Monthly Archives: December 2011

If I Had A Year to Live…

When I was younger, I made New Year resolutions only to have them evaporate after a few weeks. Using a matrix of goals, timetable, action plan and reward system, I would track my progress. I don’t do that anymore.

Realizing that life is too short for everything, I struggled with how to maintain a balance between what I like to do and what I felt I ought to do. I came up with a formula that works better for me.
If I had a year to live, would I spend 15 minutes doing this?

It works for me in situations where I have a choice. For example, how do I want to spend my time? Do I really want to be on that committee, attend that lecture or class, learn to play bridge? If I’m not actively enthusiastic about something or someone, I don’t do it.

I don’t have to beat myself up about the choice because for me, it’s obvious. One year, 15 minutes? Yes or no.

In situations where I don’t have a choice, there’s no conflict. I might procrastinate a little, but I do it because I know I’ll feel good afterward.

Try the formula. You can do it all year round without keeping track of anything. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always go back to resolutions.

If you knew you had only one year left to live , would you spend 15 minutes making New Year resolutions?

Happy 2012. May whatever you wish for be yours.

Bag Lady Fears: Rational and Persistent

Men, whether successful or not, don’t seem to worry about becoming destitute in their old age, invisible, unloved, roaming the streets, scrounging in garbage cans for food. But irrational as it may seem, successful women also suffer from bag lady fears.

Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem and Lily Tomlin admit to sharing this fear of becoming a bag lady. So did 48 percent of the 1,938 high earning women polled by Allianz Life Insurance in a 2006 poll. A stunning 90 percent of these high earners admitted to feeling financially insecure.

Many married women don’t have a history of understanding or managing money. They’re not used to seeing the bigger picture. They think their husband is better at making the ‘really big’ money decisions. While they balance the household budget and decide what to buy, he handles the investments. If the marriage ends, they don’t understand what he was doing financially. Often they find themselves responsible for financial decisions he made without their knowledge or participation.

The bottom line? Wives’ financial decisions revolve around money spent and gone, not invested for growth.

Bag lady fears may be emotionally irrational for financially secure Katie, Gloria and Lily. Their fears relate to being out of control, of feeling weak and fearful that they can’t make it on their own. For them, these are childhood tapes and no longer based on reality.

But for millions of women, divorce or widowhood is the wake-up call that they have to start thinking differently about money. Four in 10 marriages end before the 30th wedding anniversary. Only 16% of married women have a financial “Plan B” in case of divorce. The average age a woman is widowed is 56. Her average longevity is 84.

Every woman who isn’t in charge of her financial life is at risk of being a bag lady if someone is planning her future. That makes the bag lady syndrome a rational fear which requires paying attention to now.