|Every little bit counts. I bet she’s got about $40 in here.|
Ladies. Ladies! We need to talk. But that is why you’re here, yes?
Wells Fargo did a study on how well women prepare for retirement and found that we are sorely lacking in the financial fitness department. A key finding: “Almost 30% of women between the ages of 40 and 69 are ‘not sure or can’t estimate’ how much they will need to withdraw from their retirement savings annually while in retirement, and about 32% of women in their 40s and 50s estimate they will withdraw 11% to 30% or greater each year.”
The survey also showed that in addition to increased household tension since the recession began, “Women in their 40s are the most likely of all respondents to have cut their spending on both discretionary items and basic necessities (42% vs. 29% overall) and reduced their retirement savings since the recession started (25% vs. 20% overall) and the most likely to say they cannot save more because of other financial priorities (69% vs. 55% overall). They are most worried about health care (59% vs. 47% overall), inflation (58%vs. 37% overall), meeting day-to-day expenses (30%vs. 17% overall), and the potential to outlive their money (30% vs.17% overall).”
I know the economy is sucky. I know that most of us are still trying to save up for a house, kids’ college, the bathroom remodel, the Christian Louboutains, Whole Foods, or even just the rent, and that we keep putting off retirement planning for just a couple more years. It’s magical thinking that someday the money will sort itself out, and that we’ll be rescued by an inheritance, a lottery ticket, a better-paying job (which is the premise of Barbara Stanny’s book, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money). Those things may never happen. And even if they did, how would you know what to do with the money if you got it?
40licious women learn all they can about taking care of themselves and their families in the future. Even if all you can do is put away $20 a month, at least you’re on the road to retirement and security.
If you haven’t started thinking about this, it’s bewildering and overwhelming. (And if you have, please share your stories and tips with us!) Here’s a good first step: Have a conversation with someone who is smarter than you about money, and ask, “What’s the most important thing I should know about money?” Your answer will lead you to another question, and that to another answer, and so on. And then one day you’ll wake up and you’ll be really, really comfortable about making financial decisions, and working with people who can help you.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Wells Fargo’s advice for women in their 40s
- Kiplinger personal finance website – good calculators, quizzes and articles
- Barbara Stanny – leading authority on women and money
- Suze Orman’s financial resource page
COMMENT: How are you feeling about your retirement fund?