Pat Donovan

If you could go back in time to prepare for retirement, would you do things differently? A lot of people wish they had beefed up their retirement savings.

When retirement plans get botched




Pat Donovan would have spent less money on fashions and invested more in an IRA. Her worst fear is to drop dead in her office cubicle. More …



Gigi Fernandez

Gigi Fernandez played professional tennis and made a lot of money in her youth, but she ran into some bad luck and made some unforced errors off the court. More …



Simma Lieberman

Simma Lieberman regrets her casual relationship with money. If she had to do it all over again, she would make money a priority. More …

Gigi Fernandez

Gigi’s story

“I assumed that I had saved enough to last a lifetime,” says former pro tennis player Gigi Fernandez. “I made quite a bit of money when I was playing — prize money, exhibitions, endorsement appearances.”

Unfortunately, that money didn’t last a lifetime. “My lifestyle didn’t change. One or two bad investments, a market crash here, a Ponzi scheme there, and lo and behold, there isn’t enough to last. So I have had to reinvent myself. Went back to school and got an MBA and now I am an entrepreneur.”

Fernandez isn’t alone in finding the waters of retirement perilous to navigate. In some ways, she is luckier than most, because at 46 she is young enough to get back in the game (so to speak) and set aside more money for her later-in-life needs.

“I founded a company called Baby Goes Pro that introduces young children to sports via a DVD,” she says. Though only a few months old, “we have had great things happen so far, including being part of the Easter Egg Roll at the White House and an order from Target to be in all their stores.” It helps that Fernandez can call Annika Sorenstam or Alex Rodriguez to pick their brains about the next sports video she is producing.

“I think two common mistakes people make when retiring is thinking that they have enough money saved to last them a lifetime and not adjusting their lifestyle to the current cash-flow situation,” she says.

Like many other people at or near retirement age, there’s a lot she would have done differently, if she’d known then what she knows now.

When retirement plans get botched


Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan would have spent less money on fashions and invested more in an IRA. Her worst fear is to drop dead in her office cubicle. More …



Gigi Fernandez

Gigi Fernandez played professional tennis and made a lot of money in her youth, but she ran into some bad luck and made some unforced errors off the court. More …



Simma Lieberman

Simma Lieberman regrets her casual relationship with money. If she had to do it all over again, she would make money a priority. More …

Simma Lieberman

Simma’s story

Simma Lieberman’s mistakes were those of omission. “I’m 60 years old, with a 15-year-old son,” she says. “I’ve been consulting, speaking and writing for over 20 years, have a great reputation and am known for my work and contribution to my field of consulting. Many of my friends and colleagues of my age have retired, or could if they wanted to. I’m not one of those people, because of many of the mistakes I’ve made and actions I didn’t take.”

Of the things she would have done differently, handling money differently tops the list. “I would have examined my relationship to money and learned how to plan,” she says. “For a long time I was great at saving and investing, until I had three crises that caused me to spend my savings, investments and home equity.” The crises included two different health problems that prevented her from working for long periods of time, and the sudden death of her partner, leaving her alone to raise their son on one income.

She says, “I would have spoken to a financial planner and not just a stockbroker. My broker was great but I really needed a spending plan. If I’d had a good spending plan, when the crises occurred I would have not kept spending, and I would still have equity, savings and stocks.” In other words, she would have adjusted her lifestyle to her cash flow.

“I would have invested more in my business and financial planning, and thought in terms of the actual return on investment, with my eye on the future,” she says. “I would have known how much I needed, what to cut back on, and taken more control over finances.”

All is not lost for Lieberman, however. She is determined not to make the same mistakes again. “As I’m getting a lot busier with clients, I now have a spending plan, and I’m keeping track of every dollar,” she says.

When retirement plans get botched


Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan would have spent less money on fashions and invested more in an IRA. Her worst fear is to drop dead in her office cubicle. More …



Gigi Fernandez

Gigi Fernandez played professional tennis and made a lot of money in her youth, but she ran into some bad luck and made some unforced errors off the court. More …



Simma Lieberman

Simma Lieberman regrets her casual relationship with money. If she had to do it all over again, she would make money a priority. More …

Pat Donovan

Pat’s story

Ask Pat Donovan — who works in media relations for a research university — what she would have done differently, and she quips, “I would have married a really rich guy.” On a more serious note, she says that with her current retirement assets, “I can never retire at all,” despite being near retirement age.

What she would have done differently? “I would have bought fewer lottery tickets and put the money in the bank instead. J. Jill, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang — phooey. I would have kept my weight very light and bought cheaper linen tunics and cunning bags. I would have stuffed as much of my own money into an alternative retirement account as was humanly possible.”

Failing that, she says, “I would have become a con artist while I still had the looks and lined up a few sugar daddies, who might have taken the edge off. Because, trust me, there is nothing worse than looking down a time tunnel and seeing yourself croaked at your desk in a gray cubicle with Microsoft Outlook running in front of your dead eyes.”

When retirement plans get botched


Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan would have spent less money on fashions and invested more in an IRA. Her worst fear is to drop dead in her office cubicle. More …



Gigi Fernandez

Gigi Fernandez played professional tennis and made a lot of money in her youth, but she ran into some bad luck and made some unforced errors off the court. More …



Simma Lieberman

Simma Lieberman regrets her casual relationship with money. If she had to do it all over again, she would make money a priority. More …

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