Q&A with Marcia Mantell
Author of What’s the Deal with…Retirement Planning for Women
Q: For nearly 30 years you’ve been in the retirement business. Why are you focusing on women and their retirements?
A: Women face unique factors as they move into retirement. We live longer than men. Most women earn less over their careers, so their Social Security benefits are lower. And, more important is that a majority of women aren’t involved in their money before or during retirement.
Q: How long do women tend to live in their retirement years?
A: Women need to plan for 3 decades in retirement! Average life expectancy for women who reach age 65 and are relatively healthy is 88, and 25% of women will live well into their 90s. This is why it’s so important that women understand at least the fundamentals of their money and retirement assets. They need to plan for 30-some years.
Q: You mentioned that women earn less, but we are earning money. So, why aren’t women more active in managing their money?
A: I think about this situation like this: generally, women’s top priorities revolve around the family, keeping the generations connected and ensuring that everyone has a home. They manage everything from homemaking to holidays, traditions to travel, renovations to reunions. They do the majority of the shopping, planning and making dinner. All while earning a paycheck, too.
At the end of the day, there simply isn’t enough gas left in the tank to think about money and investment strategies. We don’t have the time or energy to learn about stocks, bonds, and collateralized mortgage obligations!
Q: Recognizing our crazy schedules and family commitments, what can women do to start to get more involved with their money?
A: The first thing women need to do is get comfortable talking about money. I often say that women talk about all their “m” words: their marriages, motherhood and their mothers, merlots and martinis, mammograms and menopause. But, if someone brings up a money topic, the conversation screeches to a halt. Unless it’s talking about a sale!
Q: You’re exactly right. Money is still such a taboo subject. Why is that?
A: I think it stems from three specific situations for girls and then women: 1) We aren’t taught about money formally in school or informally in most homes. 2) We don’t know the language of money and don’t know where to learn about it. And, 3) Women hate to be wrong or feel like they’re stupid. Rather than risk asking a “stupid” question, most women choose to stay quiet. It is not comfortable when you feel you are being judged for lack of knowledge.
Q: So how do we get the money conversation rolling?
A: I’d say use what you already know. You already run your household budget, buy goods and services for the entire family, and pay the bills, so you handle the spending side well. Next, move to saving and investing for your retirement.
I’m a fan of every woman opening and managing her own IRA. This retirement account forces you into ownership and investing. You can save up to $7,000 in an IRA if you are 50 or older this year. And you are the one who has to choose how you’ll invest that money and who your beneficiary is going to be.
Q: So, you’re giving us a way to learn the language of money without taking on too much risk?
A: That’s the power of an IRA. You can deposit money into an IRA until you’re 70 years old, so long as you have earned income in the household. Even if you only save for 1 or 2 years, it gets your hands in the dough without running too much risk.
Another way to get more involved with your money is to set up your own “freedom fund.” This is a savings and investment account with money that you control. It’s separate from your household checking and savings accounts. You earmark this money for things you want to do.
Both IRAs and freedom funds are power accounts for women. They help women become more investing savvy and confident. With that knowledge comes a new language and money conversation topics that she can initiate or join in with others.
Q: Let me turn to another piece of advice you like to give to women. You tell us to “plan for the party AND the price tag.” What do you mean by that?
A: I think it’s critical to recognize and respect that a central role most women play is to bring family and friends together. It may be in the form of a party, a holiday gathering, or some other celebration. We’re great at planning the party, shopping, cooking, etc. But, what we often fail to do is plan for the price of that party. It’s important for managing your money that you are aware of the costs, trade-offs, and exactly where the money will come from to pay for the party.
This by no means a message to curb the celebrations and bringing the family together. It’s just that we need to know the costs of what’s in the shopping bag.
Q: Your book, What’s the Deal with Retirement Planning for Women, takes a fun and non-traditional approach to helping women get better prepared for retirement. What can women expect to find in your book?
A: I want women to embrace and acknowledge the realities of how we approach life and money. We each have a unique life path and personal style that is an asset. In my book, you’ll find 10 key questions that you’ll want to answer before you retire. I hope you’ll also get a realistic perspective on our modern-day retirement, a treasure trove of resources, and some practical examples of how other women are dealing with redesigning and reinventing retirement. Plus, there is some discussion about women and their shoes!
About Marcia Mantell: In 2005, Marcia Mantell launched Mantell Retirement Consulting, Inc., a retirement business development, marketing and communications, and education company supporting the financial services industry. Marcia Mantell develops and conducts innovative retirement income planning workshops and programs for advisors and their clients, comprehensive retirement education programs and seminars for consumers, and Money Basics workshops to help high school students and young adults start out on solid financial footing. Her book, What’s the Deal with…Retirement Planning for Women, is available on Amazon and Kindle. For more information, visit https://mantellretirementconsulting.com/ or call 781-559-8260, and visit her blogs: https://boomerretirementbriefs.com.
Reprinted from the May 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News