New Rules for Women and Money

My childhood friend, Janet, thinks she’s stupid when it comes to money. “It’s all beyond me,” she says. “I’ll worry about retirement once the kids are grown. Right now, I’m just trying to stay on top of all the bills.”

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In fact, Janet, has a graduate degree in psychology and works part time as an independent contractor while raising three kids, the youngest of whom is 5 years old. She doesn’t lack financial sophistication. It’s just that rules for retirement savings and investments seem obscure to her. “I can’t get a straight answer,” she explains. There is no book to turn to for a roadmap on how to invest for my future. I don’t trust the experts. They talk down to me. My husband seems to understand it all. I don’t.”

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Now The Day is Over

After my Mom dropped dead from a heart attack in March, my 91-year-old Dad moved to my family’s home in Connecticut for the last three months of his life. I will always feel blessed that he chose to spend his last weeks with me, my husband, and our children. From April to July, I curtailed my financial planning practice to perform the most important work I know and that I learned from being a mother of three: caregiver.

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It was also an enormous challenge. I would wake up at night, trying to come up with liquid menus he might enjoy as last meals. I downloaded folk music from our childhood and went through old photo albums of our youth to try to show my father, the most important person in my life until I met my husband, how much he meant to me.  I would spend hours trying to come up with the right words to express my gratitude to him at the end of his life.  The job had no begin time or end time until the very end. My dad, who to me was always brilliant and dignified, became disoriented in his last weeks and mixed up night with day and near term events with those from the distant past. But every night, as we went through our evening routine at the wee hours after midnight, he would thank me for allowing him to remain in a family setting. At its core, this time I spent with my Dad was fundamentally good and right and essential to humanity.

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