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Jean: Well, thank you for doing this with us. Tell us from the very beginning what the math looked like for Kem. What kind of a retirement gap was she looking at? Jean: So let's break down these steps because each of those in and of themselves is fairly difficult. So let's break that down. Where's that money gonna come from? She sounds to me like somebody who has been spending up to her level of income. Cary: Well it will come from her income, I hope, from her new clients, from going out on her own.
But she does still have that big nest egg that she got from her pay out of her old job, and so she can take it from there if she wants, save it from that pool of money. Jean: You also said she needs to delay social security until age This is a recommendation that a lot of people receive. What's the benefit of it, and why does it work for her? Cary: If she waits till 70, she gets that eight percent increase every year, which she needs to close her gap. The best way to look at it is from full retirement on, every year you wait is an eight percent increase.
Jean: So that's a guaranteed return that's tough to beat in any other way. Now that Kem is on her own, is working for herself, where will she be putting this retirement money? Cary: Okay. So she actually has a ton of options as a solo entrepreneur. Jean: So the key there is not putting it into the college account for her son, but putting it into the retirement account for herself?
Why that split? Cary: I just want her to be in the safety zone, or in the "okay zone" so to speak. Jean: So basically we are playing the odds — and playing is a terrible word to use here — but we're sort of tiptoeing around the odds to make sure that our money lasts as long as we do. Cary: Exactly. Well, you remember, especially for a woman, we live so long. And you know, if she retires at 65, she could be living to She could be retired longer than she actually worked. And so we need our money to grow.
We need to outpace inflation, and we need it to be invested in the market, because that's the only way we're going to get that kind of growth. Jean: Absolutely. Cary, tell me a little bit about the plan you put Kem onto repay her student loans. Cary: So I told her to pay them off as soon as possible, potentially using some of the money that she got for her settlement.
I want them paid off immediately, if not sooner. Cary: Yes. I am so hopeful because you know what? She's smart and she's motivated, and it was very eye-opening I think for her, and I'm hoping that I close her gap for sure, and she's going to do everything I tell her to do. Jean: We've heard that again and again in this series that it's just been eye-opening that people who haven't paid attention are finally looking at what the actual situation is and there's so much surprise.
Cary: I think for women to have an objective third party looking at their information and giving them objective advice is super important, because who else are they going to turn to? How are they going to evaluate how they're doing? How do they know what they're doing is the right thing? You know, everybody needs professional advice when it comes to their money, and the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.
If you think about it, to me, I think you know, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So it's a simple saying, but if it's something in writing in front of you that you can see and it's tangible and you can touch it and feel it, I think it makes it so much more real. Jean: That is so true, Cary. Everybody needs this sort of guidance and having it in front of you on paper, that makes all the difference.
Cary Carbonaro, thank you so much. Jean: So it's been a few weeks since Kem and Cary met, and now we're checking back in with Kem to see how she's doing with her new financial plan. Kem, bring us up to date with what you've learned and how you're doing since we last spoke. Kem: Jean, I'm so glad to be here and I have such a positive outlook. I have such renewed insight as to where I have been, and such a better outlook of where I'm going financially. And so Cary and I have met, I've read her book. She had me fill out a lot of different paperwork about my finances and my budgeting, and the process of having gone through that has really helped me in terms of accountability on one hand — just seeing your actual practices and thoughts on paper.
And then also the accountability aspect of the time sensitivity of getting things back to her makes me have to focus in areas where otherwise I might have let things linger on without really having a plan. Jean: You mentioned that just writing things down was a big change. I often, when I take people through the process of trying to budget for the first time just to have them go through and write where the money is going, it's completely eye-opening. Jean: One of the things that she focused on was your own retirement.
You've had more saved or you have more saved for college for your lovely son than you do for retirement. How did that resonate with you? Kem: I knew that I was putting money away for him. Had I mentally affirmatively taken stock of the fact that I was prioritizing his college over my retirement? I just hadn't thought it out in that way, although I knew exactly what I was doing.
What I learned is that I do have more of a 'put others first' financial mentality, and so that's been new. Jean: Of the changes that Cary suggested to you, are there any that you think you're going to find difficult? Kem: Yes, there are a couple. One was to stop investing in the college plan. I felt like, okay, well there's a potential that I might run short, and I just need to use this time up until the last minute to invest in it, and so she said to stop investing in the and divert some of that to my retirement.
And it's a relief hearing that from a financial professional, because then that just eases my mind that I'm okay, and it's okay to do that. Jean: Tell me about your student loans. I know that Cary suggested that you prioritize re-paying those loans. How much student loan debt are you looking at? Kem: Well, the strategy is to pay more than what's required.
A small business owner and mom needs help in achieving her retirement savings goals.
The easiest way to get ahead of it is to pay more than what's required, and so at every opportunity I intend to pay more. Or perhaps ask someone you trust who else in their network you should speak with. He took the time to help me with my career and gave me the confidence that I had what it takes to be successful.
I would say find someone whose job you love and who you want to emulate, and then bring solutions to that person. Bring them a challenge that you think you can solve and ask for their advice in doing so. Really smart people want to mentor individuals who take initiative to solve problems. And then as my career grew, I was in a fairly high-level position at IBM and at several companies since then.
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I was only able to grow my career because each time I took on a new role, my coworkers went out of their way for months to teach me and show me how to learn more on my own. This is a person problem. And women can help men. We should be focused on capabilities and skills. So I do have little heart strings to women who are building their careers, and I do step up and try to be visible and available to them. But I got a lot out of having a mentor who called it out for me and helped me recognize that potential blind spot, and encouraged me to go for things like raises and promotions.
And many of my peer relationships have ended up being friendships that have persisted outside of the work environment, which ultimately becomes a personal network.
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Then this amazing woman, full of design passion and willingness to learn everything she can, asked me to mentor her.
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