By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant. First published on the Over Sixty website [Link: www.oversixty.com.au]
It’s a theme that comes up with some regularity as I work with women to prepare for the transition into retirement- women who have great plans for retirement but just don’t know if or when they’ll be able to afford those dreams. They want to be able to write that novel, travel the world or retire early, but when I ask “what’s stopping you” they admit that they have no idea what their financial position is. Not only that, but these women seem to avoid finding out. Perhaps they fear confirmation that they will need to keep working or perhaps they don’t know where to get informed advice.
The challenge is that until you know your numbers, it’s difficult to take meaningful action. Knowledge is power and understanding your financial situation can only help to increase your financial confidence, your sense of optimism about your future and your ability to achieve a fulfilling and meaningful life after work.
With this in mind, I sat down with Christie Spence, an experienced Financial Planner from regional South Australia, to explore just what might be going on for these women. I wanted to know from her experience what might be holding these women back from understanding their money situation and taking action to create that life in retirement that lights them up. Through our discussion and reflection, we realised that not all women (or men for that matter!) fully understand how a financial planner can help them to achieve their goals in retirement. By that I mean that they dismiss the need to see a financial planner, assuming that is something only ‘others’ do, for example people with lots of money or with complex investments.
Both Christie and I want to make sure that women get the most out of their retirement in a way that is responsive to their ideals and goals, and we don’t want assumptions about the support available to be a barrier to this.
Below we challenge four common assumptions held by women which can stop them from meeting with a financial planner.
1. I don’t have millions of dollars, what good will a financial planner do?
- A trusted and accredited financial planner has the expertise and tools to leverage your finances and position you positively for retirement. This advice can be even more impactful when you don’t have a huge portfolio of assets, e.g. an extra few thousand dollars more may mean more to you than to a millionaire
- You may not have investment properties or extensive stock options, but an expert can assess your unique situation to determine where best to direct your money while you are still working, e.g. to your super fund, to minimising debt or other investment (i.e. make your money work hard for you)
2. It’s too late for me, it won’t make a difference
- Advice from a financial planner can have a positive impact on your financial position at any stage, and even small amounts invested the right way can make a big difference – it’s about knowing where to direct your money
- Christie has seen a number of clients for the first time when they were only three to five years away from retirement and has been able to create a tailored plan which ensures that those clients are better off in retirement than originally anticipated
- There is huge benefit in contributing to your retirement fund from a young agebut don’t let age be a reason for inaction
3. My husband takes care of the finances, I don’t have to worry
- We would never wish this upon anybody, but it is important to consider what would happen if you unexpectedly lost your significant other. Become an equal in financial discussions so that if the unforeseen should occur, you are able to make informed decisions, rather than urgent and emotive ones
- If you contribute money to your relationship, don’t you want to know where it’s being directed and how it will benefit you in retirement?!
4. I’m scared of judgement, I don’t want anyone else knowing my spending habits
- Financial planners aren’t interested in the specifics of your weekly shop (the don’t need to know that you buy Roquefort cheese when you really should be buying cheddar, or about the expensive dress you bought online!) but what they will be interested in is how you proportion your income, e.g. X amount on living expenses, Y to savings and Z to paying off debt. From there they can provide recommendations about changes that you can make to benefit you
- Financial planners only want what is best for their clients and recognise that it is a great strength that people take that first step to better understand their financial situation
Don’t be scared to seek professional advice. Women approaching retirement tend to already have enough questions swirling around in their head, such as “what should my retirement look like”, “what am I supposed to do” and “how do I stop getting old before my time”. Don’t make money matters another unanswered question. Think of a financial planner as part of your trusted team and work with them to help create a life in retirement that you truly look forward to.
What happens when retirement bliss is not what pans out and you and your husband/partner struggle to connect and communicate effectively with so much more time on your hands? The feeling of living out of each other’s pockets becomes overwhelming and you’d rather be back at work than spending time with your significant other?
To better understand how prepared you are for retirement, why not download the Retirement Planning Questionnaire?
It's more than just a quiz, it's an action-focused tool that will help you take action today (not wait until the day you retire!) to create a retirement that you will love to live!
If you enjoyed this article you may also be interested in the following blogs; Focus: Retirement Planning – Is Your Financial Position Keeping You Awake at Night? and Why Retirement Planning is Different for Women.