Friday, February 20, 2009

Tales From the Vault: Cures for My Bag Lady Fears

The Vault contains some of my favorite posts and articles that have been popular with readers. This week, My Bag Lady Fears and homeless-prevention strategies are in the spotlight, with a few 2009 updates.

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 include:

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 in-house 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.

2009 Update: Due to a schedule crunch and a new full-time job, I have had to postpone participation in a graduate program. I plan to revisit this plan in the next few years.

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 obsessed 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.

2009 Update: My new exercise routine includes working out with weights and a treadmill.
I've also cut back dramatically on junk food.

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!

2009 Update: That mantra remains on my lips. I also pray for the (mental, physical and emotional) health of others.

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.

2009 Update: My children have started to scold me when they think I am being extravagant.

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.

2009 Update: Humor also saves me from emotional spending binges: How I Averted an Emotional Spending Binge: My Six-Step Program Staying happy keeps me out of the stores.

**This piece originally ran on November 18, 2007


Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders

1 comment:

pamela said...

I love clothes, too - but altho I admire clothes at places like Anthroplogie, I have never been able to AFFORD it - so I try to find much cheaper alternatives. See my blog today (2/16/09) at for my account of last weekend's $43 (!!) shopping haul. (Hint - it was more than ONE piece of clothing....)