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This post has been written by the lovely Debs de Vries, a mentor for women approaching, and going through menopause. She has written on her thoughts around how finances can change for women around this time, and I think its a brilliant guide if this concerns you.
Menopause and Money
What if money became a serious ‘menopause’ issue in your life? It did in mine – and not in a good way initially. When perimenopause arrived, my husband left. I had been a stay at home mum for some years: I was 48, with a child to care for and no savings to speak of, let alone a job. I don’t recommend it.
If you are to continue working into your 60s, do you know how you will you continue to maintain your current financial status? Can you provide a decent pension for yourself, and still have a sufficient amount of funds to buy holidays, cars and so on, once you have retired?
Most advice on ‘getting through’ menopause focuses on physical wellbeing but rarely mentions the physical necessity of keeping well, financially. And this matters – hugely.
Menopause in the Workplace
Not every woman in menopause will be in the workplace. But more than 3.5 million women in the U.K. aged over 50, are. Of those 3.5 million it’s likely that 25% will be feeling the physical effects of menopause and this can negatively affect ability at work (note: not capability) whether that’s ‘brain fog’, exhaustion, sweating or emotional upset.
A CEO stated (on the UK “Woman’s Hour” programme) that she went from deciding on multi-million pound deals to not being able to decide which pants to wear to work. Funny? Not to the person it happened to, or to the organisation she was responsible for.
“ITV Tonight” is a British news programme that carried out research into the attitudes and issues facing menopausal women in the workplace. They found that:
- 25% of women considered leaving their jobs because of menopausal symptoms.
- 50% of women said life was ‘significantly worse’
- 85% thought that specific occupational health guidelines are needed.
- Around 10% have given up work altogether.
- Half of the women hadn’t visited a doctor because they were ‘too embarrassed’ and only 3% had heard of the NICE guidelines
How Can Your Employer Help?
Yes: employers have a duty of care to the health and safety of their employees, and yes, there is already legislation (in the 2010 Equality Act) that protects people from discrimination of all kinds. It also provides for employees with more than 26 weeks service to request (note; request, not expect) flexible working arrangements. If you can have the conversation about your health needs in the workplace during menopause, you will be also setting a standard for all the women that follow you.
I also know that many employers would prefer not listen, may not even have “the conversation” and also make it difficult for women to even want to mention their symptoms.
Some women have struggled so much with their symptoms, that the resulting work errors and inefficiencies have been noted as ‘performance issues’ by their employer. This can lead to disciplinary situations and potential loss of status or promotion possibilities. I have clients who have indeed given up jobs they ‘used to love’ but could no longer cope with, leaving behind great salaries, benefits and fulfillment. “Nothing wrong with that”, you may say, and I’d agree. If you have a big, fat financial safety net, or a willing and stable partner, you’ll probably get to 66 (or the age your private pension kicks in at) and you’ll be home and dry. But I would never recommend this as a strategy for financial safety.
Menopause and Marriage
For one thing, reality often differs from our expectations. Financial pressure in marriages is cited as one of the top causes of divorce and depending on another for your financial wellbeing is not a sound strategy. It’s very likely that a divorced or newly single woman in her 50s, working a low paid and sometimes part time job, is going to struggle to make financial head way. Finding great new roles isn’t easy in your 50s, and if the woman is the main care giver to children or elders, she already has limits on the time available for a demanding role.
So when menopause announces itself, one way or another, it’s also a great time for a financial wellbeing review. Make sure you do this regularly. You need to support yourself and good information and money habits will help you feel emotionally clearer and stronger, I promise.
If you are in a relationship and it’s not yet part of your lives, then book a “money date” with your other half and make it a habit. It is surprisingly reassuring (even if the numbers scare you) to discuss these matters and get a handle on them
- Current income: Make a complete list of all your outgoings, personal needs, investments and savings contributions, and see if you can afford it fully, now. If not, you need to do some work to establish what you can do to afford your life.
- Pension: When do you want to retire and how much will you need in your ‘pot’? How much have you got now and what contributions will you continue to make and how?
- Home: If you own or co-own a property, and there is a mortgage, how much is it, and how long is it until it’s paid off? Will the interest change? Is your name on the title deeds?
- Safety net: What if the car goes ‘bang’, the dog needs expensive veterinary procedures. What easily accessible savings are in place for emergencies (tip: you need at least 3 months’ worth of income to hand).
- Insurances: Only keep those that are necessary but make sure they are fit for purpose, so insuring your buildings, cars, health and possessions as a priority. Weed out expensive policies where saving money in an interest-bearing account may be a better idea (e.g. when you buy electrical appliances).
- Wills: Keep them up to date, and consider having a ‘living will’ (advanced healthcare directive) which specifies what actions you want or don’t want, should you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself.
- Investments; Monies you set aside to ‘grow’ and never touch. Are they in the best place? When do you review them and how?
- Consumer Debt: Do you have any? If so, how much? How much will it cost you to pay it off and when does it get paid off? Can you ‘blitz’ it by increasing your monthly payments? Do you really need a credit card (No. REALLY – read this – “borrow £3000 at 20 and you’ll be almost 50 when it clears“)
This is a very high level guide as to what needs to be managed in your money life. It’s intended as a prompt; a wake up call, and it comes, with love, from someone who walked into her divorce blindly and with none of this information, or even a shred of an idea that some of it existed. So please, find support and help to answer all these questions, take control and secure your financial wellbeing, in menopause and afterwards. That sense of security can make a huge difference to your physical and emotional wellbeing too.
You can find Debs and more helpful advice on Menopause from her website www.debsdevries.com
Now over to you: What has been your take-away point from this post? Are you going to start saving more? Maybe learn to invest? Let us know in the comments below!
I hope you found this post helpful – I think even if you think menopause is not relevant to you right now, you have the wisdom in this post right here from a woman who has been through financial struggle herself. You have the luxury of more time to correct your finances and secure your future whatever it may bring.
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Until next time,