"You are clinically depressed." That was his diagnosis. He ordered up Zoloft and five months of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). That did the trick on getting me back functioning. But it has taken longer for me to extricate myself out of six-figure debt, both credit card and through a home equity loan. Here is the e-book which chronicles that crash Download Geezerguts.
Of course, I beat myself up over and over again for getting into that kind of financial pickle. After all, I had ghostwritten security analyst presentations, annual reports, and road shows for the Fortune 100. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when I was awarded a spot in the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) eight-week online course in financial reporting that I learned I was not alone in having been financially illiterate. The instruction is funded by McGraw-Hill Market Reporting Program.
Along with the required reading and weekly assignments, there is a sort of wiki for the participants. That was certainly an eye-opener. Although my peers are seasoned players in diverse fields, most disclosed similar big-time mistakes managing their personal finances. Somehow we can perform our duties with staying within budget in our professional paths but run wild in our personal affairs.
The creators of the course likely anticipated this shock. Among the recommended books is "Girl, Get Your Credit Straight!" by African-American financial coach Glinda Bridgforth. Cruel to be kind, Bridgforth fingers the psychological underpinnings of why we over-spend (understatement). Among them is the lack of essential self worth which we attempt to mask with purchasing real estate, cars, clothes, and meals out, including picking up the check for others way too often. We put on a celebratory face and keep acting the Big Shot. At one point before I barely dodged the bankruptcy bullet, I was paying the mortgage on a This Old House on the Gold Coast of Connecticut and keeping up a cottage at the Jersey Shore.
But it isn't all that easy to stop the insanity. That's because, as we are learning in this course, becoming financially literate requires learning fundamentals like the world of difference between good debt and bad debt, what kind of life insurance to carry even in the worst of times, why a mutual fund might be a better overall deal than an annuity, and how much house can we really afford or maybe just forget all that and rent.
The mission of the program is for us to help others, especially minorities like ourselves, to raise their financial literacy score. I include the aging such as myself among minorities because we are the new vulnerable group in America. Understanding the unique financial issues of the aging will be what my end-of-the-program project will cover.