The Freedom Kit: The guide to investing at every stage of your life

Women live longer than men and so need a different financial strategy that works long-term and incorporates their different life stages. Here’s how to do it

Women in particular benefit from breaking down their approach to investing into distinct life stages, says Carol Brick, which tend to be more varied than men’s

For those fortunate enough to have money at their disposal, beyond their living expenses, getting savings and investment right helps to meet long-term financial goals and enjoy more security.

The concept of investing can appear complicated, but is not any more so than most money decisions, especially if you take the time to read up and get professional advice. Most independent financial advisors will not charge for initial consultation, as they make their fees ultimately if you commit to an investment or protection product.

How are women investors different?

Women face different challenges when accumulating wealth. They tend to earn less, have maternity leave, take career breaks to raise families, often work part-time, and live longer. Women providing unpaid care for children and/or for ageing parents is a growing issue too, as people live longer.

Analysts can identify an investment gender gap. Women tend to invest with a longer-term focus and are more inclined towards investments that meet ESG criteria (environment, social and governance). We also tend to be more risk-averse, taking a conservative approach to money. Women hold a larger proportion of wealth in the form of real estate or other tangible assets.

Lifecycle Investing

Reconciling the wealth and investment gender gap, a lower risk tolerance, and women’s higher longevity are all important when it comes to investment strategy.

Lifecycle investing applies to everyone, but women in particular benefit from breaking down their approach to investing into distinct life stages, which tend to be more varied than men’s. Think long-term, but look at the unique financial needs defining each stage of life, and adjust to reflect financial goals and needs as they evolve.

The aim is to put your money to work at every stage, not to miss opportunities like compound interest and higher returns, and, thereby, to help build a more secure financial future.

Spending less time in the workforce can have far-reaching financial effects, possibly reducing participation in pension schemes, or curbing career trajectories and the associated pay increases. On average, in Ireland, women live about five years longer than men, so, because of career interruptions, many women are living longer on less income.


The Young Investor

Many women in their 20s and 30s take an interest in investing for the first time. They often go for short to medium-term goals, over long-term retirement planning, which leads them to invest in assets with relatively low risk and higher liquidity, that they can access in the short term. This doesn’t produce the highest return, but investment portfolios and products like State-backed bonds will still outperform regular savings.

The aim is to beat inflation, and generally, you have a fair chance of a decent return, if you can invest for at least five to ten years. Shares are higher risk than State or corporate bonds, and an advisor will explain how to diversify funds across different asset classes and risk profiles, like shares and bonds.

Different sectors and countries, for example emerging markets like India, or developed ones like the U.S., offer vastly different investment options. Spreading investments can help level out fluctuations or price falls, making it easier to weather the bad times and benefit from the good.

Investments and markets are actually fascinating subjects, and books or beginner courses, which are readily available countrywide or online, are a good investment, in themselves, for any young person, or an older one!

I would also say that, when starting out in your career, it is a very sensible move to invest in your education, skills, and career development, to increase your earning potential and financial independence.

Photo by Tatsiana Volkava

Mid-life Investment

The investment behaviour of women aged 30-50 tends to evolve as they develop their careers, manage family responsibilities, and become more financially established. Significant life changes such as marriage or starting a family lead to increased financial responsibility. This brings more focus on long-term financial planning, like investing for retirement and children's education.

It is important, if this is the case, to talk about money with your partner and ensure you are both on the same page in terms of savings, investments, and how to address future financial needs.

Deferring to a partner or spouse completely on investment decisions and financial planning can be a very risky option. Talk about money, take an interest, and set ground rules for both of you, if necessary.

Look closely at your income prospects and stability, family responsibilities, and estimated future financial needs. Having a pension at this stage, as I tell people over and over, is the most crucial and cost-effective long-term savings option that anyone can get. Pensions are a form of spread investment, with incredible tax advantages that essentially top up the savings pot.

If you have additional earnings, a bonus or a windfall, you can always add it to a pension too, bearing in mind that this form of saving is meant to be drawn down on retirement, to avoid losing out on its full benefits.

If you are in the happy position of having extra cash again, do take advice on stock markets and other investments. And, while you may be inclined to be risk-averse, it is important to find a balance between risk and return that aligns with your goals.

Photo by Ira T. Nicolai


Women aged over 55 tend to focus on retirement planning, wealth preservation, and risk management, as they approach retirement and navigate various life transitions.

Many prioritise safer investments that generate stable income streams to support their lifestyle during retirement. Again, diversification is key to managing risk in any investment portfolio. A spread across different asset classes like stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternative investments will reduce the impact of market volatility.

It is also time to check pension funds when tax-free lump sums can be drawn down, and what, if any, annuity should be considered for funds not immediately needed.

Many women in this age bracket consider when to start claiming State benefits, and how to optimise their benefits to maximise lifetime income. They may look at strategies, such as delaying benefits to receive higher monthly payments, or coordinating spousal benefits such as tax allowances to maximise household income.

Don't overlook the importance of estate planning too, including drafting a will, setting up trusts, possibly buying into insurance products that minimise inheritance tax for your family, and designating beneficiaries for your assets. Review and update your plan regularly too, to reflect changes in your life circumstances and needs.

Carol Brick is Managing Director of CWM Wealth Management and HerMoney. A qualified financial advisor, she specialises in the area of Asset and Wealth Management. See or for more details.

About HerMoney

HerMoney provides tailor-made financial solutions to self-employed professional women and service contractors all over Ireland. With offices in both Cork and Dublin, the business is a sister company to the long-established CWM Wealth Management.