6 Things To Do Before Your Spouse Dies – Part 1

I heard from a woman whose husband was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Her question to me:  What should a woman do before her husband dies?

My heart went out to her,  along with my admiration.  Instead of going into denial, she went into action.  Death is not easy to talk about,  let alone prepare for.  What would you do in her situation?  After all,  most women will face a similar dilemma at some point.

I’ll never forget,  when my father got ill,  I went to  my mother.  “Do you know what Daddy has planned for you when he dies?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” she replied quickly, but when I pressed her for details, she couldn’t tell me.  She also made it abundantly clear:  this was not a conversation she wanted to have.  I made it even clearer:  avoidance was not an option.  Here’s what we did:

1.       We had “the talk.” I had my Mom sit down with my Dad and we looked at all the financial documents:  bank statements, investments, estate planning, etc.  This was not, by any means, an easy conversation.  Dealing with death is emotionally excruciating, at least it was for us.  Nerves were frayed.  My Mom glazed over.  My Dad lost patience.  I kept scratching my wrist (a nervous habit) until it bled.  But by the end,  my Mom knew where every penny was and what arrangements he had made… and hadn’t made.

2.       We assembled “ the team.” My Dad was very much a do-it-yourselfer.   I wanted my Mom to have her own team of professionals to support and guide her (during and after).  First on our list was to hire an estate lawyer… we found one (through my sister).  Mom, my sisters and I met with him first, brought in my father, and together my parents created a very good, tax efficient estate plan… which my Mom not only understood, but had a big  role in creating.

3.       We updated documents.  We made sure the Will, Power of Attorney, EVERYTHING reflected their latest info and current wishes.

As I said, not an easy process.  Sadly, many of us will go through this.  But being prepared, financially, will make it a little easier.

In my next post, I’ll list the final 3 steps you need to take, to prepare yourself.  Stay tuned.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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6 Things To Do Before Your Spouse Dies – Part 2

As I mentioned in my Part-1 blog  on this difficult topic several days ago; I had heard from a woman whose husband was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Her question to me: “What should a woman do before her husband dies”?

Her question caused me to recall the agony my mother and I went through when my father became ill, forcing us to make difficult decisions and plans at an already difficult time.

In Part-1, I outlined steps 1 through 3.  Here I’ll finish the series, with steps 4 through 6:

4.       We envisioned a future without Dad.  My mom started thinking about living single: how much money she’d need to live on (a lot…  she wasn’t going to work nor did she have to, but she did like to spend), how she wanted her money invested (very conservatively), and who would assist her with this.  The whole family helped her find an investment advisor (we interviewed 3).  She also hired a CPA – after a while, it became clear he wasn’t a good fit, so she recently hired someone else.  She meets with her “team” on a regular basis to this day.

5.       We had  regular family meetings. These meetings, though often emotional, were absolutely wonderful in getting everyone on the same page while Dad was still alive.  Meetings included my sisters, spouses, and all the grandchildren (we eventually had great grandkids crawling around too).  My Dad let everyone know what his wishes were, especially for philanthropy, and enrolled the whole family to the board of his foundation.  These meetings drew us closer in many ways.

6.       Mom talked to friends.   She’d had several friends who lost their husband’s, so she talked to them at length. They gave her great advice which really helped her see life goes on, happily so.

Having done these things, by the time my father died, all my mother had to do was grieve.  Every detail was in order.  There were no surprises.  All papers signed.  All major decisions made.  Her team was in place.  Practically speaking, his passing was seamless.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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Giving Debt a Whole New Meaning

This will give you cause to pause… especially if you’re in debt.  Have you ever looked up the definition of  “debt”  in Webster’s dictionary?  Try it:

A client of mine did recently,  and,  in her words,  “I was absolutely shocked!”  Merriam-Webster’s first definition of debt –  Sin.  Yes… SIN!!!

Do you realize that a whopping majority of people are “living in sin”?  Are you?

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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Looking For Signs

I am always on the look out  for signs.  It’s a game I play.  And I take every sign very seriously.

My children often tease me.   ”Sometimes, Mom, a cigar is just a cigar.”  Not in my world!

Yesterday I got two huge signs.  I wanted to know if I was on the right track.  And I got confirmation.  In neon.

First, came a call from a well-known financial website seeking my involvement.  That would’ve been enough confirmation to convince me I’m on target.

But  then… are you ready for this?… a major Hollywood production company called ME!  They were interested in creating a TV show based on my book;  Prince Charming Isn’t Coming.  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather!

Look, I know, the chances of anything coming out of either opportunity is slim.  As my seasoned agent reminded me about TV-land: “generally, these type of requests go nowhere.”

And you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  I really mean that.  These two signs have shown  me something very profound — there’s tremendous value  in  Surrender, in taking time out for going within.   In our “doing” world,  Surrender is a pejorative term.  When, in truth, surrender is an extremely practical, highly beneficial success strategy.

Those two calls yesterday felt like the Universe was giving me a big high-five, congratulating me for taking time out and assuring me great stuff was on the way!

I’d love to hear from any of you who have benefitted (or not) from taking a retreat.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Greatness takes guts.  No doubt about it.  Sure,  Shakespeare implored us: “Don’t be afraid of Greatness.”  But here I was, on Day 3 of my retreat, seriously scared.  From the moment I woke up,  fear began to wrap around me like a second skin,  seeping into my pores,  coursing through my veins,   constricting my chest with its vise-like grip.

Why was I so afraid, I wondered?  I spent the last two days delightfully splashing around in this new Call to Greatness.  Now,  suddenly,  I wake up drowning in fear.

In  a split second,  it made perfect sense.

The Call to Greatness meant I was being summoned to a higher level.  I had grown very comfortable teaching women how to make more money and manage it wisely.  I had the ‘overcoming’ stuff down pat.  But going to the next level of  ‘becoming’  (whatever that means!!!)  was brand new territory.

I suspected what that meant for me personally – I  had to come out of the closet,  revealing and owning my value,  my brilliance,  my power,  my exceptional wisdom and my unique talents.

The instant I wrote that last sentence,  my tummy did a belly flop.  Is everyone going to think I’m arrogant (a big fear of mine!)?  Or even worse,  will the world think I’m really just faking it?  My brilliance is BS, my talents are,  well… ordinary?

Somewhere during the day,  I made a decision.  This is a risk I’m willing to take.  I’m going for Greatness,  and taking every woman I possibly can with me.  I  am convinced the world desperately needs women to step up to the plate and into their power,  to own their Greatness in the grandest way.

Just as I write this,  the damndest  thing happened.  I get an email from my friend Suzy.  “I read this and thought of you,”  she said,  sending me a quote from Marianne Williamson.  The synchronicity was inescapable!!!

“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves,

“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be?


Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

There’s no doubt in my mind – this a sign and a message,  not just to me,  but to everyone reading this blog!!!

Speaking of signs,  be sure to read my next blog.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money

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The Call to Greatness… Have you heard it yet?

By mid morning of Day #1 of my retreat, I’d identified the culprit, why I was blah.  For 3 years, I’ve been futilely chasing a financial goal.  And I wasn’t shy about telling anyone who would listen.  If you’ve heard me speak, you’ve  heard me say;  “My goal is to make millions, help millions, give millions“.

Lofty, I know.  But I’ve always prided myself on setting lofty goals and usually achieving them.  I often brag that I, a life-long underearner, began making six-figures before I even finished writing my book, “Secrets of Six-Figure Women”.  So, it seemed like a no-brainer – I’d write my next book about women making millions.  Now, 2 years, 20 interviews, and a string of rejections later, the book’s unwritten, my goal unmet.

I felt frustrated, powerless, and embarrassed.  Here I was helping women make more money… and I was nowhere near my 7-figure goal.  Even worse, I hadn’t a clue why or what to do about it.

Until that morning… when  3 words struck me like a lightning bolt; “Go for Greatness“.  Those words came from somewhere very deep, from something very wise.  I grabbed my journal, starting writing.

“Isn’t that what I really want – greatness?  I’ve been so focused on achieving fame and fortune, making-millions-helping-millions, but those were goals from my ego.  My soul has been begging for something very different.  It wanted greatness.”

It just never occurred to me, until then, that there was a distinction.  Now, I wondered, what is the difference between greatness and fame?  The answer came quickly.

“Fame is the quest for external  validation to fill an internal void.  Seeking fame is like living on credit… a pretense, an illusion to hide lack and deprivation.

Greatness, on the other hand, is the pursuit of a meaningful, authentic life for your own bliss and the benefit of others.”

It was a Eureka! moment.

Yes, that’s what I crave.  It’s not millions.  It’s not fame.  It’s Greatness!  I’d been seeking fame and fortune to justify my worth.  But what I genuinely craved were opportunities  to fulfill my purpose, live my truth, and make a difference in the world.  I still wanted to make more money.  But the game had changed… and so had the rules. Yet until that moment, I never even realized it.

I had made a discovery some time back, never applying it to me.  I saw that once a woman becomes financially secure and stable, she is no longer motivated by money.   Once she has a profit motive firmly intact,  financial success turns into a spiritual journey.  This  new journey is no longer fueled by increased earnings (though that may be a desired outcome).  It is fueled by a  search for significance, a deep desire to make one’s mark on the world.

That’s what had happened to me, and I didn’t even realize it.  Making millions seemed the obvious next step.  It felt impressive — it certainly was feeding my ego.  What I didn’t realize — my soul was starving.   Once I shifted my focus, the blahs vanished, my energy returned.  I could almost hear my soul sigh in relief.

I had received the Call to Greatness.  And I am convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, women all over the world are receiving the same call.  Perhaps, you’re one of them.  Perhaps, like me, you don’t quite understand what’s going on.

Let me explain what you may be experiencing.  Symptoms of the Call for Greatness include:  restlessness, feeling stuck, anxiety, yearning,  frustration, or, like me, the ‘blahs’.  These symptoms are indicator lights, sending a message;  You’re ready to move into the New Game of Money.  This new game is called Going for Greatness.  The point is no longer overcoming anything. You’ve already done that.  It’s now about becoming all you can be.

In my next blog, I’ll say more about Greatness in much greater depth.  Stay tuned!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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The Guide To Greatness

Day 2 of my retreat had me curled up on the cozy window seat, staring at the water, pondering what Greatness actually means.  This was not something I’d given a lot of thought to in the past.

Still, I figured I should know.  My  father had achieved Greatness.  Not because he co-founded a famous company.  But because he made it possible for large numbers of people to get quality tax preparation for a fraction of the price.  I grew up with Greatness.  I saw it every day, living, breathing, expanding, succeeding.  As  I started reviewing what my father  showed me, I came up with a formula for Achieving Greatness:

1.       Greatness refuses to be limited or controlled in any way by fear.  (Fear is to greatness what ants are to a picnic… annoying, inevitable, and best ignored)

2.       Greatness follows ideas that come from seemingly nowhere.

3.       Greatness doesn’t act alone. It has partners, collaborators, a team.

4.       Greatness is humble, not to be confused with Grandiosity.  Grandiosity comes from the ego and is; as A Course in Miracles tells us, “always a cover for despair.”  Greatness is sourced from the soul and is always a desire to do what it came to earth to do.

5.       Greatness sees the world as it’s playground and every problem as part of The Game… a lawsuit is no more serious that misplacing a stapler.

6.       Greatness takes its mission (not itself) very seriously, and always puts that mission first.

7.       Greatness truly enjoys Greatness, not just for itself, but for its positive effect on others.

8.       Greatness is not out  for money or fame.  Fame may occur or not — it’s totally irrelevant.  But money is mandatory…  sufficient income is necessary to eliminate any distractions for achieving its goals.

9.       Greatness isn’t perfect, and is more than willing not to be.  Greatness feeds on self trust (the definition to self-trust:  knowing you can clean up what you mess up!).

10.   When pain enters Greatness, it’s meant to be a wake-up call.

11.   Greatness is kind, but tough, and politely endures criticism.  While Greatness doesn’t need be liked, it demands to be respected.

12.   The Arc of Greatness involves many mistakes, failures, wrong turns… they are the steppingstones to  Greatness.

13.   Greatness is passion made manifest.  The biggest pitfall to Greatness – doing what you should vs. what you love.

14.   Greatness requires responsibility, rejects mediocrity, and resides in the unknown.

15.   When Greatness dies, it doesn’t go away. Greatness always leaves  behind witnesses.

Woody Allen had it right when he said: “The only thing standing between Greatness and me, is me.”

Coming next: Getting out of the way of Greatness.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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The Retreat To Being…

If you follow my tweets, you already know.  I just returned from a 5 day retreat, to (as tweeted) “pause, get pampered, and ponder what’s next.”

I was bordering on burn out, and needed to get away.  It wasn’t burn out in the normal sense… I wasn’t exhausted, depressed, or down on my work.  I was just ‘blah’, as in:  there’s no creative juice left in this orange… I was squeezed dry.

My  coach, Martha Lynn Walker, told me what to do:  “get away by yourself,”  she said.   “You’re too into ‘doing.’  You need time for ‘being.’”  That was last Thursday.

You know how, when something is right, the seas seem to part?  That’s what happened to me.  I found the perfect spot within 2 hours driving distance.  Unfortunately, it was booked solid.  Magically, a room became available an hour later.  Within 24 hours,  I was unpacked,  settled in,  gazing at the water view,  journal in hand… just ‘ being.’

My intention:  to breakthrough my blahs… get my mojo back!  I had no idea how… but as I always say; “when the intention is strong, the ‘how’ always shows up.”

Immediately, I had a realization.  Well, it wasn’t really  new… but I always ignored it.  It was something I’ve long wanted to do, but couldn’t get myself to do it.

What I realized:  I rarely blog about me.  I rarely share my innermost thoughts or my personal journey… especially around money.  Even though  that’s the whole point of a blog, right?  But I was scared, resistant.  I’m great at writing other people’s stories or reporting facts and observations.  Self exposure, however, felt  scary, vulnerable.

Which made the next step obvious… I have to face my resistance by revealing myself.  So that’s what I want to do,  starting now.

I’m going to use the next couple of blogs to tell you about my retreat and my revelations.  What’s more, I suspect what I learned about myself could inspire many of you.  It certainly inspired me… I’m back to business, mojo intact.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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5 Tips For Earning What You Really Deserve

Want to make more money?  Well, I’ve got the secret.  And I’ll bet it’s not what you think.

It sure wasn’t what I expected when I interviewed hundreds of high earners for my books; Secrets of Six-Figure Women and Overcoming Underearning®. Very few of these highly successful women were driven by money, yet they still demanded to be well compensated because – and here’s the Big Secret – they felt they were worth it.

The good news is that it’s possible for all of us to build up our self worth. Here are some tips for pumping up your self-esteem along with your net worth:

1. Think Big, Then Think Even Bigger

What most of us do is unwittingly limit our earnings by lowering our expectations.  Especially women.  The idea is to think in terms of what you are worth, not just what you assume the market will bear.

2. Do Your Homework

One of the worst negotiating mistakes women make is picking a number out of the air that’s way too low.  The smarter ones find out their market value by researching the going rates, then ask for more than is offered so they’ll have room to maneuver and negotiate.

3.  Take the Initiative

Have tangible evidence of what you bring to the table.  Maybe you saved your company x-amount of dollars or had an idea that generated so many sales. Every time you accept more responsibility, successfully complete a challenge or create positive changes, document it.  Keeping records is an effective means of demonstrating your value to an organization.

4.  Daily Affirmations – Act As If

Affirmations are positive statements expressed as if they’ve already happened.  For example: “I have the confidence to ask for what I want” or
I deserve more money in my life“.   Write them down.  Post them in full view. Say them out loud as often as possible.  When you act as if you’re worth a lot, you’ll eventually convince yourself as well as others.

5.  Challenge yourself in other areas

A stretch in any area of life has a ripple effect in other areas as well.  If you can’t quite get yourself to volunteer for that tough assignment or ask for a raise, try signing up for an art class or running a marathon.  Anything that puts you out of your comfort zone builds confidence and self-worth.

By practicing these tips, you’ll begin to notice a shift in how you feel about yourself.  Making more money becomes not something you should do, but something you have to do – because you know in your heart you’re worth it.

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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It May Be Time To Let Go!

Want to kick things up a notch (or 2 or 3) in your life? Ask yourself this: “What do I need to let go of?”  Seriously.   “Letting go” is a profound strategy few people fully understand.

When you pinpoint what’s holding you back, and are willing to let it go, miracles occur.  There is one catch, however.  Usually, the very thing you most need to let go of, is that which is most scary to give up.

Let me give you an example.  This just occurred in my latest Overcoming Underearning® teleclass (see  One woman, let’s call her Dee, was desperate to get out of debt.  Her main problem – her house was more than she could afford, but she couldn’t bear to let it go.  Her home was her sanctuary,  a retreat from the world,  tucked away in a little village that was nearby, but felt worlds away from the big city. Her closest friends were her neighbors.  She never had to lock her doors.  How could she  ever leave this?

Yet as our class continued, it became clear.  Dee needed to sell the house.  It broke her heart, but it was the right thing to do.   From that point on, things happened quickly.

She’d sat down to write a newspaper ad  when there was a knock on the door.  A man introduced himself as the father of her next-door neighbor.  He wondered  if, by any chance, she’d sell her house.  Dee’s jaw dropped, but she kept her cool.  They closed the deal, that very day, for $15,000 above what would’ve been her asking price.  And the man paid cash (yes, a big wad of cash now sits in the bank).

Dee’s bound to miss her house. But she won’t miss the debt.  And the relief  in her voice was palpable.  In fact, she was down right giddy.  Besides, she’s surprisingly excited about looking for houses in her price range.

The moral of this story?  The next time you feel stuck or weighted down, instead of asking; “What do I need to do?” Ask yourself; What do I need to let go of?” Then take the leap and watch for the miracle… and please share your story with me!

Barbara Stanny

The leading authority on women & money
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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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