid with perfect SAT scores who marries for money because supporting oneself seems too hard. Every parent wants to raise a kid who is capable of supporting himself and capable of finding engaging work for a stable life.

Here’s how schooling affects earning power. Read more

The farmer is separating his farm from his parents’ farm. To say this has been a summer full of drama would be a total understatement. I would say that the drama has gone from his larger family, to our little family, and now, to the economics of the farm.

This is probably where the drama should be: The Farmer is essentially starting a new business. I have always thought he would do a great job on his own and it’s been fun to watch him.

He is experimenting, trying to figure out what he wants. This summer, for example, he let the pigs graze in our field of sweet corn after the season was done.

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