How’s Your Memory?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Maybe you know someone with an incredible memory. A few lucky people have what are called “autobiographical memories”. They can recall just about every detail about every day of their life. These people are rare, but they exist. Marilu Henner is an example.

Unfortunately, that’s not me. I am guessing it’s not you either. Most days I spent about 10 or 15 minutes trying remember where I put my car keys.

If you are age 50 or older, odds are you have some doubts about your ability to recall names or to recite a list of facts and figures. Remembering the names of people you meet at parties or events can be a major challenge. Recalling a list of items is next to impossible. Memorizing your passwords and log in information? Forget about it.

Too often we assume that we are stuck with the memories we have, with no ability to improve our memory skills and no control over what we perceive as an inevitable byproduct of getting older.

Now we are getting a little closer to something that sounds like me. Maybe you too.

But what if you could boost your memory recall by more than fivefold in less than 10 minutes?

What if I told you that you could recite from memory a list of 15 words and be able to remember it forward, backwards and every way in between? And what if you could recall this list perfectly with out traditional memorization techniques using nothing more than the God-given memory you are living with right now?

Like flipping a switch

At a past client event called “The One Hour Memory Switch” workshop we did just that.

Matt Goerke, creator of The Memory Switch Program argues that there is no such thing as a bad memory just an untrained one. Using specific techniques anyone can develop better memory skills.

The tree list

At the beginning of the workshop Matt gave us a list of 15 words. He called it his “tree list”.

After giving us the words he asked how many we could recall in order. About 80% of the 100 or so people in attendance could recite between 0 and 2 words. A handful of savants were in the 3 to 5 range. I had four words, but the last two were completely wrong. Apparently, they were from a different list.

Less than 10 minutes later nearly everyone in the room was able to recite all 15 words on the list. The key was to associate each word with its number on the list. For example, the number “1” is tall and straight, like a tree. Hence, the name “Tree List”.

Using mnemonic devices and other skills Matt shared with us, we were able to recall the entire list less than 10 minutes after we started this exercise. Even as I write this, days later, I can recall the list forwards and backwards usually getting 14 of 15 on the list exactly right and in perfect order. If you went to this workshop, I bet you can too.

A strong memory late into life

Remembering names and reciting long lists can impress friends and be fun at parties, but the more important takeaway was that a good memory doesn’t have to decline as you age.

For most if us the key is to use it or lose it. Learning new skills such as a foreign language or a musical instrument, staying physically active, and the simple act of reading more can all contribute to improved memories and brain health.

Even doing ordinary, everyday things in a new way has been shown to improve a person’s cognitive abilities. Try taking alternate routes to work, performing daily activities with your left hand (if you are right-handed) and reducing your reliance on electronics forces your brain to work harder and create more pathways, stimulating and improving your memory along the way.

Learning new skills and memory techniques will also help. Matt offers a 17 lesson audio course that is available on his website, MemorySwitch.com. I purchased the program at Matt’s presentation and will review it in a future blog post.

At $250 it’s not inexpensive, but how much is it worth to develop a skill that saves time, adds to my bottom line or improves the quality of my life?

If I can learn how to remember my clients’ names when I see them around town or know their kids’ names and their birth order, or to be able to remember the names of people I meet when I do public presentations, it will be worth every penny.

Heck, if I could just remember where I put my car keys, I would be thrilled.

Retiree Health Care Coverage Overseas

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

One of my favorite topics to discuss with clients are their travel plans. The answers I get range from China to Europe and all across the U.S. One couple I know is visiting Norway right now and another will be traveling to Africa later this month.

Apparently, they are not alone. According to AARP, 47% of baby boomers expected to travel internationally in 2018.

Overseas travel may be one of the more popular aspirations in retirement, but it does raise an important question: “Will my health insurance coverage travel with me?”

Take the 30-Day Brain Health Challenge


Photo by amoon ra on Unsplash

Over 5.7 million American’s live with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Two thirds of them are women.

Although there is no known cure for the disease or specific, medical treatment for the prevention of Alzheimer’s, there may be steps you can take now to make brain health a priority.

Start by taking the 30-Day Brain Health Challenge sponsored by BeBrainPowerful.org.

What’s On Your Summer Bucket List?

Photo taken in Banff, Alberta, Canada by Mike Branch

Financial planning isn’t about maximizing investment returns, minimizing taxes, or developing strategies to pay less for college or beef up your Social Security check.

It’s really about structuring your personal and financial resources so you can get more joy and happiness from life. That means making the most of the next 90 days, even if it’s not always very summerlike outside.

Start a list.

As a planner, I am fond of lists. I love to create them and attach them to walls, refrigerators and computer monitors. Sometimes I even get to experience the sweet satisfaction of crossing things off them.

I find that a good list not only helps me define and prioritize my goals, it helps me remember what I wanted to do in the first place.

Without a good list, I am likely to find myself at the MN State Fair wondering how I managed to let another summer slip through my fingers.

Feed My Starving Children Mobile Packing Event


Volunteers pray over a box of MannaPacks assembled by members of Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, MN

For the past several years, in lieu of a traditional holiday gift like cookies or popcorn, I have made a financial contribution to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in honor of you, my client.

When I can, I also try to attend a packing event so that I can literally have a hand in the process of making this gift possible.

This past week our church, Incarnation Lutheran Church of Shoreview MN, packed over 780,000 meals at our annual FMSC Mobile Packing event. That’s enough to feed over 2,088 starving children around the world for an entire year!

One of the things I love about Feed My Starving Children is that FMSC is a living example of the miracles that can happen when enough people work together, for a common purpose, contributing what they can, over a long period of time.

Since their inception in 1987, FMSC has delivered over 2 billion nutritionally complete meals to starving children around the world. 90% of the financial donations they receive go directly toward feeding children.

To learn more about FMSC mobile packing experience, watch this video.

Whether you provide financial support to FMSC, contribute your time to a packing event, or support businesses and others who do so, you have been a part of this miracle as well.

Thank you so much.