Talking Money With Barbara O’Neill

Talking Money With Barbara O’Neill

Talking Money With Barbara O’Neill

Talking money can be an awkward conversation depending on the situation, but it really shouldn’t be. Why do we think that is? Having conversations about money seems to be awkward, or unnecessary for a lot of different people. When the truth is the exact opposite. Talking about money with your spouse, or your family members, or a professional has been shown to help work through whatever you may be dealing with. In a couple of my previous blogs, similar themes come up and the professionals I speak with tend to agree that talking about money can be incredibly helpful.

In this episode of Your Longest Life, I got a chance to talk with Barbara O’Neill. Barbara is the owner and CEO of Money Talk, a financial planning seminars and publications. As well, is the author of 6 books, a distinguished Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, and a certified financial planner. So when thinking of who would be the best person to speak with on the topic of money, Barbara was the one! Her most recent book is Flipping a Switch: Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life. This book was released around when COVID-19 started to become an issue, which was in early March 2020. She realized that many on the transitions she spoke about throughout her book were very similar to what people were now going through because of COVID-19. 

Similarities to COVID-19

Barbara mentions that in her book there are about 35 transitions she uses to write about financial security in later life. Seeing the effects of COVID-19 on peoples’ finances, work, personal life, and everything in between shows how connected these two events are. Some would say COVID-19 could be seen as a dress rehearsal for retirement, as both have similar issues. In our interview, Barbara mentions 3 main parts of her book, which are financial, social, and lifestyle. Let’s go through the points mentioned, and give a bit of a run-down of what those mean. 


Speaking about money, and finances tend to make some people very uncomfortable. Whether it is speaking with a spouse, a friend, or a professional. These conversations are good to have, especially with a spouse, as you can line up savings goals, spending habits, etc. When a couple is looking into retirement, finances are up there with the most important aspects to have on track to make for an easy transition.  Barbara mentions that when people talk about money they tend to focus on the large scale. This could be the economy, or stocks. Now you may think that those who are uncomfortable talking about money would be those that don’t have a lot. But actually it goes both ways. Those who have a little can be embarrassed, but same with those who have a lot. Sometimes there is a guilt associated with having more than maybe others in your life.

This has been very apparent through the last year of COVID-19. Some have lost jobs, or income because of the pandemic. Whereas others have had an increase in their work, and their pay. If we are talking about finances, savings goes hand in hand with that. And savings are a pivotal point in thinking about retirement. A main theme of Barbara’s latest book, Flipping a Switch: Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life, is how to switch from savings mode to spending mode. People can be in a saving mode for a long time, and this could be hard to flip a switch. This is a common issue for a lot of people. You spend so much of your life working, and saving to have the retirement you deserve. When you eventually get there, it is hard to change all those habits you have in place from your saving days. COVID-19 is shifting the way people think of their money. Many of the activities people usually save towards aren’t available right now, like travel, concerts, or events.

The 4% rule is based on research done in the early 1990’s. Found that if people had at least 50% of their portfolio in stocks. They had a high probability of having their assets last 30 years, if they withdrew about 4% of their savings every year.

Barbara cautions that this rule should be used as a guide line, but to look at your own individual situations, and tweak it to fit your lifestyle. This could be done on your own, but seeing a financial advisor may help with these type of decisions.


A question that might pop up when you start to shift into your retirement years is what is my purpose now? Going from being one person all your life; a hard worker, someone who provides for those around them, and the driving force behind your finances. If we were to think of retirement, the current situation due to COVID-19, and what effects it has on your social life, what would you think about? Loss of social connections, lack of in person communication, or a decrease in freedom of movement.

With retirement comes more time at home, and more time at home together with a spouse. That can raise issues you may never encountered before because of time away from the home at work. COVID-19 in some circumstances, is restricting where people are able to work, and many people are now working remotely. Therefore, having more time at home with a partner. Is COVID-19 effecting where you are working? Are you working from home? If so, is that having any ramifications on your relationships in your home?

People are very social creatures. Both retirement, and COVID-19 can create shifts in how people communicate with each other. Loneliness is something to keep in mind, as many people who are in their retirement years find it hard to maintain the same social network without work. Throughout this pandemic, this has also been a major issue for many, as they work from home or are going without work.  Some things Barbara mentions to keep in touch with others:

  • Volunteering
  • Joining clubs
  • Zoom calls with family and friends


Retirement is a big lifestyle change for people. Many people stop working completely, or at least decrease the amount they work. Some people may decide to move, to another city, country, or maybe just to a smaller home. You now have the time to pick up that hobby you never had time for before. If you are thinking of downsizing, one major thing that Barbara and I mention in our interview, is how to deal with all your stuff. Years of accumulating memories comes with a lot of stuff at the end! And if you are wanting to move into a smaller dwelling, you will most likely have to get rid of a decent chunk of it.

There are 3 options that we have when thinking about what to do with your stuff:

  1. Sell it! Lots of different ways to do that; you can use Facebook Marketplace, online, in-person at neighborhood get togethers (making sure you keep safe if you choose this route!)
  2. Gifting it! You would be surprised about how many people around you may appreciate the things you don’t need anymore. Donating is a great option too.
  3. Throw it out! When in doubt, throw it out! Making room in your life for new memories.

What Takeaways Did You Find?

Barbara O’Neill is surely an expert when it comes to retirement, and the finances that come with that. Her book would be a great read really for anyone, as we see there are so many similarities between retirement, and COVID-19. I have added a link above, when I first mentioned her book, that you can purchase on Amazon.

The top 3 takeaways Barbara came up with are this:

  1. Develop some sort of plan in advance – Do this before you flip the switch
  2. Identity bridging – If you can carry something through from the work life to the personal life
  3. Take really good care of yourself – This seems like an obvious one, but this will make your life easier later on

Are you an ant or a caterpillar? You will have to watch our interview to find out what I am meaning by that, but I would like to hear how you think of yourself! For full episodes of my podcast, Your Longest Life, and to hear more about living to 100 check out this link.

To contact Ian call or text (250) 616-3641 or email

Ask how Ian can develop an accurate evaluation of your home using a virtual meeting room from the comfort of your own home.

Future focused and positive

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