“From fourteen to forty, a woman needs good looks, from forty to sixty she needs personality, and I’m here to tell you that after sixty she needs cash”. Mary Kay Ash, May Kay Cosmetics.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, women worry more than men about their financial security. Almost a third of the women surveyed said they worry about finances all the time. And more than half experience stress just trying to make ends meet and often fear losing all of their money and becoming homeless.
This anxiety over finances is common enough among women across all age groups and socioeconomic status it has been labeled “bag lady syndrome.” It is the fear of running out of money, losing your home and ending up destitute, alone and living on the streets. It is debilitating enough to impact mental and physical well-being and can strain relationships. And, surprisingly, just making more money doesn’t solve the problem.
When stressed or afraid, people tend to make poor decisions or may even avoid making decisions altogether. Here are some things you can do to manage financial stress:
It’s a control thing. Even small steps like budgeting, cutting back on spending, boosting the amount you save each month and doing annual fiscal reviews, can help you feel in control – it’s good for your finances, too.
Take Care of What’s Important to You
Don’t wait for someone else to get your estate plan in order. It’s easy to defer to someone else in money matters. But it’s all about your future security, so don’t hesitate to jump in and begin the process and become an active, knowing participant in making informed decisions on your own behalf!
Do you know what your tolerance for risk is? Being cautious is smart in money matters but being overly conservative because of fears you might lose it all can leave you with regrets. Are you an aggressive saver who feels guilty about spending on yourself? A good balance of spending and saving can alleviate stress and build confidence. Give yourself permission to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about.
Reach Out To Those In the Know
Your financial life may become a bit more complicated as you get older as a result of an inheritance, a divorce, a significant raise, or sale of a home. If you aren’t sure what to do on your own and you find yourself procrastinating making financial decisions, a financial advisor, accountant, supportive family or friends can help support you in managing your finances. Just be sure you your financial strategy matches with your life goals.
Maintaining relationships may be challenging in a busy world. Family, friends and professional networks go a long way to making you feel safe and in control of your world. So, fill and prioritize your social calendar! Two to three times a week for get togethers will deepen your connections and provide security especially if you should need support during unexpected surprises such as a job loss.
So, taking action, creating a plan, focusing and leaning on your trusted community are the keys to combating bag lady syndrome.
Some good news…millennials are much more conversant and confident with money matters as a result of financial literacy requirements in schools and colleges. David Bach, author of Smart Women Finish Rich writes, “the growing financial empowerment of women is not a fad and it is going to change our destiny.”