Money Thought Leader: Joy Alford-Brand
Hello, ladies! It’s time for us to talk about my favorite, super fun personal finance topic, saving for retirement.
For ladies who are forty-five and older, this topic is one we need to pay attention to, whether we want to or not. Don’t worry, I’ll make it as short and as painless as possible, hardy har har!
What’s The Deal?
We all know we should be saving for retirement, right? I think it’s fair to say that by the time you get to forty-five, someone has mentioned to you that you might not be able to work forever but you will continue to need money in your golden years. This is not a surprise to us, at all.
“For crying out loud, ladies, we have been short-shrifted on the financial literacy front for eons.”
The issue for us is (and please excuse my brief soapbox rant), we’ve been so busy taking care of everyone else that we haven’t had the chance to get our minds right about retirement. For that matter, the sheer volume of effort we put into getting those around us off the ground leaves precious little time or energy to even contemplate the fact that we will (hopefully), retire someday.
Furthermore, no one is really bothering to teach us some simple rules designed to help us make better choices for ourselves, or even any long-term financial choices! For crying out loud, ladies, we have been short-shrifted on the financial literacy front for eons. That’s not news to any of us, unfortunately. (End of rant!)
What Can You Do?
As with most things in our lives, we have to drive our own financial bus. Until women in our age group are recognized as the bedrock of society that we truly are, we really have to take matters into our own hands and begin learning financial literacy on our own. To that end, I am including the five basic tips I teach in my book, Money Basics, that I feel you need to know to get your finances on track and keep them there.
1.Live Within Your Means.
This is a simple rule that we understand from a practical perspective. However, millions of people are living well above their means, for lots of different reasons. If you can keep your expenses manageable, you can create a little disposable income so you can start saving money. Again, this is a no brainer but it bears repeating.
“Generally speaking, the more you can avoid debt, the better off you are.”
2.Stop Getting Into Debt.
Again, a simple rule that lots of people can’t avoid breaking. Especially, in these days of pandemic fueled inflation. Generally speaking, the more you can avoid debt, the better off you are.
3.Save A Consistent Percentage Of Your Income.
This is the flip side of the first rule. You manage your expenses so you can save money, not so you can buy the most expensive home you qualify for. While it may not be possible for you to save a consistent percentage of your income, save as much as you can, as often as you can.
4.Don’t Just Save It – Invest It.
Here’s where things get tricky. Let me be clear, saving money is not the same thing as investing it. This is kind of like the old saying “all Jacuzzis are hot tubs but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzis.” The same logic applies here. All funds you invest in retirement accounts are savings, but not all simple savings accounts are investments that yield significant returns.
To get the best return on your retirement savings, you need to put it into some kind of retirement investment account like an IRA or 401(k). These accounts leverage time and compounding to grow your savings and turn regular folks into millionaires.
“While this is not the only way to build wealth over time, it is a great way to do it if you can.”
5.Get The Employer Match.
If your employer has a retirement savings plan, enroll in it and contribute enough to get the employer match. While this is not the only way to build wealth over time, it is a great way to do it if you can. Not all of us are lucky enough to have employers with 401(k), 453, 457 or thrift savings plans. If your employer does have one of those plans, enroll in it immediately and contribute enough to get the employer match as soon as you can.
But I’m Too Old!
Nope, you are never too old to start saving money. Even if you can only save $5 a month, do it. Find a money market account somewhere and start saving as much as you can. Get to $1000 and then get thee to Vanguard and open an IRA.
If you need help enrolling in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, contact human resources and ask them who you can talk to about getting help with the process. Remember, these people are here to help you and they are paid to do so.
“Don’t forget, they make money because you make money. It’s a win-win situation.”
If you need help opening an IRA, the folks at Vanguard are great at helping you with the process from start to finish. Don’t forget, they make money because you make money. It’s a win-win situation.
Getting The Situation Under Control:
Finally, there is no stupid or small question when it comes to your money. Studies show that one of the main reasons many people don’t participate in retirement savings programs is that they don’t understand them and are intimidated by them. This is entirely fixable, especially for women who are used to driving the bus.
Remember, ladies, we are more than capable of grabbing the bull by the horns and getting the situation under control. With a little confidence and attention, we can apply the same grit and skill we use in every other part of our lives to our finances. Women can do anything we put our mind to. Mastering our finances is no exception.
About the Author:
Joy Alford-Brand is an author, public speaker and attorney. She graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in History from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio in 1994 and she received her Juris Doctor from Ohio State University College of Law in 1998. Her main area of practice is Bankruptcy. She is admitted in North Carolina where she lives and works. Joy founded newcashview.com in 2015 as a platform through which she could help others work toward financial freedom and peace of mind! For more information, check out newcashview.com.