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Ellen Sills-Levy

Episode 46: How Financial Literacy Affects How Women Invest, with Ellen Sills-Levy

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Lynn S. Evans, and I am the host of Power Of The Purse podcast. There was a time in my life not too long ago when I believed three things about money. One, women are not supposed to talk about or be included in any conversations about money. Two, women don’t have the natural ability to understand anything about money. And three, men know best how to manage money.

And those truths I made up about money guided me for years until I realized money was not a foreign language or some other obscure academic exercise, and it was something I could not only understand but teach to other women. Too many times I have heard stories from women who ought to know better but didn’t, until they were forced to because of divorce, widowhood, job loss, or the approach of retirement. This podcast will add another chapter to a rich history of successful women who when faced with some personal challenges found the ability to step beyond them.

We’ll examine some of the truths they made up about money from their life experiences and how that shaped the paths they chose. My mission is to help women have a healthy, positive relationship with money. With that in mind, my guest today is Ellen Sills-Levy. She is the founder and client insights director of ESL Insights LLC. She has been involved in the world of market research for many years, and she has been involved with BBDO International, Citibank, Simmons Market Research Bureau, Investment Research Services, segment head of TNS Custom Research Inc., Phoenix Marketing International, and back to where she starts the whole thing, which is founder and chief insights officer of ESL Insights LLC. Welcome, Ellen.

Thank you Lynn, very happy to be talking with you.

You have such an incredible background of so many, I would call them, white glove-type firms that have done market research. And I know you said to me that a lot of your specialty has been in the wealth management area, which is really part of what I do and continue to do, so I’d be very excited to listen to some of the research that you’ve come up with in all these different companies you’ve worked for and the one you’re now involved with on your own. So tell me, what is the one thing that pops out for you in wealth management studies you’ve done and women?

Well, even today, when women are a really hot topic if you will, all women are lumped together as one group. There’s very little recognition of the different segments of women beyond their ages and net investible assets. There’s very little that’s done to show how their backgrounds, how their emotions, play into the kinds of investments they have, their financial literacy if you will, their financial behavior.

Mm-hmm. One of the things that has always been underneath everything that I’ve been doing is to try to raise the level of financial literacy of women. It’s the reason why I wrote the book Power of the Purse, and the reason why we’re doing the podcast, because I really believe that women, especially baby boomer women, have made huge strides in the marketplace as far as their career track, their ability to succeed and reach CEO levels, but all along the way there’s never been any formal training or, it’s one of those things about money. You just want to push it to the side, and that as I said before in the introduction, when women get to the point of job loss, nearing retirement, widowhood, or divorce, all of a sudden it comes right in their face and raises up the most incredible fears and pain and all that kind of stuff.

So I know that money, wealth management, and financial planning issues for women are very different based on their ages because—

Based on their ages, the way they were brought up, the way they thought about money, if you will their financial intelligence, we even do some work that goes into their unconscious. And again, we don’t ever want to lump all women together. What happened and why are they doing what they’re doing, and how do you help, how do you educate, and how do you get rid of that underlying fear that’s there?

And we’re, you know baby boomer women today are in a much better position than the women who came before them. But it’s all still there, and it may underlie why women tend, overall, to be more conservative than men in their investment decisions.

Women tend, overall, to be more conservative than men in their investment decisions. Click To Tweet

Why do you think it is that women continue to have such a high level of financial illiteracy?

I think it’s, well our society as a whole, I’m talking about the U.S., has a high level of financial illiteracy. So that comes from your home environment, the way you’re raised, what you were exposed to, education, schooling, the way numbers and finance were presented to you.

Do you think that there is a difference in the financial literacy levels of women who have actually been let’s say raised in an environment where they are from I would say ultra-high net worth versus those who have been in what we might call the mass affluent? Is there a difference?

I think, I haven’t really looked at that and the research sets. I know Dr. Anna Maria Lusardi at Georgetown has done a great deal of work on financial literacy, but I’ve never seen any breaks in terms of if you will affluent women versus more mass-affluent. A lot of what you were getting at here too, there’s personality types. So you can be from an affluent household, but you may not have been raised to manage money or think about it or not care about it.

I’ve seen that so many times when we’ve worked with trust and estates managers if you will, and thinking about their client, and yet if you came from a lower class background or a middle class background and it was just tougher for you, that was a different impression. You may have been forced to learn or wanted to learn in different ways. So I think, again, there’s a personality type here too. It’s the way you’ve been taught, the way that you’ve learned, the environment you’re in, and the decisions you needed to make and need to make along the way.

What would you say is one of the most startling facts that you’ve discovered in your research about women and money?

I guess, and this was, I don’t have the statistics as I’m talking to you but we’ve done a lot of work with small business owners, and this is particularly, it’s going to qualitative research. I’ll get back to you with quantitative if I can find it. I was amazed how many CEOs of small businesses hand over the money decisions, the investment decisions, to their accountants. It’s forever startling to me.

Well it’s not to me, and—

And after this call, I’ll try to get you hard numbers for that, but it’s—

Oh, that’s okay, I—

I always walk away and say, really?

I just think that one of the things I’ve discovered in the 30 some years I’ve been doing this is that the number one person by profession that people trust are their accountants, and more importantly CTAs. And I don’t know, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they are not commission-based, they are people who charge by the hour for what they do or with a set fee for the project. And I think that puts people in a place where there’s trust, a greater amount of trust. And I’ve seen that the team most people have when they are business owners is their CPA number one, that’s the most trusted person.

The number one person by profession that people trust are their accountants. Click To Tweet

Most trusted, right.

And their attorneys…

Yes, I agree, totally.

…And then maybe you might find a financial advisor in there, depending on their compensation structure. But I still think that, regardless of what has happened in all of, what went on in 2007, 8, and 9, and the collusion with some of the big firms, the big accounting firms with all of what transpired in the—

Right, and all the ratings.


And the ratings firms, right.

Yes, but they still survived that. They still survived it. So I don’t know, I don’t know what that is, if there’s ever going to be a black mark against them, I don’t know. But that’s interesting that you said that that is one of the things that is most common, because to me it’s just the kind of thing that I think will go on for generations because of who they are.

And I’d love to have the opportunity, I’d love to have the research assignment to find out why and what’s really driving that. There are more women who’ve entered the accounting profession, so what I’ve also never seen or been involved with was, is there more trust of a female CPA than a male CPA?

That’s a good question.

Don’t know, I don’t know. It’s raising all kinds of questions. But as we are… As a whole as American adults, we are incredibly financially illiterate. We don’t know how to understand compound interest. And I don’t, from everything we’ve done, I don’t believe that’s just a matter of education. I believe it’s the way, if you will, individuals are wired and what happens at home and what we learn from our parents and everyone around us too.

And we’re going to get to that in a couple minutes, but…

Okay, and maybe money, it’s not fun if you will, it’s frightening. And I, by the way, that’s true for men too you know, different segments of men.

I agree with you, absolutely agree with you. Let’s talk about your firm, ESL Insights. I think that that’s an interesting breakaway, let’s call it that, from some of the larger firms that you’ve been a part of and at senior levels. Why did you decide that it was time for you to go back out on your own?

I decided, believe it or not, it could be a lot of fun because we like to work—


The three of us like to work directly with clients, and we think we have so much experience, and in today’s technological world there are so many tools at hand that we can use to answer clients’ questions, so it was an opportunity to be working with really smart partners. And my two partners, Beverly and Claire, started to talk to me, and Beverly was already doing something, and they said, “This would be great Ellen, we’ve got all the clients we’ve worked with in the past and all this experience and know how to run businesses.”

Of course, you’re always learning, as they say that. So it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun without a lot of bureaucratic restrictions on us.

That’s for sure.


That certainly is for sure.

And we understand, okay, as I say, that we certainly understand that, because we all come from big corporate environments.

Exactly. And tell me, what is it that makes ESL Insights so much different than everybody else that’s out there?

Okay, we’re very experienced in all aspects of market research and strategy. We’re up to date on all of the techniques. We are hands-on with our clients. We don’t hand off the work we do to other people. We like to have younger people that we work with, but we’re not handing projects off, so clients get us throughout. And we listen very carefully to the client’s issues and do our best to bring the best ideas forward if you will. Offer different alternatives, and coming up with solutions for our clients. And again, I’ve probably said it, we truly enjoy working with clients who are struggling to find the answers to their most vexing business and marketing issues.

I love that.

And one I can tell you is going on, is still going on, in wealth management is how do you keep usually the female spouse after the husband dies.

Right. And I think that’s—

And another one is how do we get more people to buy annuity? But those are vexing issues, they’re fun to work on.

Well, isn’t the stat something like 70% of widows leave their husbands’ financial advisors within the first year following his death?

Yes. Yeah.

That’s huge.

And yet, every company is still struggling with that, so I know we’ve just… Actually, I can’t tell you what it is, but we just put together a proposal to not go in after the fact, but to work before this happens. But we would love to be able to help solve that big issue. And the annuities question comes up all the time, not just with boomers now, with millennials.

I was very fortunate to work with Dr. Anna Maria Lusardi, who runs the financial literacy program at George Washington University and also Peter Tufano on some groundbreaking financial literacy work, so we see where things are at today. We really have a true desire to break through that and say, how do we get to people? How do we get to… And we believe we need to get to them in terms of, if you will, their unconscious neuro-behavior, what’s really going on there.

Let me ask you another question that you hit upon earlier. When you talked about taking the idea of the market research that you do and helping the clients to solve the problem, can you give me an example of what that is? How do you take market research and translate that into action in a business environment?

Okay, well you’re not doing the market research in extractions, so the work we do if you will is custom for our clients. They are trying to market a product or they think there’s an opportunity, or even in the property and casualty insurance space, I’ll give you an example. A company may believe that they really don’t understand who their clients are and what their needs are, and what they know about insurance. So we will design a program, a custom program, to answer questions, possibly raise new ones, but answer questions for our clients. And before we do that, we will actually look through what is available out there and what the client has, whatever there might be in terms of existing research, and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. So then we’ll propose original market research when we think it’s necessary.

Okay, so now you’ve got the research and you’ve got some great answers to the questions. Now how do you translate that into something that makes a difference with the business who is your client?

Well, we work with the clients throughout the process if you will. I mean, I can think back to something that I was involved in a number of years ago where one of the major wealth managers wanted to understand why people who left their firm still keep their money in the 401(k) account with the financial advisor. Why don’t they move, and are all people who don’t move the same? So we did in-depth interviews with some of their clients, and then we built a questionnaire on the basis of that, and that questionnaire was administered to a very large number of people who had not invested, who had not moved their accounts. They hadn’t rolled over in any way even though they left their firm.

And the questionnaire, the questions we asked provided the answers. We were also able to analyze the data to see that not everyone was alike. We defined specific segments of people who hadn’t rolled over, and from what we learned we were able to give our client our detailed guidance as to who to target and what to say to them, and the best ways to communicate with them in terms of media and social media.

And did that make a difference?

Yes, it definitely made a difference. It’s definitely made a difference, yeah.


And usually, that’s what happens. But we don’t just do research to do research.

Yeah. Well I imagine—

We work with the clients from the beginning, and in the end. And you want to know that whatever you’re going to come out with will make sense, you can have interesting questionnaires but so what?


They’ve got to be useful.

Exactly, that was my point, that a lot of times I’ve seen market research and I’ve been asked to fill out questionnaires, and I often wonder what do you do with that information? How does that move the needle one way or the other?


So I’m glad you used that example, because it makes it a little bit clearer to me and I’m sure to some of the people listening, just what does one do with all of that market research? How does that affect the bottom line of a business? So I’m glad you gave me that example, that makes some sense.

Thank you.

Okay, let us, I want to just ask a couple more questions about what it is that you do and have done, but how did you get involved in all of this? I understand that you have a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and then you have an MBA from Columbia, but how did you get from where you started in the world of business to where you are today? Who motivated you to do market research?

Well, I found that when I went to Columbia Business School, I had every intention of majoring in finance. But then I took some marketing courses, and I was truly captured. Particularly by one professor, and I realized how curious I’d always been about people. Not only what they do, but why do they do what they do? And I then, so I was curious and I took more than one market research course and decided I was going into marketing. When I got my MBA, there were five women, this is quite a while ago-

In a class of how many?

Yeah. And women weren’t being hired in marketing, so I took my love of market research and starting interviewing that way with the guidance of Columbia Business School, and was very fortunate that I got my first job at what was then General Foods in corporate market research.

Wow, okay.

And so I didn’t have a psychology degree, I had an MBA. In those days they wanted PhDs in market research. So then what I did I took some courses at night at the new school, but I was very fortunate in that my bosses at thought I had a gift for market research and loved it, and working with clients and creative people, so somehow it worked out.

That’s great. And then you have a lot of other places that you’ve worked, different campaigns that you’ve been involved with—

Major campaigns.

Some of which we’d know. So how did you get from where you were, I know at one point you were part of your own firm, then you sold it and then you came back to it. So what was it about market research as a business world that made you decide that you could compete with some of these bigger companies as a sole proprietor, as a business owner?

I always loved it, and even when I was, you know I was at BBDO for 11 years and had a very fast track career in market research, and I was on our strategic review board, and I knew that I had very good rapport with clients, worked on major campaigns, understood the marketing as well, and in subsequent jobs, even just loved, even when Citibank, one of our clients, and I was hired there as director of communications because I thought, okay, I’ll make a big jump. I’ll go into marketing and have research reporting to me. And I still kept coming back, because I just always loved it, and clients kept reinforcing that I really made an impact on what they did. And enjoying new techniques as well, and enjoyed the creativity of market research, but always listening to the clients’ issues and knowing the client has to make business decisions with what we did.

And I was actually very fortunate in starting ESL when I did, way back when, because one of my clients asked me if they could actually put me in business.

Wow. That was nice.

That doesn’t normally happen, I remember not believing it and taking the documents to a friend of mine who was CEO of a big market research firm and saying, “Is this real?” So at any rate…

I love that.

Thank you. And I didn’t think, I knew there was so much competition. It’s very easy in the market research field to just go ahead and say you’re a focus group moderator. You know, it’s very easy to do that. I didn’t look at the major competition as my competition, whether that was wise or not I don’t know. But I had companies who I held up as a standard that I wanted to be like, and some of them were the major consulting firms like McKinsey or Booz Allen.

And so there you were on your own. Did you ever get any kind of pushback at all because of the fact that you were a woman in this business?

Not pushback to getting business, but I remember wanting to rent our first office space in Manhattan, the owner of the building wouldn’t deal with me and I told the broker that since I was paying the bill, he’d have to.

And did he succumb?

Eventually, yes.


He did, and I had to bring in some good advice. I should also say the whole time I’ve had ESL, I don’t know what possessed me because I know now they advise it, but I had a board of advisors—


And they were extremely helpful to me, and these were people who were successful business people.

Yes, that’s a very smart move.

Many men and women, and I got really great advice from them going forward. And even though I was a sole proprietor at the beginning, then I got a business partner, Claire, who was really smart. Claire Tinker, who came out of Xerox, so that has always been tremendous support. But I didn’t get the pushback from the clients, you get the pushback on, “Well, you aren’t a large company,” or you know if you were competing with somebody, I remember having a potential client come up to our offices and we did everything we could to make sure we looked like we certainly were in business, but we weren’t large. But you know, we tried hard. We did get the business, but there were lots of tests like that if you will.

Oh yeah, I think everybody who’s ever done anything on their own has stories like that where you tried to compete, and the other thing I found a lot of times was as I got older in the business, the questions were coming up about, well what happens if something happens to you? Or what happens if you retire? Those are questions I never even thought about, but they’re all the kinds of same things, it’s a sole proprietor issue and it’s just great that you did the advisory board too, because that is brilliant.

Yeah, it was just, they were wonderful to me. I could call whenever, but I picked people who I knew were smart, knew their business, and also were giving people, and just didn’t want their name around. Some have been through really tough times and told me that too, and survived, so you learn from everybody with it. But I found another issue that came up, I’m glad the world is different today. We were doing global work very early before we had today’s technology, and the question would be boots on the ground, so I learned how to joint venture pretty quickly too.

That’s great, makes sense.

Yeah, but I’ll never forget trying to sublet the first space. That was unbelievable.

But the thing is, it’s fun to look back on that now and laugh, but at the time it was—

I have to laugh, and it’s a tough New York real estate owner, what can I say?

Yeah, yeah. Let’s switch this around now, I’d like to talk about some of the experiences you’ve had with money as you were growing up. And you mentioned before that for all of us, who we are in the world of money is a function of not just our gender, but also what we’ve learned by observation or not, from parents and significant people in our lives, so let’s go back and take a look at some of those people in your life and what you learned about that. So what was your family life like when you were growing up?

I’ll tell you that, and I’m going to relate it to a tool we have and how I wouldn’t use it on myself at first. Okay. So my immediate family, there were four of us. I grew up in Brooklyn before it was fashionable. My parents were college graduates. My mother came to the U.S. when she was four years old, and my father was born in Brooklyn. They were, we were a close-knit family, I had paternal grandparents that lived nearby and my godmother and godfather who I adored tremendously lived next door to us.

My father was a product of the Depression, meaning he graduated from college in 1929, he was an architect and engineer, he didn’t have a job for a long time, his family lost a lot of money when the banks failed, he worked for, finally got a job for the WPA. That was the lasting effect on money in our household. My mother came from a very entrepreneurial family, quite different. I think they had a very different experience, and she was kind of always the saving grace.

So money was something you worked very hard for, you had to be very careful about spending it, about buying things. There was always a fear of loss with my father, a constant fear of loss. And there was a message that no one was going to take care of you if you didn’t take care of yourself. So I worked probably, I mean I started babysitting when I was about 10. I was a good typist, I typed for people. I didn’t get an allowance, and when I finally did I was probably 12 and then it was something like $5 a week, and then when I went to college I was—

That’s pretty good, $5 a week is great.

That was pretty good? Okay. Well you had to pay for everything including your clothing from that.

Okay, all right.

That wasn’t extra spending money, you paid for everything. Plus my father got us our own telephone, so my sister and I had to pay our own telephone bills from our allowance.

No kidding? Wow.

No kidding. No kidding, it was like, yeah, and I went, I was fortunate enough to go to Brooklyn College because guess what? It was free, and I got in and worked the whole time, and I got a scholarship and loan to Columbia Business School. My father wasn’t paying for that either. So those are, I’m laughing now, it was really tough and you always had to make tradeoffs. So to this day, my friends will say I’m a really poor shopper. That’s because in my mind, I’m making those tradeoffs and I don’t want to spend the money.

Give me an example. Give me an example, what do you mean by tradeoffs?

Well I’ll go, say, clothing shopping, or people will say something to me and say, “God Ellen, you would look really good in that,” or I’ll go with one of my best friends and she’ll say, “Ellen, this will be great, this will be great,” and in my mind I’m saying, “Oh no, I can’t afford that, and it’s not on sale, and when am I going to wear that?” Usually I’ll walk out without anything. And yet people say I dress very well, so I have to laugh, because you don’t want to go shopping with me because I’m going to tell you why you don’t need it.

Well that’s not a bad thing, you could be a very helpful friend.

Very helpful. And then I learned from, with health in my family, you paid for health, and I had early breast cancer about 12 years ago and I remember insurance wasn’t going to cover something, and I said, “I’ll pay for it.” You know, I learned you really had to take care of yourself. The money was for emergencies, you always need to have something in the bank. However, I never learned about investing in my family, okay? I had to learn about it—

No, that’s because you didn’t have the opportunity to invest anything.

I didn’t have it, and my father would never tell us what he had, and my mother and father fought over money. I’m being really honest, I didn’t want to go down and have breakfast most mornings. Then there was always a battle over it, and my mother luckily had some of her own money from, she worked. She worked until the week before she had me, and she always wanted to be back working, she didn’t like being home. So she had some of her own money, but money was a total battle in our household. My mother tried to make up for things occasionally, and I learned how to negotiate because my father wasn’t going to give us money for things.

So what, did you play your mom against your father?

No, my mom would say to me, my mother would say to me, “Ellen, we need this.” I think one time she said to me, I guess it was a new dishwasher, and she said, “Ellen, you’ve got to get your father to buy the dishwasher, he won’t.” I just worked on him for months, months, to the point … And he didn’t want to see me in the morning, because he knew I was coming.

That’s funny.

As a result is that he used to say to me, “You could sell the Brooklyn Bridge,” but he would see me coming and say, “Oh, another proposition.” And he didn’t like it, but I think in the end he may have admired me, but it was a really tough lesson about money and truth is, when I decided to go to graduate school, I hadn’t saved up enough money to pay my own for the rest of my life, right? And my father cut me off, so I was lucky that I knew how to work and I was lucky I got jobs and I was lucky that I had a very low-rate loan, and education, because I was cut off. So it was really a… It’s some very good tough lessons, and I think maybe, I think probably that fear of loss has gotten in my way so much of my life.

Yeah, I can see for a lot of people that fear of stepping into the unknown means that you kind of play things pretty close to the vest.

Yep, and I would never, I learned from my mother and father that you never shared what you had with each other, not really great for a relationship I guess but I can’t possibly share. I’ve been married, I’ve been divorced, my goddaughter is someone I really trust and she knows what I have but other than that, I just…

What do you mean about you don’t share your money? You mean you don’t share knowledge of the money or you don’t really share money?

Not sharing knowledge of your money. I will, I right now I have a significant other, but we don’t live together and I don’t share what I have or do, and we each kind of pay for our families when we do things, but when I was married I just wouldn’t have joint accounts. It was a lesson from my parents for better or for worse.

Yeah. What do you think has been most threatening to your financial security?

Well, most threatening, if I really thought hard about that… There was… Most threatening to me maybe has been all this insecurity, but I think in the end it’s been positive for me, I’ve managed it pretty well. Most threatening that happened to me is there I was as a sole business proprietor in the dotcom crash, and I could see for months before that even though we didn’t have tech clients, business was really slow and people weren’t making decisions. And we were really small and I had some employees and I still had expenses and everything, and that was terrifying because I was going into my own finances to keep things going. I did in the end restructure the firm and I had to let people go, and we moved to less expensive space. That was pretty frightening to be honest with you, and then I had all my insecurities going with me to begin with, so…

Did you get anything, did you make up I should say, did you make up any truths about life having gone through that experience through the dotcom crash that really informed other decisions you made from that point forward?


Was it something like, “I’m never going to (fill in the blank) again?”

Okay, well, I learned that I really should go on my instincts. Well, I was being told by some people that know, including my accountant, saying to me, “What do you mean you’re going to keep the more experienced people?” And I said, “Yeah, because they can do the work of three people, each person. So we’re going to have three of us who are experienced rather than eight of us.” I thought much more about going on my own instincts. I learned that I could survive it, it was okay to make the changes. I also learned if I’m feeling something or I have an instinct, don’t wait that long. Don’t wait that long, and I—

Yeah, act on it.

When 2008 came, I was doing all this research on what Americans knew about subprime insurance, that was in the summer of 2007 and I was going to all these conferences and I was saying, “My god, this [is] going to crash and we’re just going to crash.” I was okay, and I wasn’t really hurt by the crash because I… But it took me longer than it should’ve to act on the instinct because, whatever, you know. And I wasn’t managing my own money. But I was, I learned my worry is good and bad, and it could be healthy. But that was pretty scary quite frankly, and I got divorced, and I was divorced a long time ago, but that wasn’t as threatening to my financial security, I think because I was older when that happened it was more threatening.

Wow. Well, do you ever see yourself being retired?

No. I never want to be retired.

Yeah, a lot of people say that.

I love working, I love working.

You love what you do, right?

I love what I do, I love the way the world is changing, I’m so curious. I love the technology. I think it’s really fun, so I don’t think I’ll be retiring. And then I know that just about everyone I know who’s retired isn’t really retired.

Yeah, that’s true.

They have other businesses, other investments, I just visited a couple I know who retired, and they must be the only people in their community who retired and not doing anything but managing their money. Because I said to some of the people I met, “Oh, you’re serial entrepreneurs? You’re running businesses from here?”

Yeah, exactly.

You know, so I—

I think that is so much the way it is today than it was when our parents retired, because there was almost like a line in the sand, and this was the date and the time you were officially retired. And then from that point forward, it was a life of volunteer, leisure, that’s just how it was. But I think baby boomers today are completely revamping what that means. It’s almost like you say, I’m going to retire from the career that I built to a certain point, and I’m going to start something else.

Baby boomers today are completely revamping the meaning of retirement. Click To Tweet

I’ll do something else or do something else I’m interested in, and then let’s be real. 2008 hurt a lot of people, and people held back on making investments if they could, and so had to work longer to begin with.

Yes, that’s correct.

And so their children were hurt by 2008, so many people are supporting their children, things they didn’t think they would be doing.

Yeah, that’s true.

So there are a variety of different reasons why, and divorce was high in the baby boomer generation. I guess I’m one of those products you know, so… More women on your own if you can, so we’re living in a very different world today if you will, and I personally, my father worked until he was about, let’s see, 75. My father retired from this privately held firm he was in, but then he went to work for the City of New York, as commissioner of environmental protection, and he loved working and he loved being with young people, and he went to take this course in computer mapping up at Harvard, my father’s now been dead 33 years, so it’s a long time ago. And he was having a great time, but then he was pushed out. And my father, who had so many different interests when he was working, was so sad. And I read his diary after he died, it was just sad, and you couldn’t motivate him to do stuff.

I know in the neighborhood, he organized the zoning board, and some young people told me about it after my father died and how much they liked him, but my father was really upset with being retired if you will. And the interests he had just didn’t keep going in the same way, so I didn’t have the most positive picture of retirement either.

How about your mom?

My mom was a really frustrated homebody. My mother worked as I said, until the week before she had me. She was a businesswoman. She really wanted to go back to work, my father never wanted her to go back to work, so it was a battle. So my mother I guess was, she was at home and she read all the time and whatever, and it wasn’t that great when my father retired. Quite frankly she wasn’t used to him being around. She just so wasn’t really retirement. She continued, after he died, she did much more of what she personally was interested in but she never went back, and she always regretted that. I mean, she would always push me to be a businesswoman, push me.

Well, that’s good, you were. You were and are.

Still are, right. But retirement was different, what can I say?

It certainly was, and we have choices now that we never had when your mother and father reached that point in their lives, and thank god we have that.

Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Well, thanks to my guest, Ellen Sills-Levy. To all of you in my Power Of The Purse community, I hope today’s podcast was helpful in enriching your understanding of money and how it can help you achieve your goals. If you’d like to spend 15 minutes on a call with me and ask me questions about your personal finances, please go to my website, powerofthepursepodcast.com, select the Contact tab, and find a time that works for you. Thanks again, Ellen Sills-Levy for sharing your time and knowledge, and tell people how they can get in touch if they’d like to.

Thank you very, very much Lynn, this has been very interesting. Probably the best way to get in touch with me is through email, ellen@esl-consulting.com or on our website, www.esl-consulting.com.

Thanks again, and until the next time thanks for listening, and remember. Money is not the enemy, your ignorance of it is. Until the next time, thanks for listening and goodbye.

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