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Women Who Rock 07.05.2017

"These two recently spoke at a WAC event and they made me laugh and cry while sharing their stories of widowhood, divorce, and how they reinvented themselves as unexpectedly single women."

Women Who Rock: Barbara & Margaret

I recently joined the Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago and it has been an illuminating experience. I have already met so many women and shared so many wonderful stories!  Among my recent favorites was meeting Barbara Ballinger and Margaret Crane, co-Authors of Suddenly Single After 50 and bloggers at Lifelessonsat50plus. These two recently spoke at a WAC event and they made me laugh and cry while sharing their stories of widowhood, divorce, and how they reinvented themselves as unexpectedly single women. Half-way through their delicious banter across topics such as grown children, aging parents, and dating decades later…I knew I had to feature the duo in a RWR post. I can’t wait for you to meet them! (And, don’t hesitate to check out their book– you won’t be disappointed!)

 What makes you feel confident…

…In Your Closet?

Barbara: My black Armani pantsuit. And, I do enjoy visiting with my dresses from when I was skinny. I like to think that they’re waiting for me…

Margaret: My shoes. I wear a sample size – 5 ½ -6—and have a fabulous collection of sample shoes that dress up any outfit I wear. Also, I own a gold and diamond knot ring my grandfather, a jeweler, made for my mother when I was born. When I turned 50, my mother gave it to me. Now, when I wear it, I feel her presence and it brings me good luck.

 …in your financial portfolio?

Barbara: the times when it is going up instead of down, and when I don’t need with withdraw any capital. (Which I’m trying not to do.)

Margaret: I have a great financial planner in St. Louis. When my husband, who was our household chief financial officer, died, I was clueless about how to budget and invest. Today, I can say honestly that out of necessity, I have become more financially savvy. I have great confidence in my well-balanced and diversified portfolio which combines the assets my husband left as well as my own.

At what age did you start planning for your financial independence?

Barbara: As soon as I married – we immediately got “on the track” and four years later, we bought a house in a lovely community. A few years after that, we thought we were doing well and we sold our first house to buy another, bigger house. And so, we happily ascended the housing chain.

Unfortunately, when we divorced, so much money was thrown out the window as my ex-husband fought me on my wish to purchase our house. I succeeded in my pursuit, but it cost me a lot in legal fees.

Margaret: From the time I was old enough to understand the importance of saving. Every birthday and holiday check I received as a kid, went into a bank account my mother set up for me. As a woman who didn’t work until later in life, my mother stressed the importance of being financially independent. She was not for much of her married life and it was a struggle. And when I started working in my teens, I began to add to my bank account by saving as much as possible. After marrying, my husband and I never co-mingled our funds. He had his and I had mine. He paid most of the bills because he earned more… and I paid some. This continued throughout our 42-year marriage.

How would you define your saving style?

Barbara: I try to buy as little as possible. When I do make a purchase, I think that investing in high quality is worth it.

Margaret: My saving style for years was not to spend. Now it’s about growing my assets somewhat conservatively at this point in my life so I can live comfortably off the interest (I retired from my full-time job to freelance from home) and still have substantial principal to pass on to my three children.

What financial goals are you working on?

Barbara: My goals haven’t really changed that much. Keep working and keep saving — so maybe some day, I may retire.

Margaret: I thought my husband and I would be planning for retirement together with time to travel.  After he passed away, my financial goals did a 180. I am planning for the rest of my life to continue my current lifestyle—based on the fact that I could live well into my 90s, as my parents did. My father and mother both passed away and left me some money which I have invested wisely. This year, because I am 70 ½, I have to start withdrawing money from my IRAs. I am rolling over the required minimum distribution into an endowment with a non-profit in my husband’s memory and in the process avoiding having to pay taxes on the withdrawal.*

What makes you feel rich?

Barbara: My mom, kids, and grandkids. My beau and the close friendships that I’ve maintained. My house and my work – I love working! I am proud to have steady writing assignments and a book to work on. And – this is key — good health. I broke my hand and arm this year and was terrible — emotionally and physically draining. The experience reinforced my sense of gratitude for my health.

Margaret: Money gives me security, but I am not and will never be a big spender. I am rich in relationships—with family and friends—and experiences. I feel rich when I volunteer to help and advocate for kids who give me much more than I give to them. Also, I enjoy my profession as a writer, especially when my co-author and writing partner Barbara and I are working on a book or big project.

*This process is known as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). For more information, please consult a tax advisor. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
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