“Women should take better care of their finances”

Published on: 18 June 2021

How do you deal with work and money for now and for the future? Do you live one day at a time, or are you consciously planning your financial future? And are you going to take care of the future yourself or are you part of a pension fund?

Elisabeth van der Meer has just retired. But not completely: “I enjoy my work and I want others to be able to benefit from my experience.”



Elisabeth van der Meer (66)

Profession: was an entrepreneur, is now retired, but still working as a coach and trainer

Works: about 25 hours a week

Income: 10,000 Euros net per year, plus Old Age Security and pension around 2500 net per month.

Savings: “Enough”

Pension set up? Yes


You recently retired. Is it time to relax now?

“Not really; I didn’t stop working completely. I have changed my work into something I can organize the way I like it. I want to keep working, because I enjoy it, but also so that I can let others benefit from my experience. I’m a tax economist by trade. Now I am training and coaching people and giving workshops about mindset. I talk to them about money and better ways for them to think about it.”


What kinds of things do you tell them?

“I recently taught a course/workshop on women and money. I have noticed that women are still not sufficiently aware that they need to take care of themselves. They leave too much to their partners. But they should be informed themselves. From a social commitment standpoint, I think people, especially women, need to be more aware of the need for financial independence. If you are a woman who chooses to stay home with the children for a certain period of time, make sure that enough money is transferred to you during that time so that you can build up a pot of your own. Women, in general, should take better care of their finances. When my husband passed away, I had grief, but not misery. I’ve seen plenty of women around me who didn't have time to grieve and had to move in a hurry and were condemned to welfare. The safety nets for widowers and widows are very small, and unexpected deaths still occur. From both sides, it’s good to reflect on what happens when one person is gone, and the other one is left to face everything alone.”


How much are you still earning through your work?

“Around 10,000 Euros net per year. I invest a lot of that into the company. I don’t withdraw everything I earn from my business account.”


What kind of work did you used to do?

“I have always enjoyed being an entrepreneur. Apart from a few vacation jobs, I have never worked for a boss. My husband and I owned a motorcycle store together for 25 years, selling motorcycles and clothing and doing repairs. He was 23 years older than me, and we sold the business when he retired. My husband was 68, I was 45. We wanted to see how far we would get if we retired together. But after a few years, I started to feel restless, and I set up my own business. After he passed away, nine years ago, I expanded that a bit. I had to do some upgrading. Almost everyone I encounter in my work is younger than me, including the people who seek my advice.”

“When my husband passed away, I experienced grief, but not misery”

How did you and are you dealing with retirement?

“When we closed the business, there was a tax-deferred retirement reserve (FOR), and because we had a company, we both had it. I started looking into how you could have that FOR paid out. We had it calculated and then it turned out that, mainly because of our age difference, the standard payout until death for both of us would be a very meager amount.  So, we decided to do something different. We had my husband’s annuity payment commence for twenty years. My FOR was set aside so that it could grow for twenty years and would come to fruition when the annuity payment ended. We had counted on me being pensionable at 65, but it turned out not to be the case. I had a gap of one and a half years without Old Age Security and income from annuities. I bridged that gap with my income from assets and my business. As of July 1, I will receive Old Age Security and my annuity will be paid out, in morsels that I had set aside 22 years ago.”


How much do you get every month?

“Because I'm single, I get 1280 Euros from Old Age Security and about the same amount in annuities. Am I happy with that? It’s what I've accrued; I’ll have to make do with it. A few years ago, I made a big profit when I sold my house. I invested that in a smaller house. Now I have no mortgage payments. And on top of that I have income from my business, so in that sense the 2,500 Euros net per month is not bad. I can get by with it quite well. It's really great; everyone should have that.”


What are your fixed expenses?

“The standard monthly things: health insurance at 200 Euros, 100 Euros for the car, water and energy is 200, about 70 Euros for property valuation.


Do you have any savings?

“Yes, I accrued enough. After selling my house and buying a new one, I had some money left over and I invested that.”


You have investments?

“Some of it I invest because the interest rate on the savings account is so low. I’m a conservative investor, maybe a lazy one too. I invest in stocks for the long term. I don’t feel like delving into complicated investment products like options and don’t want to have to deal with them on a daily basis.”


What do you like to spend money on?

“I always enjoy any kind of traveling. I have a tent, but I also enjoy the occasional cruise. For this summer I’ve booked hotels in Germany for two weeks. I also can’t resist buying books. Especially non-fiction, on subjects that interest me. Spirituality, mysticism, philosophy, that sort of thing. I also like to spend money on wellness. Before I made the decision on how to handle the annuity, I worked with my accountant to create a financial plan. One of his assignments was to create a budget for me for what I thought I would need on a monthly basis. He asked me to outline three scenarios: one was the minimum, the second was a comfortable budget, and the third was an extravagant luxury budget. By doing that you find out what is important to you and what you like to spend money on. I also discovered that if I had a luxury budget, I would like to have a bigger pot to use for things like buying gifts and donating to charities. So, that’s a regular part of my budget now.”


How do you envision your retirement going forward?

“I sincerely hope to stay healthy in body and mind. That’s the main thing. In addition, I just expect to have an enjoyable and meaningful life. Especially meaningful, that’s important to me. My work and my family - a daughter, three bonus sons and seven grandchildren - are my pillars.”



Approximately half of the women in the Netherlands are financially dependent.

On www.realitycheck.nl, ABP discusses the pitfalls and interfaces in relation to financial empowerment in a clear way. In addition, the e-learning RealityCheck provides insight into money and behavior and motivates people to take care of their finances. Through anecdotes, facts and tips, the site offers insight and action perspectives in relevant life situations (divorce, part-time work, children). You can also sign up for a webinar on retirement.