Good morning SOTGC readers. I am so excited to introduce you to our good friend and financial guru, Bridget Venus Grimes. Yes, that is her real maiden name (“Venus”) and I love it! Bridget is a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in La Jolla, California. Her practice is focused on providing comprehensive financial guidance to women. She believes that helping women achieve success in their professional and private lives is essential to fulfill their financial goals, and is a staunch supporter of education on those issues. Bridget considers herself extremely fortunate to have a career doing something she truly loves. I met Bridget when she invited me to one of her many informative seminars on how women can empower their lives by successfully managing their finances and I have been a huge fan ever since. She has awesomely offered to write a weekly column on this topic and hopefully some of her amazing experiences throughout her career will inspire you as well.
I dream of retiring on an island in the US Virgin Islands in a small, beautiful house with an expansive view of the Caribbean. I’ll be drinking cool fruity drinks, basking in the sun with the warm trade winds blowing, island music playing in the background. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And for those of us funding our own retirements, only attainable if we have a plan and save. So, I have made it my quest to help women just like me have the retirement they dream about.
I spend a good deal of my professional life educating women on how to succeed in business, which in turn will give them the financial resources to help them live the life they want. I absolutely love the challenge of helping women succeed in male dominated industries, like mine, which is finance, and along the way I have met some incredibly successful, dynamic, and truly wonderful women. Financial independence, though, seems to be an afterthought for many of these women and here is where I am concerned. I think its great for someone to be making $250,000 a year, buying all sorts of fabulous shoes and clothes, eating out every night, and travelling the globe. However, I just don’t see this lifestyle continuing until we are in our 70s or 80s if we don’t plan ahead. At some point we’re going to have to retire and if we don’t save money along the way and invest it so it grows, we’ll be looking at buying our clothes at the thrift store, eating cereal, and the trip to the supermarket will be as exciting as our travel gets. Trust me, I don’t love having the conversation with a client where I get to tell them that they wont have enough money for retirement, especially after years of a successful career.
I want to challenge women to take a look at how much they spend on clothes/eating out/travel or wherever you spend a good chunk of your discretionary income, and decide on an amount you are willing to save every month. For women under 50 years old, we can contribute up to $17,000/year of our pretax income to our 401k plans. For many of us, our companies will match a portion of our contributions, which I consider free money. If you start to contribute to your 401k when you’re 25 and you continue to contribute until you’re 65, that’s 40 years(!) of saving for retirement. Think about this, if you saved $17000/year over the course of 40 years with 5% compounded interest annually, you would be looking at over $2million. This assumes No match and not ramping up your contributions when you hit 50 (which is currently $22,500/year), but you get the idea. Keep in mind that we’ll need the $2million to last as long as we do. If you live to 92, which is the life expectancy number I use for my clients, that money needs to last 27 years.
We women who have thrown ourselves into our careers have truly devoted ourselves to being successful at what we do professionally. It amazes me how little time and thought we devote to our own financial well-being. I challenge each of us to take a good look at what we are spending our money on, decide an amount to save on a regular basis, and invest it so that we can continue to live the lifestyle we work so very hard for. And in good time, we will be able to retire to the life we dream of. I look forward to meeting for cocktails on the beach when we retire.