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My calendar has a special marked on it: Mother's Day.
So Happy Mother's Day to all us moms! This is the day we are honored for the joyous and frequently chaotic work of raising kids and being the CEO of our household.
Two weeks ago it was Woman’s International day, I was invited to speak at a ladies forum The part I like most about these sessions is when I shut up and the attendees start asking questions.
The question I get asked more than any other — often last, usually comes with an apology to me and the rest of the audience for being “so basic.”
And it goes like this: ‘I don’t even know where to start. I mean, really. I feel like I know so little about my money that I don’t even know where to begin.
Can you point me to a book or a magazine or a website or something that can get me going? Sometimes, the floodgates really open, and the questioner ends with the complete truth, confession-style: “I’m tired of feeling like a total idiot about my money.”
As I was about to answer, a 68-year old, extremely well groomed, very classy lady raised her hand and asked my permission to speak. She said she wanted to share her story because it would bring out many relevant points. We’ll call her Inez.
During her growing-up years, there was very little money to manage. At the age of 10, Inez asked her parents to give her the money that they would spend on her clothes and allow her to do her own buying.
She was unhappy with the things her mother bought at sales or lower end shops. She felt that she could do better, and she did, choosing to buy three semi-attractive outfits instead of the six cheaper ones that her mother would buy.
Each year, she added few better things even managing to buy a really expensive cashmere sweater on sale.
Lack of money continued into her married years, this time accompanied by bill collectors. It was a time of minimum payments on credit cards and trying to meet the needs of the children, very depressing and stressful for her whole family.
Inez got a low paying job as she was not a university graduate, when her youngest child went to kindergarten.
Her husband felt that every thing she earned was needed to reduce their debt and run the family. However, she decided on her own to sign up at work to purchase a $25.00 US Savings Bond every two weeks.
From every promotion or raise she got Inez invested more money in higher-denomination bonds. Over a long period she resolved their money problems and shortages.
Today, the bonds are untouched in a safety deposit box for use in case of an unexpected major expense or a future big surprise for the kids! It was a difficult time for her, but she never wanted to be poor again.
In recent years, she has left most of the money management to her husband and financial advisors.
However, she is knowledgeable about her life-time pension, she knows when the Social Security checks are direct-deposited, and she knows where their money is invested.
And she also knows that she can carry on financially in the future if she has to.
Can you imagine: $100,000-plus on $25 twice a month. Yet Inez did it. How?
By taking control of her life, by taking control and starting to save even when her husband thought the money would be better spent in other ways, by doing what she knew was the right thing for herself, her future, and her kids.
Becoming financially self-sufficient is like giving a huge gift to the people you love. It means you will not be a burden to your parents or your children. If you are in a committed relationship, having a handle on your own money makes you a full partner rather than an associate.
Inez’s parting words “You are taking control of your money because doing so will make you feel happier and smarter, more confident, more content, and more useful.
Having a little extra money in your wallet will not make you feel more satisfied with your life.
What you do with the extra money will do that. Having better control of that money, will make a huge difference in how you view yourself and your place in the world!
The writer is a Financial Planner and Member of the Million Dollar Round Table.
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