Use Your Past to Propel You Forward!

Use Your Past to Propel You Forward!

I believe we all have special gifts. We are here to fulfill our purpose, and regardless of where we come from,  we can accomplish great things in our lives.

I remember being asked to do a seminar for the Federal Reserve’s Money Smart Week many years ago called, “Smart Women Finish Rich.”  When I got up to speak, I looked out at 170 women known as the “Unbanked” (meaning they did not have a bank account), and I  wondered, How in the world will I ever reach these women?

From my introduction, they knew I was a successful financial advisor living on a lake in the suburbs.  How could they relate to me, or me to them?

It was then that I decided to tell my personal story for the first time.  I had never publicly shared this story, because I was embarrassed of it.  I looked around the conference center and saw my co-workers and the prominent attorney who invited me to speak in the back of the room.  I was scared to death, but I stepped through my fear shared this story …

My parents very poor when I was born. My father decided to reenlist in the Army to make ends meet. When I was just 6 years old, my father died in an accident, leaving my mother with three children under six. She was just 32.

Although my mother had used the military insurance to pay cash for a house, plus she received some income from the military and Social Security, she wanted a man to take care of her and her three children.

She found one at our church, but he was a monster. After nine years of living hell, she ended up homeless with breast cancer. You would think that I would have learned from that experience, but we often go back to the familiar. Guess what?  I ended up marrying my own monster.

Thank God, I was very strong, and through a series of synchronistic events, I was able to get out of that marriage within a year. It was a very challenging experience, but a good lesson that would help prepare me for my life’s purpose.

So how did I get from where I was then to where I am today?

At 20 years of age, I found a book called, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. I learned that “thoughts are things, that I could create any life I could imagine if I just had a vision, didn’t lose focus, and did whatever it took to succeed.”

Next, I found a mentor. I took classes, stepped out of my comfort zone again and again. Becoming a Certified Financial Advisor was a game-changer for me. I also met my husband of 30 years, we had children and together and created an amazing life. It wasn’t always easy. We made mistakes, but we learned from those mistakes. They were our greatest teachers.

What I know today is that everything that happened to me was perfect. I have no regrets.

Embrace your roots, your experiences, your lessons, and use them to propel you forward. And most of all, do whatever it takes to get smart about money so you can make a difference and live a life you love.

You may have to get uncomfortable, but with the right information and support, you can do it too! Get that support from our Smart Women Community! Take advantage of our experts interviews at Smart Women Talk Radio, explore our blogs and free resources, and schedule time to take my free course, Unlock Your Financial Power. Behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women who have her back. That’s Smart Women’s Empowerment. Sign up today!


Katana Abbott, CFP® practitioner, is a Wealth Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart Women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books.

She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business.  She founded Smart Women’s Empowerment in 2008 to bring free financial empowerment resources and programs to women around the world through her team of Contributing Experts. To learn more about Katana Abbott visit

Thinking Big about Money

Thinking Big about Money

Our theme this month is Thinking Big About Money, and I’m thrilled to be interviewing international speaker and author, Maddy Dychtwald of Age Wave, about a year-long study she and her organization conducted with Merrill Lynch on women and money.  The results have been published in a 28-page report called, Women & Financial Wellness:  Beyond the Bottom Line.  Maddy and I will be exploring the results of this ground-breaking report on Smart Women Talk Radio, Tuesday, June 12.   

Don’t miss Maddy’s article, Why Women Feel They Will Run Out of Money. It includes some information that may astound you.  Because of our responsibilities and choices we make as women, many of us end up earning $1,000,000 less than men during our lifetime.  Maddy is a returning guest, and we are thrilled she is joining us during this important time of women’s global empowerment.

Business expert and author, Lewis Schiff, is also returning to Smart Women Talk Radio on June 26 to share the new work he is doing with millionaires and billionaires.  In his book Business Brilliant:  Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons, Lewis shatters common myths about wealth as he explains how legendary entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Suze Orman, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet have subscribed to a set of priorities that are completely different from those of the middle class.  During the show, Lewis will share some of these differences and tips that you can implement immediately for your business.

Does talking about money or ways to get rich make you uncomfortable?  Chances are it does, and if so, you are not alone!  According the Age Wave/Merrill Lynch study mentioned above, “There is a social taboo around talking about money that adds to the lack of confidence. Sixty-one percent of women would rather talk about their own death than money. And 45% of women say they do not have a financial role model.”

This is astounding, but the good news is that women simply approach money differently than men.  According to a Private Client Advisor at U.S. Trust, “Women make more values-based decisions for themselves and their families, rather than just going for the bottom line.  When you bring values into the conversation, it makes all the difference.”

In my article, Use Your Past to Propel You Forward, I share my personal story and how I took adversity and turned it into abundance. There is no magic wand. However, with the right direction and support, you can take charge of your life, your finances and your happiness. Isn’t it time YOU begin to think BIG about money?

Katana Abbott, CFP® practitioner, is a Wealth Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart Women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books.

She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business.  She founded Smart Women’s Empowerment in 2008 to bring free financial empowerment resources and programs to women around the world through her team of Contributing Experts. To learn more about Katana Abbott visit

Why Women Fear They Will Run Out of Money

Why Women Fear They Will Run Out of Money

If you’re a woman, odds are you’re going to live longer than the average man. Life expectancy has skyrocketed over the past century for everyone, going up, on average, 30 years—but women clearly hold the biological advantage when it comes to longevity.  By age 85, women outnumber men 2 to 1, and most centenarians (81%) are women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates.

So how do women feel about the prospect of a 100-year life–and are they prepared to fund it?

My firm, Age Wave, together with Merrill Lynch, recently conducted a nationwide study  “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line” to learn about the challenges women grapple with when it comes to money and investing, especially in light of their longer lives.

What did we learn? Women aren’t afraid to live longer, but they are afraid of running out of money along the way.

Over half the women we surveyed (64%), said they’d like to live to 100 but fear they will run out of money if they do live that long. Not only did women say they fear running out of money for their one-hundred-year life, 42% say they are afraid they’ll run out of money by age 80.

That’s a real problem, since the average life expectancy for a woman is already age 81.

Because they tend to outlive men and—if they marry—tend to marry men who are a few years older, the majority of women find themselves single and needing to be financially self-reliant in their later years. If they’ve been a caregiver to their spouse, they’ve often spent down their nest egg in the process of providing that care. These extra years can come with a heavy price tag—women’s average out-of-pocket retirement health-care and long-term-care expenses are a whopping $194,000 more than men’s.

When we asked women, “How far into the future have you planned for financially?” the findings were alarming–and clearly showed that women need to start making their financial lives a priority. One in four women say they have not planned at all for their future.

Meanwhile,  63% of women ages 18-29 say financial planning is too difficult to even think about, yet 84% anticipate they will be even more responsible for paying for their own retirement than their parents, according to our study.

Women told us their No. 1 financial regret is not having invested more of their money. But, it’s important to note that the women who did invest, most (77%) report feeling that they will be able to save enough money to last them their lifetime.

But there was one missing ingredient: Confidence. In our survey, women said they were confident—equally confident as men—when it comes to all financial tasks but one. You guessed it: investing. Just half of women (52%) said they feel confident in managing investments vs. 68% of men.

The message is unmistakable: Everybody, but women in particular, need to make it a priority to fund their future needs. The easiest way to do this is automatically through their company 401(k). If that isn’t available, they must create their own “future fund” for their 100-year self and put money into it regularly, even if it’s just a little bit to start.

In order to live long with financial wellness, everybody needs to take the long view, knowing they may live longer than they think.


Maddy Dychtwald is an internationally recognized author, entrepreneur, business advisor, and thought leader on how population aging, increasing longevity, and the ascent of women’s power are transforming the marketplace, the workplace, and our lives. She is regularly featured in prominent national media, including Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Fox Business News, CNBC, and NPR. She is an ongoing contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s Retirement Expert Panel where she had the top wealth-management expert post for 2017 based on reader traffic.

To learn more about Maddy, go to


How to Improve Your Financial Health

How to Improve Your Financial Health

I hope the first quarter of this year has gone well and the remainder of the year will be even better for you.  In order for this to become a reality and not just positive thinking, I encourage you to create a vision and plan to achieve it.  After all, any transformation will require your active participation.  There are many areas to consider but let’s focus on what you want to improve about your financial health this year.

Here are a few things to consider as you resolve to make new commitments:

1. Start a spending plan.

Did you notice I didn’t use the word, budget?  Most people cringe because they, like a recent client, think their lifestyles will become restricted by the process.  However, a slight adjustment in how you think will help you to see this as a rewarding process.  A spending plan is based on your values which determine what you want to do versus anything you can’t do.

A spending plan is the foundation for good financial health and will enable you to maximize your cash flow.  The same advice applies to those with existing positive cash flow that may be several thousand dollars per month.  Extra money that is not allocated for something is usually wasted over time.

If you want to get ahead, include two key categories in your spending plan: savings and goals.

2. Start saving.

Could you come up with $2,000 to $10,000 that doesn’t involve raiding your investment accounts or 401k?  In life, unexpected things happen and it is best to stay prepared and have peace of mind by saving. Savings should cover two major areas: contingencies or emergencies and non-monthly expenses. Both funds are needed to avoid using credit or taking out loans when issues arise.

A contingency fund is meant to cover all living expenses during a major disruption in life like a medical illness, job loss or divorce.  The ideal fund should cover at least six months of living expenses.

A non-monthly expense fund is designed to cover unexpected one-time events like a $500 car repair or anticipated expenses such as your child’s sporting events or graduation activities.

It can be overwhelming once you calculate the money you’ll need. Simply start—initially, the habit of saving is more important than the amount.

3. Reduce debt.

Debt can threaten your financial security and, according to some studies, even affect your health.  If you want to make the most of your money, develop a plan to reduce or eliminate debt this year.  Generally, I discuss how to cut spending and/or increase income and a payoff strategy.  However, I want to offer another perspective.

Debt is a symptom, not the problem.  The causes of debt may not be financial at all.  For example, many people accumulate credit card debt by overspending and not the result of a financial emergency.  Here are a few issues to think about: misplaced priorities (choosing lifestyle over freedom), instant gratification (failing to connect actions to results that could happen from 5 to 10 years later), emotional spending (buying to satisfy an ego), and having no spending plan, i.e., no system for growing assets.

Ask yourself, “Why am I in debt?” and then address the personal issues behind it.

4. Become accountable.

Good intentions don’t automatically produce good results unless there is consistent action.

I’ve helped many people who knew what they needed to do—spend less, save more, and  invest wisely but they didn’t execute well.  Like many of you, life got in the way with busyness, distractions, and a lack of focus on goals.

However, there is one tool that works best at fixing the problem so that you will get good results—accountability.

I must warn you; the accountability process is not easy.  Find someone who is willing to ask the hard questions, challenge you, and will often remind you of your goals—you may not always be in the mood to listen with an open mind.

Regardless of some discomfort, accountability produces results and will help you to make regular, incremental progress towards your goals.  Who will hold you financially accountable this year?


Robin Thompson is a money coach and author who left her fast-track career in engineering leadership to pursue her true calling: to assist women in achieving financial freedom and ultimately, a more purposeful life.

Robin has been featured as the Money Coach for ABC-TV in Detroit and a columnist for the Detroit News/Free Press, Women’s Lifestyle Magazine, Balance Magazine (for First Midwest Bank), Alaska Airlines Magazine, and Health Alliance Plan’s (HAP) Membership Magazine.  She is the author of two books—Increasing Your Cash Flow: A Practical Financial Guide and the 31 Day Action Guide to Increasing Your Cash Flow.

The Psychological Impact of Money

The Psychological Impact of Money

How we feel about money and how we handle it truly does show up everywhere in our life. As a Wealth Coach and as a Certified Financial Planner, I’ve been helping women take charge of their money for over 30 years. For the last 10 years, I’ve been focused on mindset or what I call our money personality. There are five difference money personalities we might possess: Love, Security, Value, Recognition, and Status.

Each of us has a money personality that was formed very early in our childhood.  It was formed from what we observed and what we were told. Those experiences truly had a profound effect on us and they still do to this day.

Think back to when you were growing up. What were you told about money?  What did you observe?

Did you hear things like money doesn’t grow on trees? Or that you have to work hard for money? Maybe you heard that rich people are selfish and that it’s better to give than receive? Did you feel or observe things like scarcity, fear, abuse, neglect, or loneliness?  Dig deep and think about what ideas about money were formed as you grew up.

This month, our theme is dealing with the reality of debt. My goal right now is to help you see how your early experiences with money can often be the root cause for why many women rack-up debt without intending to.

I’ve heard so many different stories from women on how and why they have ended up in debt. Here are some examples of the five money personalities:

The Love personality may be trying to fill a hole in her heart and find herself over spending, buying multiple items or spending in order to belong. She doesn’t feel emotionally connected to it, almost like it is monopoly money.

A Value personality may feel like she is not good enough, and find herself over-giving, rescuing others, giving to the point of resentment and creating debt as a result of things just happening to her.

The Recognition personality may feel that she needs to prove herself, so she goes for the big win. If it doesn’t work out and she ends up in debt, she might find herself doing it again trying to prove she can fix it. She may be slow in responding to difficult money situations, so a small loss becomes a bigger one.

Someone with a Status personality may feel that no matter what she has it’s never enough, so she too runs up debt, often from compulsive spending, picking up the tab, buying expensive items regardless of current bank account. She may feel she needs to have the best and doing everything to the extreme.

Since a Security Personality desires to be safe and independent, she doesn’t usually have debt. If she does, it may have been caused by something out of her control. This type of experience would only confirm her fear that no matter how much she has, she may lose it all. So she will work to get rid of it as fast as possible and do anything to not let it happen again.

I’m a Recognition personality, and my challenge is big thinking, risk taking, and never giving up. Early in my career, I found myself in debt, and my solution was trying to fix it with one more big idea.

My husband is a Security personality, so he was horrified by my big ideas and risk taking. It caused many arguments and unnecessary stress during the early part of our marriage. It wasn’t until we sat down together to talk about this very topic that we realized that we were the perfect team!

The result? Instead of feeling challenged or judged by his “micromanaging,” I began to cherish the fact that he cares so much about taking care of all the little details around money management.  It’s worked amazingly well. We have now been married over 30 years!

He now sees my big ideas as a positive area to discuss and explore. He would never have taken the risk to buy our house on the lake or make some of our higher risk investments without me. Today, we work together on everything. We still get triggered by each other’s money personality characteristics, but we are able to calm down, breathe, and listen before we react.

If you are having a hard time controlling your spending, asking for what you are worth, or feeling like no matter how much you have, it’s never enough or that you never know when it may all just disappear, relax, it’s not your fault.

The great news is that you can heal your relationship with money and the fact that you are reading this today is perfect, because the first step is awareness.

Learning WHY you feel the way you do about money or WHY you spend it even when you know you shouldn’t is part of the healing process. When we are triggered, our little girl pops up and begins to run the show. Yes, a little 3, 5 or 7 year old ends up trying to protect us from getting hurt again.

What is the solution? Do the work to find out what experience triggered those disempowering feelings and behaviors that are happening today. You can then begin to release, forgive, and ultimately shift into a whole new awareness with new behaviors and coping skills. I do this type of work with women. You can learn more HERE.

There are self-help books, coaches, and workshops you can take to begin to heal your relationship with money – including programs like ours!

Last month, we interviewed Bari Tessler, author of The Art of Money, and this month, I am interviewing Dr. April Benson, author of I Shop Therefore I Am, and Robin Thompson, who will be addressing the Inner Work and Outer Work of getting out of debt and creating wealth.

In addition, you can take our free course, Unlock Your Financial Power, where there are exercises like the Money Quiz and Release and Receive in the Key #2 – Discovery section to help you begin

this process!  If you would like a more personal approach, click HERE learn about coaching.

   Katana Abbott, CFP® practitioner, is a Wealth Coach™, host of the Smart Women Talk Radio™, founder of the Smart Women Companies with over 1 million subscribers globally, inspirational speaker and author of several books.

She began her financial planning career in 1987 and became a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner. In 2003, Katana created Smart Women’s Coaching® to offer financial coaching and educational workshops for women in transition who are dealing with caregiving, death of a loved one, divorce, retirement or looking to create or grow a business.  She founded Smart Women’s Empowerment in 2008 to bring free financial empowerment resources and programs to women around the world through her team of Contributing Experts.


Are You a Shopaholic?

Are You a Shopaholic?

To Buy or Not To Buy? – it’s a question we ask and answer almost every day, and sometimes multiple times a day. For many people, it doesn’t cause a lot of inner turmoil, but if you are a compulsive buyer, it’s a high stakes question, and an affirmative answer can be devastating. Long trivialized as the “smiled-upon” addiction, thankfully, compulsive buying is coming farther and farther out of the closet, and the release of movies like Confessions of a Shopaholic is bringing the problem into the limelight.

We have reason to believe it’s becoming more prevalent. A study reported in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested that about 5.8% of the U.S. population-more than fifteen million Americans-are compulsive buyers. A more recent study, published in the December, 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the number may be closer to 8.9%, more than 25 million Americans. And now with what may be another economic crisis developing, compulsive shoppers are feeling squeezed. Some are unable to resist prices which have been slashed to the bone in the hope of luring reluctant consumers. Others, fearing for their long term job stability, are using the uncertain economic times and certain interest rate boosts as the incentive they needed to become more mindful about their spending. And between these two poles, there are a multitude of other responses that overshoppers are having to the current economic uncertainties, ranging from denial to absolute panic.

When we think “addiction,” what first comes to mind is most likely alcohol or drugs or eating disorders. Even though we know that shopping, when done to excess, can spin dangerously out of control, shopping is still seen by many as superficial, light fare. Strongly reinforced by society, shopping has become the classic mixed-message behavior. On the one hand, it’s promoted endlessly (and to the ends of the earth) by those who profit from it. On the other hand, it’s regularly the stuff of jokes. Shoppers are portrayed as self-involved, materialistic, and empty. As a result, compulsive shopping may be an even greater source of guilt and shame than alcoholism or drug abuse, which are seen as bona fide disorders, requiring treatment.

So why the mixed-messages? Given the fact that consumption fuels our economy, in order to promote the ceaseless stoking of economic engines, every one of us is targeted as a consumer. We are pushed, prodded, programmed to purchase. Every year, billions of credit card offers go out to America’s three hundred million people – more than thirty offers to every man, woman, and child! Shopping itself has become a leisure and lifestyle activity; malls are the new town centers. We’re immersed, cradle to grave, in “buy messages” that, with greater and greater psychological sophistication, misleadingly associate products we don’t need with feelings we deeply desire.

Just check out the bumper stickers. “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping,” trumpets an SUV in front of me. For those who enjoyed high school Latin, there’s “Veni, Vidi, Visa!” A largely female version is “New Shoes Chase the Blues,” while men weigh in with “He Who Has the Most Toys When He Dies, Wins.”

 What I’ve learned from more than two decades of knowing, studying, working with, and writing about overshoppers, and from having been one myself, is that to change your behavior, you’ve got to change the way you feel about yourself and the way you go about meeting your authentic needs. It’s about understanding who you are, what you want, and what you really need.

In general, having more things means enjoying life less. Acquiring and maintaining objects can so fill up our lives and environment that there’s little time or space to use what’s been acquired. What we consume ends up consuming us.

April Lane Benson, Ph.D., is a nationally known psychologist who has specialized in the study and treatment of compulsive buying disorder for over two decades. Dr. Benson is the editor of I Shop, Therefore I Am: Compulsive Buying and the Search for Self  (2000) and author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop (2008). Her company, Stopping Overshopping, LLC offers individual and group coaching using an evidence-based program, an interactive text messaging program, and a comprehensive website filled with information and effective strategies. Dr. Benson also trains therapists and frequently appears in the media. To learn more about Dr. April Benson go to

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