5 Money Worries Every Boomer Woman Understands

Stressed out businesswoman in office.
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As a financial adviser, I hear firsthand what boomer women worry about. Of course, all women are not alike: We have unique lifestyles, careers and aspirations. Still, getting older seems to yield surprisingly similar financial worry-lists for us. Here is a list of the top five fears that my clients bring me, and some ideas about how to turn these worries into opportunities.

  1. Will I get laid off so that my employer can hire someone younger and cheaper to take my place? And if that happens, will anyone hire me at my age?
  2. I don't think I've saved enough for retirement. Will I run out of money?
  3. I want to invest my money, but I don't want to lose any money. The stock market is scary. What should I do?
  4. I don't think I can do this job for much longer. Can I afford to change to a lower-paying career?
  5. How can I help my children or my parents financially and take care of myself?
Reading, that list, you might be thinking, "But men worry about these things, too." True. But I would argue that the cultural and social realities in the U.S. make those worries more intense for women. Among other points:
  • Women feel more pressure than men to appear youthful to stay relevant.
  • Women often leave the workforce for years to care for children and parents, making it harder to save for retirement.
  • Women are more conservative (or fearful) investors than men.
  • Women earn less than men for similar work.
  • Women are left out of executive suites and boards, earning less and wielding less influence over workplace culture.
So, what's a girl to do? There is only so much we can control, but when it comes to money, there are clear actions we can take to ease those worries and get on track for better outcomes.

1. Plan

Hire a professional to prepare a comprehensive financial plan that's personalized for you, and follow through on the recommendations provided. Financial plans will show whether you're saving enough, whether you're investing for an adequate return, whether you can afford to help loved ones financially, and when you'll be able to retire or change careers for lower pay. A financial professional will also help you to understand if you are properly insured, are taking advantage of all the tax-savings opportunities available to you, and if you have a sound estate plan. You can find a financial adviser from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors or the Financial Planning Association. Or, if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you can build your own financial plan with help form websites like Learnvest.

2. Save

Maximize all retirement savings opportunities that the Internal Revenue Service allows, including workplace retirement plans, individual retirement accounts and even annuities. If you max out all other retirement savings options and can save more, invest via taxable accounts.

3. Invest

Hire a professional to invest your money or get educated about investing and do it yourself. Leaving too much money in low-yielding investments -- such as bank savings and checking accounts, money-market accounts or certificates of deposit -- will increase chances that you won't have enough money in retirement. It's important to assess your need for return vs. your risk tolerance.

Don't wait -- you aren't getting any younger.

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You missed the most difficult point. Women, more often then not, take care of their husbands through their final illness and are then alone on half the income. The health care cuts to Medicare effect women the most. The real war on women.

July 15 2014 at 5:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JenTeri's comment

@JenTeri --- It's not a "difficult point". It's an unseen and ignored tragedy. Marriage is a trap. Women outlive men. Their husbands get sick with a major illness late in life. The medical cost of that illness drains the couple's jointly held lifetime savings. (Assuming that they even HAD any savings. Many older people don't.)

The wife struggles to keep things going. It's a slow slide into poverty. First, she sells her "good jewelry" (including her wedding rings) and anything else of any value out of their household. Then she puts their house up for sale and they move into a much smaller apartment. The money from the house disappears to pay for bills from doctors and hospitals. She trades their nice car in on an old beater. Then the "fun" really begins. She will be lucky if she doesn't end up scavenging for returnable soda cans by the side of the highway just to get enough money to pay for food and Rx medications.

The stress of years of caregiving for him leaves the woman exhausted physically and emotionally. As a "reward", she finds herself thrown into poverty and unable to find a job late in life at the same time that she is grieving the loss of her husband. All their jointly owned assets and savings are gone. So, she is left to live out the rest of her life in a grim struggle for survival on Social Security.

This is NOT the wonderful rosy picture that is shown in TV commercials for cruise lines and vacation resorts, etc. targeting older people. In reality, the Golden Years are a myth.

Only about 5% of older women are able to live independently in a nice environment and have a comfortable income. Another 25% of widows end up in some rathole of a rundown efficiency apartment in a dangerous part of town. The rest are reduced to being dependent on relatives or friends for a place to live out their remaining years. And, this is only IF they don't end up in a nursing home which is their worst nightmare. More than a few of them will end up living in that old beater car on the street. Or homeless, without a car.

Think this horror story is a rarity?? It isn't. I've met many widows who are living out this hell in their later years. None of them ever thought anything like this would happen to them. But, it does.

July 15 2014 at 12:08 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

If Hillary doesn't think 160 million, is truly well off?

Sorry couldn't resist.

July 14 2014 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

When we were busy raising our kids we let a broker invest some of our money. We rarely made any money. Later on I had the time to become more financially savvy. I looked up the Morningstar ratings of the funds he had invested in (you can do this online) and found out they were crappy funds. He probably was getting higher kickbacks from these funds. I learned from another broker whom I met on a train of all places to always check the expenses ratio of funds. This is what they charge for investing your money. I started doing such and checking Morningstar and other blogs for info. I now have 3 Vanguard funds with low expense ratios which are making much more money than CD's.

The key is to never spend more than you have and be debt free by the time you retire. Fortunately my wife is also a saver and a cheapskate, by the way we are both boomers.

July 14 2014 at 2:24 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to elaineen's comment

CD'S today are a joke. The stock market is where there is money to be made. Have done it since 1983.

July 15 2014 at 9:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Women strippers also make more money than men strippers do.... so that myth has just been debunked.

July 14 2014 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to socioeconomist1's comment

You didn't suggest that to your mom- in law who still owes 20k on her house, did you?

July 14 2014 at 3:47 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

HA HA !!!..... Boomers, the most insecure people and horrible money managers that ever existed. What is the matter, Boomers ?... After being the generation that broke what wasn't fixed and turning our nation from the world's largest investor into the world's largest borrower because all of you had to pretend to be the Queen of England with expensive European cars, McMansions, and your alcohol and drug use being role modeled to your children, you never caught up to that debt you constantly lived in ??.... What's the matter, is that 1986 Saab not a good investment after all ?... Did trying to impress everyone with material crap not turn out to be a very wise decision in the end ?... And oh boy did you screw everything with your counter culture nonsense. Living in debt meant you didn't get to retire at age 55 like the greatest generation to let your kids land a job and get some experience. So not only do employers now need to import foreigners to fill jobs, but generation X and Y are the lost generations who never got a chance to get the job you people should have retired from by not being idiots that lived beyond their means and never being in a position to stop working.... So yeah, I hope your old ass does get "laid off" aka forced into retirement so you can reap what you have sewed all these years of being an idiot. Where is that neighbor from 30 years ago that you tried to impress with your German sedan ? Boomers got paid better than anyone in the history of the planet. Americans were never as wealthy as they were when the boomers were around... and the stupid SOBs still spent more than they made and very few have nothing to show for it except a work place pension and a dated house in a declining subdivision. My mother in law is the perfect example...She makes $75,000 a year, bought a house for $40,000 in 1989... and still owes $25,000 on it today.

July 14 2014 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to socioeconomist1's comment

The "Me" generation is just another way of saying the "Selfish" generation. It is amazing these people even let their adult kids live with them while pondering why they aren't successful. Answer: Because Mom and Dad never stepped aside to let Junior make a paycheck and the day care workers weren't good parents by proxy after all. But, Cheech and Chong's message got through loud and clear.

July 14 2014 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Planning and the "living below your mans lifestyle" has only become chic in the last few years with the noteriety that Warren Buffet has received since the 2008 recession.

First, I am hesitant to post my story, knowing that the "have it now" and "pay later" gratifiers will post negatice comments.

I grew up in the 1970's from a poor family that had trouble making ends meet. Nearly everyone in my neighborhood and at school showed off their percieved wealth.

That happened with most all relationships that I had with women. They went for the flashy "big spenders."

When I did get married at the age of 27, I married one of those who acted as if she came from a better social and financially off family that I did.

I worked hard, she spent as if she was not concerned about saving and tomorrow, a la one of the other stories in daily finance.

For eight years, we lived "from paycheck to paycheck."

Eventually, nearly all the women in the office where she worked told her how nice it was to be free of the encumberances and responsibilities of marriage. It was the "easy divorce" era of the 1980's.

So, after eight years of marriage, she filed for divorce. Like the commercial symbol, I felt like "Stanley Johnson." "We were in debt up to our ears."

She spent lavishly on an attorney and forced me to spend money of my own to counter.

When the divorce was finalized, I received a settlement of $20,000 from the sale of the house. She still owed me $4,000, which I was never reimbursed.

Since the divorce in 1989, I slowly worked hard, saved and invested my money after clearing my debts.

Over the past 20 plus years, I discovered that she had filed bankrupcy twice, since the filings appeared on my credit report, which I had removed, since we had not been married since 1989.

In 1993, I had a similar relationship with a "big spender." Thank God I never married her, having learned from the first one.

In 2000, I retied from my law enforcement job of 23 years. In the last 15 years, with a full pension and 70% of my health car insurance paid. I have conservatively paid off my mortgage in 2005, and have been saving 10,000 a year from my part time small business, which helped me qualified for Social Security. While I am qualified for Social Security, I will not collect until I'm 70.

Having no debts, I purchased a brand new car in 2012 for CASH.

In 2012, still living and spending conservativvely, I purchased long term car insurance.

Still, I continue to save $10,000 plus a year.

I have relationships, but have no incentive to marry, again.

Why should I assume the debts and results of a "had it all, right now" person, her heath car expenses and her care, if she should need assisted living and other elderly care.

The stigma of having a relationship without marriage is GONE for good.

50 years of financial conservativism have set me up for life.

July 14 2014 at 1:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mhz500's comment

Can't find anything negative to say about your story - you sound very sensible, have created financial stability (which is priceless) and have learned from your mistakes. You have to wonder, though, why are you attracted to women who like to live high off the hog? Those kind of people are easy to spot by the second date - you've got something going on there...

July 14 2014 at 3:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Oh, joy. Another article from a "financial expert", who wants to recommend annuities.

What women need to know is that becoming a "financial advisor" requires very little specialized education. Just obtain a bachelor's degree and work for a minimum of three months in ANY job in a financial company --- and you can legally market yourself as a "financial advisor". Then order your business cards, and you're good to go.

Personally, I'm not willing to entrust my financial decisions to anyone in this field. Most of them don't have extensive investment experience, don't understand the workings of the stock market, and don't understand the products they are trying to sell, either.

July 14 2014 at 1:13 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Valerie's comment

That's why go only with companies that are highly rated by WSJ, Consumer Reports, and other objective sources.

July 14 2014 at 3:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply