For many women who have reached their late 40’s or 50’s the fear of what would happen if they lost their job and financial security that goes with it is crippling.
Unemployment is much more daunting at 50 than it is at 30. Our lives have become more expensive by this point and we are accustomed to a steady paycheck at the end of each month. What is more, the likelihood of finding a new position at 50 is a lot less certain than it would be at 30.
So what can we do to feel more prepared should the worst happen?
I recently sat down with Tracey Jackson screenwriter and author of ‘Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty,’ who shared with me her experience of starting over at 50.
Tracey went to Hollywood at 30 years old to be a screenwriter and saw great success. However, despite feeling at 47 that she was a much better commodity that she was at 30 – she knew more about how to work in the industry, how to go in with a pitch and how to write a great story – she found herself being aged out. The cut-throat atmosphere in Hollywood was more interested in what the young had to say and Tracey fast found out her career in Tinsel Town was over.
Tracey found herself facing an uncertain future, with no job and no clear direction. The key for her was to accept this new role in her life and make the most of it. She knew at heart that what she did best was tell stories so that was what she pursued.
Tracey says it was imperative for her to accept her age too. Losing employment at 50 is a whole different ball game than at 30. At 30 we have time to right the ship but at 50 being left jobless with little savings and no income is a very scary situation in which to find oneself.
Tracey scoffs at magazine articles telling us that 50 is the new 30. In fact, she feels it is detrimental to look at out lives when we are 50 as we would do at 30. Seeing from a 20 years younger perspective and basing decisions on the idea that we still have the window of time from 30-50 is simply unrealistic and unhelpful. The period of 30-50 is far different from 50-70 and we must live our lives and plan our finances accordingly.
I shared with Tracey a few money tips – which she then shared in her book – to help her get the most out of the next financial chapter in her life:
1) Do Some Work On Yourself – know your emotional attachments to money and write out your financial goals.
2) Get Financial Paperwork Organized: Buy a filing cabinet that is beautiful or file folders you love. It makes the process more fun.
3) Know What You Will Need For Retirement – figure out if what you’ve saved will be enough. Face the music now while you can still do something about it.
4) Don’t Look For Miracle in Market: if you do you could be giving your money to the next ‘Madoff.’
5) Pay Attention to Taxes: understanding how they’ll affect your retirement money could be your secret strategy for making your money last longer.
Tracey admits she had to get more serious about money and make cutbacks. She says, ‘when you’re 30 and want a pair of shoes you buy them, you don’t stop in think about how this will impact you at 70 – that’s 40 years away!’ But these decisions change with our outlook at 50, when retirement is suddenly not so far away.
The fear, which a lot of women experience, of losing it all is often referred to as ‘Bag Lady Syndrome.’ This syndrome stems from the fear of what will happen if we outlive our bank balance.
To combat this fear we have to confront it. Talking about money and understanding it as well as taking control of our finances and making sure we are fully involved in managing our money will help us feel more in control of our lives.
So don’t ignore your inner bag lady, listen to her! Sitting around worrying about what could happen will only leave you unprepared when it actually does materialize. Consider plan B and even test it out. In turn you will feel reassured about your future possibilities if things don’t go quite according to plan.
2 Responses to “Allow Your Inner Bag Lady to Speak Up!”
October 15th, 2012 at 12:12 pm
Yes, yes, YES! Could not agree more, Mary!
Mary Caraccioli Says:
October 29th, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Thank you Lauren!