We sat at water’s edge at our favorite Key Largo restaurant. A lone guitarist played everything from Buffett to Bread, Lightfoot to Lennon from a barge floating a few feet out on the water. The steady breeze evaporated any perspiration and the sun stayed mercifully behind the clouds … rare for a Florida summer day.
Our New Zealand sauvignon blanc was perfectly chilled. And then, out came the chef’s Mussels Monica. After a few minutes of garlic-and-wine ecstasy, the conversation shifted from how finger-licking good the mussels were to my friend’s recent life-changing discovery.
“I sat down last week for the first time to calculate exactly how much money we need each month, with the house we purchased last year,” she said. “You know, no matter how busy our business is, we always seem to be stealing from Peter to pay Paul. And when I saw the total, I was shocked!”
She had no idea what it cost for the mortgage, taxes and incidentals, plus keeping up the cars, entertainment, food, the kids’ needs; in short, she had never budgeted.
As she described the peace of mind that came with her new financial accountability, I kept scooping the rich, garlicky sauce from the bowl with a half mussel shell, all the while smiling. Ironically, this is someone who has listened to me talk for six months about the book I’m writing. What’s the topic? It’s called Money after Menopause and is about quieting the chatter in your mind by first getting honest with your money, so you can control it. Quantifying your money, in black and white. And then taking the next steps that lead you to full financial security.
And here she was telling me how she had totally changed her buying patterns, both at home and in her business … how her target was to get all her expenses in line with her income … how she would get the credit cards all paid off by year’s end so she could start doubling up on mortgage payments.
I asked how she felt about cutting back so drastically and so quickly. She answered that she had turned it into a challenge and had involved everyone in the family so they did it together. And they all understood why.
I then asked my most important question: “So how does it feel to know where you stand financially and to be taking proactive steps that follow priorities you’ve set for yourself with your money?”
“Empowering … totally in control,” she answered.
I rest my case.