Monthly Archives: August 2016

Millennial About Managing Money

No way around it: Your grown child needs to save in order to achieve financial freedom. The ability to delay gratification is more important than ever, and here’s what you need to tell him or her:

1. Set up an emergency savings cushion. When you broach the topic of emergency savings with your grown child, you might well be greeted with a rant about high rents and low-paying jobs, and how saving is virtually impossible for his generation. That’s your cue to explain why it’s time to start saving now, even a tiny bit, regularly.

An emergency cushion can mean the difference between an inconvenience and financial disaster — so your Millennial won’t get evicted

An emergency cushion can mean the difference between an inconvenience and financial disaster — so your Millennial won’t get evicted for not paying the rent, for example. As an adult, your son or daughter will have to create a safety net rather than count on one held up at the corners by you.

The rule of thumb has been to save a cushion of six months’ worth of living expenses — enough to tide your child over until he or she finds work. That said, I recommend saying to initially shoot for a three-month cushion so the goal doesn’t seem unattainable. (For an online worksheet to help your kid figure out how much to set aside for living expenses, go to

2. Paying off high-rate debt can be the smartest way to save. Granted, this is another idea that might seem laughable to a recent college grad with zero in the bank. But it’s an important concept for your kid to get now — and one that even many adults don’t understand.

Here’s the gist: Before long, your child will build up some savings —particularly if he or she is living at home — and should use it to get rid of expensive debt.

Let’s say your son owed $1,000 on an 18 percent credit card and had $1,000 in a savings account earning 1 percent. By the end of the year, he’d have paid out $180 in interest to the card company and earned just $10 in interest on the savings account. Even though he technically had money in the bank, he’d actually have had a net loss of $170. If he instead used that $1,000 to pay off the credit card, he wouldn’t have earned any interest, but he wouldn’t have paid any, either; it’d be a draw. And that’s much better than losing $170.

But, you might be thinking, shouldn’t my child have the emergency savings cushion mentioned above? The answer: It depends.

If your son is living with you, he should rid himself of high-rate debt first and then save up his first month’s rent and security deposit for his own place. That is one of the supreme financial benefits of moving back home. This approach requires his firm commitment not to charge any more on his credit card than he is able to pay off in full the following month. Even if he’s out on his own, I say devote at least half of his savings to whacking away at that high-rate debt, and deposit the other half into a savings account for true emergencies only.

Once he has one month’s worth of living expenses in his savings cushion, he can start putting even more toward getting rid of that credit card debt. Only when it’s gone does it make sense for him to turn back to building up his emergency cushion to the minimal three months’ worth of expenses.

3. Make saving automatic. Behavioral economists know that getting someone to save voluntarily is a bit like getting someone to cheerfully sign up for a root canal. As your trusty Magic 8 Ball would say, “Outlook not so good.” That’s why your kid needs to set up finances so he or she doesn’t have to think about saving every payday. It’s a neat mental trick: Because we never see the money in our checking account in the first place, we don’t experience the pain of “losing” the money had we transferred it to savings.

Senior Living Community

There are many reasons older adults move into a senior living community, but is looking for love one of them?

Burdett Stilwell has been working with older adults for many years and, and as sales and marketing director of Somerby of Mobile,  she has had the pleasure of developing friendships with the many residents of this Somerby Senior Living home in Alabama. She’s up-to-date on who is dating whom. When it comes to relationships, Stilwell says, the Somerby people she knows fall into two categories: those who are interested and those who have “been there, done that.”


How Senior Living Communities Bring Couples Together

While there’s a lot of data about couples who met in college or high school, research is lacking on couples in senior living communities. “Over 90 percent of the older adults we help move into senior living are moving in alone,” says Ben Hanowell, lead senior living researcher and data scientist at A Place for Mom, an assisted living referral service. “Once they move in, our organization unfortunately can’t track whether they are lucky in love.”

But the anecdotal evidence shows that many in senior living settings have active romantic lives.  These kinds of communities can bring couples together, Stilwell says, adding that marriage is not unusual among residents.

“One couple grew up in the same county, but never knew each other,” she says. “When they met here, they had lots in common, so they got married and have been living with us for the past five years.”

One couple grew up in the same county, but never knew each other. When they met here they had lots in common, so they got married.

— Burdett Stilwell, Somerby Senior Living

Tom Giuliana, ‎who works in operations and business development at Meridian Senior Living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., echoes Stilwell’s sentiment. “Alex P. and Alice B. are a couple who met at the community about a year ago,” he says. “He plays guitar for her every day, and they are always laughing and spending their time together.”


Searching for Another Chance at Love

“Senior living communities are one place where dating has blossomed,” writes A Place for Mom’s Jeff Anderson. “Men and women who had once resigned themselves to isolation have been able to rebuild intimacy with a new companion, in a new place, and in new ways.”

For some widows and widowers, the communities offer a chance to experience love again and the new lease on life that those feelings bring.

Stilwell shared a story of one man at Somerby who was a caring and kind caregiver dedicated to his wife. Several months after she died, he found a girlfriend and staff saw him doing things they hadn’t seen him do before — having carefree fun and going out on excursions.

A long-term relationship is not always a priority in these facilities, of course. And when it comes to dating,  men have an advantage in most senior living communities, simply because there are fewer of them there.

“Among older adults who move into senior living alone, there are over two-and-a-half times as many women as men,” Hanowell says, “and the gap is wider for older age groups.” Among those age 65 to 70, there are 57 percent more women who move in alone than men. Compare that to ages 90 to 99, where more than three times as many single women than men move into senior living.

Wisdom for Your Kids and Grandkids

With the Trump administration now sworn in, there are numerous debates on whether the estate tax will be repealed. The focus of the debates is often what a person has a right to pass on to his or her kids and grandkids and whether family fortunes can remain within the family regardless of who earned them.

These debates are necessary ones. However, when people are given a choice between passing onto their kids their money and possessions or their wisdom and life lessons, they overwhelmingly choose wisdom and life lessons. In other words, would you rather be remembered for being financially better off than those around you or for being a person of uncommon kindness, wisdom and strength of character?

As a professional in the areas of grief, loss and transition, I have heard from many people about what they want to pass along to their loved ones.


Your Legacy: More Than Dollars

Certainly, money is important. But significance does not necessarily come with wealth. It comes from making a difference in the lives of others, having an impact, leaving the world a better place and creating a living legacy that survives our physical absence.

He ended with his most important message, that although he was imperfect, he loved them deeply and always did his best to show it.

Some people are able to do this in public and prominent ways. For most of us, though, it is accomplished in our personal relationships, and especially within our families. We pass on who we are, what we believe in and what we dream for our descendants.

This passing on of a legacy can be enhanced as we hear the eulogies, stories and memories that are told when a person dies. However, the deceased has no control over what will be said and those words are often forgotten before long. You may wish to create a legacy in a more conscious fashion, by taking purposeful actions now to pass on the wisdom and lessons that are most important to you.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

There are nearly three million grandparents in the United States who have legal custody of their grandchildren. A sizable share of them (18 percent) live below the poverty line. One of their many vexations is where to live. While there is subsidized housing for the elderly, children are usually not allowed. Overnight, a grandmother might have to take in five kids, in which case she would be forced to move.

I learned about this problem in 2009, when I did a story with two of my favorite 60 Minutes producers, Shari Finkelstein and Jennie Held, about a free after-school program in Harlem called Gospel for Teens. We started the shoot by going to auditions for the year’s 46 slots. The majority of the kids who tried out were African-Americans, living in rough neighborhoods.

Grandparents become guardians for a variety of reasons, none of them pretty.

At Gospel for Teens, the kids have to shout out their names and where they live. Rhonda Rodriguez was so withdrawn she could barely whisper, and yet, because she sang This Little Light of Mine with riveting plaintiveness, she made the cut. We decided to focus on her in our story.

Interviewing her hurt. At 14, she exhaled dejection. In her forsaken little voice, she told us that she lived in the South Bronx in a very special building. When I asked why it was special, she said, “It’s just for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.”

“Are you being raised by your grandparents?” I asked.

“I’m being raised by my great-grandmother.” Her great-grandmother. That meant neither her mother nor her father, nor any of her grandparents, had stepped in.

Learned Corresponding

Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, was my beloved friend and mentor for nearly 20 years. We began writing to each other when I was 12 years old, after I’d auditioned for the role of Anne in the 1959 movie version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Otto Frank lived in Basel, Switzerland, and his gentle guidance of my life was transformative.

During the Sixties, when our country was broiling with the unfathomable —the Kennedy and King assassinations; the Vietnam War; horrific race riots; Native American occupation at Alcatraz and so on — I wrote to my dear Otto and declared that I would never bring a child into a world this cruel. His answer to me was profound: “Even if you believe the end of the world would be imminent, you still must plant a tree today.”

Never give up hope, he told me. This man who lost his entire family in the Holocaust was encouraging me to believe in tomorrow. He had two trees planted in Israel in my name to punctuate this message of endurance and life.

I witnessed a troubling discussion Otto and his family had about the rise neo-Nazi movement, a replica of the hate and fear being stirred up today.

Trees of Hope

“Though the situation is far from satisfactory, you must not be desperate,” he wrote to me in a letter dated June 16, 1968. “Never give up!

“I remember to have once read a sentence , ‘If the end of the world would be imminent, I still would plant a tree today.’ When we lived in the secret annex we had the advice ‘Fac et spera’ which means: ‘Work and hope.’ I do not know if I ever wrote this to you.

“So you should not ask if you should bring a child into this world. Life goes on and perhaps your child will bring the world one step further. Anne who died as a victim of injustice and hatred, achieved something for mankind in her short life. Perhaps the new generation will live under quite different circumstances than we can imagine now and will have a quite different feeling of happiness.

“You are right that at certain periods  of my existence the world around me collapsed. When most of the people of my country, Germany, turned into hordes of nationalistic, cruel anti-Semitic criminals, I had to face the consequences and though this did hurt me deeply I realized that Germany was no the world and I left forever.

“When I returned from the concentration camp alone, I saw that a tragedy of inexpressible extent had hit the Jews, my people, and I was spared as one of them to testify, one of those who had lost his dear ones.

“It was not in my nature to sit down and mourn. I had good people around me and Anne’s diary helped me a great deal to gain again a positive outlook on life. I hoped by publishing it to help many people in the same way and this turned out to be true.”


Troubled Times

After 20 years of exchanging letters, I traveled to Europe in 1977 to meet Otto Frank, who was 88 by then. During the visit, I witnessed a troubling discussion that he and his family had about the rise of the neo-Nazi movement, which is very much a replica of the hate and fear being stirred up today.

These days, I talk to audiences about how Otto Frank tried desperately from 1940 to 1941 to escape to Switzerland, Cuba and the United States. He had tremendous and influential connections in America who were doing all they could to get the Franks into the country, since he had worked for the co-owners of Macy’s, the Strauss family, when he was a young man living in America. The Strausses begged our government to help get them here, but to no avail.

He had relatives here, too. The family of his wife, Edith, already lived in the States and they, too, did everything they could to pull strings. But President Roosevelt and Ambassador Joseph Kennedy turned them away. Anne Frank would probably be alive today and thriving in America if she and her family weren’t considered refugees not to be permitted entry here.

If Otto Frank were still alive, I know that he would be devastated over the growing waves of anti-Semitism happening in America. But I also know that he would still believe in love and hope and unity among all people. And he would say that together — no matter what our races or religions or sexual identities or political perspectives — we must plant trees of hope for a far more loving tomorrow.