I’ve asked this question recently of every woman over 45 with whom I’ve been in contact with during the past two weeks.
Their responses all have the same tone.
My friend, Niala, blurted out a horrified, “No!” She has seven years to go before her youngest son goes off to university. Saving for her retirement is on her mind but certainly not on the front burner of it.
“I’m preparing but heaven help me if I need an emergency fund to survive two years without income from my business.” This is from my sister, Judy, an entrepreneur, focused on building an education based business in a very tough economy.
Another woman’s take on the question, 5 years after her divorce, offered real and considered insight. “Money can be a never-ending problem if I allow it to consume me” she said. “Of course I think about my life at 60, 70. I wonder if I will have enough. I plan but I certainly don’t panic about it.”
I asked my question mainly for two reasons.
One, I’m curious to know if we’ve changed our relationship with money as we’ve aged. Do we handle it better? Do we ascribe to it certain values as we do beauty, for instance?
The second reason I’m consumed with the question is because as a community we can only learn from one another and there is a great comfort in getting and sharing information, even hearing from an expert, who by her own example, allows us to see that the question need not be met with fear.
In our Forty Questions interview series, I followed business analyst, Maria Daniel, from her office to a nearby coffee shop to ask her questions we all want to know the answers to, but maybe we’re too scared to ask like:
Should we limit the number of credit cards we carry around?
What’s the one thing we should know about money once we get to a certain age?
And what should a recession teach us about resilience?
ClickThe Video Below to learn some really valuable points about money and then have a look at the 7 financial lessons you should be mindful of in 2018.
How much debt should I take into the New Year?
Tally up what you have left to pay on your mortgage, business or personal loans, children’s education etc. Numbers tell an important story and as hard as it may be, it is always better to know what that story is. In fact, the number you calculate at the end of the exercise should be the basis of your action plan for the year.
How much should I save this year? Your savings are important to get a handle on. If you bank online, the figure will be easy to assess. It is important to reflect. Over the past year could you have saved more? Did you plan to have more? If yes, what accounted for the shortfall? Can you add to your saving plan next year? Yes? No? Be honest. You want to work in a realistic manner with your savings.
How will I reach my goals? Now that you’ve figured out numbers one and two, it’s time to set financial goals, like saving for your new business launch or paying off debt or setting aside a specific amount in savings for a big trip. Figure out what strategies you’ll put in place to save, such as making lifestyle changes or automating your saving plan with apps.
How can I get the most out of my credit cards? If you got your credit card a long time ago, chances are you haven’t assessed if it is still working for you. There are now multiple credit cards on the market and some of them come with a heap of great rewards, like reduced travel costs, lowered interest rates or even cash back. If your cards haven’t provided you with any perks, consider upgrading to a different card. If you have a card that’s dragging you down with high annual fees, think about closing it — provided you know the consequences of doing so.
Should I be doing do more? If you have the time, the energy then sure. Can you do more work, can you take on extra projects to make a bigger income? Can you freelance? Don’t be afraid to use your skills and the technology to earn more.
How much money should I have in my emergency fund? You have no idea what 2018 could bring: sudden health crises, unexpected layoffs, or a downturn in business. While some parts of the world are recovering from a deep recession, others are heading into it. Make sure your emergency fund (about three to nine months of living expenses) is robust enough to take care of you if need be. And if not, make it a priority to establish a healthy fund in 2018.
What are some poor money habits I can squash? Think about some areas in your daily (or monthly) life where you can save — or stretch your dollar. If you are living beyond your means, then it’s time to cut back. Eating out too much? Cook more at home. Tempted to go buy new clothes? Learn how to sew or revamp what you already own. Clothing swaps with friends or even your sister are fun ways to be stylish and keep up with trends. Know the red flags if you think you’re in financial trouble and decide to make a change in the New Year.