She's an intelligent woman, seemingly well to do and living in a high rise condo in Florida. Retired, active lifestyle, involved in many activities with her friends, giving of herself to her community, church, and local charities. She did everything right, at least right for her generation, place and time in her life.
She was the loving wife of an auto company executive. She kept a beautiful home, entertained lavishly, and hosted parties for her husband and his business colleagues. She was always there for the children, active in the community, in short, she lived the American dream.
But below the surface was fear, uncertainty, and pain. What's happening here, how did it happen, and can she save herself?
Retirement for women is different than for men, and unless this fact is recognized and acknowledged, a woman's retirement may become something less than golden. My intent in this article, based on 28 years of experience in the financial services industry, is to discuss what women can, even must do, to assure their years in retirement are some of the best years of their lives.
There are many reasons for women living in poverty during their 'Golden Years'. Below are some you may recognize, and suggestions and solutions you may wish to consider.
Margie was a vibrant and active woman, younger in spirit and vitality than her 76 years would seem to indicate. But problems were mounting, life was closing in, and Margie was just about at her wits end.
You see, Margie's beloved Bill had died some years ago, and his generous pension died with him, as it did not pay a spousal benefit. To compound Margie's financial problems, due to Bill's death her social security income was greatly reduced as well.
Margie was able to hang on for a few years by reducing her activities. She resigned from the local golf club where they had been members for more than thirty years, and curtailed her favorite activities with friends. Fewer lunches together, fewer theater dates, and travel was definitely out of the question.
She was a hard working single woman, owned her own business, and seemed headed toward a comfortable retirement just a few years away. Unfortunately she became blinded by the bright lights of the 'New Economy' and technology boom. What she didn't know is those bright lights shielded the horrors of a looming disaster, and she would not be able to extricate herself until it was too late.
I met Jeri at a class I was conducting on retirement planning at the local community college. She asked for a no obligation meeting and so at a later date we sat down to explore her needs and objectives.
She retired young, 49 to be exact, and made the big move from the dreary rain soaked Northwest to the land of palm trees and eternal sunshine. But all was not well, and the consequences of misguided judgment would soon come home to roost.
Do not rely on the man in your life, or the future man, to provide your financial security.
With the deck stacked against you in so many ways, you must form your own plan. For the litany of challenges you face, look at what the statistics say.
*On average women earn 25% less than men. *Women have smaller pensions and social security benefits. *Women, on average, live 10 to 15 years longer than men. *Almost 1 in 4 women is broke within two months of her husband's death. *The average age of widowhood is 56. *Over 75% of women are eventually widowed. *87% of the adults living in poverty are women. ***At some point in their lives 90% of women will be in charge of their own finances.
I write this letter today struggling with sadness, for we have lost a beloved member of our family. Dear, sweet Ruth, my friend, my client, my mentor, recently left us for another place, after 90 years of gracing us with her presence.
I met Ruth in 1983, all 4 feet ten inches and 95 pounds of her. She came to see me because she was retiring from her long career as a bookkeeper for a successful insurance agency in town. Over the years we visited each other on a regular basis, on occasion even sharing a wonderful dinner or lunch she prepared at her home.
Yes, it is true, women live too long. The numbers say the average lifespan of women is 79, whereas for men it is 72. Why do I say women live too long? It is due to the very real risk of a reduced standard of living in a her later years.
Consider the following facts. On average women still earn less than men. Women have smaller pensions and social security benefits than men. The average age of widowhood is 56. Approximately 75% of women are eventually widowed. 87% of the adults living in poverty are women. (Statistics from WIFE, the Womens Institute for Financial Education)
Steve Hood is a financial advisor/coach with more than 30 years of experience, concentrating in retirement planning and investment management.
Women's Institute For A Secure Retirement
Improving the long-term financial security of all women through education and advocacy.
LifePlan Advisors, Inc.
A Registered Investment Advisory Firm
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Port Orange, FL 32128
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