And What You MUST Do to Financially Survive Old Age
- In the early 21st century, in the United States:
- We finally have legitimate women candidates for President
- (way behind most other developed countries but, finally).
- Women make up slightly less than half the workforce (but less 20% of CEOs).
- Women hold important political and economic positions
- And a 50 year old woman can expect to live 33 more years!
- another entire adult lifetime!
And yet, surveys indicate that women own only 36 percent of the retirement assets men own. Which means, making just one money mistake can doom them to poverty in old age or, as many women fear, the bag-lady lifestyle.
Facts say, women have:
Longer Life Spans – As a woman, you can expect to outlive the men in your life. Anywhere from 2 -5 years at a minimum.
Shorter Working Lives – Women generally work few years during their adult lifetime than men do. Most women take periods of sabbatical or reduced hours during their childbearing years. Then they often take more time off to care for elderly parents.
Earn Lower Lifetime Wages – Women’s jobs tend to pay less, leaving fewer dollars for saving and investing even during their full-time working years.
Higher Rates of Widowhood – 87% of 85 year old women are single. When living alone, they bear all the costs of living without help from a spouse and may need to pay for help with home maintenance and transportation. Younger widows and divorcees are less likely than widowers or divorced men to remarry so women end up living more of their lives as singles.
- Women’s retirement incomes are (at median) only 58% of men’s incomes.
- As many as 40% of retired women depend on Social Security for ALL their income.
- Women are more likely than men to spend their final years in institutions because they outlive their partners and have no other caregivers available.
With lower retirement assets to cover longer life spans, elderly women realistically fear living their final years in poverty.
How to avoid these problems? Good financial planning and fiscal fitness.
We start with avoiding the big three mistakes:
#1 Mistake: Failing to Save
#2 Mistake: Lack of Financial Planning and Education
#3 Mistake: Buying High and Selling Low (letting emotions dictate financial decisions)
To avoid making these mistakes, women must be engaged in the financial planning and monetary decisions that govern their lives, including:
- Budgets and Spending
- Insurance and
Mistake #1: Failing to Save Enough Money is closely tied to budgeting.
Successful savers pay themselves first (after taxes) and then spend their remaining income on the necessities and luxuries of life.
During your working years, the portion of your wages you save for future consumption becomes the financial asset that allows you to live a secure and healthy lifestyle after your time in the workforce is over. If you fail to save some of your income, no matter whether it’s large or small, you will NOT have the resources necessary to retire from the workforce.
And, when you leave the workforce is often dictated by health or ageism. Even if you want to continue working, more often than not, it’s not your decision. The average retirement age for women in the USA has remained nearly the same for over 20 years: at age 62 (the earliest age you can claim Social Security benefits).
Don’t believe me? Here’s a few remarks women made in response to a recent poll:
From personal experience and different circumstances, I wonder how in the world I am going to take care of myself since I have nothing for retirement.
I worry about being homeless. I’ve had nightmares about it for several years — the result of the outpouring of money required to raise kids post-divorce, post-layoffs, and having to pay crazy amounts of money for very basic insurance.
Will I ever be able to afford to retire and will my body hold up until I can.
Mistake #2: Poor or non-existent financial/retirement planning is culturally rooted.
Most of us grew up with men dictating how the financial assets were invested and distributed. It wasn’t that long ago that female children never inherited any assets from their birth families estates.
The public education system was designed to produce workers for the industrial economy. What happened to those workers after their working lives were over wasn’t even a concern even 75 years ago when most people died soon after they left the workforce. There was no need to teach these workers how to save and invest for their retirements.
It’s been only thirty some years since the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) was created to help workers save some of their current income for their future needs. During much of that time, the Mutual Fund companies, stock markets and brokerages have seen these savings as an opportunity to fatten their own wallets.
Using arcane language and a myriad of mathematical gobbledygook, Wall Street convinced Main Street that investing and financial planning were too hard for the average worker to deal with. If you just let them manage your money (taking their fees out first), you didn’t need to worry about your retirement. Women, in particular, were told to let the professionals handle all that.
Now that it’s become clear that the IRA/401k system is woefully insufficiant, the blame is laid at the feet of the workers who failed to save enough. While that’s partially true, the fees that the fat cats took from these accounts have done a great deal to insure that most workers are now short of retirement funds.
Mistake #3: Poor financial decisions clouded by emotions, ties directly to a lack of financial education and the manipulation of the economic narrative by the Wall Street bankers and the Money Media (CNBC, Fox Business, etc.).
Workers who are thrust into managing their own retirement funds, without proper education, respond to the ebb and flow of the economic system inappropriately. Add to that the fact that most of the financial system’s professionals make their money from transactions, (buy, buy, buy, sell, sell, sell!) and the average investor gets confused, allowing greed and fear, instead of a well designed plan, to dictate their actions.
Is It Too Late?
I’m sure you see yourself making at least one of these mistakes – many folks are making all three. So, if you want to learn from your mistakes, in time to salvage your looming retirement, you need a plan:
A plan to fix the mistakes and learn how to manage your money!
And commitment. You can commit, today, to save a percentage of every dollar you receive (even if it comes from a pension or Social Security). Start putting 5 or 10 percent of your income in an envelope or a jar if you want to do it in cash. Use an online savings account if you’re more of an electronic banker (good because it can be automated).
Saving a part of your income does two things for you:
- It builds a cushion you can use to smooth out the variable expenses of living and
- It forces you to reduce your current spending (assuming you DO NOT borrow to finance consumer spending) so you need less income to maintain your lifestyle.
Financial planning and investing can be learned, just like any other skill you want to acquire. If you wanted to learn to quilt, or decorate cakes, or use a photo editing software, you’d go find someone who knows how to do it and was willing to show you how. You’d sign up for a class at the local college, adult ed school or online; you’d buy a book or an online training program. Maybe you’d find a friend who could show you how to get started.
Whichever way you to decided to learn a new skill, you’d dedicate some time and attention to the project. You’d start with the basics. You’d consistently practice and monitor your results. It’s the same with learning to manage your money and make a financial plan that results in your secure old-age.
We’d like to help you learn to make a financial plan, if you want to help yourself. To do this, we’ve got a series of five steps (we call them tips) you can use to get started.
The cost? Your best email address. The one you check everyday, and a few minutes of your time to read over the Guide and start implementing the steps.
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