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4 Ways to Become a Financially Savvy “Bag Lady”

By Danielle Howard April 01, 2018 Managing Money

Do you often imagine your future as a disheveled, elderly lady, pushing a wobbly cart overflowing with belongings down the street?

So common is this vision, that it has been coined the “bag lady syndrome.” It encompasses the fear of ending up alone in life, after losing your home and all your money. This anxiety, while real, can be faced and overcome.

As I pack my lunch, put my laptop in its bag, toss my workout clothes in a duffel, grab my purse and head out the door, I say, alter your inner bag lady perception. Empower yourself and enhance your monetary experience! Here are four ideas to update your bag lady image.

Emotional Baggage

What is the money narrative you have? Are there messages from your past, that either you or someone else wrote, which are untrue? Did you experience something or has someone in your life had a negative financial impact on your psyche?

Grab some girlfriends, and have a money talk. Open up the bag, recognize it as no longer serving you, unpack it, and toss it out.

Pack some new messages in your emotional monetary attache’. How about “Up until now, I believed ___________, but moving forward, I am going to __________. Find some positive affirmations around money to keep in front of you. You can also download my monetary manifest.

Character Counts

Many women underestimate the value of their character assets. These are the colorful, playful caddies that you want to show off, put out front and center. They will bring joy to your life and to others.

If you are creative, resourceful, friendly, trustworthy and hardworking you have assets in your back pocket that are more valuable than gold. Cultivate these assets wisely and they will serve you well financially.

Financial Baskets

You have a variety of assets. You need to know what they are, and how they are (not) working for you. These may include a savings account, equity in your home, business assets, investments, insurances.

Each is packaged a bit differently and can be used for different functions and intents. You need to know how each of them helps you to hold and support what is important to you and your family.

You may have baskets of consumer debt, student loans or other financial obligations that are weighing you down. Put a plan in place to get them emptied out as soon as possible!

What baskets do you want to add? Do you need a spending plan? Are there insurances that would help you mitigate risk and give you peace of mind?

Do you have estate planning documents in place? Do you need to organize all of these pieces in context of where you are heading, and what is truly important to you?

Carrying the Bags

Today at the store, the clerk asked me if I wanted help out with my bags. Usually, I respond “No thanks, I can handle it.” Because of a slight physical injury, I realized the value and graciously asked for help.

Do you want support in packing, carrying, unloading or organizing your financial bags? Create a network of trusted family, friends and advisors who will walk alongside you to push this cart of financial gear. Do your homework to understand what type of assistance you want, and take responsibility for your part.

I eat my packed lunch and chuckle at the bags by my side. The groceries in the car, along with my workout duffel, are reminders of the good choices I have made today.

I will take captive the passing thoughts of lack or fear and replace it with gratitude daily. Join me to embrace and live out the positive embodiment of a financially savvy ‘bag lady.’

Do you worry about becoming a ‘bag lady’ in retirement? What choices are you making today that will ensure you are financially secure in your 60s? Please be sure to share your insights in the comments below.

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The Author

Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), author, speaker and financial thought leader. Read her book - Your Financial Revolution – Time to Recognize, Revitalize, and Release Your Financial Power. Visit her at or

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