Will Your Golden Years… Be Golden?

One of the most common personal finance questions I’m hearing from people (of all ages!) is this: “Is it possible for my golden years to be… truly golden?”

The one, two, three punch of the housing, stock, and job markets has left millions reeling. Thankfully, there is some go

Money management for women

od news. And here to deliver it is Mark Miller, author of the newly released book, The Hard Times Guide to Retirement. Below are some excerpts from a recent Q&A with Mark:

Mark, what prompted you to write The Hard Times Guide to Retirement?

I’ve been covering retirement and aging for more than five years. Before the economy crashed, I was struck often by the lack of planning, preparation and thought that my generation—baby boom boomers—has given to retirement. Now, the Great Recession has made the planning gap much more critical… I wanted to show how strategies for money, work and living can be interwoven and leveraged for retirement security–even in tough times…

What was the most surprising thing you learned in researching this book on retirement?

One of my major themes is that the traditional notion of retirement—hanging it up at age 65—will be discarded, and not only for economic reasons. But I was surprised—and really amused—to learn where that notion of age 65 came from. Otto Von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany, started the first system of social security in the 19th Century. He initially set the German retirement age at 70, and later adjusted it to 65. When FDR started the American Social Security system in the 1930s, he looked to the German program as a model. That’s where the idea of retirement at age 65 got its start, and it has stuck with us ever since….

If you could give a woman in her 30s or 40s just one piece of “retirement advice” what would you say?

I’d urge younger women to confront the fact that they are greater risk of retirement insecurity than men—and take steps to fight back. Unfortunately—and outrageously–women earn less over the course of their lifetimes than men…

Even for middle-class or affluent women, the risks are high. Single elderly women are the largest segment of Americans living in poverty. In 2007, 20.5 percent of unmarried women age 65 and older had income below 100 percent of the federal government’s definition of poverty—far higher than rates experienced by men or married couples, according to Census Bureau data….I urge younger women to get educated about retirement security, and to build a plan at the earliest possible date… Finally, focus on debt management, not just investing! In particular, try to avoid building up big credit card balances, because they can eat even the best retirement plan alive.

You can keep up with Mark’s latest thinking on retirement on twitter at @RetireRevised and read my complete interview with Mark Miller HERE.

What about you – what questions or concerns do you have about your retirement?

4 Replies to “Will Your Golden Years… Be Golden?”

  1. Great advice – even for us Canucks!

    My question – and maybe it won't be as easily answered since I'm in Canada – is this:

    as a self employed woman who solely supports her family and who has not saved diligently for retirement, what action steps should I take now to ensure the most secure retirement in the future?

  2. Thanks for this wonderful interview, Manisha. I'm sending it along to my younger-than-me female friends!

  3. Great question!

    Here's the good news: if you are under the age of 50… time is your friend. It's never too late to start, but if you are just getting started saving for your retirement in your 30s or 40s you are really in the sweet spot. The key as a self-employed person is to be really disciplined about avoiding “lifestyle creep.” It's so exhausting to work for yourself (and be the primary breadwinner for your family!!) that it can be easy to throw in a treat here, a treat there when a good month comes along and pretty soon a chunk of change that could be used for retirement is used for things that you will have forgotten about a year or two from now. So the key really is to control the only thing that as a self-employed person you can… spending. Or said slightly differently, when you have a variable income, it's easy to live it up in the good months. What you really want to do is live as if every month were your worst month and when a really good month comes along, use that excess to tuck away for retirement. Then as your saving cushion grows, you can start adding back in a few treats now and then. Hope that helps & always here to answer more questions for fantastic, hardworking women like you 🙂

  4. Thanks, Coach Cate.

    And for any readers out there wondering how I ended up doing what I'm doing right now… it's because Coach Cate LaBarre got me unstuck and on the path to my dharma. She's got a serious gift. So if you are not happy with your path in life and are looking for a fantastic life coach to get you back on track, keep this site in sight: http://www.mountainviewlifecoaching.com/ .

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