A while ago, I was pulled into a discussion on women’s equality and how to bridge the gap. To me it begins with changing the way we interact in an often evidently patriarchal world. These were my main questions: how many women (working or not) consider the male member of the house as the primary provider? How many women ask the kids to not disturb dad because he has had a long day at work? And how many women leave all the financial decisions of life to their partner to make?
In my various discussions, it seems like a lot of women seem to be surprisingly willing to take a back seat in the financial planning. There are various reasons ranging from “its not my area of expertise”, to “its not me who is earning” and some who just “have not got down to it”. Of course, most of these women do think about financial planning but in an environment like Bahrain, avenues and information on options is limited, often individual income of women is limited and, let’s face it, retirement seems to be far away.
Pensions, retirement planning or rather investment planning is however something we really need to talk about – primarily because every adult needs to talk about it.
Most people are aware that several countries do offer state pensions for a nominal investment that lead to a modest income for sustenance post retirement. There are also private avenues like private pension funds, specific savings schemes or even hybrid insurance products that offer guaranteed returns.
Countries like the UK and Ireland offer state pension plans if you complete 10 years or 520 state insurance contributions respectively. If you are from India, retirement planning is not state driven at all but must be managed individually. In the USA the complex social security system takes care of some parts of retirement while in countries like France require 10 years to be spent working in France (among other conditions).
But what do you do when you live as an expat, are not the one earning or when have never really given these details any specific thoughts? You start thinking and talking about it. We need to face fears of separation – by choice or naturally enforced – and create mechanisms to ensure financial stability – for ourselves and our children.
Small sums of money which, when added up and compounded with even modest returns, can lead to a sizable amount ten to fifteen years later. If you need convincing, glance at the table as a demonstration of the power of compounding just 100 units of any currency invested.
The first step is to begin conversations around lifestyle, medical expenses, travel and sometimes even education for children after there is no longer an actively earning member in the family.
Avenues today are virtually unlimited – you can invest in private pension funds, savings accounts, term deposits, real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds or even in hybrid funds that offer modest risks and returns by putting your money in a combination of the above.
But the first step is to actively think about what you want to do. To participate in financial goal setting and to have a view on where you want your life to be when work is no longer a goal.
Talk now and think now so that retirement opens the doors to choices not to necessities.
First published in Bahrain Woman This Month in the September 2018 Issue