Saturday, April 20, 2024

“Ladies, We Need to Start Taking Care of Ourselves” Inside Kerre McIvor’s Plea to All Kiwi Women

A new Kiwi study has discovered that – rather disturbingly – the top goal for most of us females (67%), over the next six months is… to lose weight.

Yip, as well as all the other things we could be putting our energies into, it seems we’re happy to leave to the sidelines things like sorting out our finances – whether that’s finally working on what to do with our KiwiSaver or looking at a plan for retirement, which was well down the list.

It’s really no wonder then that when it comes to money matters, women are putting their heads in the sand and literally paying the consequences later in life.

That same study by National Capital found that women were 16 times more likely to talk about divorce and nine times more likely to talk about sex with our friends than retirement.

Which is why self-confessed “spender” Kerre McIvor is here to give us the boot in the butt we clearly so desperately need and is on a mission to get us talking about money and what we’re going to do to make sure we’re not sad, alone and broke in our twilight years.

“I’ve heard enough doing talkback radio from women who say that being alone, poor and old is just about the worst thing you can be,” Kerre tells us. “Listening to them has been a real eye-opener. I’ve heard from women who are in rentals that are about to be sold and they have no idea where they’re going to go, they’re utterly reliant on the pension and they’re really, really afraid. It is terrifying. And I don’t want women to go through that, so we need to make some changes. And the younger you can start thinking about that, the better.”

Kerre thinks our strange relationship with money – it’s almost a taboo thing to talk about – all stems back to when we were young and were told about things that were “not polite to discuss, like religion, politics and money”. It means, for many of us, we’ve never felt comfortable discussing finances and are selling ourselves short as a result.

“Women aren’t good at knowing their own financial worth at work. We’re the ones who go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to rock the boat. I’ll just be grateful I’ve got a job.” Looking back, I always just took what I was offered and was grateful. Where does that get us?”

Not only are we earning less, but, we’re also much more likely to be targeted my marketing and advertising campaigns, convincing us of all the new products we simply must buy.

“The lipsticks! THE CLOTHES,” laments Kerre. “I had a dad that was a bank manager so I should have known better, but I’m a spender. I love spending money. But boy, as you get older, you wish you’d put money aside. I have friends who put 10% away from the very first pay cheque and they are sweet – they’re living their best lives because they planned for the future.”

It’s shouldn’t be all about focusing on the things you shouldn’t have bought and totally cutting your spending. There are of course purchases that Kerre certainly doesn’t regret – mostly the experiences she’s had, especially those trips overseas. “With things the way they are now, I’m really glad that Tom and I travelled when we did. Yes, we could have paid off the mortgage more quickly, but with the world in shut down, I’m just so grateful to have had that opportunity to travel.”

And she’ll never regret the “little run-down cottage in Grey Lynn” that they bought many moons ago, which they recently sold for a pretty penny. “But now I have to decide what to do,” tells Kerre. “I’m just renting an apartment at the moment while I work out what I’m going to do – it means you have to have less in your life but that’s a really good feeling. I gave loads of my things – lots of clothes to charity – but I’ve still got boxes and boxes of clothes in storage that I haven’t even thought about.”

But Kerre has also been thinking of those women on the wireless a lot lately, especially now that she is 55 and has 10 years to go before she hits retirement age – which is why she’s started working with National Capital.

“I don’t do many ad campaigns at all, but they came along at the right time and actually just said to me, ‘have you even thought if you’re in the right KiwiSaver or not?’ Turns out there’s all sorts of different providers with all sorts of different products that suit where you are in your journey. I had never given it a moment’s thought – I always just tick all the default boxes! I did the free ​KiwiSaver Health Check​ and I wish I’d done it sooner”

Working out what KiwiSaver plan is right for you in your stage of life, can pay dividends later on. As can talking to a professional about money and finding out how you could be making it all work for you – it’s not all about working out how to spend less, but about making your money work harder for you.

It’s reported that around 90% of the articles in the media that talk to women about finances, actually center around how to spend less – rather than how to invest and grow what we have. Not surprisingly, articles targeting men, most often talking about investments, rather than advice for how to cut down their expenses.

Which is why it’s easy to see why women often hand over the responsibilities of managing finances to the men in their lives. But you just have to look at the stats to see how that can negatively affect women – we’re more likely to take a hit financially after a major life event like separating from a partner, or having a child, plus, in general we live longer so we may need more years to plan for.

Kerre says she bucked the trend in that she was the one at the helm when it came to dealing wit money matters. “I was the one making the financial decisions in our family. Tom had absolutely no interest. My accountant was horrified and said, ‘wow, I can’t believe you’ve found someone who is even less interested in money than you! I’m an accountant and I can’t even do the stats on that.’”

But, Kerre admits that the responsibility was challenging at times. “I found that burdensome and a real responsibility. Tom was supportive, but it did mean a lot of the financial decisions were mine, whether we renovated the house or what not – that can be quite overwhelming.”

Which is where getting some professional advice can really help. We go to a personal trainer to look after our bodies and therapists to look after our mental health – why not enlist help for our finances?!

“I really wish I’d thought about this all when I got my first pay cheque. Imagine if I’d saved 10% since I was 18!?!” says Kerre. “And I wish I’d thought about this at 30. Or 40! It’s never too late to start, but the earlier you can, the better.”

And she has a final message for us all:

“Ladies, we need to take care of ourselves – the same way we take care of other people and with the same focus that we put on getting fit. We think we’ll do it one day, and then all of a sudden one day is here. If you don’t take charge and make sure you’re getting the best out of your KiwiSaver you could be missing out on thousands of extra dollars that you’ll really need if you want to enjoy the good life in retirement.”

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