A Man is Not a Retirement Plan
Women need to be proactive in learning and understanding money to ensure a financially secure retirement, writes Lynda Moore.
21 January 2024
Many moons ago, when I was growing up, I remember my dad jokingly (I hope) saying I should marry a rich farmer, and life would be good. Fortunately, mum didn’t agree, and she suggested that instead of that option why didn’t I have a career and then I could marry any occupation I wanted to.
The subtle message I received from both parents was that an important part of my financial security was to marry and form a partnership for life. I am sure there are many women of my generation, and even young women today, still getting that subtle message.
Well, I did my best, I got the career, and I did the marriage bit too. I think I got a bit carried away on that score as I gave it a go four times before finally deciding that maybe I had better rethink my plan.
I started my career as an accountant way before KiwiSaver came onto the scene, so planning for retirement wasn’t really contemplated at all when I was starting out. Security was more about buying a house and raising a family, and hubby, being the breadwinner, would look after you.
So, I did that bit too, I had the house, the husband, and then my beautiful baby daughter arrived. Eighteen months later I found myself with no husband, half a house, and my beautiful toddler daughter. My financial security plan was definitely not working.
As for so many women who find themselves single parenting, we go into survival mode, working, often part-time, looking after our children and rebuilding our lives. Retirement is out there somewhere and if you are fortunate enough to have something tucked away in KiwiSaver you had a head start on me.
The bottom line is it just costs more to be a woman. And no, that isn’t because we spend all our money on clothes, cushions and candles.
We live longer than our male counterparts, so we are going to spend more on living costs and medical expenses in retirement.
The wage gap is always a hot topic; if you earn less that makes it harder to save.
Typically, we are the one who takes the time out to raise children, so our income slows down or stops completely for a while, and if we don’t keep topping up KiwiSaver that has a big impact on how much we have to retire on.
And sadly, the rate of relationship breakups and splitting assets takes its toll as well.
So, as women what can we do. You could of course try the Man as Your Retirement Plan, but I wouldn’t recommend that as your sole strategy.
World of investment
The first thing we need to do is be not only aware but proactive in learning and understanding what we need to do for ourselves independently of our relationships to ensure we have a financially secure retirement.
What does this mean in practice?
Whether you are single, in a long-term happy relationship or a new one, you have to know what is going on with your finances. You have to know what is coming in and what is going out. Is there a surplus or are you overspending?
The world of investment may seem scary, so start small by saving what you can. I’m not a financial adviser, but there are amazing people out there who are. Find them, read the articles, listen to podcasts, go to the workshops. The more women learn about finance the more empowered they are to feel confident in making their own decisions.
What does retirement look like for you? Whether you are 20 or 60, get a feel for how much you need for retirement. It will scare you and maybe feel unattainable, but you need to know. Burying your head in the sand is also not a good retirement strategy.
Get a plan sorted
Talk about money with your partner. Right now, the bulk of the conversations are about the price of groceries and mortgage interest rates going up. Yes, you need to be having those conversations, but also have the longer-term ones as well. You might not be able to do much about them in the short term, but at least have a plan to work towards that looks after both of you.
Take responsibility for your own financial future and security.
Coming full circle back to my parents, they were happily married for 62 years before my dad passed away recently. Later, Mum and I were chatting about money, and this is what she said: “Your dad and I forgot to do one thing. We paid off our mortgage in our 40s, but instead of saving the mortgage payments for our retirement, we spent it all. We would have been so much more secure now if we had thought about retirement back then.”
I will leave you with that thought. Whatever your retirement plan is start thinking about it now.
If you aren’t sure where to start on your money management journey, head to Moneymentalist.com and come and talk to me.
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