Jenny Gordon, Senior Legal Advisor, Legal Services Department, Alexander Forbes Financial Services calls this the Prince Charming syndrome in which many “smart, sophisticated and often high earning South African women believe that somehow the men in their lives, either now or in the future, will take care of the family’s financial needs.”Unfortunately, most women only realise that they should have taken planning for the future more seriously when a life crisis like unemployment or a divorce jolts them into a full appreciation of how much money needs to be put aside to handle crises and, eventually, retirement.As such, Gordon advises all women, regardless of who their spouse is or what they earn, to build up their own nest egg by making their own financial plans.
Since women live longer, retirement could last 20 or 30 years. “Since women live about one third of their lives in retirement they actually need to make better provision for retirement than men”, explains Gordon. While many expenses fall away in retirement, medical expenses actually increase. Also, due to childbirth and family care obligations women spend fewer years at work than men, reducing the period over which they can save and prepare for retirement.
Since women tend to put everyone else’s needs before their own, Gordon believes that South African women “need to learn to pay themselves first.” This means that women should adopt the habit of first paying off debt and grudge purchases, and thereafter pay themselves in savings or investment while learning to live on the balance.