In the month of Mother’s Day, it is appropriate to think about and appreciate mothers as well as other women who play important roles in our lives. Women we admire have had an impact on us in many ways. I was in a women’s group discussion the other day and they were sharing money memories. I noticed how many of the memories were tied to what they remember being told by a mother or grandmother.
Some Words of Advice
The messages were all over the board. One woman shared how her aging mother reminded her not to give away all of her inheritance. Another recalled always being told not to accept any money from a grandmother for helping around the house, “just be nice and do it because you care.” And the young woman facilitating the discussion remembered how her mother cautioned her not to judge a woman she had just met just because she’s “rich.” Have you ever thought about documenting stories and advice you want to share either with your kids and/or grandchildren?
The Confidence Gap
We have talked in the past about how our childhood environment, memories, and stories usually had more impact than we often realized on our money habits later in life. Which can also be why a couple of recent financial industry surveys have identified a “confidence gap” between men and women. Being in traditional roles, deferring in order to avoid conflict, and feeling that husbands knew more than they did, led many women to feel less confident than men.
Now’s the Time
The pandemic prompted the research and one survey, by UBS, found that 63% of women said that COVID affected how they now think about money. Another study by Fidelity revealed that 67% of women are now more engaged and putting more effort into managing their finances. Now is the time we need to make sure we have our financial house in order in case of an unexpected life event.
Expect the Unexpected
Sometimes, we need a wake-up call, a disruptor, a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder that life IS full of changes and unexpected events. In the spirit of always trying to find a silver lining (practicing Positive Intelligence here) and seeking an opportunity in every obstacle, we must acknowledge the lesson learned from the pandemic: Plan for the worst and expect the best.
One estate planning attorney I know, listed 9 things he thought the pandemic taught us in one of his newsletters. I found the top three to be most helpful to think about:
- Although it’s never too early for estate planning, it could be too late.
Sudden hospitalization from COVID is the exact “too late” example. If you don’t have power of attorney documents in place before you end up unresponsive in a hospital bed, life gets a lot more complicated when it comes to treatment and payment for care.
2. The pandemic has taught us crisis management.
Thinking about something and actually taking action to put documents in place are two different things. We often cannot prevent the catastrophes that can occur in life, but we can put things in place that can protect our family should they occur.
3. You’re not too old (or too young) for estate planning.
Less than half of Americans have a will in place. The percent is even lower for those under the age of 30. And yet those are often the ones starting families with a spouse and children to protect.
I am a fan of living in the moment, enjoying each day, and being mindfully grateful for the present. Yet I am also in the planning business because I think you can actually treasure daily life better once you have put the things you can control into place. Putting things into place is what brings peace of mind. We can’t add another moment or month or year to our life by worrying. So, I believe in taking the worry out of as much as you can by planning for things you can control and then shifting to a daily focus of gratitude instead.
Heed Your Own Advice
The other day, I was feeling frustrated out loud to a colleague about having too many meetings on my calendar and feeling stressed. She calmly asked me who put those meetings on my calendar. It was me. She said, “Ok, so stop doing that!” Ah, so easy to say but not so easy to do! The good news is that it is all about what we decide. Our mind and our self-talk that leads to action is determined by us. Sometimes we need to mother ourselves and listen to our own advice!
This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.