A shocking report in the Los Angeles Times showed that single women are at the greatest risk of living in poverty. Why? This is due because of lower wages, more spending and only bringing in a single paycheck. Many of us Baby Boomer women have to dramatically downsize our lives as we grow older. Instead of basking in retirement, many of us cannot even mutter the word ‘retirement’ let alone think of it. Instead, many of us have to work three jobs to stay afloat. But why?
Boomers Spend, Baby, Spend
‘The American Dream’ portrays the idea that having more is equated with being more. The bigger the house, the bigger the car and the bigger the shoe collection is correlated with being higher on the socio-economic ladder. Susan Sterne of the Economic Analysis Association notes that, “The consumer spree arose because consumers between 35 and 44 spend about 20% more than average consumers. Those between 45 and 54 spend about 30% more. Put these two age groups together and you have 40% of US households. This same group is responsible for half of the nation’s spending”.
In the past, many ‘Baby Boomer’ women in their relationships had no direct control of their finances. I know that I fell victim to indirectly to this same feat. It was not that we did not care; we were just not educated in managing and budgeting our capitol. Many of us feel and act uncomfortable around the topic of money. We (and I find myself guilty of this) wish that there was a man to come to the rescue and save the day.
What Rainy Day?
Hmmmm. What to do? Do you buy a new pair of Cheetah print Sling-backs or put an extra $100 in savings? (My closet has the tell tale signs of my shoe addiction.) Instead of saving for retirement, Boomers have spent their lives ‘living in the now’. Unfortunately, many of us have not saved enough to support our lifestyle leaving us in debt.
A recent Los Angeles Times article reported that, “Ellen Tucker Emerson cut short her nursing career to help raise her children, but money was never a worry. “He bought me furs and jewelry. We stayed at the best hotels.” Once her marriage was over, her financial life looked very different. Instead of taking glamorous trips, she sweats bullets to pay her bills. At age 51, Ellen wonders how she will get by in retirement
Bounce Back and Bounce Better
Regardless of your age or situation, the time to take action is today! It’s NEVER too late. It has been gratifying to see that even if you have had a rocky financial road, you can make a change anytime you decide. Trust me, I know. I had $88,000 of corporate credit card debt as the result of losing my marriage and business the same year. In four years I paid off my debt and moved from a pool house to a lovely home.
As a life coach, it has been extremely rewarding to me to see women in their 60’s make successful career changes. You are never too old to take control of your life!
o Get Real
If your financial goals and needs are fuzzy, you will never be able to get ahead. Take a month and track all of your expenses and your income. If credit cards have been a problem, take a month and just use cash for your expenses. It is astonishing how cash will wake you up. When it’s gone it’s gone. I have found it helpful to put cash in separate envelopes. Groceries, gas, entertainment, medical, etc.
o Write Down Your Goals
Seeing is believing. When you write down your goals, you are first acknowledging the situation, the first step to a turnaround. By putting your goals on paper, you are creating your plan of action and that you will achieve.
o Do Not Let Fear or Shame Stop You
Many women feel ashamed of being in tight financial situations. Remember there is strength in numbers, so take refuge with a friend. Many times, money problems are more strenuous and difficult to talk about than relationship problems. Step up and get out, seek the help you need. Just speaking to another woman can help you get back to enjoying your life.
o Get Help
Seeking Financial Assistance will help to alleviate the problem. By speaking to experts who are trained in this field of expertise, they will be able to give you hands on information and support to steer you in the right direction. The NABBW has many superb resources. You will learn there are other ‘Boomers’ just like you dealing with the same issues.