Woman Preparing and Thriving In VLR

Last week we celebrated International Women’s and both Mike and I are thankful for all the wonderful women that have enriched our lives. You probably noticed a surge in the number of articles on the topic of women in retirement from our blogging buddies around the web. There is no doubt that there is a difference in how women approach investing and retirement but as we continue to say VLR is not a one size fits all, no matter, male, female, non binary, in couples or single, VLR is about YOU. Let us share a couple of thoughts on women in VLR.The latest Stats Canada statistics suggest that the average women will retire at 63, however most women will continue working. As you know we are big proponents of continuing to work in VLR as there are many benefits to continuing  but the key is to work on your terms. Working on your terms may mean, continuing to work your current job if you still have a passion, maybe cut back to part time, maybe finding a new job where you have always had a passion, or maybe its helping a young female entrepreneur build her business. The benefits of working will lead to a balanced happy lifestyle. Maybe for the first time in your life you can make choices right for you.

When we were young, building our careers and starting our families our time was not our own. You probably sacrificed personally for the good of the family, and the majority of us would not change a thing. My wife and I recently looked at some old photos of our children with a smile, any sacrifice we may have made, missing work days for sick kids, taking family leave, rushing to get the train so we could get to daycare, are distance memories. Sure we remember it was not easy, meeting work and family commitments but nothing that is worthwhile ever is and in the end we are blessed with wonderful children and overall a rewarding career and life. My wife and I shared parenting duties but I humbly acknowledging my wife handled more of the child duties over the years. My wife like many female boomers took maternity leave and in fact we were remember how rare it was when a male work colleague took paternity leave back in the day.  Most women, my wife included, do not look back thinking they sacrificed their career for their family  and relished the time spent with our baby children, but the truth is many women of our generation did lose opportunities at work while on leave. Today companies are more aware and have policies in place employees taking family leave are treated fairly. Most employers know a happy employee with a happy family will be happier and more productive. So to all the women that made sacrifices to raise their family, even if you had a supportive partner, thank you, but in VLR it is your time to be a little bit selfish.

Selfish does not seem to align with the Nine Principles of Retirement, but let us explain, in order to be truly happy in retirement you have to align your lifestyle to your personal values. VLR is about a new beginning for you, and your partner, so take time and find a life that align with your goals and values. Your values may not be 100% aligned with your spouse and that is ok make sure you have personal goals and  couple goals. In your working life when time was far more restricted you may have put others goals before yourself, but now you have over 2000 hours of “found time”  why not dedicate some of  that time to you, set goals that  bring you true joy to your retirement.

On the financial side of the VLR equation it is important that both spouses understand and are comfortable with their financial plan. To this end their are numerous studies that prove women have a different approach to investment and financial planning than their male partners.. The Financial Industry for some time has known that women’s needs were not being met by the financial services industries. The following statistics show why the investment industry views females as such an important segment:

  1. Women control over $20 trillion (27%) of the world’s wealth and $11.2 trillion (39%) of the United States’ wealth.
  2. Women unmistakably influence how wealth is managed: two-thirds of women in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore identified as primary decision makers over household assets.
  3. In the United States, it is estimated that $5 trillion of wealth held by women is not managed by a financial advisor.
  4.  53% of women surveyed by the Center of Talent Innovation did not have financial advisors.
  5.  75% of women under 40 in the United States reported not having an advisor.

An interesting study done by Deloitte for the investment industry looks at the differences between male and female investors, women seek a different experience from their financial advisors. These differences include wanting to learn and be educated by their advisor, women value face to face interactions to develop trust, women tend to invest in companies to which they assign meaning or purpose, these are a few of the differences. Not all of these differences may resonate with you but understand you are the customer and it is ok to want what you want. If you don’t have a financial advisor, interview and find one that shows that they understand you. If your spouse’s currently takes the lead on financial planning  all the evidence, including a report from the World Health Organization, says you are going to out live your male partner so at some point it will fall to you.  Make sure you understand your finances and why not start now. If you have not retired take time to learn about your net worth, household budget and investment strategies. Maybe take a course no one should blindly follow their financial advisor, ask questions challenge your advisor, being educated is key to ensuring, your advisor,  is keeping your lifestyle plan and financial plan aligned. If you find that you are not connecting with your existing advisor maybe you need to find a new advisor maybe it is best to have that tough talk with your spouse and perhaps find a new advisor now rather than later when you have to take over the financial reins. It is important to have an advisor that connects with both of you, after all you are in VLR together.

VLR does not just happen, it requires planning and the involvement of both spouses, both individually and as a couple. Both should understand your financial plan and both should understand each others lifestyle plan. A successful VLR means open communication, balancing your needs with those of your partner and making time for shared goals and experiences. Get it right and VLR is a wonderful thing.

Happy International Women’s Day.

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