Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day: Do You Know Where Your Retirement Plan Is?

We all have mothers in common. And on this day, besides remembering her with flowers, candy or breakfast in bed, there is no better time to begin planning for her future. I mention in my book "Retirement Planning for the Utterly Confused" that women often play a very diverse role throughout their working career. The roles they play, the numerous hats they don, are often the reason Mom doesn't have the financial strength when her working years are done.

She often leaves work to have children (not always and if your are a stay-at-home Dad, you would be wise to pay attention as well) and this is first instance of retirement interruptus. Her efforts at saving for the future, at a time when every financial advice giver agrees, are the best years for saving for that far off distant future, are put on hold. That one move can have long-term damaging effects.

She may hit other bumps in the road as well. Later in life, statistics show that it is often the woman who leaves work to take care of a parent in their golden years. This creates a cycle of disaster as the lack of preparation of the parent leads to a continuance of the problem that must be avoided. Adding another work stoppage seems to make the previous break for children even worse.

There is also the issue of being single. They may wait longer to get married, but no one problem for s secure financial future looms larger than the possibility they they will face their retirement years without a spouse. While this independence might seem attractive at first glance, your Mom may be under severe financial stress, shortening her lifespan in the process.

Sons and Daughters need to unite. Today (and the next day and the next) are the best times to take all of this into account.

Sons should not only be looking at their own mothers and mothers-in-law but their wives and daughters as well. In many instances, these women default to your experience with money. In many instances this is a grave mistake. Men, as it has been shown, are more emotional about money, willing to take bigger risks, and are often not focused on the big picture.

Sons, you need to begin the conversation. Is your wife saving as much as you are? Is she adequately insured for potential disability or even long-term care? Is she assuming enough risk to make her retirement investment grow?

Is your mother's finances in the best place to ensure it will not outlast her time with you? Are you financially prepared to deal with a health problem (has she named an executor, made a will, or otherwise let her intentions be known) or a loss of property? Have you made a plan to determine all of the possible scenarios that might play out, as difficult as something like that might be to do?

Is your wife (and daughters, if they are at least twelve years old) involved in how your financial house is structured? Are you guilty of financial infidelity, an act of risky behavior that you hide from the family's finances and fail to admit? Have you saved enough for a rainy day?

These are all tough problems to deal with. But ignoring only puts off until tomorrow what you should have planned for today.

Today is the day that Sons need to help your mother, your wife and your daughters have a better future. Daughters: Today is the day you need to get involved, open the conversation and make a plan for your future.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day!

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