Is retirement possible, post-divorce?

I get asked this question—by nervous women—a lot. “Will I be able to retire after I’m divorced? And can you help me?”

Can I help you? Absolutely.

Will you be able to retire? That depends on your situation and the choices you make. But I can help you with those choices.

Several factors in your life—many of which change with divorce—will affect your ability to retire. (The one that doesn’t change, post-divorce, is your age. But that’s a huge factor, too: How many working years do you have left?)

The factors that change, when you become single, are:

  • Your goals. You’re now a single person. With single-person goals.
  • Your income. That will be different than, say, the old two-income household.
  • Your risk tolerance. That’s a big one. Let’s talk about that.

Risk tolerance

I know it’s technical-sounding, but “risk tolerance” is about deciding what you are comfortable with, from a financial standpoint. Are you a risk-loving, bet-it-all-on-black type of person? Or are you a stash-it-under-the-mattress conservative?

Of course: You’re somewhere in between.

But where? Finding out is important, because you’re literally banking your future on this.

I can, and do, help with this. I’ll walk you through our easy risk-assessment tool. It’s basically a bunch of “would you prefer this or that” questions. “Would you be willing to risk your money going down by X percent in order to grow by Y percent?” That kind of stuff. And it keeps drilling down, asking you different variations of these kinds of questions, until it helps you arrive at a 1 to 100 score, with 1 being the most risk-averse personality and 100 the most risk-loving.

This number, by the way, isn’t carved in stone. As you work with me, and you learn things (knowledge equals power!), your attitudes and personal risk tolerance can change. Which is fine; it’s healthy.

Control—don’t freak

Your risk-tolerance score factors into the different things I’ll help you to consider, and plan for.

Let me tell you this much right away: So many women who face divorce believe that all choice has been taken away from them. Not true! There are variables, important variables, that you absolutely can control, such as how much you work, how long, how much you spend, and how much you save. These all become tools to help you overcome irrational fear.

Irrational fear? You bet. Here’s what I see, in my practice, all the time:

  • Fear of getting wiped out financially and living in a cardboard box under a bridge.
  • Fear of becoming a drooling burden to their kids.

Then there are the slightly less irrational fears, such as:

  • Fear of making bad decisions.
  • Fear of losing money.
  • Fear of getting scammed.

I don’t have the space to get into all the details here, but I have 99 years’ worth of historical financial information at my fingertips which, while it certainly can’t predict the future (full legal disclaimer below), can give you some good perspective. You’re not betting it all on black, or putting all your money into Enron, or trusting some guy named Madoff.

You’re not alone

Which gets to the biggest part of this. When you work with me, you’re actually working with me. Not some faceless person at an 800-number call center. So when real-life questions hit you—“Should I refi my mortgage?” “Should I pay cash for a car?”—you have someone who’s just a phone call or email away, someone who, incidentally, has taken an oath to put your financial interests ahead of my own at all times.

The required disclaimer I’d mentioned above:

Advisory services are offered through Bridge Financial Strategies, LLC, an Investment Adviser in the State of Arizona and where otherwise legally permitted. Julie A. Kern is not an attorney and does not offer legal advice.

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