May 1, 2010

I keep learning the same things

Good news here, whether you're a young broke girl, or a veering-toward-middle-age girl. If you've found yourself making some pretty screwy financial judgments (and who amongst my seven loyal readers haven't; you there--throw the first coin) there is hope for improvement.

In an interview about her new book on the aging brain, New York Times health columnist Barbara Strauch said, "Harvard has studied how people make financial judgments. It peaks, and we get the best at it in middle age."A lot of things get better with age. Wine, cheese (may I say teenagers?), a new garden, and well, maybe more stuff, but I'm kind of stumped here. At least a few things improve with age.

If you find yourself repeating the same mistakes over and over again, hey--not to be discouraged. One sage matriarch of a small southern Michigan community whose life ultimately influenced folks across the globe--okay, yes, this is my Grandmother Durling, who we all thought terribly wise, partly just because she was old and witty and still ahead of some of us at age 106. Well, wise she was was. (In my desire to post some visuals to my opinion pieces, well, this is what I came up with: A century-old farmhouse across the seasons in which Grandma lived for some of her years.)

Even she said, "I have found in my life that I learn the same lessons over and over again."

Duped into home equity loans over the last half decade and now upside-down in your mortgage? Overspent without enough set-aside to send to Uncle Sam last month? Purchased a pair of shoes at such a high markdown they're not returnable--yet discover the exact pair in your own closet? (This happened to a friend of mine, which is how I came to own the second pair.)

With age comes wisdom--whether you're trying or not. Experience gives perspective and--speaking for me--has changed my financial priorities and diminished some of my (single-girl) financial fears.

That's one reason I happily skipped away from my corporate career to live on the lam--financially speaking. Here's another New York Times clip from today's Modern Love column: "...I’d grown accustomed to the romance associated with not having money." It's not just Broke Girl who feels some freedom in underemployment or not having much. The writer, Rachel Sontag continued:
"I’ve always loved the way life slows down when the unexpected happens: a 48-hour power failure that causes people to flock to the streets with food for their neighbors; a subway strike that forces businessmen to roller-skate to work."
The closer to middle-age and even passing beyond it, the more we know how much money we are going to earn and have in life, as well as how much money we are not going to have and not earn and not save in life. That knowledge is somewhat comfortable, actually, to this Broke Girl. Like the way watching the derby from the stands is more comfortable than the jockey's position in the heat of the track. I don't crave adrenaline as I once did.

And y'all know what Lily Tomlin famously said about the trouble with winning the rat race...when it's all over, you still are one.

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