REPORT FROM MY BOOK TOUR
The process of writing, editing and publishing one’s
first book takes a long time—several years in my case.
Last spring, I was in the home stretch, exchanging e-mails
with my editor about the book jacket. We were going to press
with a money book while the economy was tanking. What would the economy be like when the book actually hit the shelves on Feb. 3, 2009? And whom would I meet on my first book tour?
Mostly, I found audiences who were eager to learn a new way of relating to money. People know that the old ways aren’t working. They are paying attention to the economic news, they want to understand how the crisis happened, and they want to reduce their stress and fear.
I counsel people that reducing fear begins by taking a good, hard look at the numbers. Yes, your portfolio might have decreased recently, but how has it done over the past five or 10 years?
I’ve met many women who were told that they didn’t need to know about money, they didn’t have a head for numbers and that someone else would take care of them. They’re fed up with that.
In one of my workshops, I presented my living expenses sheet to the audience and asked people to fill in their numbers. One woman fled the room, hyperventilating, and complained that she couldn’t breathe. Confronting our fear about money is important but not easy.
During countless call-in radio interviews, I was asked about Bernie Madoff. People wanted to know how he did it, how he got away with it and whether they could trust the system or an adviser again. They wondered, “Where are the safe havens?” But I counsel that it’s not a person whom they need to trust, it’s a transparent and reliable investment structure. I’ve also said there are no individual safe havens; even CDs can be obliterated in a hyperinflation scenario like Germany faced in 1923.
In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, all my radio interviews were about money and relationships. Relationships are suffering. Couples are blaming one another for past financial decisions: Why did you put your 401(k) into equities? Why did you insist on the home remodel? Private school wasn’t my idea! We can’t afford organic! Why did you put all our money into real estate? Blame is an easy place to go to when people are feeling vulnerable and angry.
When I was in Phoenix, a client of mine attended one of my talks. He insisted on chauffeuring me to my appointments because he just couldn’t bear the idea that I’d need to pay for a taxi. Real generosity is developing today as a result of the financial crisis.
Finally, I’ll end where all my money madness began. When I was a child, my father had a falling out with his brother-in-law over money. I never saw my aunt, uncle and first cousins again. But, with the help of a private investigator, I tracked my cousins down a few years ago, and I started a new relationship with them based on openness and honesty. I acknowledge them in the book, and they attended my very first book talk on my tour. Talking about money may not be easy, but it’s a lot easier than 30 years of silence, acrimony and blame.
|Spencer Sherman, MBA, CFP, is the CEO of Abacus Wealth Partners and the author of The Cure for Money Madness (Random House). He lives in Northern California with his wife, their two kids and a bichon frise. Visit him at www.abacuswealth.com and www.curemoneymadness.com.|