Vim & Vigor Blog

Christine Luken, Vigoroom Financial Health Expert and the Financial Lifeguard

When you are part of a couple, it's important to discuss spending decisions in advance to avoid money fights. Does this mean that you need permission to spend every dollar? Some people are surprised when I say, "Actually, yes you do!" Let me explain.

Meeting every month as a couple and deciding on your budget is giving each 

other permission to spend a set amount of money in each category.  If my husband and I agree that there is $200 to spend on shoes and clothing thismonth, then I inherently have permission to spend that money.  I don’t have to call him while I’m at the mall to ask if I can buy a dress for $50.  As long as I stay at or under $200, I don’t need to consult my husband on individual purchases.  Since I’m the only person in the household who purchases clothes for the family, I know exactly how much I’ve spent and what is left for the month.

If you and your spouse are both spending money in the same category – let’s say dining out – how do you make sure you’re both staying within the budgeted amount?  The first way to do this is to give each person a limit for the month.  If your dining out budget is $300, you and your spouse might decide that each of you has $100 to spend individually, plus $100 to dine out as a couple.  Honestly, there’s no “right way” to do this, so figure out what works best for your family.  The second way to do this is to use a budget website or app that tracks your spending and be sure both of you have access to it.  This way, you can see in real time how much has been spent in total for your various budget categories.  Check with your current bank to see if they have a budget module as part of your online banking. 

I also recommend that each spouse has a monthly allocation of Fun Money to be spent however he or she chooses.  As a couple, we agree on the total amount ahead of time, so no permission is needed on how that money is spent as long as we stay within the agreed parameters.  

When do you need to get permission from your spouse to spend money?  If you are going to do something outside of the agreed upon budget, you must discuss it first!  Together, you may decide to make some mid-month changes to the budget in order to make that expenditure work.  Or, it may have to wait until the following month.  If you spend outside the budget without talking to your spouse first, you’re likely to have a fight on your hands – and we don’t want that! 

The other time that you need to get permission from your spouse to spend money is if you are incurring new debt for the purchase.  If you are opening a new credit card, purchasing a car, or financing furniture or other purchases, you absolutely need to consult with your spouse.  Why?  In most states, if you are married, any debt you incur your spouse is also legally responsible for.  Debt can also be dangerous to your financial health, so it’s not something you want to take on lightly.

Regularly discussing money with your spouse, especially as a part of the monthly budgeting process, will bring a sense of peace and stability to your relationship and dial down your financial stress.

Christine Luken is the Financial Lifeguard, veteran Meal Planner and Vigoroom Financial Health expert.  She helps individuals, families, and entrepreneurs design a financial road map to help them arrive at their Preferred Financial Destination. You can find Christine’s blogs, podcasts, and videos on her Financial Lifeguard website and her Meal Planning Monday blog. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet.”  


Kent Burden, Master Nutritionist & Professional Trainer

Halloween comes only once a year and both kids and adults love this sweet holiday. Between the copious amounts candy and the outrages costumes (no one really knows who ate all the Reese’s Peanut butter cups because the fiend was wearing a Jabba The Hutt costume) fun is usually had by one and all. Now there is nothing wrong with an occasional treat but Halloween can end up being 

a sugar binge that lasts for days. If you would like to have some healthier treats around the house with less sugar and maybe some vitamins and minerals to go along with the sweetness, here are a few suggestions for a healthier but still happy Halloween.

Caramel apples

Caramel apples are easy to make and one of falls truly traditional treats. While they are loaded with sugar your at least adding a serving of fresh fruit to the mix and you can even up the healthy by adding walnut or almond sprinkles. If you make them yourself (it’s super easy and fun) you can let the caramel drip off until the candy coating is fairly thin which means the little ankle bitters are getting a little less candy and a little more fruit. For a healthy caramel apple recipe go to

Kettle corn

Most of us think of this as fair food and it is, but by making kettle corn at home you put you in charge of how much sugar goes into your product. That certainly isn’t the case with the Kit Kat bar your 6 year-old just snarfed down with one hand while the other was searching for more goodies in that pillow case. Even better the popcorn tends to be a little filling leaving less room for other higher calorie treats. For a healthy kettle corn recipe go to

Fruit Gummies

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that these chewy little treats are health food but they certainly are better than the candy corn, Jolly Ranchers, Blow Pops and Snickers Bars that are the Halloween favorites being handed out all over the neighborhood. Buying the organic all natural variety can be a way to chase away the voice of your conscience as you look into the trusting eyes of that toddler in the Batman costume and drop a handful of candy in his sack.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

After all the Jack O Lanterns have been carved what you’re left with the slimy innards of the pumpkin and the highly nutritious seeds. Don’t let those seeds go to waste. Roasted pumpkin seeds are high in vitamin E, B vitamins, protein and healthy fats. Roast those puppies up and sprinkle them with a light dusting of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for sweet and healthy taste treat. For the recipe go to

Kent Burden is one of dozens of wellness experts who create programs for Vigoroom. His "Clean Eating" program offers research-based tips and resources to eat healthier. And his “At Work” program takes an innovative approach to addressing the problems of prolonged sitting in the office. Kent was the long-time Mind and Body Program Director at California’s famed Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. He is the author of many books on nutrition, fitness and wellness. Check out his books here: Kent's books


Christine Luken, Vigoroom Financial Health Expert and the Financial Lifeguard

“Enjoy paying my bills?  No way!”  I used to think the same thing.  Several years ago, I did a book study with a group of friends online.  I honestly don’t remember the name of the book, but I do remember the subject matter: developing a positive money consciousness and creating an attitude of abundance and gratitude.  One of the exercises in the book study had a lasting impact on my attitude towards paying my bills.  

In a nutshell, when you are paying your bills, you do two things. 

  • Write in the memo line of the check – or if there is a memo line for online bill pay – “Thank You.”  Why?  You are thanking that company and its employees for providing you a service: electricity, insurance protection, clean water, a roof over your head.  Doing this reminds you to be grateful for the services you’re receiving and that your use of that service employs people and enables them to provide for their families.
  • Before filing it away, write on the bill itself, “Thank you for the money.”  In doing this, you are thanking your Higher Power for blessing you with the money to pay your bills.  It is a reminder to be grateful for the financial resources that you already have at your disposal.

By doing these two things, it has created in me a greater sense of gratitude for my financial blessings. Here are some additional ways to make bill paying less of a chore and a little more enjoyable:

  • Pay your bills in a pleasant environment.  I usually do this in my home office, which is filled with many of my favorite things.  I have a nice steaming cup of coffee at my side and play music that I enjoy while I’m paying the bills. 
  • Chose a day and time when you are alert and calm.  I typically do this on Saturday mornings. If you are feeling rushed, stressed out, or tired you will associate those feelings with the act of bill paying and dread it even more the next time it rolls around.
  • Use a good pen to write out your bills and balance your checkbook.  There’s nothing like a fancy pen to make you feel important.  Whether you use a cute pen with purple ink or a pen fit for a Fortune 500 CEO, using a pen that you love to conduct your personal financial transactions makes bill paying seem less like drudgery.
  • Splurge on some personalized checks.  When my husband and I switched banks over a year ago, we received free standard checks.  I was actually overjoyed when I finally ran out of those boring, plain checks!  There are endless designs you can choose, from Mickey Mouse to Harley Davidson.  You can even upload your own photos to create checks with pictures of your kids, pets, or favorite vacation photos.  Why not use some of your vision board pictures for your checks as a reminder of your goals?  Pick a design that will make you smile every time you need a write check to pay a bill.

Will there ever come a day when you are truly excited to pay your bills?  Maybe not.  However, you need to pay your bills anyway, so why not make it as pleasant as possible?


This post is an excerpt from Christine Luken’s upcoming book, “Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet.”  Christine is the Financial Lifeguard, veteran Meal Planner and Vigoroom Financial Health expert.  She helps individuals, families, and entrepreneurs design a financial road map to help them arrive at their Preferred Financial Destination. You can find Christine’s blogs, podcasts, and videos on her Financial Lifeguard website and her Meal Planning Monday blog.



Christine Luken, Vigoroom Financial Health Expert and the Financial Lifeguard

Detoxes have become popular in the nutrition circles, and maybe you’ve done one as I have. Essentially, a dietary detox restricts eating to certain foods and juices for few days or more to reset your metabolism and refresh your body.  A brief period of restriction stops out of control eating, reverses the damage, and gives the body a fresh start. 

In this same way, a financial detox can be a valuable tool to rein in spending after a binge and reset your motivation.

About once a year, I undertake a “spending detox” – a month-long period of no shopping for anything that’s not a true necessity.  Many years, I’ve approached this detox as spending nothing on clothes, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, books, music, etc.  However, I’ve recently modified it slightly to give myself a small amount of fun money, $20 per week, so I’m not tempted to quit halfway through the month.

Let me explain why I do this spending detox annually.  First and foremost, it helps me to appreciate all of the good things I already have in my possession: plenty of clothes and shoes, books I haven’t even cracked open yet, an abundance of nail polishes and lotions, among other things.  The second reason why I do it is to keep my “inner consumer” in check.  We’re all bombarded every single day with ads via TV, magazines, the internet, and social media.  Online retailers and brick and mortar stores are making easier and easier to make purchases and part with our money.  Case in point, I have a love/ hate relationship with Amazon One-Click!  Doing a spending detox makes me stop and think, “Do I really need this?”

Here are my personal rules for my annual spending detox.  I can spend $20 per week, for a total of $80 per month on non-necessities.  If I see something that I want to buy, but choose not to, I will print a picture of the item from my laptop or tear the page out of the magazine and put it in a folder.  At the end of my detox, I’ll review those items to see if I really still want any of them. 

Here are some things that I’ve learned from my past spending detoxes:

  • Carrying cash for splurges is an effective budgeting tool.  It makes you think twice about spending and if there’s not enough cash, you don’t buy it.
  • Digital shopping is a big temptation for me!  I definitely need to set firm monthly limits for those purchases.  I have unsubscribed from some email lists and limited others to once a week or once a month emails.  The less temptation, the better!
  • When my spending detox is over, and I look through the folder of things that I set aside to buy,  many of the things I thought I wanted, I ended up changing my mind about them.
  • I also tend to be very pleased with the things I do decide to purchase after the spending detox is over.

The purpose of the spending detox is to return us to a mindful state of spending, especially after a period of unrestraint.  It resets our motivation and brings balance our saving and spending habits.  Just as with a food detox, I don’t recommend extending a money detox beyond 30 days.  If you deprive yourself for too long, it can end up doing more harm than good.

This post is an excerpt from Christine Luken’s upcoming book, “Money is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet.”  Christine is known as "The Financial Lifeguard" and is Vigoroom's Financial Heath expert. She helps individuals, families, and entrepreneurs design a financial road map to help them arrive at their Preferred Financial Destination. You can find Christine’s blogs, podcasts, and videos on her Financial Lifeguard website and her Meal Planning Monday blog.


Liz Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Vigoroom Relationship Health Expert

Have you ever been friends with someone who is in a terrible relationship, and you can’t figure out why they stay?  For that matter, have you ever been in an unhappy relationship and been unable to articulate why you are unwilling to leave your partner?

We like to think that, as long as a relationship is satisfying, that should be enough reason to remain in the relationship.  

Similarly, if the relationship is unhappy, that should be reason enough to leave.  But, as with most issues pertaining to relationships, commitment is not that straightforward.

Sure, satisfaction plays a role in commitment.  Generally speaking, the more satisfied you are with your relationship, the more likely you are to feel committed to your partner.  But there are two other major factors that impact your level of commitment: the degree to which you’ve invested in the relationship, and the number of alternatives you perceive to be available.

When you invest in your relationship, you can do it in any number of ways.  If you move in with your partner or buy a house together, that’s a form of investment. Going out to fancy restaurants with your partner and spending $200 a meal week after week also counts as an investment.  Having children, adopting a pet together, getting married, or introducing your partner to your friends and family—these are all different types of investments. But investments can also be intangible—the longer you stay with someone, the more time you invest into the relationship.  (Have you ever had a friend say something like, “But I’ve been with him for five years…I can’t leave now.”  I have.)  In a similar vein, sharing a lot of memorable experiences or personal information with your partner also can be viewed as forms of investment in the relationship.  As you may have deduced, the more invested you are in the relationship, the more committed you tend to be.

But the remaining factor—the number of alternatives available to you—works in the opposite direction.  Specifically, the more alternatives you have, the less committed you tend to be.  This is why people who seem perfectly happy in their relationships may suddenly decide that they no longer want to be with their partners any longer.  Whatever alternatives to their relationship they perceived as being available to them became more appealing than remaining with their partners.  And alternatives don’t have to be a more attractive (or younger, or richer, or whatever) partner—simply spending time with friends or being alone might be viewed as a good alternative to one’s relationship.  An important thing to keep in mind is that it’s the perception of desirable alternatives that matters—not whether alternatives are actually available.   This may be why your attractive friend may not want to leave his or her crummy partner—if your friend doesn’t believe that there’s anyone else out there (even though you know there is), he or she may not be willing to abandon their current relationship.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering why your unhappy friend is unwilling to leave their relationship, consider everything they’ve put into their relationship and what they think their other options are.  At the very least, you may be able to better understand where they’re coming from.


Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in romantic associations: A test of the investment model.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 172–186.


Liz Schoenfeld earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research, which focuses primarily on the development of love over time and its expression in day-to-day life, has been featured in media outlets such as Men’s Health, Psychology Today and US News & World Report. Liz has also worked with hundreds of individuals one-on-one, teaching them how to cultivate and maintain healthy and fulfilling personal relationships. She currently serves as the Director of Research & Evaluation at a large nonprofit in Austin, Texas. Liz's unique 21-day "Revitalize Your Relationship" program can only be found at



First think about food. If you went without any food for a full week, you’re probably thinking that you couldn’t survive. You’d definitely be very hungry, feel weak and drop a few pounds. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but the truth of the matter is, you’d be fine. Now think about sleep. If you went without any sleep for a full week, you’re probably thinking you’d be incredibly tired, groggy and cranky. The truth is – you’d be delusional and completely unable to function.

These are extreme examples, but the bottom line is that lack of sleep (even just small amounts of sleep deprivation) can have significant negative impact on: your health, weight, brain function, creativity, productivity, memory and mental health. Insufficient sleep is a public health crisis as it affects more than one in four adults in the U.S. and puts sizeable economic stress on the health care system.

Understanding how important regular, sufficient sleep is to “normal” functioning is critical. And with that awareness, changing our relationship with sleep opens the door to better functioning, less disease and greater overall happiness. has a variety of free programs to help you sleep better, including hypnotherapy-based sessions that cannot be found anywhere else.


Christine Luken, Vigoroom Financial Health Expert and the Financial Lifeguard.

Did you know that humans are hardwired to avoid pain and unpleasantness?  Avoiding pain is actually a greater force for motivation than embracing pleasant situations.  Fear is a primal, and often irrational, emotion.  Many experience some form of fear surrounding money issues which can hold us back from being financially healthy.  But did you know that our money fears can be harnessed to move us toward positive change? 

We can easily see how negative emotions and experiences cause people to change their physical health.  Think of that middle-aged man you know, who for years ate and drank like a college frat boy… that is until he had a cancer scare or near-fatal stroke.  Turning on a dime, this man is now preaching the gospel of good nutrition and running marathons on weekends.  The promises of good health, better sleep, and fewer aches and pains weren’t enough to motivate this man to take care of himself.  It wasn’t until he was “scared straight” by a health crisis that he was driven to change his ways.  Unfortunately, many of us are this way with our money.  So, do we need to face a monumental financial crisis in order to drum up enough motivation to change? 

Thankfully, that’s not necessary.  With a little help from our imaginations, we can produce this same force to transform our finances.  You see, our brains cannot differentiate between actual events that happen to us and events that we vividly imagine in our minds.  The imagination is a powerful force that we can use as a sort of rocket booster to propel us towards our Preferred Financial Future. 

Here’s an example of how we can apply this to our money goals.  Retirement seems far off and I’m having trouble getting motivated to save money in my IRA on a regular basis. My husband and I want to retire on Sanibel Island, in Florida.  We’ve vacationed there and adore everything about the area:  the beaches, the nearby golf courses, and the fabulous weather.  We have pictures of the house we want to live in on our vision board, plus pictures of the beaches and golf courses on the island.  This gives me a warm fuzzy feeling whenever I see my Financial Vision Board.  But I’m finding that it’s not enough to motivate me to make saving for retirement a priority over spending money now. 

Let’s add fuel to the emotional fire by imaging how my life in retirement will be if I don’t achieve my retirement savings goals.  Now Nick and I will have to remain in our current home, or even downsize to a smaller home.  We won’t be able to move to Sanibel Island, so we’ll be facing harsh winters with bad driving conditions.  (I absolutely love the beach and loathe the cold and snow, so this makes me very depressed.)  I won’t have much money to take vacations or help my niece and nephew with their college expenses.  I may even have to go into a government-funded nursing home because of my failing health and lack of savings.  By letting my imagination go wild with how horrible it will be to fail at achieving the retirement I want, it lights a fire under me to make saving money a priority.  I could even visit a local nursing home for low-income residents and really take in the sights, sounds, and smells to cement that unpleasant image in my mind. 

If you are finding that your money goals and vision board are not giving you the motivational traction you need to make positive changes to your personal finances, consider adding some negative emotion to the equation.  By making the contrast of the upside of achieving your money goal and the downside of failing to reach it as sharp as possible, you’ll maximize the emotional charge and achieve massive motivation.


Christine Luken is the Vigoroom Financial Health expert, the Financial Lifeguard and a veteran Meal Planner.  Inside Vigoroom, she has programs to reduce debt, increase savings, budget, and talk about finances with family members. She helps individuals, families, and entrepreneurs design a financial road map to help them arrive at their Preferred Financial Destination. You can find Christine’s blogs, podcasts, and videos on her Financial Lifeguard Website and her Monday Meal Planning blog.


Tens of millions of Americans are on diets each year. And virtually every one of them (about 95% according to most studies) is unable to lose weight and keep it off. This can be really demoralizing. And yo-yo dieting – repeatedly losing weight by dieting and subsequently regaining it – can actually be bad for your health. Most weight loss programs operate under a “calories in, calories out” philosophy. They tell you to follow their simple methodology and you’ll succeed. Yet only about one in twenty people do succeed. Can you imagine an auto company whose safety rate was 5% staying in business? Or a technology company whose products worked only 5% of the time having any credibility? That’s the irony in weight loss – failure is the key to weight loss companies staying in business.

Achieving healthy body weight (note the distinction between this term and “losing weight”) over the long haul involves tackling issues that go much deeper than calories consumed and burned. There are a myriad of critical factors related to your habits, history and lifestyle that cause you to gain weight and make it difficult to achieve your healthy body weight. So many of us suffer from insufficient sleep, high levels of stress, emotional eating behaviors, body image issues and/or childhood trauma. And each of these factors has a scientifically proven, direct impact on your hormones, emotions and sense of control – all of which can cause you to gain weight and make it hard to lose weight. 

The good news is that knowledge is power. Being aware of which of these underlying factors, and then taking an active approach to dealing with them, holds the key to achieving your healthy body weight on a sustained, long-term basis. With these tools and insights to change your outlook, you will achieve a healthy weight for your body and lifestyle. has a free, simple-to-follow meal plan that address the underlying causes of weight gain.


Summer 2016 just got a whole lot better. We are giving away some incredible prizes to help you add more vigor to your life. We have teamed up with our experts to offer a prize you can't find anywhere else - a FREE iPAD MINI plus a one-on-one Skype session that could change your life with one of our amazing experts. 

We’ve made it super-easy to enter. 

Step 1. Sign up for a Free Vigoroom Membership here.

Step 2. Click here to register to win an iPad Mini in the Rafflecopter Givaway.

Here's the experts you can choose from based on what's most important to you!

  • “America’s Trainer” Kathy Smith has helped millions of women get in shape and is ready to help you find your inner fitness enthusiast.
  • “Your Financial Lifeguard” Christine Luken gives you her special formula to reduce debt, increase savings and lower your stress.
  • Kent Burden has trained celebs like Julia Roberts and can guide you to a healthier way of eating and more positive mindset.
  • Professor and clinical psychologist Christine Hatchard offers a roadmap for dealing with emotional and lifestyle issues that are holding you back. 
  • Attorney Laura Fredricks provides you with amazing insights into how you handle money so you can get more of what you want in life. 
  • Therapist Shawn Quinlivan is a master of guided imagery and hypnotherapy and can change your world with just one conversation.
  • Celebrity trainer Alex Isaly can help you design a customized fitness and nutrition program that will create lifelong healthy habits and jumpstart your fitness journey.
  • Pregnancy fitness expert Dayna Deters makes sure that you have an exercise routine that is safe and healthy for you and your baby during this exciting time in life. 

Enjoy Vigoroom and good luck with the contest!


The Vigoroom Team


Linda Shelton, MS, Vigoroom Fitness Expert.

There are many things you can do to have a heart-healthy lifestyle. They include maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, annual medical check-ups and a regular fitness program. When it comes to exercise, all activities aren't created equal, except that everything you do burns calories. The focus here is on the particular benefits and strategies in using cardio exercise for healthy heart maintenance, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and as a heart disease intervention tool.

Cardio, short for cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, challenges your heart and respiratory system to work harder so your heart beats stronger, pumping more blood with less effort over time as you become more ‘cardio fit.' It helps reduce your odds of getting heart disease and has positive impacts on blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and energy level. As you get in better shape, you're less likely to be out of breath and feel less winded when you exercise or exert yourself, like walking up a flight of stairs or running after a toddler. Your resting heart rate will lower as your heart health improves; this is one of the first signs your fitness level is improving and your heart is working more efficiently.

Your intensity level is dependent upon your current fitness level and what you want to accomplish. Even moderate cardiovascular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease; lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels; balance insulin levels; and help you to lose weight. When it comes to the various Lifestyle Diseases, they all seem to respond to a similar cardio formula—exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity for a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes each session, at least 3 to 5 days per week. The key is consistency over time.

To monitor your intensity for any cardio activity, use  a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. It’s based on YOUR perception of difficulty and effort. The RPE scale measures feelings of strain, discomfort and/or fatigue experienced during cardio an/or resistance training. Keep in mind both shortness of breath and how tired you feel in your legs and overall body. RPE gives you a sense of whether you need to pick up the pace or slow it down based on how you feel during and after cardio activity. There are variations on the 1-10 RPE scale, but here’s an RPE scale I use in my corporate fitness training programs.

RPE Scale

 1 - Almost no effort

 2 - Very easy; you can talk effortlessly

 3 - Mild; you can talk almost effortlessly

 4 - Moderately easy; you can talk comfortably and effortlessly

 5 - Moderate; you can talk comfortably with some effort

  6 - Somewhat difficult; you can talk, however requires effort

  7 - Difficult; conversation requires a lot of effort

  8 - Very difficult; conversation requires supreme effort

  9 - Intense; conversation nearly impossible

10 - Intense, max effort; no-talk zone

Linda Shelton is one of dozens of experts who create programs for Vigoroom. Inside the platform, she offers a series of fitness programs for Heart Disease intervention as well as for general health benefits. Inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in 2007, Linda pioneered innovative employee wellness program ideas for such leading corporations as Hughes Aircraft, Rockwell and Blue Shield. For over twenty years, Linda served as Fitness Director for all Weider/AMI women’s fitness publications, including SHAPE Magazine. Linda was a founding member of the Aerobic and Fitness Association (AFAA) and served as fitness consultant and program developer for The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels. 


Vigoroom has over two dozen elite experts who teach you how to lose weight, get in shape, reduce stress, sleep better, improve your finances and revitalize your relationships. Everything you need to have more strength, energy and vitality in your life…because you deserve it.