Fifty and worried about retirement

 

So the thing you never thought would happen – did happen.

Somehow 20 years have flown by and you’re simply not in the financial position you want to be.

You’re fifty (or forty) and feel financially f*@#’d.

 

You know that retirement is looming closer and quite frankly, you’re starting to freak out about it.

You can’t even begin to think about how much you’ve spent on your hair, clothes, manicures and pedicures, wine, cars, trips, and shopping. (Plus all the Dollar Store sh*t that you can’t even remember and it ended up in a landfill within a month.)

You wish you had that money back now.

Because if what the financial planners say is true – you’re worried about being a bag lady living in her van (without wheels) down by the river.  Eating a whole lot of canned no-name stuff from your weekly trip to the food bank.

 

Maybe you’ve been flattened by one of the 3Ds.

 

Divorce. Death. Diagnosis.

 

It happens.  It happened to me. 

When I was sick from breast cancer my income was slashed in half for two years. 

Well, that sucked. 

Thankfully I had stashed cash away but I certainly would have preferred to spend it in Paris or New York or London or buying nice shoes. 

Instead, I was ordering wigs online and getting hair-in-the-mail.  I called it hair mail.  Glad those days are over.

 

So there you go.  We’ve all been zapped by money woes at one time or another.

 

Perhaps your hard-earned savings have taken a serious hit too OR you kept putting off setting money aside and now here you are, at 50 or 40, feeling pretty terrified about your financial future.

It isn’t just menopause causing you to have sleepless nights.

 

What’s a Non-Millennial To Do In Order To Get Her Financial Act Together?

 

  • You need a snapshot of where you’re at.

    Not the fake kind of social media selfie with filters.   You need a 30-day harsh snapshot of how much you make and how much you spend and where you spend it.  You need to be a detective and you need to be honest.  Print off all your credit card statements and bills.  Print off your bank statement.   Be brave.

 

  • Where are you spending your cash?

    Let’s go old-school.  Get 3 different colored highlighters.  GREEN is for the stuff you have to pay.  Your mortgage.  Your car payment.  Your student loan.  Utilities.  Fun sh*t like that.  YELLOW is for the stuff you need but you’re spending too much on.  Groceries are a good example.  Clothes shopping too.  RED is for the stuff that needs to stop now. Why? Well RED is the money you could be potentially saving for a rainy day, or pay down debt or invest for retirement and quite frankly, you’re throwing it away.  It tends to be over-indulgent and thoughtless.  Because who thinks about how many bottles of wine you buy in a month, or how often you eat out or how you blow $50 at the Dollar Store or $8.00 magazines grabbed at the till while-waiting-with-your-cart-full-of-too-many-groceries?  Well.  You need to think about it.

 

  • Add up your 3 colors one at a time.

    How much are you spending in each area?  What’s the total?  Are you spending more than you earn? Which areas are easier to fix quickly? What can you cancel from your credit card? Who can you call to renegotiate? What can you sell so you can buy something more affordable that fits your budget? (Cars and houses fit into this category as they chew up the bulk of your budget.  Takes a little longer but still doable.)  Did you spend $1000 on a phone with an expensive plan? Well. That was a dumb-ass move.  See if you can get out of it, or adjust it.  Don’t do it again.

 

  • How much do you save each month?

    How much do you want to save?  What do you need to save?  You can’t have money just sitting in a savings account.  Because if you’d been so wonderful at doing that (and not tapping into it) you wouldn’t be feeling so freaked out now.  You need to have an amount automatically deducted from your account once or twice per month and rolled into an investment.  It has to be tough for you to access it. Talk to your banker or a financial advisor.  Be brave.

 

  • Go on a scavenger hunt for cash.

    Every single payment you can lower or eliminate ie/car, insurance, grocery budget, phone plan – you name it.  Get on it. Sell stuff on Facebook Marketplace.  Gather the cash that is under your nose.  If you have debt – throw 50% of that cash on it.  Keep 20% in a savings account with a fun name (ie/Round-The-World Fund) that isn’t hooked up to the ATM and that you can’t transfer online.  The other 30% of what you’ve found you get deducted automatically from your account each month to invest.  Look at it this way.  You were already spending this money.  But now you’re being smarter about it.  Hooray!

 

Remember.  The lottery isn’t coming.

 

But you?  You-non-millennial-you?

You’re not going to be a bag lady.  You’re going to be OK.

But you will become someone who brings fewer bags into the house.

So there.