Women and Money

Last week I taught a class called Fearless About Aging using The Work of Byron Katie. I asked the group to list their top fears about aging.

Running out of money ranked number one on their list. As a group we inquired about the truth of this thought using Byron Katie’s process of inquiry called The Work.

We questioned the thought “I will run out of money.” I asked them to answer each question for themselves:  Is it true (yes or no) and can you absolutely know it’s true?  The answer is yes or no.

When I asked them, “How do you react when you believe that thought?”  They said they felt anxious, limited their experiences, withdrew from people, became frugal with their money, experienced lack, and decreased activities.

Then I asked them to turn around the fear “I will run out of money” to the opposite  “I won’t run out of money.”

They realized that if they were conscious and prudent with their money they wouldn’t necessarily run out of money.  However, the big takeaway was that most of them were living in a future fear that was not grounded in reality.

This fear is a common theme with women.  In the past few weeks, The Huffington Post ran two columns by Barbara Hannah Grufferman who writes the column “Life After 50.”

Gufferman said that the common theme she found in her research with women through Twitter and Facebook was this: the fear of not having enough money as they get older.

Many of us baby boomers realize we will need to work for many more years because we haven’t saved enough for retirement or the economy has taken a bite out of our retirement funds.  Many women worry about holding up physically and mentally to be able to continue to work.  And many women also have the fear of being homeless (Bag Lady Syndrome).

Gufferman also notes that women over 50 must be given the opportunity to continue working or return to the workforce so that the fear of poverty (for themselves and their families) does not become a reality.

What’s the solution? Many women have left the finances up to their husbands or they don’t look at their finances from a long-term perspective.

  1. Become conscious of your money situation — this is the most important step you can take right now.  Start an automatic savings account even if you are think you can’t save. We can all save even if it’s $25 a month.
  2. The second step is to create a financial plan to make your life plans happen.  Find a financial planner that your friends or acquaintances trust.  If you can’t afford a financial planner, ask a savvy friend or family member you trust and are comfortable with to help you create a financial plan.
  3. Become conscious of your spending habits.  Here’s a great exercise to help you get started:

Stop, Start and Continue Exercise:

  1. Make a list of five things you will stop spending money on (mindless spending).
  2. Make a list of five things you will start to help you save and become conscious of your money habits.
  3. List five things that are positive money habits you will continue that help you save and tighten your belt.

Remember, living in fear is a dis-empowered way to live.  You create your life with your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Becoming conscious and aware of your money habits is the best way to live an awakened life.  Choose to redefine your relationship with money today.

How are you becoming empowered about your money?