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    Women Over 50: Your Professional Checklist

    Quick tips on keeping your finances and career in optimal shape.

    Women Over 50: Boosting Your Financial and Professional Power continued...

    ___Be disciplined. Stick with your retirement plan. Take advantage of catch-up provisions in IRAs and 401(k)s that allow you to put away more tax-deferred income if you're 50 or older.

    ___Develop good habits. Women over 50 should set up a household budget. It's a good habit to live below your means. Don't build up debt.

    ___Protect your credit. Good credit allows you buy a home affordably, and protects you from costly loans with outrageously high fees. Because errors on your credit report can creep in (errors that could make you look like a bad credit risk) check your credit report at least once a year -- for free -- at

    ___Keep it simple. Make sure to automate as much as possible. If you have an employer retirement plan, set up regular deductions. If you don't, open an individual IRA and automate regular withdrawals from a checking or savings account. Self-employed? You can open a SEP IRA and a self-employed 401(k) to achieve the same ends. Taking care of your retirement picture -- while you're still working -- is one of the most important things you can do to for your financial future.

    ___Talk about it. When you're ready for a new career -- or planning a big change of any kind -- talk about it with friends, family, even acquaintances. Such networking may not only result in leads, but even more great new ideas.

    ___Read inspiring books. Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Jack Canfield's The Success Principles, and Marcus Buckingham's Now, Discover Your Strengths are good reading material as you start your search.

    ___Take self-improvement classes. Use a week's vacation on an inspiring workshop, one that will help you find your new path. Even if you can't quit your job right now, taking steps toward your dreams will bring satisfaction.

    ___Find a life coach. This is not a therapist or a psychologist. It's someone who will listen to your dreams, help you talk through the possibilities, and guide you on your path. While one-on-one counseling can be expensive, life coaches often hold weekly group sessions that are affordable. Barnett meets weekly via telephone with several women -- living in California, Oregon, and Florida -- in a group session.

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    50 Great Things About Women Over 50

    1. 1.You speak your mind, and do what you want.
    2. 2.You don't worry about getting pregnant - at last!
    3. 3.You know that everything is just a "little" thing.
    4. 4.The #1 relationship in your life is with yourself.

    The best thing about being 50 is: