Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Financial & Life Planning

People sometimes think of financial planning as something they'll do once they hit 40.  The truth is, it's better to begin as early as possible.  That first "real" job in your 20s is the perfect time to develop the habit of setting aside money into a retirement fund that hopefully will let you retire with some comfort in your 60s.

Why is this so important?  Well, money grows if it's set aside into an interest bearing account.  Your money works for you and can help you retire gracefully.  Or, if you have a life event that wipes you out economically, you have something that you can rely on while you get back on your feet.  Many, many people have used up their retirement savings over these past few tough economic years and are now starting over in terms of putting money into a retirement fund.  They're so grateful that they had that money set aside which became their daily expense fund through a medical or job emergency that left them financially strapped.

For some thoughtful posts on how to think about future planning for your money, I go to a colleague's website, Money and the Spirit, for a brief refresher.  Isaias has a nice way of linking our thinking about this with the "real world" we all live in.  It's good advice and before you know it, the future is our "real world" and it would nice if we had some financial cushion to let us live and age gracefully through retirement.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 8: International Women's Day

I wish I'd gotten this post written or at least posted yesterday, but that did not happen.  My life is busy and my blog is something I want to enjoy doing rather than becoming another "must do" on a long list.   There were many places where women were being honored yesterday for being brave, standing up for what is right, or accomplishing great things despite roadblocks and setbacks.

I spent my afternoon/evening at St. Elizabeth's hospital with someone getting chemotherapy.  When we talk about courageous women, we don't need to go far.  I run into many courageous women every day.  They're all around me.  In this case, this woman's courage doesn't come from the fact that she has cancer; it comes from how she deals with her cancer.

Diagnosed 10 years ago, she worked throughout her first sets of treatment and surgery, sometimes on a reduced schedule, but she worked throughout.  After two years of that, she had almost five years of No Evidence of Disease (NED) - they don't say remission with her type of cancer because it is usually still there but not spreading and hard to find.   And the majority of people don't survive beyond 3-5 years; she did. 

Then it sprang back to life.  Shortly after, her job was eliminated and the large company she worked for couldn't find a suitable position for her -- to tell the truth, they didn't even try.  She could have sued them but chose to focus her energy on finding a new job elsewhere and fighting this disease.  She was unsuccessful in finding a new job and after a year, stopped looking.  She needed her energy to fight this cancer.  Treatment is tough and every drug has its side effects. 

It's been 3 years back on chemotherapy -- various drugs, different schedules, but every Tuesday up to St. E's we go.  She's had a few short breaks of a period of weeks, but the disease grows stronger and larger each time, so we're in a delicate balance of how much chemo, when to take a break, which drug to use, etc. 

I began by saying she faces this with courage.  No longer able to work, she spends time every day online doing advocacy around cancer and other issues, does quite a bit of research for the issues she involved with, and is a trained peer mentor for others with her type of cancer. 

She also interacts quite a bit with the youth in her apartment complex.  They often feel that adults think all kids are insensitive, unthinking trolls who should be seen and not heard.  She talks with them, gives them a different perspective on things, and lets them know when they've done a good thing by standing up to someone bullying another or tells who to talk with if they're bullied or if they have a problem that requires intervention.  They respect her because she treats them with respect.  And they go to her with questions because they know she listens. 

To me, this is someone with courage -- the courage to face life's hurdles with a "can-do" attitude.  There's no "pity party" in her household -- just a strong presence that moves forward, even when it's difficult.