What am I “known for”?

Debra L. MorrisonThanksgiving gathers us together to share various dishes of food that we’re each “known for”.  My mom is “known for” her homemade bread….yum!  She’s also known for her single crust apple pie, her pretzel salad, her coconut macaroon pie, her peanut butter with Hershey’s choco kisses cookies, and actually a whole lot more.

Mom once commented to me of someone who brought a new dish, “well that’s not what she’s KNOWN for”.  Was this a warning to me of a certain lacking on our part to not receive a “known quantity” from this person, or was it to establish a bar over which she would need to catapult with this “new-to-us” dish, in order for her to eventually become “known for” it?  I didn’t know, and I didn’t ask.

Over the last 100 blog posts, I’ve honed what I’m “known for” professionally speaking; in response to what I see as an ever increasing and glaring need for women to take control over their money.  I am “known for” my abilities to empathize with, and inject confidence into:

  • mature women who have money, and have no idea of what that money can do for them,
  • women who have money, yet they couldn’t tell me one single thing about it after forking over their account statements,
  • women who have become suddenly single, who rue the day they didn’t sit with their significant other to review “the numbers”,
  • women who may otherwise waste time “worrying” about their money,
  • women who may not gift or donate monies out of fear they may run out.

My 33+ years of experience in dealing with such women puts me in a great position to help others who ‘suffer’ similar circumstances.   And I say suffer because the angst of these women is often debilitating.  Luckily I get great joy out of continuously creating new ways to align women with their money, using easy-to-understand analogies that ‘de-fang’ the otherwise painful process, and turn it into an empowering and fun endeavor.

Here’s why it’s important for women to control their money – millions of seconds are passing us by.  Millions of opportunities are presenting themselves, awaiting our response.  Millions of smiles are begging to be shared, millions of moments are in our grasp right now.  And to the extent that money is involved in any of these instances/choices, I want to arm women with the exact tools necessary to understand what they still need to know, and which steps to take next.

Many of us know firsthand due to the loss of a loved one, that life is a gift, and one to be cherished.  So, I’m advocating that we all take an inventory of our lives and our money, and determine exactly what it is that we don’t yet know, financially speaking, and to push through whatever fear may be halting our progress thereon.

So, what are YOU “known for”?   Are you known for assessing a situation and making the most of it?  Are you known for your imaginative and perhaps redemptive actions that you have taken in the past when things “happened differently than what you had planned”?   (Remember, experience is what we get when we don’t get what we wanted.)

Are you known for choosing to focus on positive responses; making every effort to capitalize on situations, and turn them into opportunities?   If you find yourself facing a completely new situation, ask yourself, “CAN I become known for this”?  How can I lead in a situation where I’ve been a follower or even sat on the sidelines up until now?  How can I move up to my own A team?

How in the past, have I surprised myself?  When everyone else said it couldn’t be done, what gave me the courage to forge ahead anyway?  Achieving as much as I’ve achieved, how can I possibly say that “I can’t do it” now, whatever the challenge, yes even money challenges?

I agree with Henry Ford who apparently said, “whether we say we can or cannot do something, either way, we are right”.  So how much more exciting will our lives be, how much more possibility can we expect to savor, how much more confidence will we build by going ahead and doing that very thing that heretofore stymied and/or paralyzed us.  And why wouldn’t we want to jam every possible experience into our ever-so-short lives?

If you have had kids and/or maintained a relationship, these are skill sets that are acquired; people aren’t born with all the answers of how to relate, or how to raise kids.  We didn’t get a handbook about how to build confidence in our kids or nieces and nephews…yet we did it circumstance by circumstance, day by day.  We didn’t enjoy perfect experiences each and every time, of course.  There were mistakes and then there were stupid mistakes.  Yet, haven’t we all learned to somehow frame those mistakes with perspective?

Why do we birth or adopt children then; do we think it will be easy?  Or is it instead that we are interested in, and committed to, building families and fostering relationships that will last years and decades, if we are lucky.

Most women don’t even think of the pain of natural childbirth when they get pregnant.  If young women went into the hospital ward as teenagers and heard the screams of women during childbirth, many would swear that they wouldn’t willingly participate in anything that could even remotely cause that kind of pain; yet so many of us do.  Why?  I guess, we look past that initial pain to the arrival of the baby, and the overwhelming joy that babies inevitably bring.  In other words, we choose to focus on the long-term rather than get caught up and paralyzed with what, in perspective, is VERY minimal–time and energy wise.

One component of everyone’s, and every family’s, life then, is how much money will be required to survive and to thrive?   Of course, each of us defines “thriving” differently.  So it’s helpful to write down what we want to buy, what we want to achieve or experience, and approximate and itemize each of those costs.  Then we can prioritize exactly what are “necessities” and what are “luxuries”, depending on how much money we have at our disposal.

Especially at this time of year, many children make voluminous lists of what they want Santa to bring them.  Secretly many adults make those same lists as well.  And then, reality sets in and someone looks at those long lists and asks the all important question, “of all these things, circle 3 things that you really want” or “of all these things, select whatever you want that costs less than $100.” for example.  So, now people can choose, and take responsibility for their choices, and ultimately the happiness that comes with having those “things” or “experiences”.

So, what choices will we make each and every day about money?  What amount will we spend and what amount will we choose NOT to spend right now, so that we have that amount of money, or what it will grow into, at some point in the future?

When we are paid a paycheck every two weeks, for example, we have the choice to spend it all in the first hour, or to plan out what expenses we’ll encounter in the next two weeks.  Further, we will ponder what amount we want to put aside for the future; i.e., for something we will want next week, next month, next year, or in 2 years, or in 3 years or in 7 years, or in 10 years?

We don’t need to look further than at squirrels and bears, for example, to notice that each of these animal species collects nuts and food in the summer for the upcoming winter.  They plan ahead for their survival.  We clearly need to similarly plan ahead for what we want to buy or experience in the future.

Money Guide For WomenOk, no problem, you say.  Or IS there a problem, if we either DON’T pay attention to or “aren’t inclined to care about” our money.  I still wince when I hear women say this.

If money wasn’t important, we could well afford to dismiss it, like a seasonal outfit or an out of style pair of jeans.  Yet money and the consistent stream of incoming money allows us to make choices—choices of how we’ll spend or invest that money or a part of it, as well as choices as to how we’ll give it away in order to empower others who may NOT have the money they need.

I continue to hone how I can best serve women who have pursued other passions other than finance or money management.  How can I introduce myself as a “safe” professional woman who indeed has both the empathy and skills to help?  How can I impress upon women that how we ‘deal’ with our money is in fact, very telling to our overall success as mature women?  I start with building on women’s achievements in all areas of their lives, and then build their confidence to believe that money is logical and can be understood and managed effectively, with great results.

We CAN manage these choices.

We CAN shape our future.

We CAN parent our children or nieces and nephews.

We CAN do things we aren’t particularly trained to do.

We CAN and will make mistakes with our money and we CAN admit and talk about them.

We CAN separate our emotions from our money.

We CAN recover from what we ‘deem’ mistakes, which are often NOT mistakes at all.

Finally, what decision are we inevitably making if we don’t make money decisions?  We’re subjecting our future to risk, perhaps the very 4 letter word we’re most afraid of.  We’re making the decision to allow the control of, and happiness associated with, our futures to be in someone else’s hands, instead of our own.

Why do we think that financial mistakes are more important (or damning) than mistakes in raising kids?  What can’t be recovered from, financially speaking?  I’ve not experienced any circumstances in any clients’ lives over the past 33 years that has taken them down; i.e., that they couldn’t recover from, and thrive.

I’ve shared stories with many of you, whom thought/feared you couldn’t understand the first thing about money, only to see you hurling financial terms around now, like you own them, which of course, you do.  I’ve witnessed the glimmer of hope in some of your eyes as you began to believe you would be ok, financially speaking.

I’ve appreciated your gratitude for my many analogies which are intended to integrate money into our lives, much like every other major facet of our lives.  While you may have been programmed and/or socialized to eschew money or any mention of it, you are now gaining an appreciation for your own ability to integrate common sense strategies about money into your everyday lives.  Congratulations!

You realize that you buy groceries with cash or credit; you also buy experiences with cash or credit. IF you don’t have cash or credit, your life shrinks in myriad ways, the effects of which are either short-term or long-term, or both.  Yet that slope is a gradual one, and one that can be managed, IF we keep our eyes on the road.

If you are in a trWise Women's Guide To Investingaffic situation that appears dangerous, you often have options to avoid or lessen the potential calamity.  If you see danger up ahead, you take your foot off the gas.  You slow down.  You put your foot on the brake.   You steer away from the perceived danger.  You notice/analyze the situation, getting peripheral input.

I’m “known for” coaching women to be WISE:

  •  W atchful
  •  I nquisitive
  •  S trategic
  •  E mpower

As a WISE women parenting a child, you Watch the child’s behavior, you are Inquisitive about the situation, you Strategize how to direct your child to act in order to propel them forward/out of danger/into a new exiting opportunity, and then you Empower your child by showing or telling them what and/or how to do that particular thing.

Finally to those who lament they weren’t taught these things, many of us once believed in Santa Claus, did we not?  Later however, we graduated from that belief into another belief, that, in fact, there IS no Santa Claus.

Once we may have been programmed—by our family or by society–that money was bad, filthy, the root of all evil, and that we should have no involvement with money, whatsoever; that someone else would handle it for us.   Later, we may have found ourselves suddenly single—widowed or divorced—where there ISN’T another person who can handle our money for us.  So, what to do?  Grow into the adults we are, and find the best tools for the money management job–assume it ourselves, share the work with a professional, or choose to delegate the work fully to a professional.  Any of these choices is perfectly acceptable, of course, yet we do need to make one of these choices, period.  Entirely too much is riding on our financial tires for us to become (or stay) paralyzed, frozen, and inactive with our money.

There are two principles in investing—accumulating and distributing.  It is just as important to diversify while we are accumulating assets as it is to carefully select which assets we will sell when we need cash.

With my Master’s Degree in Retirement Planning, I am “known for” advising women to be judicious in not only how we “cash out” our investments,  yet also selecting the appropriate amounts in order to provide ongoing cash for however long we’ll need it.

So, join me in this most important and rewarding money tour; one which you’ll too, soon be “known for”.  We Can Do It Women!™