Saturday, March 21, 2009

COOL SAGING CONVERSATIONS: Keep Boomer Bucks in Flux; Find the Soul in Your Money

Cool Saging Conversations has been moved from the sidebar to a regular post. It will appear on Saturdays.

This week’s Cool Saging Conversation is a response to Pop Art Diva’s Saturday Soapbox. Her topic is “Today’s Economy – What’s It Doing to Retiring Boomers?”

The impacts have been widely published. For many of us, it means putting off retirement or full retirement. At my house, the plan to draw from my husband’s 401k until I can collect Social Security is no longer a viable gap-financing plan. Since most of his retirement fund is in stocks, cashing in at a fraction of the face value does not make sense. We’ll hold till the market recovers. That means I’m back to work part-time as a retired annuitant. I am grateful to have work among friends, helping the worthy cause of environmental education. I work at my outside job less than two days a week; one at home. In a perfect world, I’d be writing full-time, but in today’s reality, I feel completely blessed for this “bridge work.”

Last night, I had dinner with several friends. An attorney I know, a woman I admire for her wise investments, considerable net worth, and keen planning skills, is completely reworking her life. She envisioned living on her beachfront property on the California coast by now. Instead, she’s selling it. As she sees it, she’ll be working another 6-7 years, newly self-employed. She enjoyed semi-retirement, as I did. But for now, it’s back to work!

I’m not so sure that going back to work is terrible for most boomers. We are not the “retiring” type, either in the literal or figurative sense. We have been forced to keep our boomer brains active learning cyber tools and ways to keep up in an ever-changing world. We are not exactly the “old” dogs of yesteryear that can’t learn new tricks.

I love Pop Art’s idea that all boomers should flex our collective cash flow power by going out and spending $50 on something we were too afraid to buy. I believe surviving this deep valley in global finances requires a balance between hording and spending foolishly.

Since I like to view life from the vast lane, I am more concerned about how our collective mental and emotional attitudes impact this crisis. Another friend of mine who was at dinner last night just came back from a workshop in New Mexico on “fund raising from the heart” with Lynne Twist, a woman from Marin County, CA who has raised over $100 million to stave off world hunger. One of her points? Money does no good unless it’s circulating. We need to keep money flowing without blowing it.

This is a time to reassess whether our spending aligns with our values. Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, would make a great read for anyone who wants to use this economic free-fall to his or her optimal advantage. What if we all spent money in integrity on what we value most? I want to live long in that world!

More importantly, our dinner conversation came back to yet another profound concept. Parts of our current economic system are dying a natural death, and they need to be helped through this process in the same way we’d give compassionate hospice care to dying relatives. Fierce competition and planned obsolescence cannot work in a global economy. If there is any lesson flashing in neon lights, it’s that we are all interconnected now—not just a hippy dippy metaphysical idea, but in fact. What happens to the One happens to the All. Let’s give the bits of our economic system that no longer serve us a dignified death while we find ways to wrap our money in our highest purpose. This is more than “back to work.” The real work is the reworking/rehaul of our economic system.

Like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, I believe our economy will come back stronger, fairer, and pave the way to a better world. Overnight? Probably not. Hold the vision—and don’t hold back all your cash!

Go spend 50 bucks on something that really matters to you.


Pop Art Diva! said...

First, let me say I love the word play of "vast" lane! I think I'm pulling over into that lane right now - let me put my blinker on!

Your post brought back something I wanted to mention in the Saturday Soapbox but didn't - one of my biggest concerns over all this is the tremendous upsurge of negativity I hear around me. I can't turn my head without hearing the fear pouring out all around. This is actually my greatest concern over this situation - I believe that your thoughts and your words carry power and I don't want that power to be driving backwards!

I have turned off the news. I am turning off those around me who continue to whine instead of getting off their duff, getting creative and looking for a way out of their tiny little boxes. I am tired of doom and gloom! What we believe we create - let's start creating a money flow. Like your friend said in her book, "Money does no good unless it’s circulating" so let's get the circle started!

Joyce Mason said...

Pop Art, I am so with you on refusing to participate in that "negative campaign." Life in the Vast Lane is the name of a weekly column I always wanted to sell but discovered blogging instead. I saved the name on Blogger, in case I ever decided to create a third blog. I never planned on two blogs. Do I need a referral to Planned Parethood yet? LOL!