Color of Money: Author Willie Jolley tells how to face economic fears positively

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, September 5, 2010; G01


By Willie Jolley


166 pages, $21.95

The financial fear in this country is palpable. I know I feel it. When someone asks me "How are you doing?" my answer is typically "I have a job."

I'm not without hope for a long-overdue economic recovery. But can I level with you? Some days it gets downright depressing. It's hard to stay optimistic when the economic figures swing from good to bad on any given week. It's hard to stay positive when every day I receive an e-mail or request from someone deep in debt desperately looking for help.

This summer, MetLife released results from its fourth annual survey of the American dream.

For many, the dream has been deferred, the survey showed.

Fifty-two percent of those polled said they felt more stress in performing their jobs, and 45 percent said that if they lost employment they would have enough money to meet financial obligations for about a month. A majority of respondents worried that they would lose their jobs.

But we have to keep the fear at bay. And I have just the book to help. For the Color of Money Book Club's September recommendation, I've selected "Turn Setbacks Into Greenbacks: Seven Secrets for Going Up in Down Times" by Willie Jolley (Wiley, $21.95).

Jolley is a motivational speaker and host of "The Willie Jolley Weekend Show" on Sirius XM Radio. I know him personally, and if you are with him for even a minute, he will get you charged up about something in your life. He can't help it. Motivation just pours out of him. Jolley is a man on a mission to get all of us to see that our dreams might have been deferred but they don't have to die because of the recession.

"In changing and challenging times, I believe it is necessary to think differently," Jolley writes. "If you are willing to do different things and do some of the old things differently, you will be able to go beyond surviving and get to a place of thriving."

His advice doesn't come with budget sheets or investment tips but inspiration to persist and persevere in tough economic times. It could take years before your 401(k) rebounds. You might not land a job for months and, as many families are finding out, it's difficult to hold on to a home with a whopping mortgage. Do you let these financial setbacks wipe you out mentally, too?

The singular focus of Jolley's book, which is teeming with positive affirmations, is to provide financial uplift. Here's a sample:

-- "Pressure makes diamonds, but panic makes disasters."

-- "The minute you make a decision and move in a new direction is the minute you change your life."

-- "Economic storms, like thunderstorms, come into our lives at various times, but you need to stay mindful of the fact that they come to pass, they do not come to stay."

-- "When you start focusing on your possibilities instead of your problems, you will find that life becomes much more manageable."

A Pew Research Center report found that long-term unemployment doesn't just strain people's budgets but also has a profound impact on their relationships and understandably erodes self-confidence. Pew found that people unemployed for at least six months were significantly more likely to say they sought professional help for depression or other emotional issues while out of work.

I know many people are turned off by what they think is psychological junk food. But in times like this, the jobless need pep talks while they look for work. The talk doesn't pay the bills, but it keeps them from losing hope.

Jolley also tells his readers to be proactive in changing their financial situations. In this job market, you'll need to stay positive but you also need to stay aggressive in looking for employment.

"It is in these moments of challenge that we will either move forward toward our goals and dreams or we will fall back toward our fears," he says.

As Jolley encourages, if you want to go up in down times, don't panic: Be creative and come up with a financial plan.

I'll be hosting a live online chat about this month's book at noon Sept. 30 at

discussions. Jolley will join me to take your questions.

Every month, I also randomly select readers who will receive a copy of the featured book, donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of "Turn Setbacks Into Greenbacks," e-mail with your name and address.

Readers can write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Comments and questions are welcome, but because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions might be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company