10 Tips for Preparing for Retirement and Defeating the “Money Worry” Gene
We all have chromosomes (DNA) that are encoded with our genes in every cell in our body. There are 22 pairs of chromosomes that determine everything from the color of our hair and eyes to our ancestry and mental abilities.
There are two other pairs, one for men (XY) and one for women (XX) giving each of us a total of 23 pairs of chromosomes. However, I believe that there is sometimes a special gene that is attached to the XX chromosome. Simply put, some of us have a “money worry” gene.
When a woman has this gene, she tends to be a worrier. It is so extreme that she fears becoming homeless, even if she is in good financial shape at the moment.
The triggers to this fear are easy to identify: children, grandchildren, career, divorce, retirement, or the death of a spouse. All of these cause her to feel like there is not enough money to survive and that she will be living under a bridge in her old age.
This gene creates unnecessary anxiety and can cause a person to be unable to fully enjoy their life. The solution to this is gaining a true understanding of their long-term financial wellness. With this understanding comes a better feeling of security and ability to enjoy their one best financial life.
Here are 10 tips that I can offer after many years of coaching and advising women of all ages. These tips will help you to fight back against the “money worry” gene.
Maintain Your Own Financial Identity
Married or not, understand your financial situation and maintain your own financial identity. This means, have your own bank account and credit cards as well as your own estate plan.
Also, update your financial statement each year and obtain a credit bureau report at least annually.
Be Careful with Taxes
Do not sign a tax return without reviewing it and knowing what it contains. In the eyes of the IRS you will be held responsible if later determined there are errors that create a balance due.
Understand Personal Investments and Retirement Accounts
Long-term investment success is not about returns. It is about managing your emotions, making course corrections, and adding discipline to accomplish the long-term goals.
Review the quarterly statements and ask questions if there is anything you do not understand. Look particularly at the cost of the portfolio, including both internal and external costs. Do you know what the real total costs are for your portfolios?
Have a Financial Plan
If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which road you take!
People spend more time planning their vacations than planning for their future financial wellness. You can find a financial expert in your area by going to the Financial Planning Association.
Secured debt, like a mortgage or car loan, is fine. However, try not to keep unsecured debt, like continuing balances on credit cards or personal lines of credit.
Debt can quickly eat up your flexible spending money. I have found that few retirees like having a mortgage. Maybe plan to retire your mortgage when you retire!
Have a Spending Plan
Identify your recurring expenses, like utilities, rent or mortgage, insurance, food, and medical. Then identify expenses that are voluntary, such as eating out, buying clothes, entertainment, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses. You have to pay the recurring expenses each month but the rest is your flexible spending.
Bottom line: don’t spend more than you take in each month!
Adult Children and Grandkids
You raised them and they are responsible for their own lives just as you were when you were young. We have a tendency to feel guilty if we don’t pay for vacations, big gifts, or other expenses.
The best gift we can give or children and grandchildren is our own financial independence!
Enjoy Your Life
Have fun with your partner, friends, and family. Find common interests and do the things that add happiness to your life. As we all know, life is getting shorter each day, and time seems to be accelerating as we age.
Remember the old adage, “don’t put off until to tomorrow what you can do today.” This has greater meaning in our retirement years.
Leave a Legacy
Is it more important to leave money and things or your core family values? I personally would rather give to my children and grandchildren while I am alive so I can enjoy making the gift as long as it does not interfere with my own financial wellness.
However, I also believe that I would rather be known for whom I was and what my core beliefs were than what I did or how much money I gave away.
It You Don’t Go First Class, Your Kids Will!
This is a story for another day.
Do you ever experience the effects of the “money worry” gene? How many of these 10 tips do you have under control? Are there any areas with regard to your financial security that you want to improve? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts.