Lively and experienced. Sometimes blonde.


In SOPHIE REDESIGNED, Deborah Conyers is financially unprepared for what could be a longer lifetime than she ever imagined.  Like so many women growing up in the 1950s, she thought she’d been taken care of by men.  No one in those days thought about inflation; we only thought things would get better and better.  And they did – for a while.

My mother often said: “The downfall of civilization was Elvis Presley and The Pill.”  That’s when we all went a little crazy and monogamy for even “nice” women went out of style.  Deborah’s husband was faithful, but he died without a pension or life insurance, and she didn’t have the education to get a well-paid job.  The “Golden Girl” in her “Golden Years” was blindsided by Cost of Living increases.  Plan B, then, was to catch another man.

My mother was so surprised to receive a monthly check for being a housewife.  Those were the days when feminists first started to calculate how much a housewife’s work was worth in dollars and cents.  Barbara Bergman, in “The Economic Risks of Being a Housewife” (American Economic Review, May 1981), notes that “to be a housewife is to be a member of the largest single occupation in the U.S. economy.”

Bergman says, “The housewife’s attractiveness to her husband can be thought of as a component of the human capital needed for her job, and she may be in the position of seeing this part of her portfolio of assets wane either gradually or suddenly.”

Now we understand Deborah’s abiding concern about her appearance.

Sophie, on the other hand, always managed the finances for her family, not just because her husband was on the road a lot and she had to pay the bills, but because she was good at it.  She had enough saved up to launch a second career, which will require a great deal of travel.

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