Procrastinating ?

Lots of us do. But……….. what can you do to stop delaying, dallying, dawdling and otherwise dragging your feet?

Try this:

Recognize that you avoid doing something important for yourself (and the ones you love) because…. maybe…………….

  • You want to do everything perfectly, so you get anxious about taking the first step
  • You think you can just make yourself feel better by not doing it now. Since the stress is killing you, so you just decide to “take a rain check.”
  • You know it can hurt you in the future, but you turn to something else now because that is easier to do that


When you feel that anxiety, understand that it is a


What is that sign telling you?

Take a small step to actually start that important task you face.

           Yup.  “Just Get Started,”   says Timothy Pychyl  a professor at  the University of Calgary.

He goes on to tell you to remind yourself that finishing this task now helps you in the future. In other words,

You won’t enjoy life more if you continue to drag your feet. You will feel guilty or worse.


Now, if you feel you somehow can’t do it, can’t get past your anxiety and take the first step, call a professional.

That professional will help you start and maybe do all the work for you. You just review the plans the professional proposes and decide what you want the professional to get done. You know, “Do this but not that.” “Start this part but don’t start that.”) Oh and you tell the professional to  “Get it done be X date.”

You are in charge. And the important task gets done!!!!!

So, take a look at that long To Do List  you have. It might include important stuff like

  • Get your finances in order
  • Write a will so your children are protected and your wishes are respected
  • Make sure you have enough money to live on, now that you know you are going to live a LONG time.


Sure these important issues cause stress. But you have postponed managing them long enough. And what has that done for you? Given your more stress?


So why not stop dragging your feet? Why not feel good about yourself and get the important things done.

Recognize your anxiety for what it is…. a sign to start acting. Then take the first step.

You will love the feeling of accomplishment and security.

(That sure feels better than that anxiety, guilt and general stress of procrastination.)

Enjoy that!

See article in Wall Street Journal Sept 3, 2015 entitled “To Stop Procrastinating, Start by understanding the emotions involved” including tips from Tim Pychyl.


Twas the night before MENOPAUSE………hysterical

Tis the season to be merry.

So take a look at this fabulously funny spoof on a Christmas poetry tradition.

Twas the night before menopause….



Gas prices DROPPED!

Hooray!  Don’t you love that feeling?  You know that sweet feeling that you have a little more money in your wallet.

What are you gonna do with it? They say that, on average, each of us will have an extra $500.

I bet you have a list in your head for using that money.

Let me guess what is on your list. Hmmm………… More Xmas gifts for the family, a repair of your home, car or a down payment on a new car or washing machine……Have I  hit one right yet?

Television, magazines and online ads bombard you with the same message. SPEND IT !!!!!

What if…….? What if you tried something radically new (“disruptive”)? What if you did NOT SPEND it. What if you  SAVED THAT MONEY? Or more correctly …..

What if you put that money……………….. to work for you in your IRA or savings account, a little every week?  You know, $25 per week or $50 per month.

What if you used it ……………… pay off (or pay down) your credit card debt, $25 every week and/or $50 per month? Or front load it, that is hit it hard, by paying down $100 per month to reduce the balance on the credit card that requires you to pay the highest interest charges? (You know, debt reduction is a form or saving that has the added benefit of reducing your stress.)

Once you start that saving and/or debt reduction, why not do that for the next, oh…..2-3 years? Save $25 per week and/or $50 per month and deposit it into your IRA and/or pay off all your credit card debt? Make it $20  per week or $100  per month. Whatever you can afford.

Treat yourself!!!! Put that money into an account with your name on it. You will feel less stress  and more secure. That will make your life better, easier, softer, kinder after you leave work behind. Less anxiety, more control.

That is what I am advocating. Give yourself  more control!!!

I want you to take the money that used to flow out of your wallet into a gas tank, and move it into accounts with your name on them. You take it!!!!! You use that money to increase your savings and/or drop your debt burden.

Take full advantage of the decrease in gasoline prices.  Put yourself on your list. Take Control ! Give that money to  yourself!!! Why? It will  build your wealth and security.

Wouldn’t that feel good?


What are you waiting for?

Procrastination. It is soooo human. It is sooo seductive. If we  just put something off, we feel like we don’t have to stress about it. But, if we delay, dawdle, postpone, ignore, we actually deceive ourselves.

Why? Procrastination is magic. It is based on illusion. 


Yes. Because  you think that it costs you nothing to drag your feet.

But procrastination is amazingly costly!!!!!!

The longer you wait, the more you lose. The longer you dawdle, the more you squander your self respect.

This is especially true if you put off focusing on your money and its role in your future. The longer you wait to take steps to improve your finances, the more money you lose.

Good news. If you stop procrastinating, you could have your money working for you. Your Hot Flash Stash of Cash could be building up for you.

Bad news. If you continue procrastinating, for instance ignoring your credit card debt, you will squander amazing amounts of your money on interest payments and fees.

Sooooooo………….Stop procrastinating. Start to take control.

If you, yourself,  can’t get past the seduction of delay, (and can’t DIY within a month of reading this), consult a professional.

Conferring with a professional should not be a strange idea. After all, you turn to a professional to cut and style your hair, or paint your toenails. You go to  a professional to take care of your teeth…….So, if you don’t floss daily, that dental professional can help you, no matter how challenging the problem.

Your money challenges, right there on your procrastination list, can be deftly handled by a trained, experienced professional.  S/he can clarify what you need to do, give you a set of steps to take, and support you while you get you get your finances under control. And s/he can help you with that huge challenge– having enough money to pay for everything you need for the rest of your very long life. If you want the dignity and self respect that financial security brings, it is time to consult a professional.

So what are you waiting for?


Fraud? Did she say Fraud?

I love the fact that FINRA has created a set of tools to help you, and me, find fraud and fight it.

FINRA’s Fraud Center

FINRA provides a set of tools and explanations as  part of its campaign to  protect investors.

The idea is simple. If you know more, you will be able to fight off fraudsters. So take a look at this site.

And if you are brave, check out the thing they call the  “fraud meter.” It measures how susceptible you are to fraud. Go ahead and take the test.
Scam Meter Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt (anything but your pride)

Now, if this teaches you something, share it with your friends. Host a party and show a video that helps you and your friends protect yourselves from con artists. This show aired on PBS, so it is a good one. And you can get it for free. So start popping the popcorn and dust off your couch. And get your friends in to watch the show. Then discuss the issues among yourselves.

You will be glad you did.

Oh, and tell them Hot Flash Financial sent you.

Hot off the presses!

Here it is! Your very own paperback version of  Hot Flash Financial!

It is a grown up version of the website. No actually it is a development of the Hot Flash Financial approach. Yes it retains the hot flash method– laugh while you learn. And it offers clear explanations of complex issues, plus a set of STEPs to follow, STEPs you can rely on, if you want to increase your financial security.

So why buy a copy?HFF cover

The more you  know, the more control you will feel. Your stress about money will start to melt away, because you will know what you are doing with your money, and how. That is the best way that you can improve your future.

And, by the way, it is cheap. Your $15 investment will pay back a thousand fold!

So, hit the link to  buy your paperback copy  “and get one today!!!!” (as they shamelessly say on TV)

You will be glad you did.


A new tradition

Let’s start a new “tradition.”  (Humor me. I was trained as an anthropologist. We anthropologists  love rituals.) Let’s call it a Hot Flash Financial Tradition.

What is this tradition? First it, is a ritual that occurs around new years. How do you do it?  Every year, you revise your List of Assets to reflect the December 31, 2012 balances. After you have the year end balances, you add up the total. Then do the really smart, Hot Flash Financial thing– Celebrate what you did right. And use your new List of Assets to make some decisions to improve your financial security next year.

If you have not developed your own personal List of Assets, create your first one today. (Go to the Tools Tab and select List of Assets.)  You take the same steps as someone who has a List of Assets.

Here are the steps you can use to follow the ritual. Go on-line to access every one of your retirement accounts, as well as investment and savings accounts. If you already  created your list of assets, add a column and mark it December 31, 2012. Input the dollar values for the last day of the year for every one of your account balances.  Then add the dollar values all up to get a Total. Now, do what comes naturally. Find out if your retirement account balances are higher than last year.

The next part of the  Hot Flash Financial Tradition is crucial: figure out what you did right! Also figure out what needs to be improved.

What you did right:

  • If you added more money to your retirement accounts, the total should be higher.
  • If you were invested  in stocks (or stock mutual funds) your balances may be as much as 10% -13% higher. (The S & P 500 booked a 13% increase over last year, 2012. If you invested a portion of your portfolio in Bonds, you may not be as high. But you got stability or less crazy fluctuations in your account values. Why? you reduced your risk by investing in bonds. Reducing risk has a cost. But it also has a strong plus–it allows you to sleep better at night.)

This is the most fun of this ritual. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate what you did right!!!!!

If you added money to your retirement account, but the increase did not meet your expectations, figure out why.

What you could improve in the future:

  • Did you add enough money to your retirement account  to make the total budge?
  •  Are there other reasons for the shortfall in your expectations about your retirement account balances, and your overall Hot Flash Stash of Cash?
    • Did you decide to save for the future, but you deposited that money into a savings account instead of your retirement investment account(s)? A savings account probably gave you about 1% return in 2012  By contrast, the stock market gave about 10%-13% in the same year. Did you make the right decision, saving in a savings account rather than a retirement account? What will you do in the next 12 months? Invest in your retirement account or in a savings account?
    • Savings accounts are nice. They reduce the risk that you will lose the money you deposited. But remember there is a “risk-return” trade off. If you take on more risk–investing in the stock market, you are likely to get more return. (In this case, the return in 2012 [and most years] would have been positive, although the market did move up and down a lot during the year. While the dollar amounts fluctuated, over the long term, in this case a year,  you were ahead.) If you take less risk–investing in a savings account–you are likely to get a lower return. Lower risk is often correlated (as we say in the biz) with lower return.

Your handy- dandy List of Assets becomes a really important reference point.  It also enables you, no actually empowers you to make some important decisions and improve your financial security. Your decisions can increase the number of things you do that are right over the next few years. So you can celebrate more. 

After celebrating, take a closer look at your List of Assets to figure out what you can do to increase your own, personal financial security in the coming 12 months.

Since we can’t shut up, we will suggest you do 2 things.

  1. Increase the amount of money you deposit in your retirement account. Increase it by 1%. And, if you can, work toward increasing your contributions, over the next year or 2 or 3, to deposit the maximum legally allowed.
  2. Decide if you are comfortable with a bit more risk. If so, invest a greater portion of your retirement savings  in the stock and bond markets, for the long term. If not, stick with savings accounts.

Make this  Hot Flash Financial tradition, your tradition  every first week in January. That way, you have more control. You have the knowledge of what you have done well. And you can take the steps you need to take to improve your financial security over the long term.

New Years Resolution

Here at Hot Flash, we love New Years Resolutions.

Allow us to suggest one for 2013- Live within your means.

Or, since we are entering a year that ends in unlucky 13, we can rephrase this resolution in terms of luck.

It is  unlucky to live above your means. (So every time your write the numbers 13, you have a reminder, nudge, or prompt to remember your resolution to live within, or even below, your means.)

So what does that really imply?

Your “take home pay” is the focus. It is your limit, your “means.” So you can spend only the amount of money that you bring “home” in your paycheck. Not a dime more. (And you can NOT cheat by charging something on your credit card(s). Unless, of course, you pay off the total balance due when the  bill comes.)

You must be thinking…… that is so………….un-American… impossible.

But is it?

Hmmm. It is tough for Baby Boomers to hear this, but……………your parents probably lived within their means. (And they probably saved some money while they were doing it……. Just sayin’)

Why would you do this?

If you start to develop the skill of living within your means, you will have a more sustainable life style.

That is probably not such a bad idea, given the fact that you are likely to live longer than your parents.

So how about it?  Resolve to live “within your means.” Test yourself, and see how you do.

Here’s a short take home quiz. Find it if you can you live within your means, at least as long as you followed your diet last year? Or as long as you committed yourself to exercise every day?

Now, this in Hot Flash Financial talking to you. S0 if you try, and find out that you are not exactly perfect, use laughter as a weapon. Tell us your funny story. Share it with us at

That way you can join us–Hot Flash Mamas–as we imperfectly march toward the next phase in our lives.

Help a friend?

Do you have a sense of humor? Do your friends? Do your friends have a sense of humor about their own behavior?

Well, here is a new sweepstakes with a great idea, Help your friends. That is, help one of your friends who has some trouble with her/his finances, especially spending.

Now, the page introducing “Help a friend” clarifies that we all make mistakes and waste money. But, the one you “help” would merit, as they say,” an Olympian gold medal in money squandering.” So, the argument on the site goes, do your friend a favor and enter this friend into this sweepstakes. (At the same time you enter yourself into the sweepstakes). If you win, you get…… money.

There are videos associated with this program, and they tend to feature young, college age folks discussing the varied ways they spend money on “stuff” –memorial swords that are probably plastic, ugly designer jeans, myriad internet purchases, parties, taking a girlfriend to the “Jersey Shore” …………You get the point.

I decided to see how this works. So I pressed the HELP A FRIEND BUTTON and sent the email to myself. (I chose not to send a photo to post on the FACEBOOK  page of the site. It would show my friend posing with at least one incriminating impulsive purchase.)

I did receive an email. The email is well worded and raises some really good issues to consider. When I clicked on the  link, I was really pleased with the quiz that you can can take. It raises “your consciousness” on some spending habits that can be problematic. The  site itself has wonderful tools, such as calculators that help you budget, pay off debt, etc.

Now, I am a big great fan of NEFE—the National Endowment for Financial Education that created the site, and the Help a Friend sweepstakes. And I am a great fan of using humor to make a point.  And this Help A Friend Campaign uses humor to accomplish an important goal, help friends who waste money.

What I don’t know, is how my friends would respond. I mean, how would this work with “women of a certain age and distinction?” Would my friends be offended if I entered them into this sweepstakes? Or would they take it in stride, see that you can use humor to make some important points, and change your behavior?

What do you think?

Social Security and you

You are probably going to  hear  a lot about Social Security in the run-up to the next election. Each party will be talking about what are sometimes called “Entitlements.”  It is important for you, as a woman “of a certain age and distinction,” to know who really supports specific programs, especially Social Security.

Why? Because Social Security is one of the most important sources of money for women after age 65.

Really? Yes. Because women live so much longer than men. So we rely on Social Security (and Medicare) for a greater number of years and a greater number of dollars.  As we women age, a bigger and bigger portion of our monthly income comes from Social Security!

How much do we rely on Social Security? Well, we have some figures for you. Women are who 65 and older, get more than half (or  58%) of their income from Social Security. And, as we get older, and spend down the money we had saved for retirement, we increasingly rely on Social Security for all or nearly all (90%) of the money we use to buy food, pay for housing, etc. By the time you pass your 80th birthday, many  (38% ) of you will be completely or nearly completely (90%) reliant on Social Security.

So now you have to know the facts about Social Security.  You have to know if Social Security will be there for you, your sisters, and your children. So start here, and then click on this link Social Security.

Remember, you have to think long and hard about a candidate and his stand on Social Security and other “Entitlements” So when you decide to vote for your representative in Congress, in the Senate, and for the President, make sure you vote for someone who will continue to support Social Security and so older women. Cut through the “stuff ” on those political commercials. Make sure you check out the truth about past voting behavior, key proposals (like budget proposals) made by each candidate, and cross-check with an independent fact checker.

Why? If you, or your sister or best friend, is one of the women who will rely on Social Security for 58% of her income from age 65 on through the rest of your life, you need to vote to make sure every candidate who has your backing will support Social Security.


footnote: I am drawing my facts based on 2010 statistics and analyzed by the  National Women’s Law Center “Women and Social Security: Key Facts” May 20, 2011. Here is the link.