By Paulette Filion and Judy Paradi, StrategyMarketing.ca
“I am woman, hear me roar”
Without question, women have come a long way since 1971 when Helen Reddy belted out those immortal words. “I am woman, hear me roar” quickly became the anthem of a new generation of women just beginning to find their voice. But 50 years later, there is still a lot of roaring left to do―especially when it comes to women and their money.
Today, women are busier than ever, often balancing demanding careers and family time, leaving precious little time for much else. Thinking about their own needs—let alone planning for their future—often falls by the wayside. So perhaps it’s no surprise that many women worry about retirement―wondering whether they’re prepared and what their lives will look like when those post-work years arrive.
Why it’s important to take action
A look at the typical realities of a woman’s life shows just how important it is for women to have the deciding voice in their retirement planning:
Singledom: 90% of women will have sole responsibility for their money at some point, whether they’re divorced, widowed or stay single.
Gender Gap: Women frequently earn lower incomes relative to men, meaning less money for retirement savings.
Working Years: Between raising children and providing care to aging parents, women may spend less time in the workforce than men and thus have fewer years to contribute to retirement plans.
Life Expectancy: Simply put, women need more money for retirement because they tend to live longer.
While some of these realities might sound pretty ominous, they shouldn’t scare us. They are a call to action, encouraging us to “roar” and take up the challenge to start shaping our own retirement―at any age.
Own your retirement
Chances are, like most women, you’ll live longer and need to produce income for those extra years so you can enjoy them to their fullest. However, leaving the responsibility to plan for your future to your partner, your kids or an employer is not the best plan. Take matters into your own hands by working with a professional financial planner to decide what you want your retirement to look like―and put a plan in place to get there.
However you begin, the key is to remember that whatever stage of life you are in, it is never too early or too late to start planning for your own future.
Where to begin
There are many easy steps you can take to gain control of your own future retirement. Here are a few:
- Find out what you’re entitled to from CPP/OAS.
- If you’re working, ask your HR department about your retirement benefits.
- Take an inventory of what savings and investments you have now.
- If you have a partner, have a conversation to make sure you weigh in on any decisions they may have made about your money and future.
- Talk money with friends and ask them what’s worked for them.
- Get help from a Certified Financial Planner® professional to find out where you stand financially and what you can do to reach your goals―not only for retirement but for every area of your finances.
Here’s how a financial planner can help
Financial planners aren’t just for the financially savvy or those with huge amounts to invest. In fact, a financial planner sometimes offers the greatest help when you’re less sure about where to start. They will:
Work with you to create a custom and detailed retirement plan that incorporates and addresses your very specific goals and unique situation.
Act as your savings coach, helping you understand and track your progress.
Work with you to adjust your plan when life throws you a curve ball.
Consider how your retirement plan fits into your overall financial situation, taking into account the here and now as well as the future.
Make sure you stay connected and engaged with your plan.
One of your financial planner’s most important roles is listening to and working with you to ensure you live and retire on your terms.
Plan for yourself—not out of fear, but for peace of mind
The most valuable aspect of having a plan is the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are on track to take care of yourself, come what may. It means retiring and doing what’s important to you—whether that’s helping your grandchildren, learning to paint or travelling with friends.
Need some inspiration to get started? Remember that:
Retirement planning is your opportunity to make sure your life’s goals are recognized and actualized.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean ignoring everyone else. It’s important for you, and also for those you love.
Thinking about the life you want and need starts today.
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For more on planning for your successful financial future, read Never too late to start: Retirement planning in your 40s and 50s, 7 tips for choosing the right financial planner and Women taking charge: Plan today to live the life you want tomorrow.