Friday, October 14, 2011

Money: Men Are Better at Retirement Planning

We are likely the ones who will take off time to raise children and take care of aging parents. And most of us wouldn't have it any other way. But by being good-hearted, we're not putting away enough for retirement. Couple that with the fact that statistically we will live longer than our men friends, and are likely to require long-term care as we age, girl, it's time to do some planning.

A new study by MetLife shows that men are doing a better job planning for retirement than women. They're paying attention to how much they will need and socking it away. Sadly, women aren't doing as well. Here's the US News story that does a great job outlining the issues around this.

What actions can you take right now? Let's recall advice from our friend Barbara Stanny, author of "Secrets of Six-Figure Women" and other books on women and money:

1. Every day, read something about money, even if it’s just for a minute. It could be perusing headlines in business section, scanning Money magazine instead of People in the grocery store, or reading one paragraph from a financial book before you go to sleep. “It’s amazing how much you can pick up by osmosis,” Stanny says.

2. Every week, have a conversation about money, preferably with someone who knows more than you. If you’re wondering how to start, just ask, “Can I take you to lunch and pick your brain? It’s amazing how much people want to help you,” Stanny says. “We’ve been doing this for generations about raising babies, making pies … we need to start doing this over kitchen tables and back fences.”

3. Every month, save money. You can set up automatic transfers to a savings account for as little as $5. Stanny recalls a conversation with an editor who wasn’t a high earner, but who saved her change in a bowl every night. In two years, she was able to open an investment account.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spirit: Big Fat Lies Moms Believe OR How to Break Free From Your Inner Critic

Today's post comes from Amy Ahlers, a certified life coach and author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar. 

When I became a mom I also became more self‐critical. It was as if when I gave birth to my daughter, I also gave birth to a new clan of Inner Critics whose mission was to create a swirl of negative thoughts in my head. I like to call these addictive negative thoughts Big Fat Lies.

I’m also a life coach, so I’ve coached hundred of moms and have witnessed firsthand how they become their own worst enemy. After more than a decade of coaching moms from every walk of life (from CEO moms to stay at home moms to mompreneurs) I finally got it: we are all hard on ourselves despite appearances. I am not alone (and neither are you!). We beat ourselves up for both the big things and for the tiniest imperfections. And all this punishment isn’t helping us be better moms or feel more fulfilled or even to get more done. Who can blame us for being so hard on ourselves? We have a lot on their plates: kids, careers, romance, health . . . the list goes on and on. We’re supposed to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, have incredible sex with our partners, get the laundry and housework done, have healthy, accomplished kids, and a tight butt and perky boobs to boot. We feel like we’re supposed to enjoy being pulled in a million directions at the same time. And that we’re supposed to be as flexible as Gumby on muscle relaxers. But we’re only human.

What would happen if we gave ourselves a break?

To get started, see if any of these Top Three Big Fat Lies sound familiar and then go easy on yourself by tapping into the truth:  

1. I’m a failure (can also show up as I’m a terrible mother, I suck at motherhood.): This Big Fat Lie is pandemic among nearly every mom I’ve talked to. The truth is that we all have moments of failing as moms (you know like when your kid spills milk and you completely loose it because you’ve had the worst day filled with traffic jams, a failed bake sale fundraiser and your mate just called to say he’s working late…again), but that does NOT make us a failure. Winston Churchill put it brilliantly when he said, “Success is leaping from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I would add that to be a successful parent, success is leaping from mistake to mistake without loss of compassion. So, why not get your compassion on?!

2. ___________ is a way better mom than me (can also show up as I’m a way better mom than _________.): The comparison game amongst moms can be intense and grueling. We can feel like we never quite measure up and develop a serious inferiority complex or we can turn the tables and find our Inner Critics telling us that we are a far better mom, creating a superiority complex. Either way, the comparison game is a losing one. The truth is that this isn’t a contest…and it’s time to put your focus on being the best mom you can be and leave others out of it.

3. Taking care of myself is selfish (can also show up as self‐care just isn’t a priority.): This lie is one of the biggest traps moms fall into, leading to overwhelm, depression and downright resentment. When we put our own well‐being first, we are more able to be there for others. I know how hard it can be to carve out personal time. . .boy, do I know! But it is vital to do so to be a present and caring mom. By deciding to take responsibility for your self‐care, you are giving yourself the opportunity to be a good parent, friend, partner, sibling, and/or coworker. Why not get started with simply 1 hour/week of ME TIME and ease your way up? The more you recognize your negative self‐talk as Big Fat Lies and tap more into the compassionate truth, the more you’ll increase self‐love, self‐esteem and self‐respect. And what better gift can we give our kids than to model that?

Join Amy Ahlers for the Exposing the Big Fat Lies Summit in which 21 world-class experts disclose their secrets and share like you’ve never heard them before … really!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spirit: Really Want to Know You

You'd think that at 40licious you'd get more fixed in your beliefs. I think I am becoming more fluid. There are some basics that I know won't change: I must exercise every day or I will get wonky and fat. I must be my best self and as nice as I possibly can be, in writing and in person, to each being I encounter during my day. I must tell the truth.

But occasionally one must look beyond one's own moral compass for help. I suppose that's why there's the bible, the koran, the watchtower, the tarot, a horoscope, the i ching, the fortune in your cookie. For a decade my mother, a mash up Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, has been feeding me books by the Dalai Lama. And a couple years ago, I started reading "How to Expand Love" when I'd finished the last novel by my bed. It was life-changing as a guide to try and love people who are not particularly kind to you; to see the "diamond" inside everyone. The Dalai Lama's words on compassion made the difference between us moving forward with our adoption or not, proving that when you act with love -- even with someone who is difficult -- everyone will win.

Enter the Modigliani.
My mother had asked me to get an appraisal on a piece she'd been given in the 1960s. As I navigated the fine art world to try and find the best way to get a fair deal for my mom, an artist herself on a fixed income living a meager life, I felt badgered by a relative as he criticized every choice I made: handing it over to one of my closest friends, an art dealer, to find an appraiser. The auction house. The contract. The reserve price. The $90,000 estimate from the appraiser at the auctioneer. After some research, it was determined that the drawing is a very, very, good print and is not worth anything.

And then the relative became invested in a theory that while the piece was being appraised, it was switched for a fake, like some Oceans 11 scheme. He brought up distorted versions of past events. All the while I tried to do what the Dalai Lama asked, to be loving, to be compassionate and understanding. To keep boundaries. Even though I felt attacked and that every button that could be pushed got punched.

I want to address the wild misconceptions. I want to punch back with the truth. But this will not help. I don't know what the Dalai Lama would have me do. How do I be loving but protect myself? How can we move forward without looking back? Today I listed to "My Sweet Lord" in a new way. When George Harrison sings "I really want to know you," I'm taking it to mean, "I really want to understand what the spiritually correct course is to take at this particular moment." And when he sings, "it takes so long," it means, "it takes so long."