Terry Savage is, by all accounts, a supremely successful personal finance columnist and a source of inspiration for working women everywhere.
Yet the author of Savage Truth and Money has a confession to make: she is afraid of becoming poor someday. A bag lady. And Savage says she is not alone: many women share her fear.
“Women have a deep and lurking fear of becoming bag ladies,” Savage said Wednesday at the start of a panel talk on women and personal finance sponsored by TD Ameritrade Institutional at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) national conference in Chicago.
“I am willing to own up to my fear,” Savage said, but added that to conquer her fear she has purchased two long-term care insurance plans.
Savage’s admission came as she introduced a panel talk featuring four women who shared the details of their own personal financial lives in a surprisingly open and honest discussion.
The four women—none of whom are stay-at-home mothers in a traditional marriage—described their biggest financial fear and the problems they face. Savage then opened the discussion to the audience of NAPFA planners, who offered their advice on how to solve those problems.
A recently retired single woman with no children, this former financial analyst said she didn’t start working with an advisor until she realized there was a difference between investing and financial planning. When she decided it was time to retire at age 70, however, Janice hired an advisor who helped create a portfolio that provided her with long-term preservation of capital.
The advisor also supported Janice through the refinancing of a fixed-rate mortgage on her home, with monthly payments that are cheaper than rent, and reviewed her long-term care insurance plan.
“The fund companies are so unhelpful with retirement planning,” Janice said. “Once I hit Social Security age, I banked all those checks for three years, and that gave me cash and traveling money.”
Biggest fear: Managing her health care issues as a single woman.
Advice from NAPFA planners: find out whether her LTC insurance plan offers a case management benefit.
After retiring at age 52 to enjoy a long retirement with an older husband, Mary unexpectedly became a widow 10 years ago. She hadn’t paid much attention to her finances up to that point because her husband was an economist and she figured, “he was the financially savvy one in our marriage.” After she died, she found herself a financial planner after interviewing three candidates and picking the person she felt was the best communicator and listener.
Mary is a stepmother of three children and 10 grandchildren and says she doesn’t want to be a burden on them, which is why long-term care insurance is on her “bucket list” for the next year.
“When I first talked about the fee with my financial planner, it sounded like a lot, but we talked it through,” Mary said. “I love the idea that if something comes up, I can just pick up the phone and he’ll call me in 24 hours.”