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What Keeps You Up At Night?

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest..." - Benjamin Franklin



My last salon featured Wealth Advisors Kristin Bloom and Robyn Barger from UBS Wealth Management. The conversation was critically important about the need, as women, to proactively educate ourselves on the basics of finances to empower our decision-making and better support our overall financial well-being.


"We're not suggesting you become experts; we're encouraging you to understand the basics and empower yourself." - Kristin & Robyn

To kick off the evening's conversation, Kristin and Robyn shared a document, a checklist, with an eye-catching titled: "What Keeps You Up At Night?". The checklist - attached below - included six major categories with a series of commonly asked questions related to each category:

1. Retirement 2. Education Planning 3. Life Events

4. Eldercare 5. Estate Planning 6. Financial Basics

As I read through the document, I realized that some of the questions listed had not even occurred to me, which made me think that a better-suited title for this checklist could be something like this: "What you should be thinking about, that should be keeping you up at night, if you haven't yet planned for it."


And that's where, for many, a fundamental root cause lies; the precise reason why Kristin and Robyn started having these seminars for women and finances: to educate. We don't know what we don't know. We can only plan, make the right decisions, and take control and care over our financial well-being if we know what we need to be thinking about, what we need to be looking for, or what we need to be cautious about. In a nutshell, we need to be educated on the topic.


The reality is that - as socially taboo as it is to discuss finances with friends and family - most of us are in the exact same position of not truly understanding this information. Men and women alike. Unless you are a personal wealth/financial advisor/planner, chances are we don't get the whole bigger picture of our finances. Here's the thing: personal finances are not taught formally in school as a standard academic class. Think about it for a second; we are taught many foundational skills and concepts that we will, directly and indirectly, use and apply in our lives. Yet, we are not taught the essential tools that will enable us to be responsible stewards of the money we produce in our lifetime and, in some cases, of the money we might be privileged to inherit from previous generations.


Acknowledging this piece of the puzzle helps lessen our self-consciousness from knowing we don't have the best handle on our finances. However, on the flip side, acknowledging this piece of the puzzle should also urge us to amend that lack of knowledge and motivate us to proactively "fill in the gap" by seeking to learn and understand the basics of our finances at whichever stage we are in our lives.


Another reason we might not possess the necessary knowledge about personal finances, despite universally agreeing that it is a critically important topic, is our tendency to perceive it as a "dry" subject. As a result, due to our human nature, we tend to fear or shy away from the unknown, of that which appears to be hard to grasp and/or carries a high emotional tie.


"A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life." - Suze Orman

Kristin and Robyn shared numerous advice for all the categories included in the checklist based on their professional experience and in response to personal questions asked by the attendees. They had a way of breaking down concepts and strategies into digestible and relevant tidbits of information, making all of this otherwise sometimes unpleasant, intimidating, and difficult experience of discussing money into one that was comfortable, reassuring, and accessible.


I couldn't even start to attempt to recapitulate the enormous amount of financial knowledge and wisdom shared over these two hours. I could venture into sharing the over two pages of notes I took of advice: "gifts for charity in stocks, gifts for the family in cash," "is your life insurance portable?" "did you know there are different types of 529 accounts?" "do you have a financial plan?", "do you know your monthly budget?", "Are your kids financially set if anything were to happen?", "do you understand your aging-parents financial situation?", etc., etc., but I fear I would be sharing my bias. We were all taking notes of what was personally relevant.


Instead, these extraordinary ladies extended their support to anyone who had questions beyond the event itself. I will share all their contact information at the end of my writing. Additionally, they also plan to offer a financial boot camp for our InConversationWith community called: Own Your Worth - Women creating a path to financial confidence. A one faced-paced hour of investment basics, without jargon or complexity, mixed with women empowerment and fun! Please be on the lookout for an invite to be sent out soon with further details.


"If you cannot control your emotions, you cannot control your money." - Warren Buffett

In addition to what we have discussed so far, another hindrance in actively seeking to learn and effectively deal with our finances is our emotions about money itself.


Warren Buffett's statement is bold; whether we like it or not, he is right in that there is an inextricable connection between emotions and money. The topic can raise good emotions like pride and empowerment. But more often than not, it comes with stress, concern, regret, and sometimes even resentment.


The bottom line is that if money brings up a lot of emotions for you, you're not alone. It's a "relationship," like any other in our lives, which means we are invested and, by default, feel affected.


Raising awareness, bringing curiosity and acceptance, and compassionately working through the different emotions that may arise will help us build a healthier relationship with money. A healthier relationship translates into peace of mind, a cornerstone of our overall well-being.


My key takeaway from this conversation is that both knowledge and emotions are core to the quality of our relationship with money; they are interdependent and ought to be intently and concurrently addressed to render the most benefit.


Possessing the necessary knowledge will allow us to manage better any emotions that might arise when ill-informed. Inversely, addressing and working through our emotions will allow us to readily learn and apply the necessary knowledge to manage our financials effectively.


I encourage you, as I am encouraging myself, to address both.


For the knowledge portion: we are lucky to have resources like Kristin and Robyn, fellow women in our community with years of experience who care and want to make a difference by helping empower other women with knowledge. Reach out to them and, if possible, attend their educational seminars as a way of self-care.


For the emotional aspect: be curious. Ask yourself where are these feelings coming from? and with an open mind, listen to what your body has to say. I'll share with you the grounding exercise we did to kick off the event, which - I hope - can help begin the process of gently befriending any hard emotions you may have around money. Then, once aware of your emotional triggers, address them in whichever way speaks to you the most.


To finalize, I'd like to share Kristin and Robyn's closing remarks in which they encouraged all of us to GO! go out with your girlfriends and talk! Talk about money, ask questions among each other, share experiences and lessons learned, and lift each other together. We need to normalize, destigmatize and demystify talking about finances together; we talk about everything else under the sun!...let's break the pattern. This is a movement, one that aspires to educate and empower women, one group at a time. It is a movement in which we are the agents for change - for ourselves and our communities -. Change that will ultimately enhance our overall well-being by showing us how our choices today will affect our future tomorrow.


With intent,


Juad

To contact Kristin and Robyn:


UBS - Edgewater Wealth Management

8 Wright Street

3rd Floor

Westport, CT 06880

Kristin Bloom's contact info email: kristin.bloom@ubs.com phone number: (203) 291-1089

Robyn Barger's contact info email: robyn.barger@ubs.com phone number: (203) 291-1093

What Keeps you up at night? - Checklist:

What Keeps you up at Night
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.23MB

Bootcamp: Own Your Worth - Women creating a path to financial confidence - December 09, 2022. UBS - Edgewater Wealth Management offices - Westport.


Grounding Exercise - Meditation for Money Matters.

by me :)

Find a comfortable position wherever you are sitting.

Shrug your shoulders up and down and make some circular motions with your neck, one side, the other, as we start loosening the tension of the day. Shake your hands. Then gently let them rest wherever it is more comfortable for you.


You may now close your eyes and keep a soft - almost imperceptible smile - on your lips. Notice if any tension has returned to your face, is your brow furrowed? How about your jaw - is it locked?

Notice if tension has returned to any other part of your body, neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs. Try to let go as best you can.

Now gently turn your focus towards the rhythm of your breath. Notice the inhale, then that tiny pause at the top, and then the exhale. Over and over, stay with it for a couple more breaths.


Continue focusing on your breath.

When we experience worry or confusion about money, we feel physically ungrounded. Simply talking about money and finances can be so intimidating for some of us that it immediately triggers discomfort.


The idea is that by focusing and giving space to the feelings when money thoughts arise, we are befriending instead of avoiding or running away from those uncomfortable feelings.


When you have a thought related to money, notice the associated feeling that resides in your body. Where is it located? What is the feeling?


Allow any feelings that arise to simply be, and welcome those feelings through your entire body.


Stay with whatever sensation or emotions arise. Accepting our feelings allows us to be curious and to understand ourselves better, so perhaps think about - what are these feelings trying to communicate to you?


Remember to anchor yourself back to your breath as you embrace the feelings. Over and over.


Keeping an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and actions -related to money and finances- will ultimately help us focus on what we need to do to make better financial choices. Having a healthy emotional relationship with our finances is a pillar of our overall well-being.

Now slowly bring your awareness back to your body, wiggle your fingers and toes, and when you are ready - gently open your eyes.


**Side note: sometimes it helps me to jot down what I experienced during a meditation, what thoughts surfaced and/or what I felt during the practice.**

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