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Personal Finance > Smart Spending
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Feng Shui for your finances
Taking better care of your home and office, according to an ancient art, may help you financially.
October 17, 2002: 2:57 PM EDT
By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - In your quest for more money, ever considered cleaning out that dump affectionately known as your "spare" bedroom? Or fixing that leak in the kitchen? What about your office? Seen the top of your desk this year?

No, huh? Well, maybe it's not surprising you're feeling less than flush, especially if those areas fall in the "wealth" portion of your home or office. At least that's what some practitioners of Feng Shui might say.

Feng Shui (fung shu-eh) -- the ancient Chinese practice of enhancing your life by improving the flow of energy (or Chi'i) around you -- makes the connection between "how we live in our habitats and how the quality of our life is manifesting," said Terah Kathryn Collins, author of "The Western Guide to Feng Shui for Prosperity."

Part of the goal in Feng Shui is to create a habitat that's enticing and in good condition, rather than one that causes you headache or irritation.

The tenets of Feng Shui hold that different parts of your home and office represent different areas of your life such as career, wealth, reputation, health and love. So if it's a raise you want, it may help to pay attention not only to your wealth area, but to your career and reputation areas as well.

Proof is in the profits

Does it work? Skip Mrozinski thinks so.

Mrozinski, the owner of a fine stationery and customized invitation store in LaJolla, Calif., recently worked with a Feng Shui consultant trained by Collins, who is a practitioner of the form school of Feng Shui. Among the simple alterations he made: he cleaned up the bathroom which fell in his store's wealth area, and painted the store's back wall red to draw people through the store and to enhance his fame and reputation area.

Since the consultation, his business has improved markedly. "(Visitors) stayed longer and they milled more," Mrozinski said. "Sales have already surpassed last year's."

Find your wealth area

One way to identify your wealth and other areas is to draw an imaginary box around the structure of your home or office. Then imagine that box is divided equally into nine squares, like a tic-tac-toe board. From the perspective of the main entrance, the wealth area is in the top left square of the box. (If you really want to do it right, you might apply the same principle to each room within your home as well.)

People who have financial troubles or are discontent with their financial status often have wealth areas that are in bad shape or are missing or unacknowledged, Collins said.

By that she means either the wealth section falls in an area that's technically not attached to the home (since not all structures are shaped as a box) or it's located in an area you may not think "counts" such as a storage closet, bathroom or laundry room.

But in Feng Shui, Collins said, "there's no place to hide."

Kill the clutter

A wealth area crammed with things you don't need or which don't work can impede you from creating the financial life you want. "A congested environment doesn't allow anything new to flow in and that directly impacts our finances," Collins said, stressing that healthy finances are all about flow -- money out, money in.

Get rid of what she calls "passive" chaos. That is, clear out rooms, closets or piles whose contents are a mystery to you, or which make you feel exasperated just looking at them. And get rid of things that are dead (that sad-looking plant), broken (the lamp you keep saying you'll fix but never do) or no longer useful (that two-sizes-too-small skirt).

Spruce it up

Once you've cleared up your space, make it enticing for yourself, Collins suggested.

WEALTH AREA ENHANCEMENTS
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Blues, purples, reds
Pictures of things you'd like to buy or experience
Antiques, art, crystal, coins
Wind chimes
Water features
Quotes related to wealth, prosperity, gratitude

Source: The Western Guide to Feng Shui for Prosperity

Decorate it with things that remind you of the wealth you already have, such as a picture of your kids, and something you're striving for, like that country home. Add symbols or words of wealth, such as the first check you received when you opened a business. Anything that represents abundance to you materially, spiritually or otherwise is fair game.

The wealth area of one couple in Collins' book was in their backyard. To enhance that area, they created, among other things, a garden with red, blue and purple flowers, colors associated with enhancing wealth according to Feng Shui.

When working on a space, try to strike a balance among five major physical elements that symbolically represent different approaches to situations: water (spiritual), fire (emotional), metal (mental), earth (physical) and wood (intuitive). The idea is that too much of any one element can negate or reduce the benefits of the others.

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While sometimes an object's element is obvious -- wood furniture represents the wood element -- it isn't always. Plants, plant-based textiles such as cotton, and the colors blue and green are part of the wood element as well. Go figure. Or better yet, use a Feng Shui manual for guidance.

Balancing the elements doesn't have to involve heavy lifting. Sometimes it's as simple as putting a plant (wood) in the bathroom (water).

To practitioners of skepticism

Still not sold? Well, consider this: At the very least you'll end up with a cleaner, more attractive home and office. Which, c'mon, you've got to admit is better than the Pig Pen interior you've been living with for years.

And, hey, getting rid of that old computer in the bedroom that your spouse bellyaches about may just do wonders for your love life.  Top of page




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