Sunday, March 4, 2007

Women and The Five Letter Word ~ Money

I enjoy the Suze Orman Show on CNBC every Saturday evening. Suze is a financial advisor with a lot of intuition and insight, and I am fascinated how she brings out the psychological-emotional problems in regards to money issues with her guests. I’m interested in the dynamics of money in peoples’ lives and the resolution of money issues through new insights. (Must be the writer in me). Often, the root cause of money problems goes back to childhood and self-esteem issues.

I like Suze’s motto: "People first, then money, then things." What we have to remember about "people first" is that also means ourselves. As women, we are nurturers and that quality is ingrained within us and reinforced by raising a family. So on the totem pole of relationships, a woman usually ends up at the bottom. Everyone else–husbands, children, family, and friends –seem to always come before our own needs and desires.

A courageous and freethinker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fighting for equality for women, had this to say more than one hundred fifty years ago: "Woman will always be dependant until she holds a purse of her own." Who holds your purse? Married or not, do you have credit in your own name alone? An individual savings account? Are you building a solid financial future for yourself? Circumstances can change over the years, and too often in unexpected ways.

Nancy mentioned in her earlier post, "Help! I Need Somebody," that she, like many of us women at an older age, find ourselves with financial situations not as richly abundant as we had hoped. First, time goes too fast, and almost before you blink your eyes, you find you are 40-50-60 plus, and collecting Social Security and awaiting Medicare coverage. (Of course, Medicare may be a financial relief from outrageous medical insurance premiums). In those earlier years of raising a family, often living paycheck to paycheck, we did not have 401Ks, IRAs, or the money or motivation to invest in the stock market.

Nancy and I learned to save at a young age. We had savings accounts through school. Seems like we saved a quarter weekly, or maybe it was monthly, but we had our bank savings account books. Ironically, through my genealogical research of our family, I learned that the bank school savings idea was put into place by our distant cousin, banker and best-selling author, Rex Stout (Nero Wolf novels). The Educational Thrift Service came to be just before the 1920s.

Our parents did not believe in credit cards. When Daddy wanted a new car, he saved. I believe they may have once obtained a short term 90-day loan at the bank, but that was very unusual for them. Even to this day, Mama has only charged something once that I recall. She can’t imagine having credit card debt or late payments. She has always paid bills a day or two after she receives them. Nancy and I tease her that she has a fear of being hauled off to jail if she was to have a late payment. LOL.

So what happened to Nancy and me? We got married! And with that, during the 1960s, we probably did little saving, if at all. I know I didn’t. There was always other obligations–such as food, clothes for the kids. You know, the usual obligations of raising a middle-class family in those days and living on "good wages" of about $6,000 a year or less. I was married in 1960 and we rented a small but very nice two bedroom house and the monthly rent was $87.50! Times have really changed, haven’t they? Life was simpler in those days, less chaotic, less fluff, more close-knit family activities.

I plan to buy Suze Orman’s new book, Women and Money. I may not learn anything new but I look forward to reading it. In her book she writes of the Eight Qualities of a Wealthy Woman. Wealthy in self-reliance and the ability to bring abundance, in whatever form, into your life. She lists these qualities as Balance, Harmony, Courage, Generosity, Happiness, Cleanliness, Beauty, and Wisdom. She made some good points about these qualities on her show tonight and she’ll be dealing with them in the coming weeks. If we have balance and harmony–think, say, and do, as one; courage to say no, or to express our real feelings; then it leads to happiness and with the understanding that we don’t spend money on things we don’t need or on others when we may not have it to spend; cleanliness means to remove clutter and put things in order; wisdom to know when things in your life are out of sync; and all these qualities in balance culminates in feeling confident and beautiful; and then abundance flows toward you.

Try a little experiment during the coming week or two. I learned this from Suze Orman a few years ago while seeing her on PBS. Clean out clutter! The theory is when clutter is cleaned away the door opens for abundant energy to flow into your life. That worked for me the first time I tried it. After her show that night, I looked under my couch cushions and much to my surprise I found a dollar bill and some change. Then I went into my master bath and cleaned out cupboards and drawers. You know . . . those bottles of various products with a dab left in them. By the time I finished I had a full trash bag of junk! Then I cleaned out my closet. About that same time, I put into effect some Feng Shui techniques in my home. I not only had good things come my way, but money came from unexpected sources. Not huge amounts but nonetheless, money. And besides, it made me feel good to get rid of clutter and raise my energy level. Give it a try.

I believe one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children and our grandchildren is an understanding of the importance of saving for their future, and do so while young and on a regular basis. A sense of responsibility about money learned at a young age can avoid a lot of conflict and worry as they go through life.


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