Dealing with finance … perhaps for the first time.

images-128 Taking the bull by the horns …

At school, back before the Silver stage, it was called Arithmetic.  Then Maths and some of us know the overwhelming panic when children came to ask for help on the subject.  Ask someone else I would say …

Little did I know that now, in My Silver Street, getting to grips with my finances, on my own, would become a reality.  Not that I was never involved, I did my part, but somehow assumed it was not my task to fulfil. And so the learning begins.

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Tax. Financial planning. Pensions … the myriad of all things money related can be overwhelming – believe me, I know.  Did she say this before?  Gone is the picket fence … now I have to plan for a new one.  Today, for example, a letter for HMRC, your tax is due.  Okay? The younger generation are more au fait with this sort of situation because after all, it was we that told our youngsters to be financially independent, put away for pension … never rely on anyone else for a financial future.  And now we are put to the test.  And we can handle it, armed with a full glass of red and much resolve.

A few things I have learnt when financial responsibility was thrust upon me.

  • Get help. You are not an accountant or a financial planner (maybe you are) and 101 in Financial planning will not see you through the next thirty years.
  • Find someone you trust with your future.  There are amazing people, and in particular women, out there who do this for a living, and understand the situation you are in.
  • Read widely. Make it a project to educate yourself about finance.
  • Be frugal.  The lattes of today will mean less tomorrow.  Have them but don’t think tomorrow will take care of itself.  You are the future of your own making.
  • Be fastidious about your spending.  Your income needs to balance your expenses.
  • Avoid debt at any cost.  We all have mortgages or payments on cars etc. but avoid the credit card trap of ‘yes, I can pay it off tomorrow.’ Try not to have a credit card if possible.
  • Know the difference between an Accountant and a Financial planner. The first will do your accounts and tax, the latter plan your finances to provide you with a secure future.
  • Don’t think you don’t need a pension – it’s astonishing how many women have not considered this.
  • Property is only an asset when you sell it.  If you are living in it, it’s only value is your home.
  • Never try to outsmart the taxman.  You will lose.
  • Don’t panic.  You are smart, just dealing with a new facet of your life.

My parents thought their home was their security for their old age. Enough money to live, have the annual holiday and so forth. Mother thought her daughters would be taken care of by their husbands.  Inflation was a dirty word and in the end, frail care, medical bills and death duties took their toll.  I was blind to all this, I have to admit, but post divorce, I have to really up my game and realised that ‘uno’ is the only one to pay the bills, the taxes and plan for my future. In a way, it has been a liberating experience, not without angst, but I am game for learning and taking care of myself.

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So maybe you haven’t been working in a stellar career for you entire life – some of us were stay at home moms and newly employed, not with the greatest salaries or homes in the Hamptons, but that is ok too.  New beginnings and with a firm game plan, your dreams will bare fruition.  Just arm yourself with knowledge and great people who have your best interests at heart.

I love Miss Lolly.  Lisa is open and happy to share tips on how to best secure your financial future, giving freely of her expertise in financial planning. I met Lisa in a networking forum and there are many like her; confident, approachable and willing to help.  I have found a great financial planner, an old family friend who understands and I trust completely.  My accountants do the hard work or sorting out the bank statements and making sure I pay my tax on time. Together this team will see me through but I cannot simply sign and hope for the best, I have to read all the documentation (however droll) and be an active part in my financial life.  As should you.

Not the case a few years ago.  And if you are only just at the beginning of your ‘go it alone’ financial planning, you will be fine. You are Silver Street, you are smart, confident and able to overcome any fears you may have. Just take your money seriously.

Take yourself seriously.  Be your own guardian, your own innovator and more importantly, your own guide to your financial future. It’s real … and so are you.

Images: planningwisewealth, Dr Mfinance blog, newsuchicago

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