Five years ago, I turned 50. It felt as though everything changed overnight. In my 20s, 30s and 40s, I charged ahead with life, first throwing myself into my career — I worked as a magazine publisher — and then, in my late 30s, meeting my husband, getting married and having children. Those busy years almost seemed like one long decade, during which I didn’t feel any different about how I looked or acted. I never stopped to think about what impact the way I was living might have down the road. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Jane Bryant Quinn’
Money. It’s something we all need. Whether you work for it, inherited it, saved for it, married into it, won the lottery, or some combination thereof, when you start to inch toward midlife, just make sure you have a plan so there’s some left over for you to live on… and enjoy.
Financial issues can be complicated, frustrating and emotionally charged, but dealing with these things now will ensure that we’re not scrambling in the future. These days we’re facing global economic circumstances that aren’t terribly reassuring, as well as more personal financial concerns — aging parents, college expenses for those of us who still have kids in school, and the precariousness of our own careers as we get older.
House of Cards
For decades, though, so many of us have spent time — and usually too much money — on acquiring more stuff than we could possibly ever need or use, often generating more debt than we could handle. Getting credit was too easy, and a lot of us took advantage.
Are You an Ant or a Grasshopper?
This was a reality for many people in the baby boomer generation, and even those of us who were more like Aesop’s fabled ants — spending the summer busily gathering up food for the winter while the grasshopper basked in the sun — saw our personal savings drop when the financial freefall started in 2008. The grasshopper lives for today; the ant plans for tomorrow. Most of us have both the ant and the grasshopper fighting it out inside our heads. But, after 50, tomorrow is fast becoming today. So how do we stop the battle, and take charge of our finances and our lives right now?
Consider this simple idea: stop spending and start saving.
Stop Spending and Start Saving
In “The Best of Everything After 50,” there are tips on how to follow through on this idea, especially on how best to save, in the chapter on money — “Money: Strategies for Simplifying Your Finances” — based on interviews I had with some of the worlds most respected authorities including Jane Bryant Quinn andJason Zweig. Many people, though, have a much more difficult time keeping the wallet safely inside the pocket. Slowing down your spending is not easy, especially when living in a country where there’s an overabundance of choices, and a media constantly flashes messages — subliminal and otherwise — trying to convince us to keep up with the Joneses.
The Best Things In Life Are Free?
A few days ago I walked past a store, and there was a t-shirt in the window with these words splashed across the front: “The Best Things In Life Are Free.” When I got home, I made a list of all the things that are truly meaningful and important to me, and are absolutely free. Of course, my love for, and from, my family and friends are top of the list, but there are so many wonderful, enjoyable, meaningful “free things” that are essential to my well-being and happiness, that, short of my basics (food, clothing, shelter) I could probably put my credit cards away forever.
Here’s a “The Best Things In Life Are Free” Starter List:
Love — the love you give and the love you get.
Your Faith — whatever it is, it is yours to follow.
Your Conscience — During the reign of King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More followed his conscience — to his death — and stood behind what he believed was right. Only you can look yourself in the mirror every night at the end of every day and tell yourself that you truly did the right thing, according to your own conscience, and you didn’t let anyone persuade you otherwise.
Your Thoughts — whether you choose to share them, or keep them to yourself.
Happiness — In most cases, we can choose to live our lives in a state of happiness with moments of unhappiness (it’s the rare person who can be happy 24/7), or we can choose to be unhappy with moments of happiness.
Laughter — Laugh every day, because no matter what’s going on in the world or in your life, you can find a little humor in just about everything.
Compassion — Be tender of heart, and the world will be a better place.
Reading — Go to a library and check out a book or magazine, or borrow from a friend.
Walking — I started a walking program a few years ago, and eventually added running into the mix. You can do this anytime, anywhere. The only cost is a pair of running or walking shoes. You’ll be exercising your body, and your mind.
Push-ups and Sit-ups: These are two of the most basic, and yet effective, exercises you can do (20 of each every day), and they are absolutely free.
Singing — Even when my two teenaged daughters roll their eyes at me, I sing pretty much whenever I feel like it, which is quite often.
Central Park — It’s one of my personal “Great Wonders of the World” but there are community parks everywhere for us to enjoy.
Eating Healthy Foods — True, it’s not free, but choosing to eat healthy foods costs no more than eating unhealthy foods.
Sex — Engaging in a loving, intimate relationship with your partner is one of the most beautiful expressions of love I can imagine.
Attitude — My article last week was about feeling invisible – “Feeling Invisible? HuffPost Readers Speak Out” — but even that is a choice. Choose living your life with a good, positive attitude, and without fear.
There are free concerts, lectures, tastings (wine and food), and so many other wonderful ways to enjoy life . . . at no cost, and in my ongoing effort to “spend less and save more,” I’m always on the lookout for great ideas.
What is your “The Best Things in Life Are Free?” list?
A few months ago the editors at Health.com wrote an article –”11 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age” — which was based on an interview with me about my book,“The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More.”
It generated so much attention that other media outlets have run the story since then, including Yahoo Shine, thirdage.com, and The Huffington Post. A producer at “The Today Show” saw it and invited me to be a guest on the show last week, talking about what I’ve learned from my research. I now refer to it as “the article that keeps on giving.”
No matter where the article pops up, it gets a lot of hits, shares and comments from readers, because many of us are unsure about the right steps to take for better health, fitness, beauty and style. It can be a very confusing time, which is the main reason I decided to research and write the book.
The most important thing I learned is this: health and fitness should be our top priorities after 50 because the better we feel, the better we look, and age becomes irrelevant. Simplify your life, pare back to the basics, and embrace your age — no matter what it is — with pride, confidence and attitude.
Simple, but not always easy, because by the time we hit 50 we’re often set in our ways. To break out of our health, exercise, eating, style, hair, makeup and skincare ruts, let’s start by taking a look at some of the most common mistakes we make, in addition to those listed in “11 Mistakes Women Make in Middle Age.”
I’m 54, and part of the largest single demographic group in the history of the world. Our buying power is huge, and we are a political powerhouse. Invisible? Hardly. But as I entered my 50s, I sometimes felt as though I was being pushed aside, ignored and not young or interesting enough to have a voice in the world, as I once did. Luckily, I got a grip, and realized that we have to ignore the noise, embrace our age, not be afraid of it, accept that change is happening, and figure out the best way to address those changes, forging ahead with health and vitality.
Being Afraid of Aging
The best advice I can give you is this: be fearless after 50. Fear will stop you from pursuing your dreams, and could cause you to give up and give in, keeping you a prisoner in your comfort zone. This is the simple concept I learned from researching, writing and living the advice in my book; If you’re healthy, you feel good. If you feel good, you look good. If you feel good and look good and have a vision for your future, you feel even better. If you’ve got all that plus the knowledge how to stay that way, you feel amazing. And if you feel amazing, who cares about age?
Losing Control of Your Life
When I hit 50, I started to feel as though society had already mapped out my future: I would grow older, fade into the background, continue to pack on post-menopausal pounds, and decide that this was probably going to be how it was going to be. That’s where I was headed until I stopped in my tracks, and said no. Instead, I retreated, revised and re-emerged: I took control, and created a new future for myself which includes exercise, healthy eating, smart skincare, easy makeup and hair, simple style, and a whole new attitude. We can’t control getting older, but we can control how we do it.
Getting Overwhelmed by Too Much Information
Knowledge is power, right? So when I turned 50, I went on a quest to find the answers. I searched the Internet, bookstores and magazines, but it soon turned into information overload. Everybody had an opinion — and most of them conflicted with each other: Eat more protein. No, eat less protein. Take supplements. No, get all your nutrition from foods. You can wear jeans after 50. You can absolutely not wear jeans after 50. And everybody, it seems, wants to sell us something to lose weight or get rid of wrinkles. I was ready to throw the proverbial blanket over my head and stay there. Then one day, it hit me. I didn’t want lots of information; I wanted the best information on what I need to know now about getting older. So, I cut through the noise, and figured out what really works, and what doesn’t.
Ignoring Your Inner Kid
Smile, play, laugh, have fun, engage, connect. These are all essential for healthy aging. Don’t take yourself, or the world, too seriously. There will always be problems, but do we have to constantly dwell on them? Do you remember how much fun it was when you were a kid to just get outside and run around? I do that with my dog. We run (with walk breaks) four to five miles several times a week. Not only am I keeping my weight at a healthy level and exercising my heart, but all studies have shown that physical activity raises your endorphins and makes you feel good. Play games, engage in a hobby, stay in close touch with friends who care about you, and steer clear of those who don’t. Volunteer, and say Yay! as often as you can. It’s contagious.
Feeling Sorry for Yourself
It’s not always easy getting older, especially if you, or loved ones, are experiencing illness, loss, or difficult financial times. But, feeling sorry for yourself is counter-productive, as it only serves to keep you stuck where you are. Instead, take control, figure out what you need to make your situation easier (or at least, more tolerable), get help from others if you need it, and create a vision of your life which includes getting and staying fit, so you can more readily shoulder whatever comes your way in the future.
Not Having a Financial Plan
I interviewed Jane Bryant Quinn, the internationally known financial expert and author, for my book. Jane is a conservative thinker when it comes to financial planning, and she gave me some very good advice for people approaching 50: as we’re heading toward retirement — which probably won’t happen until we’re closer to 70 due to many converging factors — we have to ask ourselves how we’re going to afford to live. One of the most stressful things any of us can go through is financial uncertainty. This is where the simple part comes in: save more, and spend less. No magic… just basic common sense. And understand the different kinds of insurance we need as we get older. You may want to consider hiring a fee-only financial planner to get started.
The last paragraph of my book succinctly sums up my simple philosophy on living a good life after 50, and I’d like to share it with you here:
For the rest of your life: love yourself, love your life, stay as healthy as you can, move your body, be informed, stay engaged, use your mind, keep a handle on your finances, be bold, be brave, walk with confidence, live with style . . . and you will always have the best of everything.
We’re in midlife. And we need money.
If you don’t have a plan . . . it’s time to think about creating one. We don’t want to be in our 50s, 60s and beyond without enough money to live a good life.
Where to start?
First, understand that even the most savvy, well-respected financial gurus don’t know what the future holds. Will real estate values go back up to their prior levels? Some think so, most think not . . . but, really we don’t know. And the stock market? It will continue to go up and down as it always has, according to Jason Zweig, one of the experts I consulted for THE BEST OF EVERYTHING AFTER 50 and a Wall Street Journal columnist. Jason also strongly urged us to consider working with a professional — a financial planner.
Do you need a financial planner?
Both Jason Zweig and Jane Bryant Quinn, best-selling author and one of this country’s most respected authorities on personal finance (and a key expert in THE BEST OF EVERYTHING AFTER 50), strongly urge us to find a trusted financial planner we can work with for the long term. A financial planner can help us with our “life plan” and make sure we stick with it.
Don’t have one, and not sure how to find one? Jason and Jane suggest asking friends and family for suggestions. If that doesn’t pan out, contact the Garrett Planning Network (a highly regarded network of fee-only financial advisers who offer their services on an hourly, as-needed basis, which will keep your costs way down.) Another option is to contact Michael Axelrod, a key financial expert in my book, and a fee-only financial advisor associated with Northwestern Mutual. Michael can work with you on your plans or suggest someone who can. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You can do your own planning, but I urge you to get a professional to help — at least in the beginning – especially if there have been recent changes in your financial status (job loss or change, illness, and so on).
Whether you work with a planner or take the DYI route, having a plan will bring financial clarity to your life, and peace of mind. To help you get started, here are a few ”back to basic” tips that Jane Bryant Quinn strongly urges us to follow and which she follows herself. They are:
- Tighten Your Belt — stop spending and don’t live above your means
- Stash It Away — Put as much money as you can into your 401K and other retirement plans
- Hands Off the House — Stop yourself from tapping into your home equity for cash
- Cut the Cord — Stop helping your adult kids. Put money into your retirement fund first, and then the college fund
- Stay Healthy – This generation of “after 50s” will most likely have to work many more years than we had expected, so we want to get and stay healthy
We can’t see the future. But we can plan for it.
Best of Everything,