What issue or challenge in your life ever got you to the point when you finally said, “Enough!”? If you have ever had that moment you never forget it – and everything that comes after will be different because you feel it with every fiber of your being.
For me, it was when I watched my mother who had lived a very nice life with a beautiful home, clothing, jewelry, and vacations to Jamaica and Europe almost every year end up living the last 30 some years of her life living financially dependent on Social Security. How does this happen? Or better yet, how did it happen?
It was many things that led my mother down this path that I’ll tell you about. But the saddest thing? She never would have guessed in a million years this was how her life would end up looking like. The even sadder truth is unless something drastic changes, this the reality for many of us.
Forty-one percent of women ages 25 to 55 say they are worried they will struggle financially because they have not adequately saved for retirement. These women are our friends, mothers, mother in-laws, aunts and our daughters. There are several factors that work against women. We generally make less money than men. We typically will take time out of the workforce to raise children which means our careers are often shorter than men. In a report by the National Economic Council Interagency Working Group on Social Security they state that for 25 percent of unmarried women, Social Security is their only source of income, compared to 9 percent of married couples, and 20 percent of unmarried men.
Divorce is definitely a factor that can hurt the financial stability of women. Add to that any unexpected health costs and the results can be devastating. Many of these factors impacted my mother and many, many other women like her. The one thing that should have stayed constant was that my mom should have paid herself first.
I was starting to figure out my own retirement story at the same time my mother was living her story. As a mother myself I can tell you I deeply desire to help bring up a new generation of women who are confident and educated about finances. Did your mother ever talk to you about money or about the importance of saving for retirement? I know mine didn’t. What if our parents would have told us if we start saving while we were young and invested wisely we could retire as millionaires? According to the Princeton Survey Research Associates International only about one in three parents (34%) has taught their teen to balance a checkbook, and even fewer (29%) have explained how credit card interest and fees work.
We want our daughters and the women in our lives to be confident and strong but do we think of making sure they are financially educated? Do they know being financially secure is one of the most important things they can do for themselves? It is time to say, “Enough.” We deserve better.
Do any of you remember the commercial that aired in the early 1970s that advertised L’Oreal’s Preference hair color? The women in the commercial said, “Because I’m Worth It!” It was the first time a woman said those words on television. What has happened to that spirit? Why have we not progressed one milligram since then in the area of women saving money and being financially literate?
It floors me to think of where I would be today if I had been financially literate when I was younger. We women are the pros at multitasking and we have amazing intuition. We are smart and confident – too smart to not change the statistics in this article.
I ask you to join with me in saying we have hit “Enough” today. Like anything worth doing, it might hurt a bit when we resist the temptation to spend while we reach out to a financial expert if we need help in starting our journey to a secure and dignified retirement. Don’t say that you are buried in bills or decide to put it off for a couple of months. I’ve been there but I can tell you the first person I pay today is me. I’ve decided that I’m worth it and you should too!
It’s great to strive to make a million dollars in your professional life but also make sure that you also retire with a million. Let’s not live the last thirty years of our lives below the poverty level and let’s not let our mothers and daughters live that way either. Let’s make sure all women, with or without the help of a financial professional, can become experts in our finances.
Jayne Black, Mrs. Wisconsin Galaxy 2012 - Founder of Saving Smart for Five Generations, International Women's Finance Coach, Professional Speaker, Writer, "Fellow" at the Wisconsin Women's Policy Institute