Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lois Holmlund - It's Never Too Late

Life is funny. It’s almost like one minute you’re out partying, going to university, starting out in a career, getting married, and the next you find you are over 50 and alone. My husband died suddenly ten years ago, leaving me nothing but thousands of dollars of debt, and I worked hard to pay it all off. So now I’m 52, debt free, with a small pension waiting for me when I turn 65, but that’s it. No savings, no real estate or investments, and a big question mark as to what’s ahead.

I’ve always been very careful with my money. “Cash Flow” for me meant going on-line to make sure my paycheque went in, then anxiously watch the balance dwindle all month as I struggled to keep enough there to pay my rent. One unexpected bill would knock over my carefully stacked house of cards. “Investing” was making the decision whether or not to get a good winter coat, or try to get the current one to last another year. “Stocks” were what you put in soup.

When you’re alone in the world, as are 47% of women over fifty, and you have no husband or children to “take care of you”, you also have no one to share expenses with, and no one to help tide you over if that pension isn’t going to be there for you. You watch your rent go up and up each month, while your paycheque stays much the same, and you wonder what you’re going to do in ten years when you retire and your income is cut in half.

I read on the Internet that “the average female born between 1948 and 1964 may likely remain in the work force until at least 74 years of age due to inadequate financial savings and pension coverage.” And that 58% of female baby boomers have less than $10,000 in retirement. With my sum total of $1,500 in RRSPs, I fit right in.

But I don’t want to work until I’m 74! I don’t even want to work until I’m 64. Or 55.

Sound bleak?

I thought so. That is, until I went to a group called Infiniti Point, whose mandate it is “To Educate, To Serve, To Profit Together.” With their encouragement, I tackled my first financial book: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. While I expected to be overwhelmed with a lot of words I didn’t know and concepts I didn’t understand, instead everything was clearly laid out and I found myself for the first time in a long time thinking . . . hey, maybe I can do this.

Going with the idea that it is fundamentally untrue that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, I began to show up at weekly meetings in an attempt to teach this old dog something about investing, stocks, taxes, and lots of words I had never heard before. Even words that I thought I already knew, suddenly had different meanings, giving me a whole new set of ABC’s : Assets and Liabilities. Break Even Point. Cash Flow. Due diligence. Evaluation. Fundamentals. What at first was mind boggling, though, gradually began to sort itself out as I came to understand each individual concept. Maybe not baby steps, but one arthritic step after the other still gets you there!

And I get to play games! Whodda thought? I’m not talking about bridge, either. There’s an amazing game played at Infiniti Point once a month called “Cash Flow 101” that teaches you financial literacy and freedom. Cost to play? Nothing. Value? Priceless. It challenges you to think outside the box, to balance your income and your expenses, and then create a cash flow out of passive income that you build to get yourself out of the Rat Race. I’ve always hated accounting and working with numbers, but this was different. It was exciting. Motivating! And best of all – I could do it!

I admit, I think I’m the oldest one there at the meetings. I was expecting to feel like the odd one out – after all, instead of expensive hair highlights, I have grey-haired roots – but instead I’ve felt included, encouraged, and challenged. I’ve even started bringing my friends—women, like me, who are ready to take those first steps in bringing about financial freedom. To be honest, we’re not looking to become billionaires or start multi-national business franchises. We have no one to pass on our potential vast fortunes.

We are at the end of working careers and all we want is to be able to retire and not worry about our finances. And the good news is: It’s not too late!


written by Lois Holmlund

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