As more career-driven and purpose-driven women are actively joining the workforce, there is a need to recognise the fundamental disparity between what women will need over their lifetimes due to women’s longer lives, time out of the workforce to raise families and common female-specific illnesses prevalent in today’s society.
What all this means is that women need to think about their financial goals and plans differently than men. Here are 3 ways women can protect and maintain a standard of living they require:
Ensure that you are adequately insured
When it comes to insurance, it is easy to assume that by having an investment-linked policy (ILP) or a savings plan as “having adequate insurance” or “enough insurance”. A common misconception about having insurance is that having more than the average number of policies for a woman you age is “more than enough”. However, to truly decide if you are adequately covered as a woman, you will need to consider the following:
- Do you have enough coverage for an event of sudden death, or inability to continue employment for the rest of your life?
- In addition to point #1, do you have streams of income to support grandparents or children who are dependent on you for food and shelter?
- In an event of a female-specific illness, such as breast cancer, do you have enough to cover the huge medical costs you are about to incur?
- In addition to point #3, do you then also have streams of income to support grandparents or children who are dependent on you, while you’re recuperating and recovering, and unable to work for a period of time?
- Do you know the in’s and out’s of your hospitalisation insurance plan to make the best use of it, ensuring a comfortable hospitalisation stay without worrying about racking up those bills?
- Do you have protection against injuries incurred due to accidents, such as losing a limb or suffering from burns?
- In addition to point #6, do you know if your hospitalisation plan covers adequate outpatient medical bills to treat your injuries which you suffered from accidents?
As you transition through different life phases (finding a new job, getting married, having children, losing a parent, divorce, etc.) you will need to speak with your financial advisor to review your protection needs and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you are not under-insured or over-paying for protection insurance based on your needs. Such protection and insurance review is encouraged to be done once per year with your trusted advisor.
To get a good idea on the costs of medical bills for common female-specific illnesses and surgical bill estimates, you can visit the Fee Benchmark and Bill Amount Information (Ministry of Health, Singapore)
Ensure you have income streams planned for days after your desired retirement age.
All of us want comfortable retirement years spent happily with our grandchildren and traveling around the world. If you plan to stop working by a certain age and spend the remainder of your days exploring every corner of the world, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to support yourself throughout these years.
For some of us, we might be lucky enough to have both a place to live in and an investment property we can sell when we choose to retire, so we can use the proceeds from the sale of the investment property as the main retirement lifestyle funding source.
However, for the majority of Singaporeans, the house we live in is our one and only property. Options do include downgrading to a smaller, cheaper home, but you might find yourself still short of the minimum retirement amount you need to live the retirement lifestyle you want.
The first step to figuring out your retirement plan is to decide on:
- When you’d like to retire
- How much you want to/need to live on during your retirement years (calculate this on a per-year basis)
- And how many years of retirement you expect yourself to live through
Planning for retirement should start the moment you receive your first paycheck.
If you’re currently in your twenties:
you’re in the best time of your life to start saving, investing and planning for your retirement years. The more time you have ahead of you, the easier it becomes to set aside funds to start growing your retirement nest egg.
Have a partner or a spouse? Working on your financial plans at an early stage of your journey together can help ease a lot of obstacles along the way:
Planning to get married or just started settling down with a baby on the way? This is one of the most crucial times for you to sit down with your spouse or partner to tease out financial details and plan for your growing family.
Financial obstacles place a huge burden on couples, and it is one of the most common root problems to marital issues.
My rule of thumb when it comes to marriage:
Plan early, get comfortable talking about money with your partner or spouse, figure out all possible forms of financial obstacles and how to get around them, before they hit you.
Review Your Current Financial Commitments
It’s always healthy to track our personal finances and financial commitments. Take the last weekend of each month to review your monthly expenditure, available savings, and existing mortgages or loans, and credit card debt.
Keeping track of all your current assets and liabilities, as well as your long-term liabilities, gives you a good idea on your financial health and how you can work out the budget for the upcoming months to ensure you stay on a healthy financial track.