Our Financial Reality
Recently I was visiting with a group of smart, thoughtful, and ‘well plugged in’ women. Our conversation was both compelling and humbling. The stats of this group: with only one exception, we all work full time. Some are under the age of 40, some are over the age of 50, and one is hovering at age 60. Half are married and half are not married. Some have children, some do not. None of us are ‘trust fund babies’. We all have successful careers. Some careers have been more financially rewarding than others. Yet, regardless of our station in life, every single one of us share the same perspectives on the realities facing our lives. We also shared what we believe are the necessities of how to proceed over the course of next several years. Here is what we discussed and the choices we believe we can make to best meet the realities we face….which is ironically relevant to this month’s Plaid for Women focus.
1. Our healthcare system will not improve dramatically over the next decade.
Though the advancements in drugs and treatments for diseases and other health challenges are impressive; the accessibility and cost of these options will continue to be daunting. It goes without saying that having health insurance is non-negotiable. However, there is no guarantee that it will be applicable when we need it. And for those of us who are entrepreneurs (aka: not part of a corporation or group health plan), the options for comprehensive insurance policies are slim or none. Thus, there are two options we believe we have to augment the health insurance approach we have.
First, though a basis truism, we must work hard to stay healthy and prevent illnesses. This means breaking a sweat every day through some kind of exercise program. This means alleviating stress daily through meditation, yoga, centering prayer, or just slowing down to embrace nature and watch the sun, the moon, and the stars. This means eating and drinking responsibly and getting 8-10 hours of sleep a day. This means taking our vitamin D, our calcium, and getting enough Omega 3 to round out our nutrients. Sadly, there is no guarantee that these steps will ward off illness; yet, these are the few things over which we have control.
Secondly, we need to be prudent in our ability to save so that if we do need medical care, and our insurance does not offer generous enough coverage, we have the ability to pay for what we need. In the spirit of full disclosure (and yes, I will be sharing this in comprehensive detail in my third book), I faced my mortality for the third time in 2017. The treatment needed to save my life cost over $90,000.00. Initially, we did not believe insurance would pay for it; and thus, I was to fund this myself. This was a rude awakening, and one which more folks than not will face in their lifetime. Thus, we must be smart in our savings approach and consider also investing in long-term care insurance and disability insurance. This is the reality.
2. Most of us have the probability of living to the age of 90-100 years of age.
Let this sink in. Many folks have the objective of ‘retiring’ at age 55 or 60; which means you will need a financial nest egg to fund 30-40 years of the life style you want. Everyone is able to do their own calculations; yet, if you are currently living on $100,000, 200,000, or $500,000 – this means your investments need to be able to maintain that through interest and/or other means of income flow. There have been thousands of articles written about ‘how much you need to retire’ and this is, of course, and individual decision.
Yet, a few things to consider: The “4 percent rule,” a theory which was first introduced by financial planner Bill Bengen in 1994, asserts that you need enough saved to be able to meet your annual expenses in year one of retirement by withdrawing 4 percent of your nest egg. For example, if you need to generate from savings $40,000 to cover expenses in year one, you’ll need to have $1 million saved for retirement ($1 million x 4% = $40,000).Being able to withdraw 4 percent in year one means having 25 times your annual spending invested for retirement. Assuming $100,000 in annual spending, you’ll need a cool $2.5 million stashed away. So, how much is really enough for you? You can research this via Google on a myriad of sites to help guide your decisions and your plans. Yet, what I know for sure, more of my clients than not do not have enough to retire the way they want to retire. That is the reality.
3. Thus, this brings me to the crux of what I want to offer and the third reality. If we find ourselves at 40, 50 or 60 years of age, and we don’t have enough to retire the way we want to – aka: we don’t have the millions stashed away to afford the lifestyle we want – what do we do?! Well, most know I am passionate about having more than one revenue stream. The risk of losing a full time job when you hit a certain age is REAL and I coach people on a daily basis who are at the top of their fields and yes, they have done very very well financially, yet they have also ‘lived large’ and did not expect to have their ‘pink slip’ delivered so prematurely….if at all. They have money stashed – yet certainly not enough to afford their lifestyle for the next 20, 30 or even 40 years….even if they stay healthy and do not have the added expense of healthcare costs.
There have been many articles from reputable sources offering the concept of a portfolio career and/or augmenting your ‘full time income’ with other sources of income. And, no, they are not suggesting we get a paper route or even open a Zumba studio……though, those are certainly valid alternatives. The options can be significantly more lucrative and in many cases the ‘plan B’ to augment your ‘plan A’ income, becomes “Plan A’!! It is a reality that most millionaires have an average of 8 revenue streams – 8!
These could be their primary corporate or entrepreneurial roles, rental/real estate investments, interest from stock market investments, and additional revenue streams from a direct sales business, book royalties, or keynote speaking. What I know for sure, based on my experience, is most folks in today’s reality need more than one income stream. We need to be thinking and planning ahead. We are all in this environment together, and yes, we are all aging. That is the reality.