Time to Woman-Up Financially Speaking

I have owned Suze Orman’s Woman & Money for well over a year.  Possibly longer.  This was a gift – a not-so-subtle suggestion that I get my financial house in order.  Finances have never been something that brought me pleasure.  I abandoned the ongoing losing skill of balancing my checkbook long ago.  In my 20’s, I lived just above the poverty level.  The idea of dealing with money simply terrified me.  As a child and teenager, money was never discussed in my presence.  There is little in my background that existed to teach me how to handle money.  I realize that this has been true for too long, and I’d like to be able to help young woman learn to manage their money.  Before I do that, I must be able to manage my own.  Or at least know where it is at any given time.

I have discovered through the anxiety creating process of reading through page 84 of the book that I am far from alone.  In so many of her interviews, Orman has discovered the sheer numbers of women who refuse, or simply don’t know how to face their financial situation. We bump along without the awareness that taking charge will allow us.  Excuse me – this is not about you.  I bump along hoping that each paycheck will cover what I need.  I have been that woman for all of my life.  Fearful of looking at the reality of my situation, even though I am in a dual income house.  I think I’m simply afraid that I can’t do it.

Last night I took the terrifying step to read that first part of this book, and then actually go to my checking account and see what I had spent last month and where, which almost sent me into an anxiety attack.  But I got through it.  And I found things.  Wow…I discovered I had paid several bills twice over a month’s period, had been charged too much on one bill, the bank had sent in an extra payment on another.  It was an eye-opener.  Not a pleasant one, but I understand that if I am to take control of this and make it work for me, I must do this.  And I’m ready.  Teacher, student – all that.

I don’t have the right to ask any of you who haven’t yet done this to do so.  That is your decision.  I know that at the end of the 5 month period (Orman has 5 month schedule to help you learn the ins and outs), I will feel better about my situation.  Just knowing will eventually make me feel better.  I’m so grateful for her approach – No blame and NO shame.  I have to keep working on that part.  I’m an intelligent and capable woman.  I can do this.  When I get through the next chapter, I will tell you about it.  Trust me – I am as poor at this as any woman could be.  But I can be frightfully honest about what I learn.  I’ll share with you, and you are welcome to come along with me if you’d like.

Here’s to being a more savvy financial person in 2012.

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Build Your Support Base

Life can give you a lot of lemons.  Lemon crops tend to harvest themselves sometimes in one season.  I think we refer to this often as Murphy’s Law.  When the lemons come, and the proverbial lemonade does not follow, life becomes a little more bearable if you have a strong support system – people around you who will pick you up, dust off your hurt feelings, and urge you to keep going.  This personalized system can be an organization, your family, your spiritual home, your friends – when tough times arrive, your base needs to be in place.  You will survive it stronger and with more compassion if you have taken the earlier steps to make sure you have that system and there are people on which you can rely.

I am blessed with much when it comes to people who step up and support me.  This support exists because I have taken the role of being a non-judgmental friend, family member, wife, sister, daughter, and participant.  I have two sisters who step up for me and offer me ideas, suggestions, and compassionate perspective any time I ask.  I have spent a lot of time and effort (good effort) on being there for my older sister.  I have not done as good a job with the younger, a situation I am working on changing. I have two brothers who can say the kindest things to me.   I have three close friends who have been part of my life for many years, and we have taken turns being there for each other when life distresses with parents and children have almost torn us apart.  I have a new group of girlfriends I intentionally created to have an even stronger net and to be part of their net.  I have become involved with my fellowship in order to be a giver to those who need immediate care including a hot meal and a few words of comfort.  I have a spouse who listens and supports, an experienced and kind therapist who offers me objective advice when I feel that those who love me might not be so objective.  I have a minister/friend who loves us all through thick and thin, and understands that his flock does the best that they can in almost all circumstances.

“To those who are given much, much is expected.”  I think that one is often credited to Rose Kennedy.  I have been given much, and I do my daily best to return it in kind.  This does take conscious effort on my part.  Not everyone has the time or the resources to complete this kind of action.  Not everyone wants to.  I do this not out of altruism – I do wish it was.  I do it because I need the love and support from those in my circle of influence who have been through so much themselves, and who are willing to get my back when I feel that the troubles of my life are pulling me under.

I offer this blog to you because you, too, can create such a support system.  It begins with one person at a time.  One written card at a time.  One phone call at a time.  One shared meal at a time.  Build your community to be there to offer you love and compassion when you most need it.  Do it intentionally.  Live your life intentionally.  Love your friends and family intentionally.  The return on investment will make it so worthwhile.

Compassion Fatigue

Here’s a new one for me.  Compassion fatigue.  I didn’t think up the label, but when I read the blog entry, I immediately understood.  How do we deal with compassion fatigue?  For healthcare workers, it likely is an issue for their own health.  For mothers and caregivers, same.  For caring women who do too much for everyone else but themselves, absolutely. 

My problem is that I tend to get angry when I’ve given and given, and little is given in return.  I’m not talking about taking care of sick people who don’t jump up immediately and take care of you.  I of course do not expect nor want that.  However, if down the road, I need some help because someone at my house is ill, I do expect that.  And if I reach out to you in depression, I do expect some modicum of response on your good days.  I am not Mother Theresa.  I don’t wish to be.  I’m not that good of a person.  But I am a mother and close friend of many, and will be the first to show up for my friends who need help. 

I want to improve here.  I want to give, and not expect anything back.  I want to offer everything as a grant and not a loan.  But neither do I want to be a rug.  It is such a fine balance for me.  I am attempting to begin a daily meditating exercise in support of my own center.  I’ll be glad to report later on how that is working. 

If any of you have suggestions for how you do it, I’d love to hear it.

Biological Clock Info that has nothing to do with having babies

I was reading about Circadian Rhythms in my Writer’s Digest magazine.  I have long said – with a touch of humor – that my best time is 10 – 3.  Once I read the article, I sat down to write about it (in my personal blog) and discovered that I’m right.  Which gives me no thrill.  I want to choose my rhythms in accordance with what would work best for general society.  But my rhythms don’t really care about general society, only about working efficiently.  So, in researching more, I came across this very interesting article about CR’s.  I am quite choosey concerning webpages, and usually choose .edu or .org ones, but I think this one has validity.  What are your best hours during the day?  When are you most creative, most alive to your surroundings, and happiest?  Read and consider.

http://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Biological-Clock-44241.shtml

Love of tans fading?

With all the recent news about tanning beds and the danger, it would make sense that tans will become a thing of the past.  Or does it?  I think that those of us in living generations (18+ forward) will always want some kind of sun kissed glow.  I have been using a self tanner on my legs for most of the summer, and this particular one builds tan as you apply it daily.  That way, if I get to the point that I don’t want to become browner, I stop for a few days.  Here is an article espousing the self tanners.  Let me know if you have found a particular brand that works for you.  I’ve been using Jergens.

http://www.jillianmichaels.com/lose-weight/wellness-team-blogs/paigepadgett/is-pale-the-new-tan.aspx

Smart Snacking

I am doing battle with that proverbial 10 lbs that wants to hang around.  Okay, its probably closer to 13, maybe even 15.  I will find out when I get closer to losing the first 10.  In that process, I am following the “never get hungry” diet, but I have found that even with grazing and eating 5-6 times a day, I feel hungry.  I think it is the protein that I need, so I will be trying the pita/celery and hummus.  Here are a few more ideas if you’re trying to snack smart.  Also, for any of you who haven’t tried writing down what you eat during the day (or don’t believe it will work), I’m here to tell you that the writing gods are working well.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/healthy-snacks.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthHealthyAging_20090826

Oh Yeah!!! They Myths about Menopause

For years, I have wondered why women are fretful and afraid of  menopouse.  In my case, I don’t know when or if it happened because of a partial hysterectomy in my early 40’s.  That was the greatest decision I could make for my health because after the womb was excised, the body felt so much better.  The flooding of my finally regular periods was draining me of life and energy, and within two weeks, I felt so much better that I decided to have a body part removed every year.  Reading the following article really puts the fears to rest – so  much can be psychological, and even more can be aided with a good diet and regular aerobic and weight training exercise.  Take a look, and see how positive our time of life truly is!

http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/myths-about-menopause.aspx?xid=nl_EverydayHealthHealthyAging_20090825