A little more than a week ago I was contacted by someone from Personal Capital who asked if I could let her, and you, know about my female Financial Role Model. As an accountant, yes that really is my "real life job", I thought it was a no brainer and I just had to do it.
That was until I started to really think about it and then write.
Growing up, I think some of the most influential people in your life are your parents, especially your mother. My mother was no exception. We still laugh to this day about how she would get her weekly $50 food allowance. And knowing my mom and dad, she really did get that allowance, and learned to make it work. She proved it could be done.
I remember vividly that Sunday mornings were church and then as dinner was in the oven, it was the supermarket flyer and coupon search to make sure she had her coupons for the weekly supermarket trip. Yes I learned how to maximize those coupons to make shopping "fun" from her. Ok maybe not fun but perhaps you could call it the "shopping game". Some weeks you won and some weeks you were dipping into "savings".
Mom always made what she called the "easy" decisions. Which brand of toothpaste or bread or jelly to buy based on the sales and coupons that she had. And trust me she had lots of coupons - in a shoe box, by category, by amount, by expiration date. It was a great week when there was money left over in the "kitty" for the oops weeks.
But when it came to the "hard" decisions, she would always default to my father. She never really learned about investments and retirement savings. Oh she knew how to save but not the kind of savings you needed for retirement.
My dad may have shown me how to save for retirement or long term savings or how to do income taxes, but it was my mom that encouraged me to "learn" how to do these things. She always told me that I needed to be more like my father in those things so that I could take care of her in her later years.
I remember in the early 80s, when I was looking for my first "real" job, my grandmother was listening to what jobs I was saying I could do and the salaries that went with it. She almost ran into my mom and said "Do you hear her? Don't you think you should discourage her so she isn't disappointed?" My mom, bless her, looked at her and said "don't, she is her father's daughter and can do anything she sets her mind to."
What I really learned from my mom was 1) I will not be defined only by my gender when it comes to my abilities and 2) learn how to be self sufficient financially and then teach others to do the same. Just because you are a woman, does not mean that you can't determine your own destiny and prepare for the future and your retirement.
Do you know how much you would need to put away to retire how you want to retire? Personal Capital has a great tool to help you figure out what you will need to invest in your own 401K or some kind of retirement plan. The tool is 100% FREE (and we love free) to anyone in the United States. You can sign up without linking all your personal accounts/information to see what you need to start doing or change, to be ready for retirement. You can go to their site and check out their retirement planner to see if you are going in the right direction or if you need to make a change. This one looks like a good tool to help in managing your finances for retirement.
What I did, whenever it was available, I would join a retirement plan at work and put in as much as I possibly could. I also made sure to remind my son when he was filling out all his papers for his full time job, to sign up immediately for their 401K. If you start right away, somehow it doesn't hurt as much, and you don't miss it when a small amount comes out of your check each time, but it adds up quickly.
Remember the money you put in many retirement plans are not taxed until you start to draw on them. That is unless you put money into a Roth plan which is taxed now and not when you start to draw on them. You need to talk to a financial advisor or tax person to see if you qualify for a Roth investment, but know that they are out there as well.
If my employer matched any of my "deposits" I made darn sure that I made deposits of at least that much. What I mean is, if the plan called for a "match" of everything I put away each year, up to $1,000, I made sure that I made a minimum investment of $1,000 into my retirement account. It's free money!
DO NOT leave that on the table so to speak. They are not going to put it into your current paycheck to spend, but it will be in your account for your future retirement.
As you go further in your career and get raises or when you change jobs don't be spending all the increases in your income. I'm not saying to not spend anything. What I am saying is make sure that you save some of those increases so that there is something available for the future.
For example, if you get a $1,000 annual increase, you can spend half of it or $500 and save the other half. Put that "half" into your retirement by increasing your retirement deduction or put into a "future" account. This account is not something that you will think about or even count on for your expenses. This is for the future.
Check out Personal Capital and see how your current plan for retirement and savings stacks up to what you need for the future. I did and am happy to say, I am right on track for my retirement. My retirement may be sooner than yours but we all start with a plan. So get your plan going today, not tomorrow, so that your future will be secure.
Oh and make sure that you have beneficiaries listed for ALL of your accounts (don't forget your life insurance) and that they are the ones you want each year. If you have an "ex" make sure he or she is NOT the beneficiary or you will be gifting to them what you have saved so hard for.
So tell me ... who is YOUR female financial role model?