Sunday, November 18, 2007

How I'm Conquering My Bag Lady Fears: My 10-Step Program

What keeps me up late at night? In addition to worrying about past mistakes and my kids and my work, I worry about becoming a bag lady. And I have plenty of company; a lot of women (and I imagine some men also) have secret fears about living on the streets without money or sanity. Even Oprah and other successful women have 'fessed up to bag lady fears.

My anti-bag lady strategy involves careful planning. Here's what my plans inlcude:

1) Passive income: Basically, I'm trying to establish income sources that will work for me when I'm sleeping. This includes: publishing royalties, ad income from my blog and eventually investments. My goal: to make my money work for me.

2) Diverse client base: As a free-lance writer, I like having a diverse mix of clients. When I first started out, I was overly dependent on one large client (a trade business publication). That one client represented about 80 percent of my revenue and when that client opted to turn my post into an inhouse position, I was left scrambling. Now I'm more savvy about mixing it up.

3) Get an advanced degree: I've started a masters program at a local university. It's a big crunch in terms of money and time. But I'm having a good time. Besides, I'd like to teach on a university level. I've taught teenagers, but I prefer college students. But in order to do that I need an advanced degree.

4) Cutting back on clothes. I love clothes. I could live in Ann Taylor Loft and Anthropologie. But pretty clothes can't buy me financial security. I've been reading a great book, Why Women Earn Less by Mikelann Valterra. In the book, the author describes how she and her toddler son once encountered a fashionably dressed woman who was picking through the trash. The pretty woman was a bag lady, with great clothes but no home. Now that's one of my nightmares, namely to be very poor, very crazy and very well dressed.

5) Staying in excellent health: I'm obsessesed about staying fit with yoga, exercise, meditation, fruit/veggies, vitamins and a positive attitude. I'm hoping that preventive care will save me money in the long run.

6) Give to charity: It sounds weird, but I believe that by giving away a portion of my money, I'm creating positive karma/energy that's good for me in the long run. Maybe giving just makes me feel better about myself and when I feel better about myself, I work harder & earn more.
Bottom line: If I give money to bag ladies (charities, etc), maybe I won't become one.

7) Prayer: Master of the Universe, please don't let me be a bag lady!

8) The friends & family network. Of course, I call them because I love them all so much. But I also know that they love me so much and they'll keep me from slipping off the curb of life. Each one, teach one. Each one, reach one.

9)Teaching my children: I figure that if I raise my kids to be responsible, loving adults then they will take care of me when I'm older. Oh yeah, and I have to teach them about financial planning.

10) A sense of humor. Listen, if I'm going to be a bag lady at least let me have a good time. Besides, in the here-and-now, good humor creates good karma which pays handsome dividends in the long run.

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frugal zeitgeist said...

Ending up as a bag lady is my biggest fear ever. I do most of what you mentioned as well to make sure that that doesn't happen.

Frugal Duchess said...

frugal zeitgeist:

Thanks so much for your reply.
I see I'm not alone.

I recently read a scary data from a think tank: according to one 1998 study, 50 to 66 percent of women ages 35-55 will live below the poverty line by age 70. The data is cited in the book Why Women Earn Less, which is mentioned in my post.

That chills me.

Thanks again for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I so dont want to end up a bag lady..I have at one point been homeless but I thankfully have never gotten to this point and never want to.

Frugal Duchess said...

Holly Thanks for writing.
It's a big worry for a lot of us.