Many women reaching their 60s today are not prepared financially for retirement. After years of hard work, building our careers and supporting our families, the idea of “retirement” seems a distant dream.
If this sounds like you, there is still plenty you can do to take control of the situation. Whether you want to “retire” in the classical sense, or just reduce the amount that you work and spend more time on the things that you love, there are plenty of ways to stretch your savings.
But, before you start digging into the details, it pays to take a look at your money mindset. Are you ready to approach your financial future with creativity and courage? If so, read on…
According to a survey by Allianz, over half of the women in America fear becoming a “bag lady” (their words, not mine). In other words, many women worry that they might end up penniless, on the streets with all their worldly possession in plastic bags.
We may smile and shrug at this dramatic image, but at the heart of our money stress is a fear that this really could happen. But, it this scenario realistic? Sometimes it helps to follow our thoughts through to their logical conclusion. When we look at our support network, financial resources, skills and other assets, most of us will find that we have more than we believe.
Fear and courage are opposite emotions and it is difficult to feel both at the same time. If we focus on our challenges and fears, we will find ourselves in a negative spiral.
If we focus on our opportunities and assets, we have a greater ability to make real change in our lives, starting today.
Many women are attached, or, even addicted, to buying things. Some collect small items like fridge magnets or postcards. Others feel a buzz when buying clothes, makeup and other possessions. One essential step to making your retirement savings last longer is to redefine your relationship with “things.”
Embracing downsizing is not enough. It is a matter of changing your money mindset completely. Simplicity is a way of life. The real goal is to detach meaning and purpose in life from the accumulation of things. This is an ongoing process, but, it is at the heart of a successful financial lifestyle in retirement.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid purchases altogether. Far from it. But, by becoming conscious of your spending habits you will be able to eliminate the things that don’t make you happy and focus on the things that do.
Staying in great financial shape is similar to staying in great physical shape. The first thing that you need to do in both cases is to establish a baseline and then measure your progress.
Just like you use a scale to keep track of your weight, monitoring your spending is essential to maintaining your financial health.
Also, it is far better to take small steps every day than to try to change everything at once. If you get stuck, try writing down one small change that you can make this week to improve your financial situation. If you are facing problems dealing with existing debt, here are some ideas for reducing your debt in retirement.
There have been many studies on the buying habits of the wealthy. People who have money tend to buy high-quality things that last. They go for classic styles and buy items that can be repaired and reused.
Many wealthy people also tend to be quite frugal, driving modest cars, living in small homes and looking for bargains. Some even make their own clothes or homemade items. Even Michelle Obama shops at Target and H&M. It’s a matter of understanding how to shop for value and not in order to achieve emotional nourishment.
Knowledge is power. And, this is especially true when it comes to managing your money in retirement. Here are a few good books to start you on your journey to financial freedom. You can also check these out from your local library, if you don’t want to buy them online.
Don’t be afraid to be creative when it comes to spending your money. Ask for cash or senior discounts, look for bargains and don’t be embarrassed to decline an offer with a simple “sorry I can’t afford it.” People will respect your honesty. Don’t make excuses for your situation. This will only make you feel inadequate and guilty.
Make saving money a game, wait for sales and celebrate when your creativity uncovers a bargain on something you want.
Stay positive, maintain a confident perspective, and you may find that you are able to live a quality life on far less than you anticipated. With extra time and money, you can enjoy true freedom, which is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
What have you done to stretch your retirement savings? Please leave your comments below.