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In Hindsight – wise money lessons I wish I could tell my younger self

Retiring too hastily

with Lily Mason


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Kim Potgieter

Kim Potgieter

March 1, 2023
In my previous blog, I shared the top money tip I live with – paying yourself first. This month I’ll introduce you to Lily Mason, a midlife client with sage advice for her younger self – and lessons that we hope everyone in midlife (and younger) will benefit from and learn from. These lessons come from a place of experience, of having made real mistakes that we’ll all be able to resonate with; and represent the wisdom of having lived and learnt.

I will be introducing you to a new midlife client every month to find out what they would have done differently knowing what they know now. We’ll share midlife money lessons that have served us well, and also the worst money advice and habits you should never follow. There is no better place to learn and grow than talking to people who have experienced the trials and tribulations of transitioning into a new chapter in midlife in beyond. I hope these lessons (and regrets) will inspire you to pay attention to your lives now – no matter your age.

Now, let me introduce you to Lily Mason.

Introducing Lily Mason

I met Lily and her husband 17 years ago on holiday. We reconnected when Lily arrived at my Claremont Midlife Money Makeover book launch last year – and I am so grateful that I now get to spend more time with her as a Chartered client.

Lily worked for one large corporate all her life until she decided to take early retirement. When I asked Lily what the most defining moment in her entire life was, her answer was retiring. If you’re only 58 years old and have given 30 years of your life to one company, it is understandably traumatic when you are suddenly faced with life without work. Lily’s life was her work; it was why she got up every morning.

Lily is now faced with one burning question: What will her next chapter look like? If you’re reading this and, in your twenties, or thirties, you may think 58 is a great time to throw in the towel and stop working. But ask anyone in midlife, and they’ll tell you that 50+ is young and the perfect time to find purpose and meaning with immeasurable knowledge and wisdom on your side.

Lily’s money lessons

Question
You worked for the same company for 30 years. What did they do right for you to stay? Would you do it all again knowing what you know now?

Answer
Yes, I would do it all over again! The company created many exciting opportunities for me – not always a promotion but also lateral moves. I was passionate about the company and its brand, I loved working hard, enjoyed the people, and never considered moving to a different job. But given the inequality of women at work during my time, I’ve had to work so much harder to get ahead. It’s different these days.

In hindsight, I should have led a more balanced life. Work was my life. That was my focus. I regret not focusing on other things I love and spending time on my hobbies.

Question
How are you doing now emotionally a few months into not working?

Answer
My intention was to work until the age of 65. I realise now that my decision to retire early was made too hastily. I should have taken time out to pause, think and reflect.

In hindsight, work was always my purpose, and now it’s difficult not having a purpose. I now need to plan for the second chapter of my life, and it would have been so much easier if I had these plans in place before retiring. Emotionally I need to regain my confidence, enthusiasm and optimism.

Question
Do you have any money advice now that you wish you knew earlier in life?

Answer
Yes, I should have chosen and formed a relationship with a financial planner much sooner – and the planner should be younger than me. I don’t want to forge a new relationship with a planner when I’m in my 70s.

In hindsight, choose your planner wisely and form a long-term relationship. Choose a planner that will outlive you.

Question
What did you do right? What are you proud of?

Answer
At work, I was the first woman appointed to many positions. I am proud and grateful to have mentored and shared my knowledge with many co-workers.

In hindsight, if your work gives you purpose and aligns with your values, then you’re in the right place.

Question
What advice do you have for your younger self?

Answer
Don’t be solely career driven. Listen more and spend time with people you love. There is more to life than work.

Question
Let’s talk money. What money habits are you proud of?

Answer

  1. Prioritising servicing my debt as soon as possible.
  2. Prioritising paying off the bond
  3. Settling the credit card debt in full every month.
  4. Never purchasing anything I could not afford.

Question
In hindsight, what money habits do you regret?

Answer

  1. I wish I had a better understanding of my RA contributions and returns
  2. I wish I’d made my money work for me. Cash is not king, and I could have had a better return if I had invested my money.
  3. I wish we had a financial planner who understood our lives and money.

I am so grateful to Lily for sharing her successes and failures and wish her the courage to transition from a successful career to a significant life.

Always remember, when it comes to your money, be inspired, be brave and be on purpose,

Kim

Click here to read my advice to Lily

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