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Improve Your Financial Life by Learning to Take Care of You First

Our fabulous guest blogger this week is Dr Nikki Ramskill, a hardworking medical doc.who regularly sees some of the difficult issues created when women, in particular, have not been given a sound financial education. Over to you, Nikki!

 

money,menopause, pensions,debt,

“My name is Dr Nikki Ramskill, and I’m otherwise known as the Female Money Doctor. My mission is to help women feel much more empowered around their personal finances because I believe that not only will her own mental and physical health improve, society as a whole will improve too.

If more enlightened women take the reigns in positions of power, I absolutely know the world will be vastly improved.

I’d love to be able to say that it doesn’t matter who you are, or what your background is, but unfortunately I can’t. Yet.

Money Talks

menopause money,

The truth is, money talks, and without this, it’s pretty hard to make big things happen. Whether you loathe it or love it, no one can deny that money is the lubricant in most everyday transactions, and unfortunately, in routes to power.

Now at the moment, you may not have such lofty aspirations as to want to become the next female prime minister, but I’m willing to bet that having more money to help your partner and your family out would be helpful to you?

Yes? Well then, the secret is TO START WITH YOU.

Take Control

For many women, focusing on themselves feels selfish, unmotherly, or dare I say it, “bitchy”. But in my view, it’s none of those things.

Actually, looking after yourself financially is probably one of the most loving things you can do for those around you. Too many women in later life are starting to realise that they are facing the prospect of retirement without significant savings to enable them to live a life they want after stopping work.

 

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In addition to this, their kids aren’t able to move out due to spiraling property costs, and increasingly, women in later life are taking on the burden of providing childcare for their daughters who are going out to work to make ends meet.

Quite frankly, women are such awesome caregivers, that they’re forgetting to look after themselves, and the consequences can be dire for our finances.

WASPI Women

Take the WASPI campaign for example. This is a generation of women born in the 50s who are now having to work more years than intended to, because the government have moved the goal posts for the age at which they can collect their state pension. Women who may not be able to continue to work, are now having to find money to plug the gap, and have lost out on a significant sum of money.

This is the sort of situation that for those of us in younger generations should avoid. In fact, in light of this campaign, we’d actually be doing the WASPI Women a MASSIVE disservice if we DIDN’T take action now. Much like the suffragettes in the early 20th century who made the vote happen for women in the UK, so too have the WASPI women helped blaze a trail before us.

You Can Do It Too

 

menopause, anxiety, money worries,

No longer do we have the excuse of ignorance. The information is right there in front of us to see, but you have to know where to look.

Another issue that a lot of women are still guilty of is giving all the financial responsibility to their partner. I know because I used to be just such a woman, and I let my (ex-)partner have full control. We tell ourselves that It’s “too hard” and we’re just “not good with money”.

Well let me tell you that having control of your own personal finances is not rocket science. I promise you that with the right guidance, and a lot of perseverance, you CAN do what it takes to sort your own finances out.

So what can you do right now?

menopause checklist money,

1. Check your state pension status. Use the UK government website to work out your current state pension and your pension age. You can pay extra contributions to fill in gaps where you may have had time out of work such as maternity leave for example.

2. Get into a pension if you aren’t in one already. Most places are automatically enrolling their employees now as per government guidelines, however, if you’re self-employed, getting a SIPP is essential, and can provide you with some much needed tax-relief.

3. Maximise your workplace pension. How much are you paying in per month? How much is your workplace paying in? Could you maximise these contributions? See what your work place is willing to match you up to, and increase your contributions to this maximum. Take advantage of this free money!
4. Work out how much money you need in retirement. There are loads of pension calculators out there, and there are so many variables to really know if your pot of money will give you the find of income you want, but it will give you a rough ballpark figure.

5. Collect your pensions together. If you have lots of different pensions lying around, you can amalgamate them into one pension account. You could use Pension Bee to consolidate them all. There are caveats to this. The first is that you may not be able to transfer certain pensions if you work in the public sector. The other thing you have to be aware of is some pensions are so good you really shouldn’t move them. Final salary pensions are an example of this. Always consultant an Independent Financial Adviser for large sums of money, especially if you are new to this. Unbiased.co.uk is a good place to find an IFA.

6. Make sure your golden eggs are not all in the same basket! Do not rely on your house as “your pension”. Property is not liquid, and may be difficult to sell when the time comes. Also, property markets crash just like stock markets do, and it can take years for it to recover. In fact, some areas of the UK still haven’t recovered from the 2008 crash. Have a better distribution of assets, and utilise all the classes- stocks and shares, gold and other commodities, bonds AND property.

7. Improve your cash flow. Take a good hard look at your budget and trim down those expenses. Start to set aside money for saving and investing so not everything is heading out the door in the form of bills and unnecessary spending. If you’re approaching retirement, and still don’t have a lot saved into retirement funds, you must make this an absolute priority to get on track.

8. Have the right insurances set out. If you have dependents, life insurance is essential, but if you don’t, it really isn’t necessary. Don’t go out and buy expensive funeral cover unless what you pay in guarantees that it will cover all costs. A lot of them don’t, so check the small print before you sign.

9. Pay off debt, this includes your mortgage. Being mortgage free at the time of retirement will free you up enough to be able to enjoy your retirement without the worry of still needing to pay to keep a roof over your head.

10. Update your will and appoint a power of attorney. You never know when you might need this to come into play, so it’s best to have your wishes recorded when you’re fit and able, than when sadly you’re not. A good solicitor will be able to help you with this.

Final Words from Dr Nikki

Make 2018 the year you embrace your finances and take ownership of them. No one else will do this for you, and with women significantly outliving their partners in retirement, we absolutely must make our own finances an urgent priority.

Good luck in your journey to retirement. Yes money isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, but it will certainly go far to supporting you and helping you feel less financially stretched. This puts you in a place of strength to then help others around you do the same.

Being a woman has never before been so good.

With Love,

Dr Nikki x
https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com

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Menopause, anxiety and strange dreams. Grief may help.

menopause, anxiety,Anxiety in menopausal years  can be confusing, tiring and upsetting. While it is important to make sure your diet and life style, stressors and supporters, are all in a good place, there is potentially, more to mid-life anxiety. In the invisible realms of your body, something is calling for your attention and this low level anxiety is a clue.

 

You may know that I believe that (peri) menopause is a long term psycho/spiritual developmental stage as well as a physical one. The potential outcome of this development, to my mind, is an expanded way of living, Whether that  expansion is achieved by letting go of outdated ideas, behaviours or systems: or by the adoption of new and more liberating (joy bringing) ways of being. Or maybe it’s a simple shift in self perception that allows more self love. It’s personal.

 

At around 42  years of age, the effects of your Uranian opposition begin to be felt. Now I am not an astrologer and I can only recommend to you the seminal work by Barbara Hand Clow “Liquid Light of Sex” (Bear & Co) which came into my life once I had experienced some profound realisations about menopause, the Divine Feminine, Kundalini and astrology. At around the same age, a woman begins to lose ‘fertility’ – in other words, her body does notproduce so much estrogen. This is the commencement of peri-menopause.

Menopause and Uranian opposition

Astrological symbol for Uranus

Barbara Hand Clow says “unreleased grief is one of the most common sources of chakra blocks and it will lie in the solar plexus chakra until kundalini rises”. She also says that “it will manifest as seemingly sourceless anxiety… (or) in a dream or nightmare” (p 69).

(Erm, One of my nightmares that felt absolutely REAL every time I dreamed it, was that I had  killed a man and  completely forgotten that I had killed him. In my dream, I was going about my daily chores when  I suddenly remembered this murderous act. I can’t even tell you how that felt. It created a lot of anxiety for me. I used to wake up confused to the extent that I had to seriously question whether this was a ‘real’ memory from this lifetime). It’s a classic separation from Uranus (male power) dream and it was horrible!

menopause anxiety, menopause and grief,

What does grief have to do with ANY of this? Well, what prompted my to write this article is that the most powerful, devastating and cleansing grief experience of my life happened when  I was 43. And I have just witnessed one of my closest friends going through the same experience, and hers was not triggered by a death, a divorce or  even a family member moving. She is breaking her heart over a family friend,  a young man who had touched her heart and who, she believes, was a son in a former life. He has been moved away – overnight – by Social Services – and her family is bereft. She has sobbed for two days which is most certainly, not her style and is feeling anxiety and concerns beyond her remit.

In my experience, it’s  always a clue to a blockage about to get cleared, when a response is way out of balance with an incident. Low level anxiety that does not have a clear and reasonable source, is one of these clues.

 

So it was for me.  I had, by the time of my loss, grieved the death of two beloved parents, yet nothing prepared me for this storm.  Days were spent wrapped in a quilt, propped against a wall, so that the overwhelming impact of my uncontrolled grief was minimised on my exhausted body. I dreamed vividly about this long-lost love: I spoke with him in my mind: I found photographs and put them on my altar.

menopause, menopause anxiety

One wet and wild day, a wave of grief took me to my knees, literally as I walked my dogs in the winter flooded fields.  As I allowed the power of pain to sweep through me, I felt a new emotion. It felt like joy. And then – ecstasy. After a time, I  felt only one emotion and it was ecstasy.  In that moment, I knew how my love’s death had served me. It had blasted away all pretense, all mind stuff, all ‘blocks’ and only the ecstasy of pure Love was left for me to feel.  My Uranian opposition had done its work and blasted a path through my solar plexus to my heart. The work began there!

I am not suggesting that you go looking for grief. I am suggesting that if something  ‘triggers’ you, be curious and open. Perhaps an incident will occur that provokes a deep and  possibly, unwelcome response from deep within you. It may feel uncontrollable. Let it take you if you feel you can. or find a counsellor or similar, professional outsider to help you.

If others may be affected by your grief, then find ways to help them not feel responsible for your emotions. Take yourself to a private space and/or professional office and do what you need to. Don’t project this energy by blaming or shaming self or others, otherwise so that you create a messy ‘web’ for so often, what we feel has little to do with what is really happening outside of us. I promise, from bitter experience, this can have unwanted effects.

menopause anxiety, menopause fire,

Grief can be a fierce healer, but go into the fire with courage (the quality of the heart) and faith. You will emerge, and if you resist the temptation to fall into blame, shame or resentment, you will feel clearer, lighter and stronger. At least, I did and I think my bestie, M would agree.