It’s Time to Alter the Traditional Financial Security Model

People are living longer lives. More years are being spent post work. And the current model of financial security funded by 401ks and social security is cracking.  Three out of five boomers, according to a recent report from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, are forced to retire due to “layoffs, organizational changes, health concerns and family responsibilities.” Only one in six can retire early, with a secure financial net to carry them through their golden years.  The 2008 “Great Recession” hit the boomers hard as many found their retirement savings severely reduced, were laid off, or could not find increasing salaries above inflation adjustments to fund their lifestyles.

 

Boomers are not alone.  The Generation Xers, born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, are concerned about their financial security. According to the Transamerica 17th annual Retirement Survey, only 12% of Xers are confident they will be able to retire comfortably, 30% have taken a loan or an early withdrawal from their retirement accounts an 86% are concerned that social security will not be there for them when they retire. Their median retirement savings is: $69,000.

 

It is time for a change to the financial model we have in place.

 

I think it is odd that people can work and then find themselves without enough money in their sunset years, after they provided great benefit to companies they worked for. I find it egregious that companies skating on the thin line of ethical standards, can jeopardize the financial security of their employees, while the founders or CEOs raid the company to line their own pockets. I think it is not right that so many retirees do not have a secure financial base at a time of life when they are more prone to disease, increasing costs, and shrinking opportunities. Dementia and Cancer are potentially major financial requirements that can reduce a couple’s assets to almost nothing. I think it is terrible that very capable workers are unable to find jobs due to efficiencies of businesses and now find themselves falling further and further behind financially. These stresses do not help people live productive lives.  

 

It is time for a change.

 

Some countries are looking at alternatives. Canada and Finland and Switzerland, for instance, are looking at a base universal income. Switzerland is talking about a guaranteed income of 30,000 Swiss francs for its citizens. Here in the U.S., Alaska has been paying its residents a dividend since the 1980s. This dividend is based on the oil revenue it produces.

 

What are you experiencing in your community as it examines its own economic security? Let me know. I would love to hear what you experience.

We Are Not the Only Ones Who Feel Injustice

The Capuchin Monkey, a small and baby faced primate has some curious behaviors and habits. No, Michael Jackson’s Bubbles was not a Capuchin Monkey, but Justin Bieber’s Mally is.

It is very intelligent with skills ranging from hustling as a street performer to providing assistance to quadriplegics. It is trained to serve much like an assistance dog is trained to do. It can perform everyday tasks like opening bottles and microwaving food. But that is not why I wanted to introduce you to the Capuchin Monkey. REALLY!!!

This monkey, which likes to live in big colonies and wander wide areas, was chosen for a study: Determine how it responded to rewards. This particular study was conducted about ten years ago, at Emory University, by renown primatologist and professor Frans de Waal. He called this research, which involved studying the behaviors of two Capuchin Monkeys under a specific setting, The “Fairness Study.”  

He assigned the same tasks to these two monkeys. Whoever was finished first was awarded a cucumber. The winning monkey took its prize willingly but not with any extra glee. And that made sense because the Capuchin Monkey considers the cucumber to be an acceptable reward but not as rewarding as receiving a grape.  

The dynamics between the two monkeys was copacetic as long as the winning monkey received the cucumber and the other monkey received nothing. But the dynamics between the two monkeys changed when Dr. de Waal gave grapes to the monkey who came in second at the same task. When the” winning monkey” saw the other one receiving grapes for doing the EXACT same task but slower, the “winner“ had a fit. It rattled its cage, it pounded the table in protest, it was not going to let such an “unfairness” go unnoticed.

The monkeys clearly understood the distinction between the two prizes, and the “winning monkey” thought it had been given a lesser reward for finishing its tasks first.

How do you deal when you are provoked by injustice? Do you rant and rattle like the “winner monkey?”  Do you confront the provider of the reward for their “inequity?” Do you not care as all rewards are good rewards? Do you ask to see the “rules” before you play “the game?” Injustice is ever present. Do you deal with it on an emotional level or on a principled level?

And we thought we were the only ones who felt injustice. I thought you would want to know what I found.

Buried Emotions around Money were Revealed When…

Because I often host money workshops, I do not have the experience that my workshop attendees (mostly intergenerational members of families) have. It was a delight to be able to participate in a workshop hosted by a therapist.

 

In this money workshop, we all pretended to be a family. Although none of us were related, it did not take long for emotional dynamics to come into play between us.  

 

The first direction was to take the bills out of our wallets and give these bills to the host. Immediately questions of trust were unearthed. Would the money be returned? Should I hold back any bills? Who cares, it’s just money, right? were just some of the dynamics that came up.

 

Next, the host asked for a volunteer to count the money the host was holding. That brought comments like: “How can we trust the counter?” “Are they going to keep the money?” “Can I count the money too to be sure they counted it correctly?”

 

Next, the host asked for a volunteer to divide the pile of money into seven uneven piles (matching the number of participants.) The host then picked up a pile, gave it to the first person, picked up the next, gave it to the second person and continued to distribute the piles like this until all the piles were distributed.  As you can imagine, this created quite a stream of comments as some felt short changed while others felt like they got a good deal from the initial amount they had given the host. One person felt like a weight had been taken off his shoulders as the pile he got was more than what he had borrowed from another player to give to the host (he did not have any bills in his wallet.) One person left the game frustrated that this was “going nowhere. You’re just moving money here and some of it was my money that I no longer have.”

 

The host then told us to put any money that we had above the smallest amount a player had in their hand, in a pile on the floor. Each participant now had the same amount of money in their possession. Tension turned to relief and awkward laughter.

 

The host asked everyone to talk about their favorite charities which we did, one at a time. The host then had us talk about what should be done with the money in the pile on the floor. Should it be returned to the participants or should it be given to one of the charities mentioned by us? We had seven minutes to reach consensus. We did not reach consensus. The host then had everyone pick a number from a hat. He called out a number and the person holding that number was identified. The host then told us we had another five minutes to reach a consensus about what to do with that money or it would go to the person holding the number he called. Still no consensus so the host gave the money in the middle of the floor to the person whose number he had announced.

 

Two people were okay with the outcome; two people were outraged that their money had been “taken from them”; one person asked what the person who was awarded the money was going to do with their new money? The person with the money said they would either give it to the charity they had defended or they would return it to each participant so they could be made whole. But the group had to come to a consensus on which choice to make. The decision was to give it to the organization that the person holding the money had talked about.

 

We then debriefed on the exercise, paying close attention to the emotions we exhibited and the feelings we had during the various sections of the money exercise. I found myself noting reactive behaviors triggered by feelings I had as a child around money.

 

Money exercises are a wonderful way to experience beliefs and emotions around money. You can identify patterns of behaviors that are unproductive and introduce new patterns of behaviors that encourage productive habits and behaviors around your money. Often, we hide and bury these feelings but they can come up in the oddest places.  

 

If you would like to explore a money exercise with your family or group, let me know. I would be delighted to develop a money workshop for you.

Connections Matter

December wanes as another calendar year closes.

In the spirit of appreciation at this year’s end, I want to share with you my gratitude of having you in my circle.

Thank you so very much for the acknowledgement you have given me this year.

I appreciate the emails I have received and the questions that opened into conversations on the consequences of making meaningful choices.

I love the stories you have shared about your observations and challenges on legacy, life, and money matters.

I am grateful for the introductions to your clients and the impact I have had the chance to have on their lives.

Most of all, I am grateful for your partnership as we do all we can in providing our clients with the direction, tools and encouragement to do the best thing for their families.

One word encompasses the qualities  I appreciate in you:

Committed

Observant

Notable

Nurturing

Exemplary

Clear

Thankful

Insightful

Open hearted

Noteworthy

Thank you for the CONNECTION we have.

May 2017 bring great success in the significance we cultivate.

Happy

2017

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Being “The Greatest” Lets You Shine

Remember the phrase: “I am the greatest!”? It was a statement proclaimed repeatedly, in different ways, by the great boxer Muhammed Ali to reporters and to his opponent. He believed it and he became it. Which came first, his belief or his statement? I do not know. I do understand it was one of the tools he used to become the icon he became.

 

You may not be a boxer who needs to pump yourself up before the fight, however, you are someone who I would like to consider the phrase “I am the greatest!” for a moment and say it to yourself, for you are the greatest. You are unique and the greatest in something you do, how you do it or in who you are. The question is: How are you the greatest?

 

To find out the answer to this question, ask yourself: “What are the values you hold dearest to your heart?” and then list your top three. These are the values that identify your greatness. So, take the time to identify and define them. Then, use them to guide your decisions, your actions and your movements.

 

You are the greatest. Now, let that part of you shine.

Saving Money Is Easier When You Do This

Saving money is difficult for some people. It’s just too easy to part with those bills taking up space in your wallet. Plus, those bills are worn and small denominations. Why keep them when you can just get rid of them on a mindless transaction.

 

There have been several studies, and a recent one, found in the Journal of Consumer Research, stated that: “The physical appearance of money can alter spending behavior. Consumers tend to infer that worn bills are used and contaminated, whereas crisp bills give them a sense of pride in owning bills that can be spent around others,” concluded authors Fabrizio Di Muro an Theodore j. Noseworthy.

 

Participants in several studies were given worn or new bills and their behaviors were observed as they went shopping. The participants favored the newer and crisper bills and they favored larger bills. By favoring, the participants were less eager to part with the crisper bills and would exchange worn bills for goods even if a crisper bill was of a smaller and more appropriate denomination.

 

So, if you want to save money, give yourself crisper bills. If you want someone else to save the money you give them, give them crisper bills as well.

 

Look at how you use your worn versus crisper bills and if you do not have crisp bills, ask the cashier for them when requesting change or ask your bank teller for crisp bills when they give you cash. Tell me your experience with your worn and crisp bills. Which do you favor?   img_5829

There’s Power in This Conversation that Matters

Knowing she was dying, Anne wanted to make sure her children knew who all the people in the pictures were. So, together, she and her two children went through five albums and hundreds of loose photos that reminded Anne of her past, her heritage, the things she did, and the people to whom she was connected by blood, but knew little about.

When I came over to visit, Anne instructed her adult children to show me the pictures on the guest room wall and explain who everyone was in those photos. But her children were unsure of who these people were. Yes, they had listened as their Mom reviewed the pictures with them, but they quickly forgot the information. Most of the people did not mean anything to them. The photos were pictures of the past without anything more to connect the children to them.

When I returned to the room where Anne was spending most of her waking hours, I wanted to help her communicate some of the meaning that these pictures had that she wanted to pass on to her children.

I asked Anne to step back, in her mind, to a time in her life, when she was a little girl, 10 or younger; I could see her expression change as her mind and imagination took her back to her home in Canada. I then asked her to think of someone, a school teacher, a religious teacher, a sports coach, a friend’s parent, an after school organizational leader, someone who had had a tremendous positive impact on her at that time of her life. Without hesitation, a big smile beamed across her face, her shallow eyes began to gleam as she whispered: “Lisa, my best friend.” I asked Anne to describe her friend Lisa and as she did her eyes sparkled with joy and contentment. I asked Anne what powerful positive benefit Lisa had on her back then. Again, without hesitation, Anne gazed into my eyes and boldly stated: “Acceptance. Lisa showed me then, as she always has, the power and possibility of acceptance.” Delving into the value of acceptance for Anne became a powerful compass point in Anne’s life. As she talked about the power and beauty acceptance had had in her own life tears welled up in her eyes. She thanked me for finding a way for her to recognize this.

I, who have known Anne for ten years, felt a shock wave of new understanding as I learned how important acceptance was to Anne. Anne confirmed this by saying acceptance is one of the most important values for her. She smiled. I looked over at her adult children, who had witnessed this conversation and their eyes expressed a sense of amazement as they just understood something profound about their mother they never really knew or understood before.  It was a profound moment of great bonding for all of us.

As tears came to their eyes, the children said: “In this short conversation we have gotten to know our mother so much more powerfully and in ways we will never forget. We can carry the value of acceptance forward, in her honor, in our lives.

Imagine knowing the people in the photographs on the guest wall in this way.  This is where the connection is, not in the scene they are in or the pose they have struck. In this experience, revealed by a few key questions that matter, Anne will be more than a photograph. She will hold something that matters, a value, which her children will honor, perpetuate and pass on to their children.

Isn’t it time to have more conversations that matter?   2015.05.27.Kirkland.Juanita Bay Beach.Water Droplets on Leaf006

The 2nd Most Important Day in Your Life Is…

Millennials, currently under the microscope of researchers and data collectors, have been found to want to be involved in something that matters. Studies say that 87% of Millennials take into account a company’s commitment to social and environmental causes as they decide where to work.  That’s a big percentage of people looking to plug in to what matters.

 

Baby boomers, moving into retirement in huge numbers fear that retirement means retreating into irrelevancy. Shell Oil and independently the University of Zurich, found that there is a strong correlation between a rudderless retirement and early death. They each found that there is an 89% chance of death within 10 years for those without a purpose than those who have one.

 

As Mark Twain brilliantly stated: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born…and the day you find out why.”

 

Having a purpose provides a foundation for motivation and for developing the meaning in our lives that one day becomes our legacy.

 

How have you found a purpose in your life benefit you? Let me know by leaving a comment.

The Time Has Come and Yes, I Do Feel Different

I have experienced discrimination. I remember being an early longshore woman in the Midwest, before woman were able to join the union. I was the woman who could last long enough to make it into the union, but the union kept its doors closed to me.

 

I remember being ridiculed for driving a truck, for being intelligent, for wearing pants in college, and for running for office in organizations that had not yet nurtured or cultivated women leaders. I did these things, not to prove a point, but simply because I could.

 

So, today, I have to admit, it does feel different now that a woman will be the official nominee of a major political party in the U.S.  I feel that I and women in general must be taken seriously when we step out of “traditional roles” and contribute talents, skills, perspectives and brain to the fabric of society.

 

This is a great moment, a legacy moment that will carry us, with more grace and confidence and acceptance into the world we shape.

 

We asked for this. We got it. Now we have to take responsibility for what we have created. This is big. It is a legacy moment.

 

Let me know how it feels to you to have a woman candidate of a major party here in the United States. I would love to read your comment.

Distinguishing Between the Experts and the Scammers Isn’t Easy

How can you tell the good from the bad, the experts from the scammers, and the capable from the inexperienced?

I am engaging in a website redo and it has been a rough path to walk down.  The first possible provider was introduced by a marketing firm with which I am affiliated. Although this provider was good at the early pre-contract conversations, he got agitated when, in late November, I decided to the potential issues as people’s minds switch between work and personal things that need to get done before the end of the year. In our final conversation, he questioned my ability to make a decision to move ahead. I had made a decision, no actually two of them: work with him, start in Jan. 2014. I pulled the plug with him, decision number three. In hindsight it was fortunate I did not choose him as only a few months later I heard his company was being investigated by his domicile state authorities for questionable business practices brought by clients. If I had run into problems with him, I would have had to get on a plane and go east.

The second designer was a referral by someone who had not used this designer but liked him as a person. This gentleman seemed to be nice and receptive to our questions and concerns. Eight months after signing the contract, which did have and I asked that he remove, no refunds or guarantees (WHAT???!), we had two pdf documents on a website that all providers, including the one we hired, told us would take 5-12 weeks to complete and be up and running.  We just settled our dispute, through satisfying mediation, a few days ago.

We have hired another firm. We received our first mock up in two weeks. So far, so good.

But my question is this: How do you know the capable ones, the experts, the good, from those who are not?

I remember many years ago, in conversation with my hygienist, telling her I was frustrated with the work I had done by dentists. Crowns, for example seemed to fail within five years. This hygienist who was respected because of her own high standard of dental competency, told me who she thought the best dentist in the area was. She said he was the dentist’s dentist. The hard cases went to him. He took care to do it right. He referred so he could stick to what he did best. He interviewed his referral partners and knew their work to be at the standard he expected. A little apprehensive, I decided to visit this dentist. Although he was taken aback by my initial questions, over time we established a great respect for each other. As I expected and as he confirmed, a good crown, well placed and well-constructed, can last decades.

Back to the question.  I don’t know who to trust so I have created a checklist to help me decipher between the two.  It includes: types of guarantees and refunds they have; what they read or write for me to gain an understanding if they are leaders, thinkers, or doers; whether they create the same thing again and again; how they approach their industry; their references; how they deal with me as a person; what their entire contract says. I also ask them what values core to them they use in their business and how these core values are manifested with their clients. If any of these trigger concerns to me I will seek clarification which can lead to them being dismissed from consideration or being given my signature on a contract to work together.

How can you tell the good from the bad, the experts from the scammers, and the capable from the inexperienced?

Leave a comment I would love to know how you distinguish between the capable and the scammers.