I was lucky to have been raised by parents who taught me how to be financially responsible, but while I’ve been fortunate to never find myself in serious financial trouble, we’ve definitely learned some financial lessons the hard way over the years.
Today, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape, all things considered!
Over the last five years in particular, we made contingency financial plans for everything from an unexpected job loss to unexpected medical expenses, and saved accordingly. As it turned out, that wasn’t such a bad idea! Much of our recent financial planning has come as a result of life experience. My husband found himself taking a more active role in helping his parents make financial and medical decisions, which of course made him take a closer look at our own plans for the future. As for me, financial planning changes came on a smaller scale, since I handle much of the day-to-day budgeting.
Both my son and I suffer from occasional asthma flare-ups, and over the last couple of years our prescription medication has become outrageously expensive, even with an insurance co-pay.
After getting a surprise $300+ bill at the pharmacy a couple of times during the cold weather months and having it wreck our day-to-day budget for the next couple of weeks, I began setting aside more money specifically for unexpected prescription drug refills. I also began spending a couple of hours a week coordinating my grocery budget with the week’s sales and coupons.
With a little planning, I’ve been able to cut my grocery bill in half, and that really frees up a significant amount of money for all the ‘little things’ that come up each week, from school pictures to an occasional drive-thru meal when baseball practice goes late. The payoff has been tremendous.
Because of our planning, we are so much less stressed about the financial curve balls life has thrown our way. We have a financial safety net. We also have a comfortable amount of money already set aside for unexpected doctor and pharmacy bills. I’m grateful for what we’ve learned about financial planning and hopeful that we can live this way for the rest of our lives. I’ve got enough to worry about without having to throw how we’re going to pay our bills into the mix!
I know I’m far from alone in my experiences – many of my friends are now caring for aging parents in addition to taking care of their families. More and more of them also work outside the home, which mirrors the national trend – seven out of 10 women now work outside the home according to national statistics, and the number of women-owned small businesses grew 68% between 2007 and 2014.
Even though women are becoming more empowered economically, they’re still typically the primary caregivers of older adults, and we all know women play a huge role in caring for their families. Add to this the fact that women are now living longer and also there’s the possibility that women will eventually care for their spouses, and it becomes crystal clear that we probably need to take a more active role in planning in advance for these possibilities.
I know many of us don’t really plan financially to live into our 90s, but the truth is that these days, that’s a distinct possibility! I can tell you from experience that the sooner we start making plans for every possible scenario, the better. Prudential advisors are ready to help with financial conversations.
They’ve created an infographic that helps women take an honest look at how chronic illness- a common ailment as we age- can financially impact their lives and the lives of the those they love. Start thinking about your financial future now.
Like many women, Sue Ellen is taking care of an aging parent as well as trying to figure out who will take care of her someday. Check out the video below to hear her story!