Nancy Flanagin and her future husband, Bill Doyle, were good friends before they started a courtship. They were also flag football teammates, playing for the Runnin’ Rubbles (named after Barney and Betty Rubble of The Flintstones) in a Chicago league.
Bill was the quarterback.
Nancy was a receiver.
“I caught some passes,” Nancy Doyle recalls.
The connections on the field in Lincoln Park occurred in the early 1990s.
More than 20 years later, Nancy explained — clearly and succinctly — what “catch a falling knife” means to prospective stockholders in her first book, Manage Your Financial Life: A Thoughtful, Organized Approach for Women, published by The Doyle Group and launched in November.
From flag gridder to financial guru, the New Trier High School graduate and Winnetka resident wrote the book after she had been approached by a number women caught up in the throes of transitions. Some were newly divorced. Some were about to start a job in a different field. Others were diagnosed with a major illness.
“Many didn’t know where to start,” says Doyle, 53 years old, a mother of two (Brendan, 19, and Julia, 17) and an independent financial consultant. “There’s a way to take control of your financial life, and the book is about a system I wanted to share. I don’t sell financial products. I’m not looking to add clients. Managing a financial life is about getting organized, gaining knowledge about investments and figuring out what to do with your money.”
Doyle and many of her roommates from her Georgetown University days remain close today. One hailed from San Francisco, another from London. A third called Long Island home. Doyle had lunch with one of them, Deirdre Green, one day in California. Green co-founded (with Nigel Quinney) Roaring Forties Press, an innovative publishing company based in Berkeley.
“She told me, ‘You should write a book,’ ” Doyle recalls after ordering green tea, eggs, a plate of tomatoes and rye toast at Café Boungiorno in Winnetka. “She continues to be a great friend, and she helped me throughout a process that was intimidating and daunting at the beginning. It took me one year to write the book’s outline; it took me that long because it is so important to organize an outline the right way.”
Doyle sprinkles “real-life experiences” throughout most of the chapters. They’re one-paragraph breathers for the reader. They recount moments when Doyle or a family member or a friend either learned a valuable lesson about a financial matter or devised a strategy to avoid a financial pitfall.
In one, she reveals her late father, Neil, never handed his children a cash allowance. He instead kept a ledger, entering the allowance each week and serving as “the bank” whenever his children requested bills or coins.
“Dad would give us the money and deduct the amount from the balance in the ledger … even for small things like a candy bar,” writes Doyle, who majored in economics and minored in French at Georgetown and earned her MBA at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in 1991. “Seeing the reduced balance made us think about if we really wanted or needed an item.”
Following her days as a business student in Ann Arbor, Doyle focused on corporate finance before opting to work in the investment industry. All told, she has 30 years of experience in wealth management, finance and consulting. William Blair, First Chicago and Price Waterhouse, among other companies, hired a woman who was a tutor, a poms member and a synchronized swimmer at New Trier.
“I also loved math in high school,” Doyle says. “I learned a lot about saving and investing from my parents when I was young. My mom [the late Mary] was a stockholder for 55 years [after receiving 20 shares of General Electric stock — a gift from her grandmother — on her 20th birthday]. I’ve always believed you’re never too young to start saving or to learn valuable lessons about finances.
“Parents today,” the Chartered Financial Analyst adds, “come up to me and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if our children learned all about saving and investing before they got to college?”
Brendan, her son and a North Shore Country Day graduate, is a freshman track and field jumper at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Daughter Julia attends NSCD. The Doyle family lives in a 110-year-old house, where Nancy likes to bake cookies and cakes when she needs a break from backtesting portfolios and estimating salvage values.
Long walks invigorate the wife/mother/consultant/rookie author/former wide receiver.
“My philosophy on finances,” she writes in her preface, “is similar to my philosophy on life: I tend to be both conservative and optimistic. I am a forthright person who believes that simple is good. Being organized is a priority, and I strive to reduce stress in my life. And I like to sleep well. The path that I outline in this book embodies all these characteristics.”
Visit nancydoyle.com for more information about the book, available for purchase at amazon.com and other outlets.