In an ideal world, we’d all live out our retirement years with the money to meet our every need and enough left over to help our kids, grandkids or a cause we truly care about when we’re gone. But – as too many women over 60 have learned – retirement seldom works out the way we plan.

In today’s video, Margaret and financial expert and author Pam Krueger discuss how to move beyond thinking money is the only legacy that matters. If you’re an older woman facing retirement in circumstances that make leaving a financial legacy difficult to impossible, read on!

Reexamine Your Legacy Expectations

It’s hardly fair to think your financial legacy will be what you expected when your life hasn’t been. The death of your spouse, an unexpected divorce, unforeseen health problems or even a declining stock market can leave the most careful legacy planning in ruins.

But when financial limitations force older women to choose between their own needs or leaving a monetary legacy, shame and guilt pressure many of them into choosing the latter. That, Pam cautions, is exactly the wrong move. Why?

Because neglecting your current needs to save money for a future legacy could very easily lead to health problems. And health problems could eventually lead to becoming a financial “burden” on those you intend your legacy to help.

And, as Pam points out, more women over 60 are now living into their 90s than ever before. So it’s critical to maintain a financial life preserver to keep you afloat for that long, even if it means leaving little (or no) money behind.

Redefining Your Legacy

If a realistic assessment says creating a financial legacy isn’t possible, don’t despair! Instead, live a life that creates a legacy of memories and lessons for your loved ones to cherish after you die.

Volunteer in your community when you can, or simply spend time being present and listening to your family and friends. Pass along what made your life better and what you wish you could have done differently. Listen, laugh and let them know the special place they have in your heart!

Talk to them about how well or poorly you managed money so they’ll benefit from your wisdom or your mistakes. Spend your days building memories they’ll remember forever. That’s a unique legacy they’ll treasure when whatever money you leave is spent.

The Little Things Matter Too

Now is the time to take each of your loved ones aside and ask about which of your belongings they would like to remember you by. You might be surprised, Pam says, at their choices. Think books you read to them as children, a piece of simple jewelry that had special significance for you or a vase you used to hold flowers they gave you for Mother’s Day.

In other words, it’s the connection to you and not the monetary value that matters!

Be Willing to Face the Fight

Being wealthy enough to leave behind lots of money or valuable real estate comes with its own unique problem: what Pam refers to as the “big family fight.”

Unless you and your family have an open conversation about who’s getting what from your estate, your legacy could very well be a negative one. Dodge this responsibility by telling yourself they’ll work it out when you’re gone, and you could create a family rift that lasts forever. That’s a legacy nobody wants!

The Final Word

Whether there’ll be piles of money or next to none to leave your kids and grandkids after taking care of your needs, talk with them about the legacy you want while you can! It’s the only way to give everyone involved peace of mind.

What do you want your lasting legacy to be? How important is it for you to leave a financial legacy even if it means sacrificing your own wellbeing? Have you had a conversation about your legacy with those you love? If so, how did it go? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the conversation below! 

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