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A Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement

  • Mary Hunt
  • Published Sep 20, 2017
A Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement

I learned to drive a car before driver’s ed classes and driving schools. I had a handbook from the Department of Motor Vehicles, a patient father, and a burning desire to get my license.

I studied that handbook until both of us were ragged. Even so, I was a nervous wreck on the day of my driving examination.

My desire to get my license was stronger than my fear of failure, though. That’s what got me through the door and into the line at the DMV to take the written test.

I aced the written test and then convincingly demonstrated to the examining officer that I could safely drive and parallel park a motor vehicle. I did it. I got my license on the first try.

That day my confidence soared, not in a cocky or arrogant way but in a way that I knew I could be trusted to react appropriately and make the right decisions while driving a car. I knew with certainty.

How does this all relate to women and retirement planning? It has been well documented that retirement confidence among women lags behind that of men. A survey conducted in 2012 revealed that 92 percent of women of all ages do not feel educated enough to reach their retirement savings goals.

I will never believe that when it comes to the subject of retirement we females suddenly turn stupid. That we can’t understand concepts such as “return on money,” “draw-down rates,” and “delayed gratification.” We are not competent in managing an investment portfolio. We are not capable of consistently saving money in anticipation of our years in retirement. We cannot speak intelligently with a financial planner. We are not capable of determining the best time to begin drawing Social Security benefits. We cannot research and make intelligent decisions regarding which Medicare plan will be the most beneficial.

Of course we can do these things. If we lack confidence, it’s because we lack knowledge and desire, certainly not because we lack intelligence and ability.

You don’t have to sit back hoping and praying that you’re not part of the 92 percent. And you are not doomed because some statistic says the poverty rate of women sixty-five and older is nearly two times higher than that of men. You have free will and a strong mind. Retirement planning takes determination and hard work, but I promise that you have what it takes to become insanely confident.

I don’t need fancy studies to convince me that men and women are not wired the same way. But I do enjoy learning why male and female brains process things so differently.

As a woman, embedded within you is a fundamental need that goes to the heart and soul of this matter of retirement planning. According to psychologist and author Willard F. Harley, all humans are born with basic needs. Women need financial security—enough money to live comfortably. It’s a basic need in women, while most men do not have this need.

If you’ve ever wondered why your husband doesn’t share your sense of urgency about retirement planning, this may be the reason. He’s just not wired to put retirement planning as high on his list of priorities as you are. What this means is that you may be the one who is best suited to take on the task of spearheading financial planning for the partnership by learning all you can to create and implement a plan.

If, on the other hand, you are single, this should come as good news if you’ve assumed all along that without a husband you’re doomed for lack of financial support. Sure, you have the inborn need for financial security, but (as you’re about to learn) you also have the ability to meet that need.

Just think about this. As a woman:

  • You’ve been uniquely designed by your Creator to care for small things, nurturing, loving, and encouraging them to grow up to be healthy and wise. It’s in your nature.
  • You are predisposed to organize, plan, and execute complex tasks. If you’ve ever given birth, you may have experienced this about forty-eight hours before the big event when something went off in your mind that insisted you needed to clean out the pantry, reorganize the garage, and give the kitchen a quick coat of paint. It’s instinct, a surge of energy often referred to as “nesting.”
  • You are strong, determined, clever, and above all resilient. You have amazing inborn talents and abilities. You’re like a Maserati  driven only on a city street. You have horsepower you’ve never tapped.
  • Your temperament—the way you think, behave, and react to life—is much different from that of men. Our brains process things in opposing ways.

Girl, you have what it takes to become confident. It’s in your DNA, a blessing of your gender. It’s been said that women have the responsibility gene! I am not making this stuff up. The differences between men and women have been studied and documented, the results of which I continue to find amazing but not altogether surprising.

I didn’t learn to drive a car by dreaming about it. Writing “I really want to get my driver’s license” on a sheet of paper didn’t get the job done.

I became a confident driver because I memorized the handbook and practiced driving and parking a car. My confidence prepared me to make quick decisions and to react appropriately under all kinds of driving conditions.  

Confidence is fueled by the power that comes with knowledge. That’s the confidence women need when it comes to personal finances and money management. That’s the confidence we need as we approach the subject of retirement.

Dreaming about traveling and spending time with family during your retirement years is not going to give you the confidence you need to achieve it. You have to do something about it, starting now.

It’s time to stop procrastinating. Any reason you might have to put off learning about and saving for retirement is just an excuse. It is not valid. You need to learn everything you can now about personal finance and money management. That knowledge will help you develop confidence—that quiet knowing that you can trust yourself to make wise decisions and good judgment calls—no matter what your situation might be. This is how smart women think.

This excerpt is from The Smart Woman's Guide to Retirement (2013) by Mary Hunt. Used with permission of Baker Publishing Group.

Mary Hunt is the award-winning and bestselling author of several books, including The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker who helps men and women battle debt. She is founder and publisher of the interactive website Debt-Proof Living. She and her husband live in California.

Publication date: November 4, 2013