“Money is an overlay in each of the chapters of our lives. And for many savvy, professional, high-earning women, it is still a topic we don’t like to think about or talk about.”
Amy is an internationally renowned expert on lifestyle issues relating to caregiving, retirement, aging, and family dynamics. As BMO Financial Group’s Life Transition Expert she helps clients achieve their life goals and financial plans.
BY DR. AMY D’APRIX
Consider your life a book with many chapters. Each chapter has a focus that is often a mixture of personal life and career. Some of your chapters may include education, early career, marriage, young family, career advancement, launching of kids into adulthood, and perhaps one or more job or career changes. For many of us, there are chapters we hadn’t anticipated writing: caregiving for aging parents, divorce, young widowhood, health issues, or job loss.
Whether or not we acknowledge it, money is an overlay in each of the chapters of our lives. And for many savvy, professional, high-earning women, it is still a topic we don’t like to think about or talk about. Actually, money may be one of the few taboo topics left in our society. Query women and they will probably laughingly admit that they are much quicker to tell their friends intimate details about their romantic lives than to discuss anything related to their finances. Yet when we consider the impact money has on all aspects of our life, it becomes evident that most of us probably should be thinking about it and talking about it much more than we currently do.
It may help us review some of the facts that underscore the importance of being “financially awake” as women. These include:
• Women centenarians outnumber men four to one.
• 40% of all marriages in Canada will not make it to their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and in the first year after a divorce a women’s standard of living drops 40%.
• The average age of widowhood in Canada is 58.
• Nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives.
These facts highlight that whether married or single, we need to be focused on wealth accumulation and sound money management because we are likely to live a long time; and most of us will spend some part of our lives solely responsible for our finances. The facts also point to the need to recognize that the chapter changes in our lives can occur abruptly and are easier to manage if we are proactive about having our financial lives in order. The good news is that you can smooth the financial impact of shifting from one chapter to another, whether the new chapter is welcomed or uninvited. The following are three ideas to help you stay financially strong in change:
Educate yourself now
Seek out the many excellent resources that will help you better understand wealth accumulation and financial management. One of the best places to start is a financial professional who can guide and educate you. You may need to talk to several before finding the person who fits best with your personality. If you believe that you should already know more than you do about investing or any other financial topic, let yourself off the hook! The more open you are about what you currently know and what you need to know, the more likely you are to get the help you want in accumulating wealth for the lifestyle you want and the life changes you may not have anticipated.
Have a financial plan
A financial plan is a roadmap for your money. Would you consider taking a trip into an unknown territory without directions, a GPS, or a map? Having a financial plan will allow you to more gently and successfully navigate the chapter changes in your life. Every woman should have a financial plan and update it on a regular basis.
Make sure you have planned for the unexpected. You might consider doing an “insurance checkup.” For example, find out if you have enough insurance coverage for disability. Also, seek professional advice about how much of a nest egg you need for emergencies or unexpected changes in your life.