Women need to assess finances

South African women are reported to be living at least six years longer than their male counterparts.

That is according to research by Hippo.co.za, compiled by Statistics SA.

According to a statement from the company, various reports reflect an increase in women participating in the economy, making it imperative that women continue to take charge of their financial futures.

“Women must assess their finances and seriously start investing and saving, as being left widowed or divorced can be catastrophic without having a safety net,” emphasises the executive head of Hippo.co.za, Vera Nagtegaal.

Nagtegaal points out that, unlike previous generations, many families are finding it tough to survive on one income because of increases in municipal bills, transport, electricity, food and data costs.

“Being completely financially depen­dent on your spouse or partner may no longer be a good idea, considering that Statistics SA’s data on marriage and divorces shows that a significant proportion of couples will break up within a decade of tying the knot,” she says.

Nagtegaal says a 2016 survey states that in four of ten divorces (44,4%) of the 25 326 recorded for that year, the marriages lasted for less than ten years.

“With the doubling of the divorce rate globally since 1990 for women over 50, referred to as ‘grey divorce’, married women of all ages should be encou­raged to participate equally and actively with their (marital) partners in financial decisions and investment choices.”

The statement revealed how a recent report by UBS Global Wealth Management highlights that 59% of widows and divorcees regret not taking part in long-term financial planning when they were part of a couple.

  • To ensure sound decisions at all ages, Nagtegaal suggests the following: The twenties

Find a reputable financial adviser and take out important policies – such as income protection (in case you are ill and can not work), medical aid (to cover unforeseen health issues and day-to-day medical expenses) and a retirement annuity, says Nagtegaal.

Start with your retirement savings early so you do not end up scrambling to save at the end of your career.

It is a good idea to begin saving for short or medium-term goals such as travel and buying property, using savings vehicles like unit trusts.

  • She says unit trusts are well-esta­blished financial instruments that allow people to participate in the markets. The thirties

Start doing your research about life insurance, affordable family medical cover and homeowners’ insurance.

  • Putting money into an education plan can also put your mind at ease about paying for your child’s future studies. The fourties

Depending on your individual trajectory, some women might have teenage children at this stage. Others might be thinking of growing their portfolio of properties or purchasing a new car.

  • If you find yourself drawing from long-term savings to cover the cost of your children going to university, or to pay for a large purchase, be sure to increase the amount you are putting away for your retirement. The fifties

Do not be in a hurry to retire if you are enjoying your career and need more time to save for future security.

  • Another reason to keep on working is to be able to afford some of the luxu­ries that were possibly sacrificed when your children were young, ranging from holidays to home renovations. The sixties

Women at this age might experience an increase in health bills, or they might find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being widowed.

It is important to meet with a financial adviser to assess your existing investments to be sure that you are getting the most of your money.

Financial security begins with educa­ting yourself – which in this case involves financial literacy in various areas such as saving, education, medical costs and other long-term expenses, Nagtegaal concludes.