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Ten years ago, Alice Wood was living a normal life, balancing her career, family, and finances with con dence. Having grown up with a father who was a bank president from the pre-branch banking era and a mother who was influenced by the Great Depression, Alice learned prudence and financial responsibility at home. She knew instinctively how to handle money, until a brain injury sustained on a commercial airplane changed her life.
After the injury, Alice encountered many new challenges; for the first time in her life she was overweight and in serious debt. Weight Watchers® allowed Alice to lose the weight and keep it off. Inspired by Weight Watchers'® daily discipline of journaling and the principle of group accountability, she decided to create a new and radically simple program to reclaim her financial stability. She called it Wealth Watchers. This simple program enabled her to meet her own financial goals and soon was helping thousands of others to do the same. Today, the Wealth Watchers program is an important part of the rapidly growing movement for financial literacy and empowerment sponsored by school, state, and federal government programs; corporations such as McDonald's and Visa; and several large financial institutions.
Wealth Watchers is the story of Alice's journey from a life of having it all to a life of dealing with frustrating financial setbacks. In this book -- which presents the program and the principles in full for the first time -- you will find all the tools you need to organize your finances, complete your monthly budget, determine your disposable income, and understand which spending patterns are knocking you off-track. At the heart of the program is one simple calculation: your Daily Disposable Income (DDI), the money you can spend each day without going into debt. Amazingly, most people don't know their DDI. In this book Alice explains how it can help you make purchasing decisions, big and small, one day at a time, and build positive habits to last a lifetime. Using the Power of 365, you will learn how to analyze your expenses, stay out of debt, start saving again, and -- regardless of your age or income level -- thrive!
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Alice M. Wood grew up in Naperville, Illinois, where she worked as a successful attorney, representing at least 1,000 families in setting up their estate plans. Nine years ago she suffered a brain injury that, among other things, made it difficult for her to make good decisions. In her attempt to manage her weight and her money, she invented Wealth Watchers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A Long Flight Home
The story of Wealth Watchers really begins on March 28, 2000 when my life changed, suddenly and unexpectedly, forever.
That afternoon, I boarded a plane near Steamboat Springs, Colorado with my close friend Mary Kay Clinton and her five-year-old daughter Katy Rose. After a wonderful ski vacation, we were heading home to Chicago and the last gray remnants of winter. We boarded the airplane directly from the tarmac, and I was such a tourist that I was snapping photos of us waiting to climb the stairs onto the plane.
The plane was not very full and since our assigned seats were in a cramped row, we moved to the emergency row and settled in. It didn't occur to us that Katy Rose was too young to be in an emergency row seat and the flight attendants didn't ask us to move. In the window seat, I almost immediately dozed off. Though the vacation was fun, I hadn't slept well and I nodded off quickly. As the plane ascended into clear skies, the oxygen masks suddenly dropped from above. The other passengers seemed startled but not truly alarmed. Groggy from sleep, I assumed it was a mistake, a malfunction. There was no announcement from the pilot or the flight attendants about a problem.
But when, seconds later, people started putting on their masks I began to worry. Our masks seemed stuck in the overheads. I began pulling at my mask with so much force that I was afraid I'd disconnect it from the oxygen supply. Mary Kay finally wrestled the masks down and we put ours on before helping Katy Rose with hers.
Within minutes, Mary Kay decided her mask wasn't functioning properly. Assuming that ours were fine, she got up to move across the aisle. The flight attendants appeared wearing masks and oxygen tanks. Now we knew something was wrong and I felt my first wave of real panic. The flight attendants wouldn't allow Katy Rose to stay in the emergency row so they moved her and her mother to another row. The flight attendant asked me if I could operate the emergency door. I nodded, but I hoped it wouldn't come to that.
The more time passed, the more I thought there was a good chance that we were all going to die. For some strange reason, I wanted to be sure that my IDs would be with my body so I wrapped the straps of my purse around one hand and held on tightly. As an estate planning lawyer, I'm probably a little morbid...maybe because we're always helping people prepare for the worst. I always encourage our clients to put letters for their children with their estate planning papers just in case something happens to them sooner rather than later. I thought about the letters I'd written to Eddie and Andy, my two boys from my first marriage. The letters were in a folder with my estate planning documents and were to be given to the boys in case I died unexpectedly while they were young. KC, my one-year-old daughter from my second marriage, was home with my husband Dan. I remember feeling awful that I'd not gotten around to writing a letter to her. Right before my thoughts grew muddled, I mused that it would be my only regret.
I felt as though someone's hand was covering my nose and mouth. Breathing was labored but, having never used an oxygen mask before, I made the foolish assumption that this was how they were supposed to work. I still hadn't heard any announcement from the pilot. Having no information was awful. Steamboat Springs sits high in the Rockies and the plane managed to clear the mountains and then leveled off and descended toward Denver for an emergency landing. At some point after we were at a lower altitude, the pilot announced that we could remove our oxygen masks. It was a huge relief to be able to breathe normally. I think I would have passed out if I'd had to wear the oxygen mask for another second.
We had a smooth landing in Denver. We had been airborne for only about thirty minutes. But I'm sure everyone on the plane had thought we were going to die. With no explanation, the airline personnel rushed us onto another flight to Chicago.
I asked the flight attendant from the new crew if there were free drinks for the people from the aborted flight. The guy sitting next to me looked concerned. "I think you're in shock," he said. I didn't pay much attention to his diagnosis, but it was true that something inside my head didn't feel right. When we landed in Chicago I found my mom, who had come to pick me up. I don't have much of a memory of the ride home except that my mother said, "I think something is wrong with you."
I told her I was fine and when I got in the door, I was just grateful to be home and safe with my family. But when I kissed Dan, I realized my face was numb. I thought it was funny -- probably a good indication that my ability to think logically and clearly was impaired. I threw up in the shower, the wave of nausea coming suddenly with no warning. I knew our doctor, Jim Collins, was out on spring break since he and his family had been on my outbound flight from Chicago to Denver. He wouldn't be back for a few more days. I really didn't want to see anyone else, and I didn't want to go to the emergency room, so I did nothing.
The next morning, I felt a little off but I was able to go for a walk with Dan and KC. Outside in the brisk late winter air, I felt hot then cold then hot and then cold again. I had to keep sitting down along the way. We live just off the Riverwalk that winds through downtown Naperville and the brick pavers made me dizzy. I felt like I was going to pass out. By the time we made it to the playground at the other end of the Riverwalk Dan was alarmed. As a coach, he'd seen head trauma, and he thought I might have a concussion.
When I was finally examined a few days later, my doctor noticed that there was bleeding in my ear and he mentioned something about barotraumas, a type of injury due to dramatic changes in pressure that is common among scuba divers. He said that I'd probably be fine in a few days. But a few days came and went and I seemed to be even worse. He sent me to a neurologist who thought I might be suffering from migraines from the flight. It seemed an odd thing to say because I don't remember complaining of a headache.
It turned out that Mary Kay was dealing with some residual effects as well. She was feeling sick and wasn't doing very well. Mary Kay is a pit bull, and she was really annoyed that the airline hadn't acknowledged that there had been a problem on our flight. When she called the airline she was told that she was the only one on the flight who had complained. Not put off by that runaround, Mary Kay called the Federal Aviation Administration and demanded that they test the plane we had flown on. Amazingly, they did. They told me later that they had tested the plane and found that the masks in our row had malfunctioned again during the test.
That didn't do me much good. I was just struggling to get through the day and not thinking clearly enough to worry about culpability. I just wanted to feel like my old self.
Friends suggested I should get some rest and that I'd be fine. But I wasn't fine. I was an absolute mess. My sons, who were eleven and sixteen at the time, had come home from a spring break with their father a few days after I made it home. I didn't want to tell them what had happened to me because I didn't want them to be afraid to fly. But it was obvious. I couldn't even say their names correctly. I couldn't understand what they were saying when they were both talking at the same time. They were so frustrated with me that I had to tell them about the flight. "You're just going to have to cut me some slack for a while," I told them and they both started to cry.
Eddie disappeared and came back a few minutes later to tell me that the airline was on the phone for me. He had called the airline on his own and started yelling at people until he was put in touch with someone from the Claims Department. When I got on the phone I didn't know whether I should be embarrassed or proud. How funny that Mary Kay, a multiple Emmy Award-winning television producer, had had a terrible time getting anyone to take her call...and my sixteen-year-old son was able to get through to the right people on his first try. The airline representative seemed genuinely concerned about what had happened to me and he promised to have someone from their medical team follow up with me. But nobody ever did.
I figured the airline's reaction was standard operating procedure. Deny liability. Nearly a year later, I filed a lawsuit which, at this writing more than nine years after the incident, is still pending. Fortunately for Mary Kay, she began to feel better quickly and had no residual aftereffects. In my addled state of mind, I didn't put two and two together: She'd found a functioning oxygen mask quickly enough to avoid injuring her brain. By staying in my seat, I had sealed my fate.
After I had an EEG, the neurologist's nurse called to let me know that the test showed slowing, a definite sign of a brain injury. Even though I had begun to suspect as much, I was stunned. It was so devastating because in my heart of hearts I was hoping that nothing was wrong and that I would be back to normal any day. In fact, four more months went by before I had a clear moment. Life became a series of muddled days and nights during which I tried fruitlessly to recover. At least I'd finally gotten an accurate diagnosis. My doctor said it was an anoxic brain injury -- damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. When the brain doesn't receive proper amounts of glucose and oxygen, nerves in the cortex where brain cells originate are damaged. It takes only five minutes for a lack of oxygen to permanently damage the brain. I'd had that mask on for nearly twenty minutes. My brain had actually slowed down, the synapses weren't connecting correctly. I was staggered. Here I was just forty years old and I had brain damage. How serious it was, how permanent it was, I didn't know. But it was very real and very scary.
It is hard to describe how strange it was to lose control of my life in this way. Outwardly, I looked fine an...
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Book Description Free Press, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. New Condition, Hardcover Book, Seller Inventory # 1808050060
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