Category Archives: Retirement planning for women

WOMEN’S SUCCESS = ROLE REVERSALS

WOMEN’S SUCCESS = GENDER ROLE REVERSALS

According to the Census Bureau(1), 685,000 men and 916,000 women graduated from college in 2009. That is 25% fewer men than women that graduate. In 2010, about 47% of the workforce was women. As women become the doctors, attorneys, and CEOs, the social culture around us will change. Since this educational trend is expected to continue, it will result in a gender role reversal as men realize the earning power of women. As women earn more and spend more time with careers, men will naturally take on more of the domestic responsibilities.

The result is a female culture that is moving forward by making society more humanitarian and less male oriented. Women infuse a more a compassionate and supportive role in relationships. Men tend to be a more business or task oriented. This transition has been going on for years, of course, but should reach a turning point as women surpass men as the primary household breadwinners.

Expect some male resistance to this re-balancing of leadership. Men have a long history of feeling dominant over women in the working world as evidenced by the existing wage gap and glass ceiling . Men have enjoyed a social culture that has rewarded them first. But, all cultures evolve based on survival needs and better social equality and understanding. This evolution is based on the practical needs of survival for the family unit.

As this male resistance occurs, women can explain that this change increases the security of the family unit financially and socially. Also, the male can now improve their relationships with their children and form a deeper bonds with increased time at home. To counter any resistance, men are more likely to enjoy domestic life with a little encouragement from you. You simply explain the benefits: no getting up early, no fighting traffic, no boss watching over you, no social pecking order to fit into, and no constant anxiety to perform better. That’s a lot of benefits just by staying home!

This natural social evolution is a win for both genders. The woman can more easily achieve her occupational and financial dreams, but still be involved at home at key times. The man will realize his deeper needs for bonding and care-taking in general and feel more connected to his family. Men will adjust and embrace this reality, albeit, slowly. I expect our relationships with our partner will improve since equality is a better balance for cooperation and stability going forward. L.. Johnson   More at: www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)http://cnsnews.com/sites/default/files/documents/DEGREES%20EARNED%20BY%20LEVEL%20AND%20SEX.pdf                                                                                                                                       Photo: UNE photos on flickr(CC by 2.0)

TRAITS OF A LONG & HAPPY RELATIONSHIP

Do you want to know the secret of a long and happy relationship? There is an excellent study of adult development that examined people continuously for six to eight decades.  This Aging Well(1)study focused on three groups. First is sample of 268 socially advantaged Harvard grads born around 1920. The second group is 456 inner city men born around 1930. The third group is 682 middle-class intellectually gifted women born around 1910. The study involved eight initial in-depth psychiatric interviews to establish a baseline. The follow-up study involved interviews with them, their parents and teachers to get more objective information. Most of subjects were then followed continuously until they passed away.

I won’t bore you with all the statistics, but the task of generativity was the best predictor of an enduring and happy marriage in old age. Generativity is basically how involved we have been as parents. We generate and raise our children with a varying degree of involvement. The top four traits from the study for a long and happy marriage are generativity, commitment, tolerance and humor.

Generativity is a measure of our caretaker abilities extended into the adult relationship. The skills we use in child rearing certainly include dedicated care-taking, especially when children are young. We make a long-term commitment to our children as a matter of course, and we all know how much tolerance we need when they become adolescents. Humor is a good coping mechanism that helps relieve stress and lighten the intensity of the situation.

Good care-taking starts with an attitude of embracing the importance of relationships in general. Those who had a positive and supportive role model from their parents tend to emulate those behaviors when they become parents. But, those who did not develop basic trust with their primary caretaker tend not to be good caretakers themselves.

Relationship skills learned in childhood are usually transferred to marriage and other emotional relationships as well. The study may suggest that if your partner was not involved with child-rearing, did not bond in childhood, or is not involved in a care-taking role at work, he may not be involved with the care-taking demands of your relationship going forward.

If you do have a partner who wavers on these skills and you want to keep the relationship intact, you might consider adding care-taker development goals. These skills can be learned, of course, as long as there is motivation. If you are single and content to stay that way, you probably want your most reliable friends to have these skills.               

L.  Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1) Vaillant, G. “Aging Well” New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2002. p.113, 123.

Do Women Need a Female Financial Advisor?

Do Women Need a Female Financial Advisor?

Would it surprise you if I told you that women are better money managers than men? It starts with a different relationship with money. Women do not view money as the ultimate goal, tend not to flaunt it with objects that are symbolic of success, and don’t involve it in their identity to the extent as men. Becoming a millionaire is usually not the final accomplishment and stopping point for women. Instead, money is a tool that enables women to enjoy the benefits and freedoms of life.

As a stockbroker, it became clear to me that women are more careful and thoughtful about risking their money. They are not trying to hit a home run in the market, but look for stability and safety in an investment. “How safe is this,” was the most common question and should be asked at every turn. So, most women tend to have a similar relationship with money.

Since men just view money differently, their risker mind-set interferes with the core money relationship women have. But, what bothered me the most about being a stockbroker, is that women were treated differently and even inferior by other men. It was not uncommon to see a male broker talk to only the man when a couple came in for advice. I understand that it is a male dominated field, but there is no excuse for this behavior.

In retirement, low risk investing is not only practical, its essential because you don’t have time to start over. A study(1) found that female hedge fund managers out-preformed men by 6% over a nine-month period in 2012. A hedge fund, originally named to hedge against market losses, has evolved. Now it is a managed fund(not indexed) that is less regulated in terms of using leverage. Using leverage dramatically increases investor risk.

This study points out four primary differences. 1. Women are less competitive and less preoccupied with beating an index. 2. Women take fewer risks in the market as with other areas of life. 3. Women do more homework and stay in investments longer. 4. Women realize they are not in control. Realizing you are not in control of all factors gives women the perspective to not panic. Level heads will prevail.

So, women need a female financial advisor because:

1. Your relationship or how you view money is similar on an emotional level.
2. Safety and sustainability of your money is the priority, especially in retirement.
3. Female advisors tend to establish a more personal relationship with clients.
4. Women, with the same experience as men, are better investors on average.
5. There is a deeper sense of trust with another woman.

More at:       www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1) Sightings, T. (1-7-14) “4 ways women make better investors” money.msn.com. Retrieved on 2-28-14 from: money.msn.com/how-to-invest/4-ways-women-make-better-investor

Men are Risky, Study Confirms

Men are Risky, Study Confirms

The British Medical Journal(BMJ) has released a historical study that shows men are far more likely to engage in senseless high risk behaviors than women(1). They start out looking at the cause of past admissions to emergency rooms for the males. “Males are more likely to be admitted to an emergency department after accidental injuries, more likely to be admitted with a sporting injury, and more likely to be in a road traffic collision with a higher mortality rate.” These historical figures place male risk taking much higher than the females, suggesting the trait is inherited.

The authors discuss the possibility that these behaviors might be determined by social or cultural differences. But, since they noted that high risk behaviors of males are reported at an early age, they conclude that this may be genetic in origin. They site many studies to confirm this. However, they don’t discuss the differences within the males. I think that age and socioeconomic status might have some influence since poverty may be correlated with higher risk taking.

Their definition of idiotic risks are really senseless risks, “…where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final”. They also bring up something called “male idiot theory” based on the “the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things “. They also note that alcohol consumption tends to exasperate this tendency in men.

Going to war certainly seems like an acceptable high risk endeavor with dire consequences. This is especially appealing to young men. One of the main reasons for this is young men are establishing their masculine identity or manhood. This group has an identity of toughness or strength rather than one of intelligence and caring. So, these other traits might help distinguish which group of men are more likely to take on higher risks.

In their discussion, the authors are at a loss to explain this difference between men and women. Besides forming a cultural masculine identity, I personally think the person is looking for purpose and meaning in their life.  As men age, the risky behavior tends to wane, but still remains. Going into retirement, some men find great boredom and re-emerge as risk takers with their money. This is another point in life where your purposes is undefined. Some men I know risk their life savings in an attempt to feel more engaged. As an ex-stockbroker, I’ve seen retired men lose over a million dollars in the market and return to prior employment to survive.

In conclusion, dangerous risk taking appears to peak as a teenager, but is often seen in the 20s as well. This is correlated with brain development that lessens over time. However, some people have greater risky traits throughout life. One solution is to become deeply engaged and busy with your life goals.  In retirement, if you’ve been intensely involved in a prior work environment, you need to carry this intensity into your next phase.  Without this involvement, boredom and anxiety occur leading to damaging risky behaviors to alleviate it. Everyone needs an engaging future plan to look forward to–be sure you have one.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)BMJ 2014;349:g7094 Retrieved from: http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7094 on 12-13-14.

Managing Anger in Relationships

Managing Anger in Relationships

The stress and demands of relationships can often be frustrating. This can result in anger and conflict in your primary relationship. Cooling Red Hot Relationships by Kirkland and Lindstrom, both psychologists, addresses this issue. Managing anger in relationships can save your marriage or can become a nagging issue until resolved.

The book goes into depth identifying the sources that appear as anger. This can be the need to control, impatience, being judgmental, demanding, possessiveness or being a perfectionist. Most important, most of us, “Manage anger through the way we think about ourselves, our mate and the world we live in.” According to this theory, only we can make ourselves angry by the way we react to others. It is often irrational thinking that we use to set ourselves up to over react. So, various exercises are presented as a way to become more aware of our anger history, how we think, and what triggers it now.

In terms of solutions, you will be requested to keep an anger log for a couple of weeks to identify any patterns. This really increases self-awareness and allows for more self-control. Once you understand the source of your anger, you can determine if it’s rational to feel that way and to find other outlets. The book offers anger management techniques like time outs, deep breathing, exercise, and meditation. But, it goes way beyond that into a deeper personal understanding. For example, we may need to understand our expectations to accept imperfect people rather get angry. Or we may need to reset our irrational thoughts of how we expect to be treated. This excellent self-help book presents a day-by-day intervention plan, homework exercises, and even suggestions on how to approach your partner.                       L.J.

More at:    www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

You are the GOLDEN GIRLS of our time

You are the “GOLDEN GIRLS” of our time.

Due to the surprisingly high singles rate and the expense of residing alone, sharing a place with others can completely transform your life while offering many benefits. You remember the TV show called the “Golden Girls?” This is what I call Platonic Cohabitation and it has the potential to be a life saver on a number of different levels.

Since we are the first generation to live a long time in retirement, social accommodations that meet our needs tend to lag behind. That means we need to anticipate and plan for ourself accordingly. The many benefits of cohabitation are:

ECONOMIC: This most obvious of benefits cuts your expenses of rent and utilities in half. It can reduce your mortgage payment or become an income stream if your home is paid off.

HEALTH: Others help alert us to remembering our medications or being aware of problems that are not apparent to us at first. Your roommate would be the first responder if you get hurt or need help.

SOCIAL: Having people around stops some primary problems in old age like loneliness and isolation. We know this can led to depression and early death. So, being social is part of the key to better mental health and longevity.

PERSONAL: Having someone to discuss personal matters with is a very important part of being involved and connected to life. The degree of bonding that occurs with roommates can be very profound and long lasting. It’s quite likely that needed friendships will flourish in this setting.

When I worked my way through college, I needed to have roommates for many years. Besides a form of economizing, it was an experience at meeting new and diverse people. I actually met the group of college buddies that became lifelong friends for over 41 years as roommates. When I purchased my first house, I offset the expense by having a roommate. This person also turned out to be a lifelong friend. Consequently, the best friendship bonding in my life has occurred as a result of having roommates.

Many of us may have not had a roommate since college and may have mixed feelings about it. But, we should not let past memories cloud our judgement about what we need in the future. I always recommend that you start with someone on your social network, so you already have a level of comfort. If no one on your network needs to share right now, there are a number of websites that are roommate finders. All my roommates were unknown at first until they became lifelong supportive friends.       L.J.

More at:    www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

 

We’re Not Prepared for the Number of Baby Boomers Retiring

Baby Boomers retiring is a daily event. It’s Monday at 6am and I’m thinking about baby boomers retiring and watching Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo (on FBNHD)when Rep. Paul Ryan is interviewed on 9-30-14.

Since he is a possible presidential candidate, I understand it’s important that he show his leadership and vision for the country. When the conversation got to social security, that’s when he uttered the above quote. By “we” he means the federal government. His main complaint is that, “We’ll have a debt crisis to pay for entitlements.”

As retired folks, we don’t want anyone changing our entitlements that we depend on. He mentioned that he also wants to reform welfare and education. So, he seems to position himself as a social reformer. His intent to change the major entitlement programs indicates that he sees something terrible wrong with all of them. He never mentioned any details on how to fix it. However, the only entitlement program considered problematic is most likely Medicare.

This hurt(problem) and rescues technique(I have the solution) is often used in sales and I guess Rep. Ryan is trying to sell himself. We all know how difficult it is to start a new federal entitlement program by the way the Affordable Care Act turned out. As retired folks, we are open to improvements in programs. However, sweeping economic changes that alter our retirement income and health insurance are more than unsettling; it’s downright frightening. I’m not sure he knows this or if he cares.                    L.J.

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet

In our attempt to find the best diet for health and longevity, the research behind the Mediterranean diet certainly seems to put it in that category. If you eat the Mediterranean diet, studies show that your will not only have longer life expectancy, but will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. So, your quality of life can improve as well. This is primarily due to the use of olive oil in place of other saturated fats like butter.

I recently discovered a recipe oriented book with a ton of ideas and even a daily meal planner.  There are a few different variations of the diet and this one allows meat and desserts. It all has to be cooked in a clean and healthy manner, of course.  But, I honestly believe we can enjoy this type of diet and not feel deprived while improving our health.

The book is The Mediterranean Prescription by A. Acquista, M.D. and his first point is to know the difference between the different types of fats.  The goal is to consume unsaturated fat as in olive oil and plant based foods while reducing trans and saturated fats.  Don’t worry, it’s all spelled out on the package labels and recipes in his book. Many people are staying away from wheat or starch these days, but there are good and bad starches too. Organic whole grain bread, for example, is one of the most healthy foods available. It’s prudent to avoid the white starches in bread, pasta, and rice and just replace them with the whole grain versions. Some studies even correlate how much whole grain products you eat to how long you will live.

In case you are new to the Mediterranean diet, Dr. Acquista lists the 12 guiding principles:

1. Eat lots of fruits.                2. Eat lots of vegetables.            3. Eat lots of legumes

4. Eat nuts and seeds         5. Eat whole grains            6. Use olive oil on salads and cooking

7. Eat low-fat dairy products in moderation       8. Eat fish     9. Eat the right fats (have a high

ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats)    10.  Regular physical activity 

11. Drink Wine(red)        12.  Very small portions of other meats.

Most studies say that one daily glass of wine is most beneficial for women and two for men. There are a few variations of this diet and some allow small amounts of red meat. In terms of pork and red meat, I find it easier to just eliminate them altogether. I’m avoiding the saturated fat and the cholesterol because I have a history of strokes in my family.       L.J

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Acquista, A. M.D., The Mediterranean Prescription, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006, p.17.      Chart: hellthhylifestylelive. com

 

 

 

11 Ways Female Retirement is Different

11 Ways Female Retirement is Different   

Most of us don’t think of retirement as being male or female, but there are differences in financial, medical, lifestyle, personal, social, and emotional areas.

LONGER LIFE: The first difference is that, on average, women live longer than men. This is wonderful news for you, but at the same time means you must fund and balance a budget for a longer time. Sustainability of financial and emotional livelihood becomes an essential component for future planning.

LESS INCOME: Women make less income over a lifetime than men in similar positions. The wage gap is slowly narrowing so that today women make about 75% to 80% of a man’s pay. Social security benefits are less since the benefit amount is based on accumulated income. Some women may have worked less in the workplace in order to attend to family needs, and have saved less than women who worked outside the home. This lifetime of dedication to husband and kids can leave women with fewer saving and a lower income history.

MORE MEDICAL CARE: Medical expenses are expected to be higher for women throughout each life stage. The bottom line from many of the studies is that, for various reasons, women just need to see the doctor more often, and end up paying more. Women tend to be more alert and concerned about resolving medical issues than men. Some of women’s medical expense may be for preventative care or for routine exams that men don’t need or may skip. But, overall, it just cost more to get more medical care.

 HIGHER LIFESTYLE EXPENSE: Women spend more on hygienic and cosmetic items such as toiletries, makeup, hair, nails, and fashions. In general, appearance is important whether you are retired or not. Women are not about to let their hygiene and appearance deteriorate to any extent like a man might. Men tend to get away with the weekend just-got-out-of-bed look. As women, that would be considered a social faux pas and even embarrassing. Having a better appearance end up costing a bit more.

LESS HEALTH INSURANCE: It’s unfortunate that women are less likely than men to be offered health insurance at work. Part of this difference is due to women more often working at part-time jobs. The combination of a need for more medical care and less insurance coverage can put women in a difficult position. Divorced women are about half as likely to have insurance, since many were often insured through their ex-husband’s job.

CARETAKER DEMANDS: Everyone seems to expect women to be the caretakers for their children and for their elderly parents. Women usually enjoy being a parent and wouldn’t have it any other way. Men help some with children, but not as much with elders. When our parents get old and need help, it’s women who step forward. Even if you embrace your caretaker situation with joy and purpose, it often keeps you out of the workforce and reduces income. This is a very personal issue because many of us want to take care of mom, but may admit to having mixed feelings.

SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT: Excellent social skills, which many women develop naturally, create an amazing foundation for continued involvement and support from others. The strength of this trait appears to mitigate the stress of other life challenges. My women friends tell me that women do most of the volunteering and often take the default role of social planner for the home. Volunteering for women is a natural extension of social skills that involves them in the community, enabling them to connect to new people, including those with similar interests. A woman’s social involvement is usually deeper than most men.

INCREASED SELF-SUFFICIENCY: My consultants tell me that many women still expect a man to take care of them. They seek not a knight in shinning armor, but a desirable partner and teammate. That’s interesting because men secretly want a woman to take care of them. It appears that deep inside, we all want to be taken care of. It’s just human nature to want somebody to “be there” for us. But, this is less likely to happen to a woman today compared to the past. Prior generations stayed in marriages longer, which increased financial stability for wives. Cultural changes in marriage have increased freedom and a sense of control for women. An extension of this freedom is increased self-sufficiency.

BREAST CANCER: We really cannot overlook this disease, since it occurs 99% of the time in women and often in retirement. The average age at diagnosis is 61 years old. It’s just a fact of life that most women accept and plan for by taking precautions. Most are aware of the importance of self-examinations, scheduled mammograms, recent treatment options, and dramatically improved survival rates. Even the media is more accepting and sensitive, as evidenced by the news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a double mastectomy for preventative reasons.

MENOPAUSE: It may be true that a loss of estrogen in women is parallel to a loss of testosterone in men, but the range and intensity of the experience is quite different. These symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, hair loss, dizziness and weight gain can interfere with your comfort in social situations. They can become personally distressing unless you feel you have some control over them. Although, menopause is not life threatening, it can still interfere with your lifestyle and happiness if you let it.

EMOTIONAL DIFFERENCE: Although major depression tends to occur less frequently with the elderly overall, some studies show that more elderly women are becoming depressed recently. Women are more susceptible to depression at this stage, and it tends to be more prolonged. Depression can have physical consequences in that you care less about and may abandon your healthy habits. The National Institute of Mental Health views depression in the elderly as a major public health problem.

I address all these issues in the book and provide common sense recommendations. If I missed any other differences, please let me know.

More at:     www.creativeretirementforwomen.com