Money can be a fickle matter for most people, regardless of age or gender. Life can put financial hurdles before us at any time. But knowing that these things can happen can make us better stewards of our money.
As with many things though, this can be easier said than done. Many have to deal with financial insecurity, especially as people get older. In a study entitled “The Seattle Midlife Women’s Health Study” and published in Women’s Midlife Health, many of the 81 women in the study said financial stresses were among the hardest things they had to contend with.1 The women who took part in the study ranged in age from 40 to 65, and identified different life pressures. The study lasted up to 23 years for some, which let the study’s authors identify thematic challenges that the women faced as they aged.
Financial pressures for people as they age
The study’s authors were direct in their assessment after reviewing the provided data: “Generating enough resources was an all-encompassing task for many study participants.” Financial pressures appeared from the following:
- Loss of a personal business
- Loss of employment for a spouse or partner
- Helping children pay for their post-high school education
- Trying to achieve personal post-high school education
Financial tips for middle-aged individuals
Developing smart financial habits is something we should all aspire to, and financial literacy is becoming more important. For those of us who are older (and wiser too!), there are important tips to consider when addressing money matters.
A small disclaimer: these tips are just general advice. Seek professional, detailed advice from a financial advisor.
- Pay into an RRSP: RRSP funds/accounts are not taxed, and are a great way to accumulate savings
- Have a tax-free savings account, or TFSA: like an RRSP, they also act as a tax shelter while making your money grow
- Taking Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits later can help, too. You can start using CPP benefits as early as age 60, but if you do so, payments are subject to a reduction; payments can be delayed up to age 70. By waiting, you’d get a higher monthly amount (higher amounts begin after 65).2
- Talk to a financial planner. It’s wise to have someone to discuss your financial health with, and help you plan for the future.
- Budget and track your spending. Analyzing your spending habits can help you identify areas you can cut back in.
You can, and should, also talk to people in your peer group – friends! – who can also share how they are managing their finances and the steps they’ve taken to help ensure their own financial health.
The pros of working past 60
There is a sad stereotype that people, especially women, who opt to work past 60 are doing so because they’re struggling. Society often thinks that people who work past “retirement age” do so because they need the money, or a spouse has stopped working, or that they are unable to support their lives otherwise. For many, nothing could be further from the truth.
Work isn’t just a way to pay bills or save, it helps give goals: something to strive for, be it self-improvement, helping others, or in creating something, whatever it may be. Why should anyone give up something they may have invested many years in, simply because they reach a certain age? Adults are living longer, healthier lives, and many want to be – and are – as active at 65 as they were at 35 or 45.
Some ending thoughts
Money matters are a challenge. Money can cause personal and relational stress. But, honest discussions can do much to close gaps, as can planning and making adjustments along the way. Also, investing while you can, getting sound financial advice from an advisor, and even from friends (new or old), can help guide your situation. Tackling money head-on and not shying away from it is one of the smartest things you can do. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself.
Mitchell, Thomas, and Woods, Women’s Midlife Health, The challenges of midlife women: themes from the Seattle midlife Women’s health study, June 15, 2018. https://womensmidlifehealthjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40695-018-0039-9