• The StarPhoenix
  • 28 Sep 2015
  • By Lori Wiens

While smart planning for retirement is crucial for everyone, ensuring women will be financially ready to support themselves means preparing for potential challenges. “Women tend to live longer than men, so they need to have the money available to make it into their 90s,” says Tanya Herman-Vanthuyne, a Certified Financial Planner with SunStone Retirement Specialists in Moose Jaw. “In fact, we plan for our clients to live to age 95 or beyond and we’re seeing that happening more and more,” she said.

In her 17 years in the financial planning industry, she has discovered that most of her single female clients want to maintain their lifestyle. “Women are often more social and want to keep doing things that will keep them active in their community. They don’t want to hang out at home,” she explains. Her goal is to work with her clients to identify what they spend before retiring and planning for those habits to continue. According to Herman-Vanthuyne, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that moving into retirement will not change your spending habits. “If you are a spender in life, you will be a spender in retirement. If you like to have your hair and nails done, and shop online and go to yoga classes, that will not change,” she says. By the same token, savers in life will have those same tendencies in retirement. “There are times we have to tell our clients to take money from their RRIFs because it is a requirement set by the federal government,” she said.

She claims she does tend to see a different mindset between younger and older retirees. Many of her clients in their 70s to 90s don’t want to spend anything because they lived through the Depression and hard times and have a saver mindset. “Did you know that some people are bothered by the low interest rates because they have always lived off interest and they don’t want to dip into their principal?” On the other hand, she sometimes has to convince her younger clients that they may have to work longer if they want to maintain their lifestyle. “It’s not always what they want to hear,” she says with a laugh. “Some are hoping to retire at 60, but traditionally we are retiring closer to age 65.”

Her advice to any client — not just women — is to start planning for retirement early, and to review those plans on an annual basis so you are constantly aware of your situation and can make adjustments accordingly. Even when working with couples, she makes sure to address what will happen if the wife outlives the husband. Herman-Vanthuyne recognizes that, for some women, financial planning can seem overwhelming. “They have taken care of everyone else and everything else for so long that this is just one more thing on their ‘to do’ list,” she says. “My job is to break it down, even if I have to explain it 17 different ways. I have to make sure they understand what their future looks like, and what their choices are.”

It is also a good idea to bring children in to meet the planner. “Children should be involved, but only when the parents are ready, and they need to understand it is the client, not the children, who makes the final decision,” she says.

It is this trust that will help ensure peace of mind, says Herman-Vanthuyne. “It is critical to find a financial planner you like. Interview them. Even if it means seeing 10 different people, keep going until you find one you like, trust and respect,” she says. “There is a financial planner for everyone and this person will become invaluable in your life to help you, guide you and always have your best interests at heart.”

For her, success in planning is finding the nice balance that lets you live the life you want without overstepping your limits. “You often see in the media that you need $1 million or $2 million, but that is not true. It is totally dependent on your spending habits,” she says. “Live life today, but plan for the future.”