What Every Woman Needs to Know about Retirement
The other day I read an article about women and retirement. In this piece, the number one premise for motivation was that we should be afraid. Very afraid. It said that for the most part, men did the planning for retirement and that we as women rely on them blindly.
I dislike reading articles such as this, first, because it is fear-based but second, it doesn’t take into consideration the talents women contribute to the mix of partnership and planning. While it might be true that men are “wired to provide for the household,” women have moved into professions which pay grandly. Many marriages today are a different blend of partnership than what our own parents or grandparents enjoyed. Along with their jobs, many women still run the household, so why not get involved in retirement planning in a proactive manner?
Retirement is a boring word
The word “retirement” conjures up images of old people on pensions or perhaps pictures of those who no longer contribute powerfully to society with their expertise and knowledge. I prefer the description “financially independent” for the freedom, influence and self-reliance it implies.
One can choose financial independence at any stage of life and it’s an exciting and worthy goal. The younger a person begins on this path, the more you have in your favor.
Women, listen up
I don’t buy into any idea that we don’t financially affect a marriage. Not only is this old fashioned, but it’s silly. Regardless of what your paycheck is – or even if you lack one – what you must know is that you can track your spending, manage your cost per day and that there are four major categories of spending in any household: housing, transportation, taxes and food. What you do in these categories seriously affects the bottom line in your family budget.
So let’s look at these quickly.
What you do today in this category and what you choose to do about it during your financially independent years is THE largest expense of any household. Yes, most women want a cozy home, a place they can call their own and decorate how they choose. Is it possible for you to view this differently? Could you rent? Or purchase a smaller home? Do you need all the renovations and upgrades every few years, or the lawn and house cleaning services? What is your house currently costing you per day for mortgage, insurance, and maintenance? This is an important figure and one with which you must become familiar.
When you move into your financially independent life, can you downsize, rent, house swap, RV, or house sit?
Americans love their cars and during child rearing years it is often a necessity to have one’s own transport available to shuttle kids around, get to the store or pick up supplies for the home. Do you know how much your car or car payment, gasoline expenses, maintenance, repair, cleaning and parking cost you per day? When you move into your retirement, you won’t be traipsing the kids around, so how can you look at your transportation needs differently? Could you bicycle, walk, car pool or have one car instead of three?
Taxes can be another boring word with images of piles of paper and forms stacked up high on the desk, meanwhile the sun is shining brightly outside. But you need to know enough about your tax bracket and what is taxable with your sources of income so that you can work your taxes in your favor. While Billy and I recommend that you learn how to do these things on your own, if this is too much of a hurdle, ask your accountant or financial advisor to help you. Knowing how to structure your taxes can save you thousands of dollars over time.
The last large category of expense in any household is food, dining and entertainment. When Billy and I were working 80 hour weeks, we played hard too, racking up expensive vacations, eating out at top notch locations and purchasing costly toys. Whether it’s before your financially independent years or as you enter them, this is one category where you have complete control. What you choose to spend or save in this category can definitely affect the bottom line.
If you are tracking your spending in the above categories and know what your cash outlay is on a daily basis, then you are in control of your present finances and your future way of life. One does not have to get fancy or complicated. Anyone reading this can do simple figuring. Just add up what you are spending and divide by the number of days you are keeping track. This gives you your cost per day and it’s a figure that you can manage assertively. If you multiply that daily average figure out, you will know what your annual spending is. Financial experts say that we need 25 times our annual spending stacked up in our savings in order to become financially independent.
We women hold great influence in our households. Being mindful of and managing the four categories of greatest spending can place you directly on the road to financial independence, or cause financial concern later on. Be a full partner and get on board for financial freedom!