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Menopause and money. Financial future or financial failure?

menopause money,Have you every considered that money is also menopause issue?

 

Why would you? You’re probably too immersed in peri menopause, life and all of that. But think about it: if you are to continue working into your 60s, (and in the UK state pension age is moving up to 66 and beyond) how will you maintain your current financial status?

Do you know how will you provide a pension for yourself, and have a sufficient amount of funds to pay for holidays, cars and so many more things, once  you have retired? Relying on someone else is a nice idea, but not always a good one.

Most advice on ‘getting through’ menopause focuses on physical wellbeing but rarely mentions the physical necessity of keeping well, financially. And this matters.

Not every woman in menopause will be in the workplace. But more than 3.5 million women in the U.K. aged over 50, are. Of those 3.5 million it’s likely that 25% will be feeling the physical effects of menopause and this can negatively affect ability, (note: not capability) whether that’s ‘brain fog’, exhaustion, sweating or emotional upset.

“ITV Tonight” is a British news programme that carried out research into the attitudes and issues facing menopausal women in the workplace.  They found that:

 

Yes, employers have a duty of care to the health and safety of their employees, and yes, there is already legislation (in the 2010 Equality Act) that protects people from discrimination of all kinds, and provides for employees with more than 26 weeks service to request (note; request, not expect) flexible working arrangements.

If you can have the conversation about your health needs in the workplace during menopause, you will be also setting a standard for all the women that follow you. I also know that many employers would not listen, will not have the conversation and make it difficult for women to even want to mention their symptoms. If  this is the case for you, seek help from outside.

 

Some women have struggled so much with their symptoms, that the resulting work errors and inefficiencies have been noted as ‘performance issues’ by their employer who did not realise the underlying cause.  This can lead to disciplinary situations and potential loss of status or promotion possibilities. In 2018 the Scottish courts found in favour of a woman who had been dismissed for ‘gross misconduct’. The underlying cause of her error was found to be menopause symptoms and  she was awarded a compensation for the employer’s breach of law.

 

I have clients who have indeed given up jobs they ‘used to love’ but could no longer cope with, leaving behind great salaries, benefits and fulfillment. “Nothing wrong with that”, you may say, and I’d agree. If you have a big, fat financial safety net, or a willing and stable partner, you’ll probably get to 66 (or the age your private pension kicks in at) and you’ll be home and dry. But I would never recommend this as a strategy for financial safety.

menopause money,

For one thing,  reality often differs from our expectations.  Financial pressure in marriages is cited as one of the top causes of divorce and depending on another for your financial wellbeing is not a sound strategy. It’s very likely that a divorced or newly single woman in her 50s, working a low paid and sometimes part time job, is going to struggle to make financial head way. Finding great new roles isn’t easy in your 50s  and if the woman is the main care giver to children or elders, she already has limits on the time available for a demanding role.

So when menopause announces itself, one way or another, it’s also a great time for a financial wellbeing review. Make sure you do this regularly. You need to support yourself and good information and money habits will help you feel emotionally clearer and stronger, I promise.

If you are in a relationship and it’s not yet part of your lives, then book a “money date” with your other half and make it a habit. It is surprisingly reassuring (even if the numbers scare you) to discuss these matters and get a handle on them

menopause checklist money,

  • Current income: Make a complete list of all your outgoings, personal needs, investments and savings contributions, and see if you can afford it fully, now. If not, you need to do some work to establish what you can do to afford your life.
  • Pension: When do you want to retire and how much will you need in your ‘pot’? How much have you got now and what contributions will you continue to make and how?
  • Home: If you own or co-own a property, and there is a mortgage, how much is it, and how long is it until it’s paid off? Is your name on the title deeds?
  • Safety net: What if the car goes ‘bang’, the dog needs expensive veterinary procedures. What easily accessible savings are in place for emergencies (tip: you need at least 3 months’ worth of income to hand).
  • Insurances: Only keep those that are necessary but make sure they are fit for purpose, so insuring your buildings, cars, health and possessions as a priority. Weed out expensive policies where saving money in an interest-bearing account may be a better idea (e.g. when you buy electrical appliances).
  • Wills: Keep them up to date, and consider having a ‘living will’ (advanced healthcare directive) which specifies what actions you want or don’t want, should you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself.
  • Investments; Monies you set aside to ‘grow’ and never touch. Are they in the best place? When do you review them and how?
  • Consumer Debt: Do you have any? If so, how much? How much will it cost you to pay it off and when does it get paid off? Can you ‘blitz’ it by increasing your monthly payments? Do you really need a credit card (No. REALLY – read this – “borrow £3000 at 20 and you’ll be almost 50 when it clears”) https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/minimum-repayments-credit-card

 

This is a very high level guide to what needs to be managed in your money life. It’s intended as a prompt, a wake up call, and it comes from someone who walked into her divorce blindly and with none of this information, or even a shred of an idea that some of it existed, so it comes with a passion for your financial wellbeing, in menopause and afterwards.

See what my friend, Dr Nikki Ramskill (aka “The  Female Money  Doctor”)prescribes for mid life  money health!

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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.

 

menopause money,

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