Personal Finance column: Embrace your inner bag lady
It doesn’t matter what her net worth is. Even if she has a million dollars sitting in the bank, there is a disheveled old lady, pushing a cart of her belongings lurking in the shadows of her future mindset. Women have a strong need for financial security, and this emotional phenomenon is so common in middle-age ladies that back in the ’70s it was officially coined the “bag lady syndrome.”
As I pack my lunch, put my laptop in its bag, toss my workout clothes in a duffel, grab my purse and head out the door, I say embrace your inner bag lady, empower yourself and enhance your monetary experience.
What financial emotional baggage do you need to let go of? Are there money messages from your past that no longer serve you? Did you experience something or has someone in your life had a negative financial impact on your psyche? It may be “I don’t understand finances,” “the man in my life has always taken care of that,” “there is never enough,” or “I did what I was supposed to do, and it didn’t work out.” What negative monetary message scrolls through your head? It is OK to recognize it as unhealthy baggage, unpack it, feel its impact on you, and then let it go.
Next, what do you need to do to repack a different message? Try this: “Up until now, I believed _________, but moving forward, I am going to _________. It may be read a book, take a class, join an accountability group, find a financial advisor or coach, or start some positive affirmations.
Another step is to understand what tangible financial bags you are toting around. You have different assets, and you need to know what they are, and how they are working for you or not. These may include a savings account, equity in your home, business assets, investments, insurances. Each is packaged a bit differently and used for different purposes, but you need to know how they are helping you carry what is important to you and your family. You may have bags of consumer debt, student loans, or other financial obligations that are weighing you down. You need to formulate a plan to get those bags emptied out as soon as possible.
What bags do you want to add to your life? Do you need a spending plan? Are there insurances that would help you mitigate risk and give you peace of mind? Do you have estate planning documents in place? Do you need to organize all of these pieces in the context of where you are heading and what is truly important to you?
Today at the store, the clerk asked me if I would like help out with my bags. Usually, I respond, “No thanks, I can handle it,” but because of a slight physical injury, I accepted the assistance. Do you want support in packing, carrying, unloading, or organizing your financial bags? It is OK to talk about it, and to create a network of trusted advisors who will walk alongside you to push this cart of financial gear. Do your homework to understand what type of assistance you want and take responsibility for your part.
As I eat my lunch and work on my laptop, I smile at the bags at my side. The grocery bags in the car and my workout duffel in the back seat are reminders of the good choices I have made today. I take captive the passing thought of lack or fear and replace it with gratitude as needed. Join me to embrace and live out the positive embodiment of a financially savvy “bag lady.”
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner based in Basalt. Visit her at http://www.wealthbydesign4u.com. Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.