Lynn Toomey: Hey there. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Walk the Talk Podcast by Her Retirement. I am your host, Lynn Toomey, and this week, you’re going to be listening into an interview that I did as part of the Smart Money With Women interview series. I am interviewed by the host of that series, Sarah Shavir, and we talk all about retirement planning for women, and some of the challenges that we women face as we address our retirement preparedness. As always, if you have any questions, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and enjoy the interview.
Sarah: Hey Lynn, I am so happy that you’re here today, because I want to learn a little bit more about Her Retirement, because there’s something that women don’t think about, is to retire. And I’m pretty sure that it is not about that, “Now I’m just going to be sitting in a chair, drinking margaritas for the rest of my life.” Right? Because I know that as women, we love to do things; but there has to be something… We do have to think about that. But before we get there, I want to know a little bit about you. Tell us about you. What is your journey? What have been the challenges, the struggles that has helped you to become a Smart Woman With Money?
Lynn Toomey: Okay. Well, I actually had a mom, or have a mom; she’s still my best friend and my hero, my inspiration. And she just taught me that I shouldn’t depend on anyone else; that I should get my education, and have a career that I can count on. So that was probably the best advice that I ever had, because I followed her advice. Some children don’t follow their parents’ advice; but I followed her advice. Got my, not only my undergrad, but I got my master’s degree. And I went into high-tech. I went into high tech marketing, and I put money in my 401k, and I did everything I was supposed to. I owned a home by 25. I started a family. And then, what I tell people is, always have a plan B, because plan A doesn’t always work out the way you suspect.
So, like lots of people, I had my ups and downs, and you just have to overcome those. And again, have a plan B. I got divorced. I had some financial devastation as a result of that divorce.
Sarah: Tell us a little bit more about that. I know that that’s a… It’s a tricky part, but a lot of women are going through that, or have gone through that, when it comes to a divorce and their finances. How did that look like at that point?
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. It was mostly emotional, because I always felt confident that I could overcome anything physical, financial. So it was more mental. I think a lot of times, you have to take responsibility, and you kind of have to just dig deep and pull yourself up. So for me, it was more, I didn’t want to be divorced; it was not what I had pictured for my life. And I was very much a planner, and I knew that I wanted to have a family, a husband. My mom was divorced when I was eight, and I didn’t want to live in an apartment as a divorced woman.
And as much as my mom made our life great, I just wanted to see what another picture would look like. And so I think it was just accepting that that dream was not going to happen, and that it wasn’t… I had to come to the point of saying, “It’s not bad. It’s just different. I’m going to have a different life.”
And the financial devastation, I guess, at the time, felt devastating. And I’m still feeling the effects of that, like, “Okay, if this didn’t happen, this is where I would be.” But life happens, and you just have to accept it.
And so when you get to that point of acceptance, then you can move on, and focus. I have this picture in my office that said… It’s a beautiful road through these mountains in Utah that I actually took. And it said, “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.” So I think that’s the message that I have, because I think so many women, as they’re facing retirement, may say to themselves, “Oh, I’m too late. I did this wrong. I did that wrong.” And it’s like, “Don’t focus on what’s happened in the past. You need to focus on the future, going forward.” So I think that was a good lesson, a hard lesson. I got it fairly young; and I hope I never have to live through that again.
And in addition, I had children; so there’s always the children aspect of it: the guilt, the “What could I do different?” All of those emotions come into it. And you just have to do the best you can, and focus on your children, focus on your wellness: mental, physical, and then your financial, also.
So there’s a lot of things at play. We have Certified Divorce Consultants that I wish I had one at the time. They’re not a divorce attorney, but they focus more on the financial aspects of working with women through that divorce process. And there’s something called the Graying of Divorce in America, where many people, as they approach retirement, end up getting divorced. So I think that’s even more critical period of time, to make sure that you are protecting yourself financially as you go through that divorce. Perhaps you’ve never worked, or you’ve relied on your husband to take care of those things; really try to connect with a Certified Divorce Consultant. It will be really worth it at the end of the day.
Sarah: So then after your divorce, you find yourself in a completely different situation that I thought, that you were going to be. What happened after that?
Lynn Toomey: So what happened after that is, I just started rebuilding my life the way that I was going to envision it, the way I had envisioned my plan B. Just kind of regrouped and said, “What is it that I want to do in my life?” And then a few years later, I met my significant other, and people say, “Oh, are you going to get married?” And I’m like, “Ha. There’s really no reason for that. It’s just a piece of paper.”
Sarah: It’s a choice. It’s a choice.
Lynn Toomey: It’s a piece of paper. So we joke about it. I kind of grew up with that fairytale idea; the white dress and the big wedding. And I’ve kind of like been there, done that, so I just-
Sarah: The Cinderella story.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. The knight that’s going to jump in and save you. And I didn’t have a lot of time with my dad. He was living, but he wasn’t much a part of my younger life. So the idea of having the husband and the father and be saved, because pretty much, we were somewhat abandoned by my father. It just kind of stuck in my head, that someone would come in and save me. And the reality is, you have to save yourself. So that’s what I focused on.
I was in corporate America, so I had a good income. I had a way to make money. Thankfully, I took my mom’s advice, and I focused on that. And then I met my significant other; and he’s been an investment advisor for 30-some odd years now. And he wanted some help with some marketing, and asked me to help him. And I was working for other people at the time. So I said, “Well, I’ll volunteer for a little bit.” But after a while, I said, “Okay, let’s rebrand your company to focus on retirement.” Because a lot of his clients were getting older and needed help.
So we rebranded his company. It’s called Your Retirement Advisor. And he does the traditional… Well, non-traditional, I should say, because he’s not an investment advisor. He’s traditional, in the sense of focusing on investments in his previous practice. But now what he does is he really works with men, women, couples, you name it, on that very last five years before retirement; and trying to figure out how you’re going to take your retirement savings, and create a retirement paycheck. And he has all these special portfolios and things that he does. So he’s an advisor, a Series 7, a Series 65. And I am not.
So in that process of working with him over seven years, at some point, I came across the fact that women have such greater risks and challenges that they’re going to face. And I didn’t really see them being addressed specifically. So I really love to do research. And so one day, I said, “You know what? Somebody needs to focus on her retirement.” And then I said, “Wait. Her Retirement.” So I Googled it. I went on GoDaddy, reserved the URL, not really knowing for sure what I wanted it to become. And now it’s my life’s mission to help more women, what I say, “Know more and have more.”
And I’m 56 today, and I have a podcast called Walk the Talk, because I am going through the same process that many of the women that I hope to coach and educate on retirement; going through the same process that they’re going through. I’m thinking more about retirement. I’m preparing for retirement. Some of my friends are already retiring now. And yeah, it’s a journey. And I tell women that I’m taking the journey right alongside many of them.
Sarah: So how does that look like?
Lynn Toomey: What does my retirement look like?
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. How does that look like? Because I don’t think… There’s a lot of women that they don’t… They say, “I will never retire. I have to work for the rest of my life. I don’t have an option. It’s too late for me.” First of all, how do you manage that? And then second one is, how does that process of Her Retirement look like?
Lynn Toomey: Right. So I think there’s… Women fall into a few different categories, of course, just like in life before retirement. But for the women that find themselves… They wake up and they go, “Whoa. I’m 55, or I’m 60, and I’m not prepared.” I think two things on that point.
I’m writing a book, and the first line of the book says, “This book is about retirement; but do you even want to retire?” Because I’ve been doing a lot of interviews for the book. And so many women that I meet with say, “Well, I don’t even want to retire. I’m just getting started.” So we’re definitely not living our grandparents’ retirement. I’ve seen pictures of my grandmother at my age. She’s in a big frocky dress, and she’s got her apron on, and she’s got her permed hair, and she’s in the kitchen. And I’m out doing triathlons and climbing mountains and starting companies.
Sarah: Very different.
Lynn Toomey: It’s very different. So number one, you don’t have to retire. The concept of retirement was at 62, you stop working, and like you said, maybe you-
Sarah: Collect your pension.
Lynn Toomey: Collect your pension; and your husband gets a pension, and you two live to 68, 70, 75, whatever it was. So, going for and against women is longevity. So it’s a good thing; but it also means that if you retire at 55, 60, because you feel like you can, you need to make sure you’re going to be able to live 30, 40 years. You could live longer in “retirement” than you did in your working years. So I think women need to really think long and hard about that longevity factor, and make sure that they are doing those projections to make sure their money’s going to last as long as it might need to. “Project out to 100,” is what I say.
But for the woman that basically says, “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to retire.” Money can’t buy happiness, but it does buy choices. But if you find that you’ve waited too long, or you’ve had obstacles that didn’t allow you to save what you need to save, there are some specific things you can do.
Number one, most important; if you find yourself in a situation where you have to work longer, you really need to pay attention to your health, because without your health, you’re not going to be able to do that. So really, really need to pay attention to your health if you’re in that position where you have to work longer.
Two, you need to make sure that you keep yourself “employable,” right? Keep your skills sharp. Again, take care of yourself. Right? Try to find the industries. If you need to get retrained, try to find the industries and opportunities where age is not as much a factor, right? Number one, we’re women. Number two, we do face some ageism issues as we get older.
But I think with the aging of the Baby Boomer population, and the number of Baby Boomers; there’s 12,000 “retiring a day.” I think that the world is going to pick up on that and say, “We have all these highly skilled workers.” And there’s going to be more opportunities created for older workers. I do believe that.
Sarah: I do see that, for multiple reasons. First of all, like you said, a lot of the Baby Boomers are highly skilled, and they have the capacity to keep working. And then I see that the Millennials are not looking to do those particular jobs. They’re actually looking to do different things, right? It’s kind of like a complete different generation.
Lynn Toomey: Right.
Sarah: And the other thing that I wanted to mention, that you were saying regarding keeping your health. I do understand that for normally, if something happened to a man, they normally are more likely to pass away. Women, we become disabled, if we don’t take care of ourselves. So I think that that nugget that you’ve mentioned about taking care of your health is super important.
And then one more thing is that, aside from “keep yourself employable,” I do feel and believe that a lot of women are like us. That we will like to be our own boss. We don’t want anybody else to determine our net worth or our worth, right, or how much we’re worth. So sometimes we are looking for alternative; and now with the online world, right, and the coaching world, we are looking at even more opportunities for us to become our own business and self-employed. So I do believe that a lot. So yes, I agree on that. I just want to mention about that; that yes, keep your skills. It’s important to keep learning and keep your skills sharp.
Lynn Toomey: Yes. Baby Boomers… And I don’t know the statistics for women specifically, but Baby Boomers are launching businesses at a higher rate than other demographics. And they are creating these passion-based businesses. Oftentimes women, actually at any age, women typically prefer to launch businesses for impact versus income. And I think as you get older… I was actually just speaking to my best friend. And she’s a physician assistant, and she’s talked about, “I want to recreate myself now that I’m 60, but I’m not sure what it is. But I want it to have some impact. And it could still be in the medical field, but it’s just kind of shifting a little bit.”
So I think if a woman finds herself behind, or feels behind, there are some specific financial strategies that one can consider, before kind of throwing the towel in, or saying, “Oh, this is never going to work.”
Sarah: Please share those with us.
Lynn Toomey: Number one is making sure that they look at their social security. There are… A lot of Americans leave over a hundred thousand dollars on the table, not doing the right, or choosing the right social security strategies. So there are some social security strategies that need to be considered, depending upon your situation. Ex spouses, and if a spouse has passed away, there’s spousal benefits. There’s options for maybe not taking your social security right away, delaying social security. So that’s very important, is to consider your social security options. A second one-
Sarah: Before you continue with the second one, I do want to do a side note on the social security. Unfortunately, a lot of my clients, when I talk to them, they are counting as social security as their full income, their total income, not as supplemental income. So they need to understand that social security is not their full income, right? They need to understand that it’s just a supplemental income. And then, the way that social security is going right now, we have to be very careful that the same thing that happened in Greece doesn’t happen to us, right? The government at any time, they can decide that the retirement age is no longer going to be 67 years old. And they can say, “It’s going to be 70 now.” And things like that. So we have to be prepared and understand that social security is a supplemental income. Go ahead, sorry.
Lynn Toomey: Yes. Yeah, no, I agree. It’s it accounts for 33% of the typical retiree’s income sources. So I think the second thing that… And a lot of what women don’t understand is the implication of taxes. So by doing tax planning, you can be much more efficient. So sometimes these strategies are just taking what you have, and trying to be more efficient with what you have. And by being more efficient, you may be in a better position than you thought you were. So tax planning is huge, because there are different strategies for once you start; let’s say you have some savings, and you start pulling that money from your savings. There’s ways to take that money and create your retirement paycheck much more tax efficiently. Social security is taxed. It’s all based on provisional income. So when you do these projections of your retirement income, you need to consider everything, because they all play together. They’re all integrated together. So tax planning is huge.
Another opportunity that many women might not know about, is if they own a home, and they have more than 60% equity in their home, they may qualify for a reverse mortgage. And a reverse mortgage is a really good income buffer, potentially, depending upon your situation. It’s not good for everyone, but statistics show… In fact, one researcher, because I follow a lot of the researchers in this space, he calls it the Swiss Army Knife of retirement planning, because with that equity in your home, which is a dead asset, you can use it to fund a long-term care incident. You could use it just as an income buffer. You could use it to pull money until your social security kicks in. Or perhaps you want to wait on your social security, because you’re going to get that 8% increase, plus your COLA increase. And so maybe it makes sense to do a reverse mortgage. But again, it all depends on your situation. There’s always different-
Sarah: Yeah, there’s always different. But those are options.
Lynn Toomey: Right. There are options. There’s different strategies. I would say that if, for any woman, because of taxes, I would say to open a Roth IRA, and start putting as much money as you can in a Roth IRA. Because I believe taxes are going to go up, and you want to pay as little taxes down the road as possible. So I would definitely say start a Roth.
The other thing is, usually-
Sarah: The problem with the Roth is that you have to be employed, right, in order to be able to…
Lynn Toomey: Yeah.
Sarah: If you are self-employed, then you have to look for other alternative. And one of them could be a PPLI; you don’t need to have a job in order to be able to do that. So that’s another alternative, yeah.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. You need your earned income. And then the other thing, the other strategy before retirement, is to open an HSA, which is a Health Savings Account. A lot of people mix it up with a FSA, which has to be used in the year that you get it. But HSA is a triple-tax advantaged Health Savings Account. And basically, it’s probably the most advantaged tax investment type of thing you can do.
Healthcare is going to be one of the largest expenses for a woman in retirement. So put some money into that HSA; max that out if you can, prior to retirement. And of course, for the women that find themselves in retirement, and they’re considered “impoverished,” there’s Medicaid. So Medicaid is a government program that can help women that are below that income threshold. So, I guess my point is that there’s many more. I know we don’t have a ton of time, but there’s a lot of different strategies. So, I would hook up with a retirement advisor who understands these strategies; take a look at what you have. Sometimes women don’t want to look; men too, but we’re talking about women. So, women don’t want to look. So my message is, “Look. You have to understand what you have. You have to understand what you’re going to need realistically, and where that gap is. And then, buckle down, and try to address that gap.”
I’m doing that myself. I’m in the process of selling a second sports car, because there was two sitting in my garage, only being used not very much on the weekend. And so, we had a conversation. Yeah. My significant other and I had a conversation about it. And I listed his car first for sale on Craigslist. And we’re watching TV a few weeks ago. He said, “I just got a text. Someone wants to buy my car. How is that possible?” I said, “Because I posted it for sale.” And he said, “You sold my car on me.” And I said, “We had this conversation. I’m all about action. I’m all about action. You don’t just talk about it. You get it done.” So my whole expression at Her Retirement is, “Get her done.”
So I’m like, “Buddy, you said you wanted to sell it. Let’s sell it.”
Sarah: Yeah. Take action.
Lynn Toomey: Take action.
Sarah: Definitely, definitely. So what would you say to somebody that says, “Hey, it’s too late for me.”
Lynn Toomey: Well, number one, I would say, “Before you throw in the towel, let’s see what you’ve got. Right? See what you’ve got. Try to estimate what you think you’ll need in retirement, and then determine your gap. And then, let’s talk about the ways you’re going to potentially fill that gap.” Okay? There’s a lot of different ways. And if it comes down to it that you have to continue working; life is choices. Oftentimes, sometimes you don’t have a choice; but I believe that regardless of the situation, you have a choice of how you react to it. My mother always said, “Life is 20% what happens to you. The other 80% is how you react to it.”
Sarah: Your mom is a very smart woman.
Lynn Toomey: It used to drive me crazy when she said that, when I was crying about something. And now my girls and my son have heard that ad nauseum. But I think the point is that you have to face whatever is your situation. And it might be that you have to work longer. And so, I think a lot of life is how you think about things, right? Your brain is so powerful, and yeah, maybe you’re in a really, really bad situation. Maybe you can’t stand your boss. Maybe you’re tired of the commute; whatever it is, but consider some options. Can you change your job? Can you get training? Can you start a side hustle at night? Let’s talk through some of these options, and see if these are options.
Can you live with a sibling, with a friend? Communal living is becoming very popular with women, because it saves a lot of money. And the number one deterrent of longevity is relationships. So you have these built-in friends. I have friends; we say, “If we all survive our husbands and we’re alone, let’s all shack up together, and do the communal living thing.” But it is becoming a realistic opportunity.
So I’ve always been one to, in situations where it seems very bad… I got laid off from a company that was going public. I had a lot of stock options. And I remember being on my bathroom floor, literally being physically ill, because I was replaced by a man, and who I didn’t feel was as qualified as me. And I just remember just being so sick to my stomach at the loss, at the hit on my ego. And I kind of wallowed, felt sorry for myself for about a week. And I said, “You know what? This isn’t going to get me anywhere. I’m not going forward by sitting here feeling sorry for myself.” So I pulled it together, and I moved on. And I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going to make a lot more money from this company. I just had to let it go.
Sarah: What happened with the stocks?
Lynn Toomey: Well, I was actually with this company before they went public. So I went through the IPO.
Sarah: Oh, okay. Okay.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. So you would vest. So if I continued to work there, I would have vested. I got my lump, I got my initial stock amount, which was great. It was more money than I had ever thought I would have in my lifetime. But, I was planning to keep working there.
Sarah: Of course.
Lynn Toomey: And every month you worked there, you would vest more and more. And so I was blindsided. There was no indication. It was two months after I was named Employee of the Year. Yeah. I was completely-
Sarah: Oh. No. Oh, that doesn’t make any sense. Wow.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. That’s definitely impactful.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah.
Lynn Toomey: It was very, very… That was probably the… Other than my divorce, that was hard, because I was 100% committed to the company. It was my life.
Sarah: You were blindsided, like you said.
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. Yeah. So I am a huge proponent of making sure you have that plan B. But I was young. I was loyal. I just didn’t understand that corporate America can be extremely harsh. And both my parents; my mother was a school teacher. My father had his own business. And so, no one warned me that your loyalty, your hard work, sometimes doesn’t matter.
Sarah: It doesn’t matter. Yeah.
Lynn Toomey: In fact, years later, I got contacted by the… She was the administrative assistant for the company. And she said that the founder was having a reunion, and was reaching out to former employees to come. And I said… I politely declined. “I will not be participating in that reunion, because that was probably one of the worst days of my life when they let me go. And I have no desire to see any of those people.” The people that made the decision, not my friends. I stayed friends with my coworkers.
Sarah: Of course.
Lynn Toomey: But the people that were part of the decision… So yeah, I-
Sarah: They don’t deserve your time. They didn’t deserve your time in the first place, anymore. For sure.
Lynn Toomey: No. No. No. No. And I don’t like to be… I’m not a spite spiteful person by nature, but that’s what I said. “They don’t deserve my time. They don’t deserve to know what I’ve done with my life. And that I took all the great lessons that I learned there, and I’ve launched my own companies. Thank you very much.”
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. So it’s all about perseverance. But again, it’s all… I do believe that life is what you do with your mind. I talk to myself all the time. I give myself pep talks. I’m super competitive, so in my mind, I’m always saying, “You know what? Don’t wimp out. You can do this.” And so, that’s what I want women to do, is to try to push the fear aside, find that strength, and push forward. Focus on the future, make sure you understand your situation: the good, the bad, the ugly. Because that’s the only, only way to truly address it; is to acknowledge it, put it down on paper, put it down in writing, put your intentions down, and then just work. “Work like a bugger,” as my mother used to say.
Sarah: Yes. I think that we could talk about this for days and weeks, for sure. But I know that you have a free gift for our audience, so they can actually get in touch with you, and learn more about these strategies. What do you have for them?
Lynn Toomey: Yeah. So basically, in that vein of getting to understand what you have, what you’ll need; is my free gift is five different steps that you’re going to go through to uncover what you have, what you’ll need, and where your potential gaps are.
Sarah: That’s nice.
Lynn Toomey: So when you go to the free gift page, you’ll fill out a short form. It will give you access to these tools. They’re exercises, because I believe in taking action. So you’ll go through the exercises to understand again, what you have, what you’ll need, what your gaps are. You have two options when you do this; I have the “old fashioned” way to do this, where you can download some documents to help you complete these exercises. Or you can have access to a proprietary software program that I’ve created. I’ve been building it for two years. Because at 54, why not build a software program?
Sarah: Of course. Of course.
Lynn Toomey: What else is there to do? Forget the margaritas on the beach. I’m sitting at my laptop building software. So there’s this software application; you can actually go in, enter all your financial information. It will come back and tell you, the software will tell you, where some of your potential gaps are.
Lynn Toomey: There’s also e-classes in there. So if you feel like you don’t know what you should about social security or long-term care or investments, there are e-classes. So there’s an e-learning platform within the software. All kinds of goodies in there. So you can get free access to that software, and you can take the modern approach to figuring this out, having it calculate things for you; or you can complete the worksheets. Either way.
Sarah: That is awesome. The most important thing that I got from from you today is, “Look it up. Don’t put it aside. Think about it. Take action. Again, it is about knowing what your options are, in order to take charge of your finances, your life, and become a Smart Woman with Money.” Right?
Lynn Toomey: Yes. Yes.
Sarah: Absolutely. Thank you, Lynn. This has been amazing. And I really appreciate that you have taken the time to share all of this with our audience. And make sure to click on the link, and take advantage of the free gift that Lynn has provided for all of us.
Lynn Toomey: Okay. Thank you very much.
Sarah: No problem. Have a good day.
Lynn Toomey: Bye-bye.
Lynn Toomey: Hey there. Lynn, here again. I hope you enjoyed that interview. And as I said, please email me at email@example.com. If you have any questions, I’m always available to help. And as I always like to say at the end of my podcast episodes, “Go out and get her done.”