Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Parent’s Act of Love

Psychiatrists have long equated the reluctance to write a will, prepare an advance directive or estate plan, with fear of dying.

Who wants to think about planning for death? We’d rather do just about anything else. However, we must confront our mortality. We can’t afford to have illusions that it won’t happen to us. We have to face giving up our possessions and power. We have to deal with uncomfortable subjects like aging, illness, death, inheritance and a host of other things we’ve managed to avoid thinking about.

Having the ‘money conversation’ is rarely ‘just about money’. It’s also about family dynamics, mistakes, regrets, guilt, and a host of other issues. Children feel morbid, greedy and intrusive asking their parents questions about money and death. The parents don’t want to start conversations about ‘touchy’ subjects either. The result – people procrastinate, hoping for the best. Hope is not a strategy. It’s a procrastination tool and most often, it doesn’t work.

The burden of grief for children when a parent dies is heavy enough without adding financial confusion to the mix. It’s truly an act of love for parents to get their affairs in order.

Go to Check out the guide  for opening the conversations that matter between parents and children. Follow the check lists for what parents need to put in place so children aren’t burdened with a financial and legal mess after parents die.

A Truly Intimate Valentine

Here’s an idea for Valentine’s Day that you husbands may not have considered; it’s also one that you wives may not have thought of asking for. However, this gift won’t add to your credit card debt or deplete your checking account.

Unlike flowers, jewelry, sexy lingerie, chocolates or other goodies we’ve been told equate with love, this gift won’t cost you any money . And the reward?A whole new level of intimacy in your marriage, far beyond your wildest expectations.

What is this magic gift that promises to do so much? It’s called financial intimacy. How do you give this gift? Technically, it’s not so much a gift as a restoration of marital rights. When you’re a married couple, each of you has the right to know what’s going on financially in the marriage. You’re a legal partnership and partners share financial information.

A financial intimacy valentine will show your wife that she is an equal partner in your marriage. This gift is exceptionally welcomed by wives whose husbands control the marital finances and don’t want their wife messing around in them.

So here’s my idea. Buy your beloved wife the chocolates, flowers and an inexpensive bauble that won’t stretch your joint budget . When you say “I love you’, I think you should prove it. Open the financial records and bare all.  Tell your wife that you want her to know everything that’s going on financially in your marriage in case something happens to you. Tell her you don’t want her to be in a financial mess if she finds herself having to cope on her own.

That’s love. That says you’re a team. That’s financial intimacy. In my book, it beats jewelry bought on credit cards that she’ll be paying off with you long after Valentine’s Day is over.



Letter to the Winter Bride

I’m thrilled that you’ve found the man of your dreams. But frankly, your choosing to be married at a posh resort in the Bahamas is going to present financial challenges for us, your invited guests. Yes, we realize it’s a winter wedding so you have to head south because the weather is more predictable. And yes, that’s where you met your husband-to-be on a scuba diving trip.

Sure you’re special, and I’d love to celebrate with you, but you’re costing me a lot more than I intended to spend. I appreciate that you managed to get deluxe accommodations for all of us at a discount. I know how much time and attention you devoted to making sure that we have a wonderful time. But this is your wedding, not mine. This is your decision, not mine. The $1,000 it will cost me to be at your wedding ( not including the gift from your registry) is really a financial stretch, especially since your destination wedding is the third one I’ve been invited to this year.

Does this sound petty? Probably, but it’s also realistic. This destination wedding is also a financial burden for your family. They know it’s your special day, that you’re in love and that a wedding is once in a lifetime (theoretically). But promise me, that if you marry again, which statistics show you probably will, you’ll  either pay my way for your wedding weekend or you’ll remarry closer to home.



You Can Take it With You

I have a photo of a hearse traveling down the highway with a U-Haul hitched behind it. It’s not clear whether the hearse belongs to someone who bought it because hearses have lots of storage space, or whether some departed soul is traveling to his final resting place with all his stuff – a latter day Tutenkamen without the gold.

Can you take it with you?

I shared the photo with my friend, Terri, who complains that her husband Bill is a pack rat who saves everything – even the packaging that everything comes in. Bill is an accountant who likes to know ‘where everything is’. They will be selling their home next year and moving to a smaller place.

Bill is having nightmares of what to keep and what to trash. He wakes up in the midde of the night, worried that he put something from the keep pile into the trash pile. To calm himself, Bill heads for the garage and checks through the piles.

Geri and Bill went to the King Tut exhibit a few years ago. They joked that Tut never had to downsize; he didn’t have to get rid of anything. That’s true, but inside his gorgeous golden mask, Tut looks like any other 3,300 years old skeleton.

Golden Chariot, previously owned hearse, or ABC storage units, even if you could take it with you, what would you do with it?

Five Realities about Marriage

Take off the rose colored glasses and listen up. I apologize for shattering your illusions. However,  if you consider these points with an open mind, your marriage may stand a better chance of surviving.

1. Marriage is not natural behavior. There is no equivalent in nature where either sex of any species mates for life as a result of illusions about their mate. They pair off to propagate the species without benediction or perception of personal future benefit. Neither Uncle Sam nor God care about the words. Uncle Sam only cares about the taxes; God is too busy holding the universe together.

2. Marriage is a choice. Unless you’re being forced into a shotgun wedding or live in an arranged marriage culture, you’re choosing your mate. The behaviors you see during courtship, or don’t see, but believe are there, are part of our human ability to camouflage and fantasize. If you don’t like certain behaviors in a fiancee, you won’t like them any better in a spouse.

3. Marriage doesn’t protect you from anything. Loneliness, disappointment, illness, financial problems, disillusion , parental neglect or daily stress can accompany you right to the altar and beyond. Your spouse is a partner, not your shield against what’s not right in your world.

4. Marriage is a legal and financial responsibility. Once you marry, you’re part of a business partnership that presents a tax opportunity for the government and a financial obligation to your creditors. Love or lack of it isn’t a valid defense against your signature on a contract, mortgage, tax return or lease. Sign it – whatever it is – and you’re as responsible for it as your mate.

5. Marriage isn’t structured to make you happy. It gives you more legal rights than living together, but it’s harder work than people predict. It is an opportunity to be with someone you love, work together with each others’ support and envision a future you can both share.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy: Ask not what marriage can do for you. Ask what you can do for your marriage.


Psychics- The New Financial Advisors

It would never occur to me to seek out financial advice from a psychic. But apparently, I’m missing an important resource with which to make financial decisions.  Financial psychics are thriving; in fact, many of their clients are other psychics.

I know a psychic who lives nearby in a modest home. If she’s wealthy, she certainly doesn’t flaunt it, although she does own a shiny new set of tarot cards and a top of the line tape recorder so that clients can refresh their memories about her advice after the session.

Can a financial advisor, with nothing but charts, graphs and numbers compete with the psychic’s reassurance that our cards indicate future wealth? I can’t really blame people for believing that a greater power is attracting them towards the destiny they desire. Investments have always been tricky, and not everyone has the smarts of Warren Buffett.

Apparently, men are more businesslike than women when they consult a psychic. Men ask rational questions like, What is your accuracy rate? Can you guarantee your readings? How do you get your information?

I suspect millions of women ask the same rational questions of their financial advisors. The problem is that neither psychic nor financial guru, pundit or banker really knows what’s going on or how long good times will last. When the market is up, everyone is a hero. When it’s down, only psychics will give you a tape reassuring you of your destiny with wealth.