By Dee Dee Sung
Flying high into the golden years
Q: I am a single woman and have three years to retirement. It’s overwhelming to think about all the things I have to look at regarding my finances plus think about what I want to do with my life after I retire. Could you give me some simple steps to take so I can start getting prepared for when this time comes?
A: Time seems to pass so quickly and you’re quite right in wanting to start tending to matters now. Especially since you’re single, you’re going to want to make sure you’re fully prepared so you can step into the next phase of your life with peace of mind. So many women that I speak with who are in your situation feel like they’re unprepared for the next step and don’t know what direction to head in because they’ve viewed the world of personal finance as complex and too difficult to understand. Overwhelmed tends to be the best excuse for inaction. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way!
There are both practical steps as well as emotional decisions to make around what you want to do in this next stage in your life.
It will be important for you to address the following:
First, determine what your current monthly cash flow needs are. So often, it’s easy not to know where your money is going but it’s essential in order to determine what your future cash flow needs will be. For example, if you carry any credit card debt or have other loan payments, what will it take for you to be paid in full with those debts in the next three years? Do you intend to be mortgage free? Do you have a current spending plan that itemizes all your monthly obligations? Creating a budget can be tedious to set up and keep updated but in time it will become an automatic habit. There are a number of money management software programs available that make this process simple. It’s very important to tell yourself the truth about where your money is really going and it’s usually the category called “miscellaneous” that can keep you in the fog! You’ll also need to find out how much income you’ll be generating from your pension, OAS, retirement savings and other sources. It will be best for you to speak with a financial advisor regarding creating a plan that will allow you to enjoy your desired quality of life and at the same time tend to the preservation of your capital.
The next step is to get creative and formulate on paper what you want the next phase of your life to look like. The truth is that you won’t know how much money you’ll need to comfortably live on until you get clear on what you’ll be doing with your time and what resources will be required! If you’ve been at the same line of work for many years, undoubtedly you will have created a routine for yourself and perhaps not given much thought as to what you want to explore or what brings you passion. This can be a more challenging step as you’ll have to grab a “green light” attitude and start to dream out of the proverbial box. Will you go into another line of work and be earning some form of income? Will you travel or perhaps go back to school? Ask yourself what an ideal day would look like for you and from there, go about crafting the steps you’ll need to take to create such an experience. Of course, nothing is cast in stone and plans are subject to change but the more clarity you create up front, the more prepared you will be.
You’ve definitely got some work ahead of you but your willingness to tend to matters now will ensure that you’ll no doubt create a well balanced next phase. It’s really about taking the necessary steps to get from where you are to where you want to go!
Metro Detroit speaker, author and syndicated radio personality Dee Dee Sung is the founder and creative director of The Debt Free Diva with a mission to educate, entertain and inspire people in reinventing their relationship to money. Be sure to listen to Magic 105.1 every Sunday at 7:30 a.m. for “The Debt Free Diva” talk show. To learn more, visit http://www.debtfreediva.com.