So, I recently hit the big 5-0, and boy, did it make me stop and think. In the midst of the parties (just family as it was mid-lockdown) and best wishes, questions flooded my mind:
- Do I have enough saved for the future?
- Have I accomplished everything I wanted to by now?
- How can I maintain my fitness and energy while juggling all my responsibilities?
- Will menopause affect my sex life?
- Will I get hot flushes in the middle of a work presentation?
My financial planner sent me a birthday message that hinted at adjusting my investment portfolio to be more ‘balanced’- read old... Then there were those jeans, a lot more snug around the middle, without any increase in food… And oh, that tenacious wrinkle – a steadfast companion, lingering long after the smile waned. It struck me that a reckoning was due to embrace new habits and perspectives as I prepared to embark on the next chapter of life.
Not enough saved for retirement?
According to a study by the NIRS, nearly 60% of working-age households in the United States are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. This gap highlights that a significant portion of individuals may not have enough saved for retirement by age 50.
The report highlights the concerning retirement savings status of people born between 1965 and 1980, representing nearly 20% of the population. The majority face inadequate savings for retirement. Factors contributing to this issue include the absence of pension plans, exposure to economic crises, stagnant wages versus inflation, and rising costs. Only 14% have access to a pension plan, and just half are enrolled in employer-sponsored retirement plans. Furthermore, a significant number of Americans carry substantial debt into their retirement years. This issue is prevalent in many economies worldwide.
From a personal front, I have often found myself assessing, reassessing and planning ad infinitum, trying to balance and then rebalance my portfolios in order to save adequately for retirement.
The sandwich generation
I find myself worried about my kids, as well as my surviving parent, my father. My mother passed away a couple of years ago. Looking after her and my father presented a new level of financial and emotional distress.
Studies show that individuals in their 50s often find themselves navigating the complex and demanding role of simultaneously caring for their own children and ageing parents. This phenomenon, commonly referred to as the “sandwich generation”, highlights the unique challenges and responsibilities faced by this age group.
This juggling impacts various aspects of our lives, including career advancement, personal well-being, and financial stability. It can lead to increased stress, limited leisure time, and challenges in maintaining a work-life balance. Additionally, we face difficult decisions about long-term care options for our parents and potential trade-offs between our own retirement savings and supporting our loved ones.
The Menopause Curve Ball
Menopause hit me like a thief in the night, stealthily creeping into my life without a warning. It started with the relentless onslaught of hot flashes. It felt as if my body had suddenly become a furnace in perpetual overdrive, leaving me in a constant state of discomfort.
Accompanying this fiery ordeal was the brain fog so thick that my thoughts seemed to scatter like leaves in the wind. I struggled to remember even the simplest of tasks or names. And then there were those peculiar midnight rendezvous with my past. Conversations in my mind that unfolded in the early hours, unearthing conversations and disputes long forgotten, like a reel of memories playing out in the theatre of my mind.
Menopause really threw a curveball at my work-life experience, knocking me off balance as I grappled with the physical and mental hurdles it brought into my daily tasks.
According to the Government Report on Menopause, Menopause is affecting the workforce significantly, with menopausal women being the fastest-growing demographic. The average age for menopause is 51, but symptoms can start earlier during the perimenopause phase. Around 8 out of 10 menopausal women work, and 3 out of 4 experience symptoms, with 1 in 4 facing serious ones.
As over a third of the workforce will soon be over 50, menopause-related issues gain importance. With an ageing population and the need to retain experienced workers, businesses must address menopause-related challenges. Dr. Andrea Davies, one of the co-authors of the report, highlights the dual role of work in menopausal women’s lives – offering fulfilment but also potentially exacerbating symptoms due to poor working conditions that do not address the effects of menopause.
Setting yourself up for success?
Yikes! I definitely wasn’t prepared for all this. But being the planner and Type A personality that I am, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
So, I did some research and started to tackle some of the challenges we face in middle age – particularly when it comes to finances and health. Let’s face it: these are the real issues staring us right in the face during this phase of life. So join me as we navigate the twists and turns of middle age together.
Here are the steps I took to gain more control of the chaos that had become my life
Get Real about Your Finances
Review your savings, investments, and retirement plans to ensure you are on track for the future you envision.
It all started with a brave look into the mirror of my financial reality. Digging into my savings, investments, and retirement plans, I sifted through the numbers. This was about securing a brighter tomorrow, plain and simple.
Harmonizing Hormonal Shifts
Engage in an open dialogue with your healthcare provider to explore hormone and alternative options. Ask their expert guidance if you decide to pursue this path.
In my pursuit of balance, I embarked on an HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) journey, incorporating methods to gracefully manage and harmonize my life.
Find Fitness Fun
It’s time to get moving in a way that brings joy!
I made a pact to rekindle my love affair with movement. From swaying to the beat of my favourite tunes (music be the food of love) to chasing trails in the wild or even testing waters in a new sport. I made it a priority to honour my physical well-being and bask in the sheer delight it brings. In addition, embrace wholesome, nutritious choices for eating healthy, cherishing food, and indulge in self-care.
Munch on the Right Stuff
Eat whole foods, and stay away from processed foods. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy or dairy alternatives.
I have been on the path to healthy eating for a while, but it is hard to eat right. It really requires dedication and focus, as well as patience.
Budget with Balance
Striking a chord between tomorrow’s security and today’s pleasures isn’t easy, but it’s an art worth mastering.
Using insights gleaned from my financial checkup, I sketched out a budget that balanced my dreams and every day delights. It was all about ensuring both danced harmoniously together.
Explore New Horizons
Life doesn’t stop at 50! Let’s take this opportunity to dream big and explore new career paths, hobbies, or ventures that ignite our passion and fulfilment.
It’s a deliberate choice to infuse each step with vitality and fulfilment. With excitement and fueled by optimism, I embrace this new chapter, not as an obligation to age but as an unwritten story waiting for my personal touch. The power to make it incredibly rich and beautiful is right in my hands.
Remember to embrace this new chapter with excitement and optimism, knowing that we have the power to make it truly amazing! My personal recipe for reclaiming my life’s narrative started by grounding myself in financial realities, relishing the magic of motion, finding my sweet spot between fiscal aspirations and today’s joys, chasing dreams that once seemed elusive, crafting each moment into a masterpiece, and nourishing my well-being. I am stitching together a path that resonates with my passion and purpose. This journey isn’t about control; it is my personal transformation, my journey towards a life painted with vibrant hues and soulful tunes and woven with meaningful moments.