Stocks and Numbers

Women don’t spend much time figuring out their money. At least, this woman doesn’t. And most financial planners are men who speak in a language of competitiveness and acquisition. Women, on the other hand, speak in a language of protecting and providing. Women live longer and they need to pay fiscal attention. At least, this woman does.

About seven years ago, my husband Chris and I met with Mark, a financial planner whose services were offered free through work. It was right after Chris was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I had hoped for easy answers. I got a lot more questions.

To almost every question Mark asked, I shrugged or mumbled, “I don’t know. How am I supposed to know?”

How much money in your bank account?
How much money in your retirement account?
What have you got saved for the kids’ college?
What do you spend every month?

I had two guiding princilples for financial management:

1) benevolent neglect
2) generosity

Mark understood these principles. But still he prodded me to get life insurance. Although he suggested that Chris might not be eligible with his diagnonsis. He suggested I save for the kids’ schooling and my retirement. He suggested researching some other shared assets. To all of these suggestions, I reply, seven years later, “still working on it.”

My lack of interest in my financial state was the topic for one of my first blogs. I wrote this at the height of the recession a few years ago, http://hubpages.com/hub/Stocks-Slide–I-Shrug And it still holds. But there’s a power in blogging, that once I turn my attention to a situation through writing, I gain clarity or at least acknowledge that I am challenged. I still would rather plan a vacation than look at the financial state of the union.

Let me end by quoting my mom, as I quoted her in that early post, “Stocks Slide, I Shrug” which was about losing a ton of money in GE stock. Meh. Like mom always said, “They can’t repossess your vacation.” I’m pretty sure GE has gone up since then. Not sure, but I remain optimistic.

Fun experiences, like vacations, are so much more valuable than things. Memories live longer than mutual funds. I think I know what mutual funds are. I really should research them though. I think I have one. I wonder how it’s doing.

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3 thoughts on “Stocks and Numbers

  1. Great post MaryBeth. I’m the budget queen and can account for everything down to the last cent. I beg of you – don’t use your gender as an excuse to be ambivalent towards managing your finances. You don’t need to be a Wall Street guru but you need a sound basic knowledge. Sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now.Great post though, I enjoy catching up with your thoughts every few days.

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