Time for women to take charge of their finances

WOMEN Taking Charge of Their Finances.

WOMEN Taking Charge of Their Finances.

Last week I received many calls and comments from women saying that I never write enough about the importance of women having their own financial plans. It's quite amazing the remarks that this generation of mothers who are not only fearful of husbands and parents but also of their grown-up children.

It's quite strange when you think that the mother and homemaker is so nurturing and caring about the family and yet the family does not always ensure that, should the breadwinner die, she will be left in a good position. So often mothers are left with very little and struggle for the rest of their lives.

"Till death do us part" is not as binding as it used to be. Nowadays one in three marriages ends in divorce and what a costly business it has become. Not only does the divorce process itself cost huge sums of money but so do the consequences that follow. One combined budget then becomes two.

It is often the less financially sophisticated people who apologise for the lack of knowledge when it comes to financial matters. I can assure readers that this extends across gender, race and wealth. Even those who have created wealth frequently have no idea what their financial picture really looks like.

Many older working women were not encouraged by their husbands to join retirement funds and too many women have relied on their husbands to organise retirement finances. In many instances, women have continued to work without investing for their retirement and, if the family relies on both spouses' incomes, how on earth is the family going to survive at retirement on a single pension?

A further concern, often overlooked, is that a husband's pension could reduce in the event of his death - particularly if the pension is being paid directly from a defined pension fund.

Until a few years ago women earned a lot less than their male counterparts. This resulted in lower contributions being paid into funds on their behalf. What about the years when a woman takes a career break to raise children?

Though most firms offer maternity benefits, in many cases women actually leave their jobs since they need extended periods of time to raise their children. The pressure to run a home and care for the kids will often lead to their taking a different, less highly paid job so they lose out on earning potential.

Times have changed from when the grandparents played a significant role in looking after the grandchildren. Today's generation want their children with them and at schools nearby.

Women have a longer life expectancy than men. This factor alone means that women need bigger nest eggs than men to cater for more spending years. A woman's longer life expectancy also plays a significant role at the time of retirement, when it will affect the rate of pension offered by life insurance companies.

Because of all the points I've made in this regard over the last couple of weeks, I suggest that spouses get together and discuss all the relevant issues relating to death, disability and retirement so that each one fully understands.

Being financially organised is very simple. It's not about knowing everything there is to know about finances, but it's about being knowledgeable and aware of your own personal circumstances. Don't delay. Now is the time to take control.l The writer is a director of Bryan Hirsch Colley