healthy relationship with money

10 Tips For Keeping Your Brain Young and Free Of Disease

Walking at least 30 minutes a day is good for your health
Walking at least 30 minutes a day is good for your health
Photo cred: Arek Adeoye, Unsplash

I recently attended a conference focusing on retirement and longevity planning. One of the speakers, Dr. Marc Milstein, gave a talk focused on how we can keep our brains healthy and free of disease. It was fascinating, and I thought I’d share his insights on how we can impact our brain health:

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep.
Sleep is a superpower. It’s best to keep it on a schedule, getting to bed, and waking up at the same time every day. Sleep also likes a blacked-out room, and please don’t read on your phone before bed. The blue light emitted from phones pushes back the release of sleep-inducing melatonin by 45 minutes in adults. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause memory loss ten years before that of the general population.

2. Challenge Yourself.
Your brain wants to stretch itself, and one of the best ways is by learning a new skill – and why not make it something you enjoy? Pick up a paintbrush or guitar, sign up for a Duo-Lingo account and learn Spanish, or take samba lessons. Whatever rocks your boat.

3. Treat Hearing Loss.
Recent studies have linked moderate to severe hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia due to changes in the “hearing” section of the brain.  Don’t hesitate to see a specialist if you need to.

4. Be Socially Engaged.
People need people, and your brain does too. It likes to be social and interact, and the more, the better as we get older. The party animals in communities tend to show the slowest rate of memory decline. Good news for the shy or introverted- pets can also reduce stress, boost immunity, and keep us moving and engaging.

5. Manage Stress and Be Mindful.
The brain likes certain types of stress, like the types associated with learning something new or taking on a challenging project. But, it doesn’t like chronic stress – the kind where you are worried or anxious all the time. Fortunately, mindfulness and meditation practices can reduce the risk of dementia. It can be as simple as taking breathing breaks – focusing on the breath for a few minutes several times a day.

6. Keep Chronic Inflammation At Bay.
Inflammation is an integral part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection and facilitates the healing process. But chronic inflammation is a whole other story and can contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. A healthy diet, proper dental care (regular flossing), and exercise can help. Talk to your doctor about the CRP blood test, which tests levels of inflammation in the body.

7. Eat Whole Foods and Avoid Processed Foods.
Beware of foods that don’t spoil, like the highly processed foods in the grocery store and as Michael Pollan says, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And a glass of wine a day won’t hurt you.

8. Exercise, even moderately.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your brain is walking at least 30 minutes a day. Anything more than that will also give you muscle-tone and a better-looking body. Just do it.

9. Treat Diabetes.
Untreated type 2 diabetes can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s, so work with your healthcare providers to manage this all too common disease.

10. Take Care Of Your Heart.
Some say a healthy heart equals a healthy brain. Keep both healthy by eating right, exercising, being mindful to lower stress, not smoking, and drinking moderately.

What better time to incorporate these habits into your life than at the dawn of a New Year?

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Putting Women At The Center Of The Story

I was getting a hair-cut recently, and instead of scrolling through Instagram while my stylist did her work, I flipped through the February issue of Vogue. In it, there was an adorable photo of Reese Witherspoon with her daughter and mother and an article about what Reese has been up to. As I was skimming the story, I came upon a quote by Witherspoon that intrigued me enough to pay more attention. It read:

“But there’s a reason I’m very passionate about women having their own money. I have a lot of friends, and I have a lot of personal experiences with women feeling afraid and making life choices because they felt completely paralyzed or in stasis because they didn’t know what to do financially. And you can’t have liberation if you don’t have that.”

Being a financial advisor who has many female clients, this statement resonated with me. I knew about Reese’s involvement in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, but I didn’t realize the depth of her passion for changing the status quo. In the article, she laments “being tired of being the only woman in the room” – a situation familiar to me and other women who have struggled for promotions, pay raises, equity stakes, funding, and equal opportunities in the workplace. The truth is that until women gain equal status, they will lag behind financially and may never achieve their full potential. Reese’s solution to this problem?: “The idea is to put women at the center of the story.”

Witherspoon is doing this by producing women-centric content on every media platform imaginable. She is also an outspoken advocate for women in the entertainment industry. It got me thinking of how the rest of us could put women at the center of the story. Here are some ideas:

What you can do to put women at the center of the story.

  • Mentor women in your company, your industry, or your community to make the road a little easier for them.
  • Take every opportunity to teach girls and young women about money whether it’s your daughter, niece, cousin, nephew’s girlfriend, or friend’s daughter.
  • Encourage women to speak up in any type of meeting or gathering by noticing who is quiet and asking direct questions.
  • If you’re a manager – support women’s personal and professional development by funding classes or seminars on public speaking, leadership, or money-management skills.
  • If you’re a financial advisor, offer pro-bono financial advice, take on a young female client below your minimum fee or teach a class on personal finance in your community.
  • Understand and resolve your own gender biases by attending workshops or hiring a coach.

These may be small things that don’t have the social power and reach of Witherspoon’s media empire, but they are doable for anyone – that has a power all its own.

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How to Prepare For An Encore Career

Ready for a career change?

More and more people are rethinking success at midlife or retirement, and considering a shift to more meaningful, purpose-driven work. More and more people are rethinking success at midlife or retirement, and considering a shift to more meaningful, purpose-driven work. Combining a desire for social contribution, entrepreneurial passion, a job that’s not-just-a-job, and – often – continued income, encore careers are an appealing fresh start. Whatever your encore career goals, these strategies can increase the odds you’ll reach them.

Recareering

Another name for an ‘encore career’, many Americans are looking for work that is more than a ‘job’; a meaningful expression of what you have to offer the world.

There are several encore variations I see with my clients: those mid-career corporate professionals in search of a more fulfilling focus, and folks at retirement age who want to stay engaged and do meaningful work. Continued income, social impact, flexibility, pursuing a passion – second-act careers have many different motivations.

Here is a great place to start: what would you answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question? Your response will help uncover the values and priorities that we often don’t pay enough attention in our day to day life. And then ask a friend: ‘What am I best at?’, for more insight (and possibly a few surprises).

Reinvent

This is the time for self-assessment. What skills, talents, and strengths have made you successful in your professional career? Can you repurpose your corporate skills? What ignites your fire? Do you want to continue working for a paycheck, a passion, or both?

Explore new opportunities while still employed, if possible: research, research, research; do informational interviews; volunteer; take a class or consider an internship. Knowledge is power.

Reconnect

Find a like-minded group – whether a casual meeting of people volunteering in the arena you find interesting, or an established organization or professional group.

The feedback you’ll get from your network will provide motivation, expertise, and experience, as well as the invaluable contacts you will want as you consider a career move. (And if you aren’t already harnessing the positive aspects of social media, now is the time to dive in! It’s an effective tool, and one you might find valuable in your ‘second act’.)

Reimagine

If you are leaving a corporate career to pursue more meaningful work, or if you are nearing retirement and want to embark on a fulfilling new chapter — be prepared!

Before you embark on a major life change, outline the specific outcomes that could result, and develop the plans to get there. Inspiration and passion are a starting point, but sustaining a change will require planning and adaptability… two things most of us have learned a lot about by the time we are considering an encore path. Take advantage of your life experience for real motivational mojo.

Redesign

A survey recently found we are less comfortable talking about money than death. I want to change that! Given that the average encore career transition takes about 18 months, and 67% of those ‘transitioners’ had reduced (or zero!) income during that time, we need to redesign our approach to thinking about – and talking about – money.

Planning with your financial advisor ahead of your career transition will prepare you for the practicalities of pursuing your passion, and can help strategize ways to make the math work during your encore career. And, while some encore careers are the intended result of long-held dreams, others come on the heels of an unexpected job loss.

Planning ahead makes even an unplanned career change an opportunity, rather than a misfortune, allowing you to move forward with the confidence that a solid financial plan provides.

You Need Not Reinvent Yourself

The encore career movement has become a mainstream conversation, including books, conferences, consultants, and coaches. You needn’t reinvent yourself for your second act; instead focus on the expertise, skills, experience, and passion you have – and how your talents can lay the foundation for your encore career.

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

The Happiness SpreadsheetIf you want to think differently about the relationship between your spending, your values and your happiness, then sign up to get your FREE copy of The Happiness Spreadsheet.

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Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Money

Cultivating a healthy relationship with money is the foundation of a rich and happy life. Just like any other relationship, for your money to prosper and grow, it needs attention and care.

You don’t want to smother it with worry and fear, but you also don’t want to be neglectful. You need to get to know it, love it, and not be afraid to let it go, if you strike the right balance, it will always be there for you.

A little understanding goes a long way in our relationships, and it’s the same for money.The first step to understanding money is to figure out how much you need to live your life the way you want.

You can spend your whole life pursuing more money, or you can figure out what it takes to live and be happy. Money is a tool to fund your life – when you think about money as a tool, it’s easier to plan.

How much do you need?

How much money do you need to meet your financial obligations and commitments: the mortgage, the rent, your other fixed bills, your medical insurance, your kid’s education? How much is an important number because you if you can’t afford your basic lifestyle, life becomes one big worry about money.

Next comes regular saving. This step is hard. It trips many people up. It usually involves delayed gratification, and we don’t like that. It also involves investing. Investing can seem scary and complicated. But we must save for the things or experiences we want soon and in the future, and we must invest or our money will lose value due to inflation.

Retirement is the most daunting savings need of all because it involves large numbers and lots of assumptions – assumptions regarding our longevity, health, returns on investment, interest rates, to name a few. For most of us, social security is the only source of income we will have in retirement besides our savings. For this reason, saving at least 10% of income each year and more if behind is critical.

After you understand how much money you need to cover your emergency fund, your necessary expenses and your retirement savings, then you can focus on what else you want to create a rich and happy life. A healthy relationship with money means knowing that you can’t have everything. Instead, you figure out what in life brings you the most joy and satisfaction, and you prioritize those things.

You will know you have achieved a healthy relationship with money when you worry less about it and start feeling good about how you are spending and saving it. Get started working on this most important relationship now for a happier future.

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Do You Know You Have A Money Personality?

Do You Know You Have a Money Personality?

Do You Know You Have a Money Personality?

We’ve all developed money habitudes and attitudes over the years – learned from our parents and other adults, advertising messages, our siblings,  and our peers. Some of the information we absorbed about money may not be serving us so well now.

For example, if you were raised in an atmosphere of scarcity, you may spend your whole life craving things you can’t afford and you now overspend to get them. On the other hand, if you grew up in abundance, you may expect things will always come easily to you. If your mom was a spendthrift, you may become one too or, you may overcompensate by becoming a miser.  If your dad procrastinated about important money decisions and took the attitude “things will work themselves out”, you may find yourself taking the same approach.

Ever wonder why you procrastinate about financial matters? It may be due to your deep-seated money personality.

My Money Story

My mother and father were extremely frugal, especially my father. He didn’t want anything. Buying him a gift was torture because it was impossible to figure out what he would like – except peanuts, he loved peanuts.  So my siblings and I would end up buying him canisters of Planter’s nuts for his birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas.  His frugality rubbed off on my mom. Going out to eat with her was challenging. She’d look at a menu and always order the cheapest thing on it – or a side salad.  She would do the same thing when shopping for clothes – in her mind, nothing was worth the price when you compared it to what you could make it for yourself.

We kids would only get the “necessities” – basic clothing and shoes (thankfully we wore school uniforms!) and no spending allowance. So, I learned early on that if I wanted the “extras”, I needed to find a way to buy them myself. This was probably a good thing, as I became self-sufficient at a very early age. But I also rejected the frugality of my parents and have been known to indulge myself on occasion. I’ve worked hard to find a good balance between being prudent and being extravagant.

Can you change your money personality?

I interviewed a graduate of The Money Coaching Institute based in California, about her insights about money personalities.  She said, “If we don’t pay attention to our money personalities they will act out in louder and more extreme ways. For example, the shopping sprees become longer and more expensive because you can’t quite fill the emotional hole you are trying to fill or the anger towards money grows until you blame it for everything wrong in your life.”

In my financial planning practice,  I find that the more I know about my client’s money type or personality, the better I can serve them. To that end, I have each client complete a money personality and financial satisfaction questionnaire which seeks answers to such questions as:

  • What keeps you up at night (or at least feeling anxious) when it comes to your personal finances?
  • If there is one thing you could change about your personal finances, what would it be?
  • If you had more money to spend, what would your spend it on?

If you think that you may be acting in ways that sabotage your chance of financial success and it’s become a pattern  – read, sign up for a workshop, talk to trusted friends or advisors, or engage a money coach. There are resources available to help you.

Below are a few books and ebooks (including one I wrote myself, called The Happiness Spreadsheet), that can help you discover your values and ideas about money.

Books

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

The Happiness SpreadsheetIf you want to think differently about the relationship between your spending, your values and your happiness, then sign up to get your FREE copy of The Happiness Spreadsheet.

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