Ladies – Your Grey Matters!

I am finding new grey hairs every day and I admit, I am trying to tame them with a bit of color. As I embrace this season of life, I am looking at the grey differently and want to encourage you to do the same.    From what is inside your head to what is on top of your head, there are more than fifty shades to consider.

Let’s go inside first.  Your brain’s grey matter contains most of the neuronal cell bodies.  These cells oversee and impact our decision making, self-control and emotional perspectives on monetary matters, amongst other things. 

It was previously held that as we age, our brains get smaller.  New studies negate this assumption, concluding that when older brains are “healthy” there is little brain deterioration, and that only when people experience cognitive decline do their brains show significant signs of shrinking.  How do you keep your grey matter healthy?  Exercise, diet, and become a lifelong learner are places to start.  Check out the work of Dr. Daniel Amen in this arena.  As we do our best to keep our brains healthy, we also need to embrace that aging does have implications.

A white paper produced by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College titled “Cognitive Aging and the Capacity to Manage Money” robustly explores how aging impacts our “grey matter” around monetary affairs.  Their conclusions include that as people age, they should be able to manage the routine financial activities such as paying bills and understanding income and expenses.  These activities are based on “crystallized” intelligence, accumulated knowledge built over time.  However, normal cognitive aging decreases our “fluid” intelligence – the capacity to process new information. If someone finds themselves taking over the financial reigns because of circumstance (death, divorce), they will have a harder time learning new skills in this area.  This fluidity also has to do to with “reasoning” skills which may lead to risky or unwise financial decisions. 

If you have been at the helm of your family finances, keep your brain healthy and stay astute. Ladies, if you have been the one who hasn’t wanted to, hasn’t needed to, has been kept out of the family finances or is not prepared to take over the financial wheel, communication and planning is key.  Make sure there are trusted family members and fiduciary financial professionals that you resonate with, and represent your best interests in place to walk alongside you to minimize the potential for abuse if or when you find yourself doing money on your own.

Next, the grey on top of your head matters!

How you use your time, talents, knowledge and wisdom built throughout your lifetime and how your financial decisions align with what is paramount in your life is profoundly important and necessary in our world.  For many, this is the “why” you want to grow, nurture and protect your financial life in the fall season. 

In his fascinating book From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi shares what those entering elderhood have to offer. “Over and beyond an exchange of verbal information and technical skills, they transmit what can’t be acquired from books. When the transfer of sheer data just isn’t sufficient, they impart the wisdom of a lifetime (including the personal attitudes, moral and ethical judgments, and aesthetic appreciations that characterized them) through the fire of a unique relationship, the give-and-take of a living dialogue with a younger student or apprentice. When an elder fertilizes a young person’s aspiring mind with his knowledge and seasoned judgment, the student receives a living spark, a transmission, that may one day blossom into wisdom.”

We need to redefine this season of life and “retire” the idea of retirement into singularly a life of ease. Is this the best use of the grey inside or on top of your head?  I warrant not! I encourage you to intentionally take care of how internal grey matter is functioning. Take a class and increase your financial literacy skills sooner than later.   We have a growingly  grey population (yes, you may disguise it, but it is there).  Stay engaged, contribute, show up and share the amazing individual your unique life experiences have allowed you to become. Make sure that all of your financial house is in order and optimized to keep you sustained in bringing this wealth of wisdom to the world. Potential and possibilities await as you look at how to best use the grey matter inside and grey on top of that beautiful head of yours!  How are using your grey?  Let’s share our stories to encourage and support others.

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