Category Archives: Monkey Mind

My Monkey Mind-Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

Something which happened about 10 years ago has been in my monkey mind.  I guess listening to my friends talk about elderly parents must have triggered it.  So here goes….

As part of my financial services business I had a listing in the Yellow Pages under resources for women.  It was the best I could do since there wasn’t a separate listing for women and finances.  The result was unexpected.  I received random calls from women in difficult life situations ranging from physical abuse, unwanted divorce, requests for money to start  businesses, and sometimes just a reality check on some financial decisions a spouse or significant other had made without checking with the woman.  After these calls continued , I became a connection between these women I never met to non-profits, social services providers, free legal advice, and government agencies who could help.  I learned a bunch of things which reached beyond financial advising.

One day I received one of those calls from an elderly woman who asked me what the difference was between term insurance (no cash value) and universal life insurance (which has a cash value).  The real reason for the call had to do with the fact that her late husband had established an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) with a cash value policy and she thought he had made a bad decision.  I was curious to hear all the details so I went to visit with her.

In my Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, I cover the differences between term and cash value policies.  To put it in a couple of sentences, term insurance is a very cost-effective way of getting life insurance and is appropriate for most people.  The premium goes towards the insurance cost and the policy runs for a certain period of time, such as 10, 15, or 20 years.  A policy with a cash value, such as universal life or variable universal life is more complicated and more expensive.  Some of the premium goes to the cost of insurance and some goes into investments offered through the insurance product.  The policy is considered to be “permanent” life since it is not restricted to a certain length of time.  My experience is that these policies (UL and VUL) are often considered upon guidance from an estate planning attorney when creating ways to provide for beneficiaries and reduce estate taxes.  This is a very generalized overview and to learn more please ask your insurance agent or do your own research on-line.

The control of the ILIT rests with a trustee, not the beneficiary (in this case the lady who called me).  This is done because of the estate tax benefits.  You can learn more by clicking here.  As with most people, she did not like knowing she had “all this money”, yet couldn’t access it when she wished.  I came to learn that was part of the plan.

I shared this insight with the lady. Apparently I was the first person she met who sat down and explained to her how this ILIT all worked. I was also the only woman advisor/insurance agent she had ever met.  She found me through my Yellow Page listing.

I learned that she was unhappy because the ILIT controlled her spending.  She had to ask a young man( who was the trustee) for any money which was needed  in addition to the monthly payment which had been established.  The goal of the plan was to keep her from running out of money.   I learned that her ILIT  did contain a universal life policy, the trust was created by an attorney with involvement by the now-deceased husband, and seemed to be in good order and in her best interest.  The things the trustee had told her were true, if she did not control her spending, she ran the risk of outliving her money.  In this situation, the planning was really in her best interest and when we finished our discussion, she, for the first time, realized it.  We talked about other ways for her to finance the expenses she wanted to incur including having a roommate in her spacious home, moving to a smaller one, or cutting expenses elsewhere.

I never heard from her again, but I learned a lot.  I saw how the appropriate cash value life insurance policy can be an integral and useful part of estate planning and a way to take care of beneficiaries upon the death of the insured.  My passion for working with women to understand their finances was re-kindled.  I knew that if someone had taken time to speak to this lady in language she could understand, her life would have been much better.  Sometimes financial professionals forget that it is not all about the numbers,  it is about how the numbers improve the lives of clients and getting the  clients to understand that.  It also reinforced my belief that the best time to learn about finances is not when your spouse or family member has died and not there to explain things.  Learning the fundamentals as a young person will make things a lot easier throughout her or his lifetime.

This event has stayed with me.  My insurance career involved term life insurance and that worked well for my family and clients. The ILIT was a good example how a cash value policy can be beneficial in estate planning and for beneficiaries who may need some additional structure and measured control over assets.  Each situation is different and this posting is not intended to provide you with personal advice on your estate planning, financial planning, or insurance needs.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com

www.ffptalk.com

My Monkey Mind – Culture of Threes

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

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A Culture of Threes

These  Monkey Mind posts are just fun.  They allow me to step back, process thoughts, ideas, and other information which come my way, and then look for connections.   Connecting the dots is apparently a creative process.

Since our world is super-charged with information, it is impossible to react to everything which interests me.  So, I have used our culture of threes as a filter to lead me to those things which are worth pursuing further.

Our culture of threes was introduced to me by a trainer whose heritage was American Indian.  Her perspective was different from those of us in the audience.  She was attempting to teach change management and elevate the level of understanding about diversity in the workplace to a group of accounting oriented employees.  Her approach began with talking about how most of us (in the Western world), live in a culture where we refer to things in threes.   I had never thought about it, but she  went on to list a few common terms and descriptions such as:

Three blind mice

The three musketeers

Three strikes and you’re out

Then I began thinking of others like

Three Dog Night (a band)

Once, twice, three times a lady (from a song)

Three wise men

A triple threat

and of course the familiar , I’m counting to three and you better….

You can probably think of many more.  When I googled the subject I found some expanded writing which you can read by clicking here.

That day the instructor was trying to make a point about  how just because we are comfortable with a culture of threes, it doesn’t mean that everyone in the world sees things this way.  Unfortunately the subtlety of her message was not getting through to most.  One attendee stood up and informed the group that he had a lot of work to do at his desk and just wanted to know what not to say and do when it came to dealing with women.  He pretty much let us all know that this was a waste of time to him.  The instructor looked shocked, and I was so grateful that I wasn’t the speaker that day.

The culture of threes and the reaction of the man in the audience who was so resistant to change have stayed with me over the years.  As with most of us, when I hear something new, or someone wants me to pursue a certain activity, join a group, or spend my energy in a certain way, I often resist and shut off the message.  So I adopted a personal rule that when something came into my consciousness the first time I would just make a mental note and move on.  Then, when it comes again from a totally different source, I start paying attention.  When it arrives again for the third time from yet another source, I invest some time and energy is seeing what I am supposed to do with all these triggers of information.  I sense there is a message reminding me to open my heart and mind and see where things go from there.

In the last few weeks I had one of those culture of threes experiences.  These are just little things which don’t mean much to anyone else but me.  Put together, they have made me smile, encouraged me in my work with the Financial Freedom Party for Women, and connected some dots in a manner I didn’t expect.  I will be posting about them in future postings.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

www.financialfreedomparty.com and www.ffptalk.com

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My Monkey Mind – Change and the New Normal

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.
 

 It is interesting how we get into habits and then something changes such as a move to a new area.  Then we find ourselves learning new skills, experiencing a different lifestyle, meeting new people, and become more observant.

First, with our recent move from a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, to the hill country of Texas, I do not currently have daily access to Internet.  What used to be a simple phone call to the local cable or phone company to have service connected in a home in town just doesn’t work in the area where we live outside of town.  So I have become good friends with the Yellow Pages and my new hard-line telephone.  I can’t even research Internet providers on-line unless I go to town and where I use a connection in the library or McDonald’s.  However, at the library I discovered it has great Internet access and a generous check out limit of 25 books per person.  Apparently lots of folks home school children so the library accommodates their needs with this limit.  Nice and we all benefit.  My other Internet stop is the local McDonald’s.  I have seen that it is the hang-out for other Internet users and, more interestingly, the local elderly gentlemen who meet and have coffee in the morning or ice cream in the afternoon.  I have learned a lot about ranching, farming, trapping “coons”, trucks, farm equipment, families, friends, and Johnny Manziel (the Heisman Trophy winner who is from the city next door), during their conversations.   No, I am not eavesdropping; these southern gentlemen can be clearly heard by all.  They make me smile.  Like I said, a change in environment teaches us new skills and forces us to pay more attention to our surroundings.

I have learned to be grateful for the guy who climbed up on the metal roof of the house in 100+ temperatures to see if his company could provide Internet service. When he told me they couldn’t, I was so busy wondering what to do next that I didn’t even react when I realized he had mentioned the word “sweetheart” when delivering the bad news.  Not my favorite term.   I decided that any man who lives in south central Texas and climbs on a hot roof in the Texas sun may call me whatever he wishes.  Still, no Internet and on to the next option.  I think the end is in site, but only when I sit at this table and use the Internet will I declare success.

We put a hardline telephone into our new place since half the time our cell phone calls drop.  Not having had a hard-line phone for personal use in a home for a very long time I decided to get the basic package with local service only. Stacks of costs for phones make me crazy and my preference is to use cell phones only.  So I was proud of my cost conscious decision to save $50 a month and not have long distance, voicemail and all that other stuff.  I reasoned that I could just use a prepaid long distance card and buy a phone with an old-fashioned recorder.  Never mind that I used to make fun of my Mom’s use of the recorder rather than voicemail   It only took me a visit to Wal-Mart, the local grocery store, and a popular convenience store to find out my calling card knowledge was lost in the stone ages.  I could buy cards to call Mexico, cards to add minutes to almost any cellular phone plan, and cards for international calling (which were kept in an enclosed plastic case) but there weren’t any cards for prepaid long distance.  Not giving up, I journeyed from the store to the library where I went on-line and found that yes; I could buy calling card access.  I purchased 300 minutes and felt like I was redeemed.  My plan worked.  The other night my husband was going to make a long distance call from our new hardline phone.  I told him I would dial it for him because I knew how to make it happen.  He informed me he could dial a phone by himself.  In the end, I did it for him since I had been practicing with that old-fashioned calling card.  New habits, new people, new experiences.  While we will never be back to our old normal, we will be up to a better than ever normal.

Until Next Time

Debra Hadsall

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www.ffptalk.com

www.financialfreedomparty.com

My Monkey Mind-Twizzlers, Man of Steel, and Marketing

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.
 

Twizzlers®, those red twisted sticks of chewy strawberry delight, are addictive.  My family calls them red licorice, even though we debate whether or not real licorice can be anything that isn’t black and tasting of licorice extract.

Personally, I think Twizzlers® sell themselves and don’t need to be advertised.  I have given up my other addictions, like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate, and Diet Coke.  Red licorice is my controlled indulgence. Even so, it just doesn’t seem fair that Twizzlers® are now advertised and repackaged in interesting ways to further seduce us into buying them.  For example, today I was walking through a Walgreens store.  It was my first visit there because we just moved to a new city.  I know to avoid the candy aisle, but those tricky product placement folks had Twizzlers® displayed on the main aisle in the middle of the store.  This is the wide high-traffic aisle where we shoppers go to get from place to place. As I glanced at the bags of temptation, I noticed something new.  Now we can buy Twizzlers® in extra-long sized pieces.  I stopped and picked up the bag. Those extra-long pieces look like they are at least a foot long.  Not fair.

I should have known something was going on with Twizzlers® when I saw a TV ad for the movie Man of Steel.  According to the publicity, Twizzlers® has teamed with The Man of Steel movie for an “invincible summer”.  The ad ends with pieces of Twizzlers® woven to create Superman’s emblem. Maybe it took those extra-long sticks of Twizzlers® to make that happen. 

I admire the mighty creative marketing staff who found a way to turn Superman’s chest into advertising for Twizzlers® . Undoubtedly the results will be  consumers heading to the candy counters at the movie theaters, or into the local stores. I am working hard not to be one of them!

The marketing of Twizzlers® is pretty awesome.  However, it is only marketing of a candy product and a movie.  This got me to thinking (a monkey mind thing) about just how powerful the results would be if the financial services industry could be as creative in marketing the information and products it provides. I am ready to be a part of that process. 

For the moment, I am staying away from Walgreens, and trying to visualize the Superman emblem when the focus was on Christopher Reeve’s chest.  Keeping my Twizzlers® consumption down is my version of an invincible summer.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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www.ffptalk.com

www.financialfreedomparty.com

My Monkey Mind

I once attended a weekend retreat for woman.  It was held in a wonderful and rustic meeting place in the Rocky Mountains, outside Colorado Springs. The goal was to spend some time in an environment which would force us out of the big city and free our minds. Easier said than done.

Our group leader was not only an ordained minister, but also a wife, mother, church leader, and highly extroverted woman, who was in demand throughout the country (and later overseas) as a speaker.  Just like us, her thoughts were often still back at home, or work, or with family, or somewhere else which stood in our way of truly retreating and growing spiritually. She taught us about the concept of “monkey mind”.  We all laughed when she described this unfocused and sometimes compulsive mental process.   Monkey mind seemed like a perfect description!

monkeysI don’t remember her exact words, but they were similar to those in a HuffingtonPost article which credits Buddha as describing the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.

We all have monkey minds  Personally I find my monkey mind to be powerful when writing and creating concepts.  That jumping around allows me to link different parts of my life, education, and experiences and create a useful chain.  However, my monkey mind is a negative influence when it fills up too much space in my mind and steals away my spirit while spinning me into circular cycle of tasks, tasks, tasks, and more tasks.

We live in a sound bite world.  Blogging is often most effective when it features sound bite pieces of useful information.   So, I am going to periodically make postings under the title of “My Monkey Mind” to share some of the short and random thoughts from my monkey mind about financial management, women and money, and the topics in the Financial Freedom Party for Women.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com