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When it comes to finances, a lot depends on the financial narratives we tell ourselves. In fact, there are some myths out there that could be holding many of us back (or at least giving us the excuse to not move forward).

I took to LinkedIn and posted a series of polls to see what the feedback would be on some pretty common money assumptions. Here are the results…and here are the answers.

 

 

The Answer:

The majority were right!

According to Directions Credit Union, “Single men outspent single women. Men spent an average of $41,203 a year as opposed to $38,838 by women. It’s important to note, though, that the median earning data from the Census Current Population Survey found that overall, women are paid about 17% less than men.”

So, why do some people think that women spend more? The Fem Word had this to say:

“…a lot of it has to do with popular media. Movies have long depicted female “shopaholics” as main or major characters. The archetypal “rich girl” or heiress is also ubiquitous in Hollywood, and jet-setting celebrities such as the Kardashian sisters or Paris Hilton have only reinforced the image in our popular imagination.”

In other words, don’t believe everything you see in the media. And keep working on getting that pay raise.

 

 

The Answer:

The majority got it right again!

Unfortunately, this statistic is true. “While more than half of Americans (56%) say they currently invest in the stock market, this is only true for 48% of women, compared to 66% of men, according to a new NerdWallet survey.”

HOWEVER, it’s important to note that according to Fidelity’s 2021 Women and Investing Study, women’s returns were 0.4% higher than men’s.

Another interesting statistic from the same study: Eighty-six percent of women agree that having their investments managed by professionals makes life less stressful.

Bottom line: Get started, take control of your finances, and ask a professional to help.

 

The Answer:

This one was interesting because “nonfinancial household roles” can have a big impact on family finances.

According to the Federal Reserve

Marketing polls and survey data indicate that American women have a large role in consumption decisions undertaken by the typical household in today's consumer markets. As household managers, women supervise the budget for and purchase of many of the highest-cost items consumed by American families. These items include food, clothing, childcare, eldercare, health care, transportation, family communication networks (including cell phone and computer purchases), vacations, and, finally, financial services and products.

One recent market survey reports that women account for 80 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions, making 93 percent of food purchases and 65 percent of auto purchases, for example.6 Because women engage in more of the family shopping, they are more consistently aware of price changes and inflation. Women running households know just what it takes to make the budget stretch and how to navigate changing market prices, and they are engaged in more financial and consumer decision-making than at any other time in our social history.

In other words, as most women still take on primary caregiving duties (along with a ton of other stuff), they’re pretty much running the financial show at home as well.

 

 

The Answer:

Sorry, majority. This one is FALSE. It just feels true. And here’s why:

New research by Berkeley Haas Professor Laura Kray shows the belief that women don’t ask for higher pay is not only outdated, but it may be hurting pay equity efforts. Contrary to popular belief, professional women now report negotiating their salaries more often than men, but they get turned down more often, Kray found. 

“While men in the past may have been more likely than women to negotiate, the gender difference has since reversed,” says Kray, the Ned and Carol Spieker Chair in Leadership. “Continuing to put the blame on women for not negotiating away the gender pay gap does double damage, perpetuating gender stereotypes and weakening efforts to fight them.

If people believe men have better outcomes simply because they negotiate and women don’t, then they think we just need to train women to negotiate better rather than fixing a discriminatory system,” Kray says. “We call this a ‘legitimizing myth.’”

Let’s just call this what it is: it’s victim shaming. The narrative is that women don’t negotiate as well as men, when the truth is that it’s the system that’s stacked against us. Yes, we’re slowly seeing change, but it can’t come soon enough.

Keep asking for those raises.

 

What We’ve Learned

When it comes to limiting beliefs about money, a lot of them are ingrained in us because of what society tells us. We have been groomed to believe that we’re not as savvy and we don’t have the same skills as men when in reality women wear so many hats…why WOULDN’T we be better with money than men?

It’s all about overcoming those stereotypes and not giving false narratives the attention they want. Invest, budget, and negotiate and you’ll likely get the outcome you’re looking for.

Ready to be one of those 86% of women who are less stressed because they work with an advisor? Let’s talk.

I don’t know about you, but the world of healthcare has just gotten more and more confusing to me. Looking at benefit options each year is like trying to decipher a secret language; sometimes it’s hard to even ask questions because I don’t know what to ask.

Unfortunately, as a woman, I know that I need to stay on top of things.

Now, the point of this article is not to bag on a lot of the hardworking doctors that are out there; after all, it IS talked about as the “practice” of medicine.

The issue lies in how women are often dismissed when it comes to their health.

If you’ve ever taken a high school English class, you’ve likely read historical narratives where women were diagnosed as “hysterical” and thrown in some dark, damp asylum somewhere. And while we’re less likely to have our spouses throw us in the clink because they found a wench that pours a better pint, the stigma is still there.

Here are a few stories from The Washington Post:

So, what’s a girl to do?

Now more than ever you need to listen to yourself when it comes to better healthcare services. Here are a few things to consider:

Build Your Dream Team

Assemble a rockstar squad of healthcare providers. Find professionals who listen, respect your concerns, and treat you like the VIP you are. Don't settle for a healthcare provider who dismisses your questions or rushes through appointments. You deserve someone who values your input.

Also, consider bringing a trusted friend or family member with you to appointments. Having a second pair of ears listening to your doctor and asking questions might help you avoid catastrophic situations.

Trust Your Instincts

If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut. You know your body better than anyone. Don't hesitate to seek a second opinion if you're unsure about a diagnosis or treatment plan. Your peace of mind is non-negotiable.

Create a Health Arsenal

Keep all your health-related documents organized – from medical records to insurance information. Having everything at your fingertips is a game-changer. Familiarize yourself with your insurance coverage. Knowing what's covered can save you from unexpected financial surprises. And investigate using a benefits broker to help you decipher this confusing language; it’s a service that’s free to you and can be invaluable.

Stay Connected

According to theSkimm

“Millennial women’s health and especially mental health are at an all-time low. Seventy-seven percent told us, “It is clear to me that I am the only advocate for my health and well-being.” Why? Fifty-seven percent said “I have been dismissed or misdiagnosed by medical professionals,” and 59% said, “I have sought treatment from doctors who do not believe me, or who have ignored my needs.” Three in four told us they are concerned about their female friends’ mental health “after we have all been through so much.” 

Join online communities or support groups for women's health. It's like having a virtual squad to share experiences, tips, and advice. Attend women's health events or workshops. Knowledge-sharing is a two-way street, and you might discover new insights.

 

Why am I talking about this on a financial planning blog? Being an advocate for your health can have a huge impact on your finances AND having an advisor you’re comfortable with should be part of your support system. We’re not only here to help you look at your money, but all the facets of what can give you the future you want. We can also provide you with resources should you need them.

Ready to take control? Let’s talk.

 

For many Gen X women, planning for their financial future might take a backseat to other priorities. Between juggling careers, raising children, caring for aging parents, and keeping up with daily life, it's no wonder that many Gen X women do not have a financial plan.

However, it’s pretty obvious that they should. According to a 2023 study from Northwestern Mutual, outliving your savings is the top concern for Gen X women.

Source: Northwestern Mutual Study Reveals Women Feel Financially Less Secure and Confident for Retirement than Men

 

If you watch the news or even have a small interest in what’s going on in the world, it’s possible that you feel overwhelmed when you hear about what the market is doing. You might even feel like it’s something you will never understand, so why bother? That’s completely understandable; there is so much being thrown at us that we feel defeated before we even start.

However, the number of women not participating in financial planning could also be because many women don’t truly understand what’s IN a financial plan; it could sound like something abstract that doesn’t really apply to them.

The truth is that a financial plan can help you break down your finances into manageable pieces that help you reach goals you might think are unattainable. This isn’t some intimidating tool that only the rich use. It’s something that can help you not only plan for the future but also things like vacations and new cars.

 

Here's what you typically get when you engage the right financial planner:

"Are You Okay?" Check: Your financial plan gives you the inside scoop on how you're doing financially. It's like a buddy checking in to make sure you're not living on ramen noodles and boxed wine. If things are a bit shaky, it helps you figure out how to tighten things up.

Short-Term Goals Whisperer: Got those immediate dreams like a weekend getaway or snagging the latest gadget? Your financial plan helps you figure out if your wallet can handle the splurge. It's like having a friend who's great at budgeting and says, "Yeah, treat yourself, but let's not go crazy."

Long-Term Goals BFF: Thinking big—like buying a house, starting a family, or retiring on a beach somewhere? Your financial plan is the friend that says, "We got this!" It lays out the steps to make those dreams a reality and keeps you on track. It's like having a partner in crime for your money adventures.

 

Also, keep in mind that this doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment. I often help clients during hourly consultations that require no obligation. Here’s what we might discuss:

I realize that taking the first step is hard, but once you get moving in the right direction, you’ll see how working with a professional can help you not only with your retirement goals…but the fun stuff as well.

Think about it. If you knew what was going to happen – whether it was on a personal or global scale – when it came to money, you’d probably feel less worried about it, even if it wasn’t positive. You’d know what was coming and have the ability to better prepare yourself, even if that meant doing things like downsizing or spending less.

Fear of the unknown is no small thing and it actually has a clinical term: xenophobia. “In modern usage, the word has evolved to mean the fear of strangers or foreigners — but its original meaning is much broader. It includes anything or anyone that’s unfamiliar or unknown.”

And while you might think that the symptoms are only in your mind, they can morph into something physical:

It can also show up in other ways:

In a piece from Healthline, they do offer some solutions to this problem.

  1. Question your assumptions
  2. Do your research
  3. Stay grounded in the here and now
  4. Manage stress with a healthy lifestyle
  5. Talk to someone you trust

Number five is where I come in.

It’s often difficult for people to make an appointment with a financial advisor because there are painful questions rolling around in most people’s heads:

I hope it’s a comfort to you when I tell you that everyone thinks these things; I don’t care if you have $200 in the bank or $200 million. Everyone has made a poor financial decision at some point. Everyone is afraid of being judged. Everyone is afraid that they’ll ask a question, and someone will laugh at them.

Because of these mental roadblocks, some people don’t take the step that will move them into the known: knowing where they are financially so they can make decisions that will keep them moving forward without that fear.

Let’s take this as an example.

Julie is 45 and is worried she hasn’t saved like she should. She’s put money into her 401k but hasn’t always maxed out that benefit. Not only that, but she also took a trip to Europe with some friends last year that she put on a credit card she’s still trying to pay off.

The debt and worry for the future means Julie is lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling. She knows she should talk to someone about this, but she’s a little embarrassed about putting her financial cards on the table.

Don’t Worry, Julie!

If Julie walked into my office (or my Zoom) we would first evaluate where she is right now and discuss what’s keeping her up at night – and we would get specific. Together we would look at the numbers and come up with a plan and she would know that that plan might change as her goals change. The bottom line is that this would give us a place to start and we would be able to adjust later if necessary.

Something that I think is important for people to know is that the situation is often not as bad as someone thinks it is. Where an advisor can help is to look at the numbers and run the projections, so you know how to plan and tackle life’s obstacles. We all have them!

Remember that having data and knowledge related to your specific situation always feels better than the unknown. If money is keeping you up at night, let’s talk.

Let’s face it – when we’re looking for a financial advisor, we’re often feeling scared and overwhelmed. We’re looking for someone to answer our questions without making us feel ashamed or talking over our heads. In other words…this process is sometimes not easy.

Now, imagine yourself sitting with a financial advisor, wondering if they’re going to be friendly. Wondering if they’re going to judge you. Wondering if they’re an ally.

When I have a potential client in the LGBTQ+ community come into my office, they might not automatically know that I am an ally until we start speaking. I’m hopeful that they immediately understand that I am, but when I put myself in their shoes – walking into a stranger’s office not knowing if they will be welcome – it makes me cringe. No one should be put in that position.

If you’ve been thinking that it’s time to talk to a financial professional, but you’re not sure where to start to find a trusted resource, here are some ideas:

Ask for referrals

One of the best ways to find an LGBTQ+ friendly financial advisor is by asking for referrals from trusted sources. This can include friends and family who are part of the community, local LGBTQ+ organizations, or online forums. By seeking referrals, you not only get first-hand accounts of positive experiences, but you also get a sense of their process and whether or not they are a good fit for you.

Look for financial advisors who specialize in the queer community

There are several websites you can visit that will allow you to specifically search for LGBTQ+ friendly financial advisors. Here are a few to get you started:

Ask the right questions

Once you've found a few potential advisors, it's time to start asking the right questions. This includes asking about their experience working with LGBTQ+ clients, their understanding of queer-specific financial needs, and their approach to investing. It's also essential to ask about their values and whether they support LGBTQ+ rights and causes. A competent and understanding financial advisor will have no problem answering these questions confidently and transparently.

Take your time

When you’re looking for a financial professional…it’s personal. This is someone you should feel comfortable speaking with about most areas of your life, especially as they relate to your finances. This is not someone you should hesitate to call when something happens. This is someone you should know is in your corner to help support you through life’s changes.

If you have any questions about how I work with queer clients and would like to know more about my process, I would love to have that conversation with you! CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment.

We’ve all been there. You’re having a normal conversation with a member of the opposite sex, and you can just feel it coming. You’re making your points. He’s making his. And then suddenly it happens.

The mansplain.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence in financial services, an industry dominated by men. We’re told that if we just cut down on our shopping, we’ll save more money. Or if we give up our one coffee a day. When couples visit an advisor, scenarios like these often happen:

“I was patronized if I asked questions” or “He would not make eye contact with me.  I was just there.” And even, “Sometimes I would pick up a magazine and start reading it right in the middle of the meeting; he wouldn’t even notice.” 

Rethinking65.com

Here’s the disconnect: Women do have the capacity to understand money, despite being told for generations that we don’t.

(Source)

And if that wasn’t enough to wake you up to the fact that we should be given more credit than we are, here’s another one: Ninety percent of women will be responsible for their finances exclusively at one point in their lives. 

Is there really a difference?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t consider gender at all when it comes to finding any service providers we’re looking for. But when it comes to money, a female advisor could have a different approach.

Want more mansplaining examples? CLICK HERE and get a good laugh!

 

 

Why does this matter?

Simple: Who wants to get advice from someone who has no frame of reference for what you might experience on a daily basis?

As a financial advisor who works specifically with female clients, I know my approach is different from many of my male counterparts.

This is why I think this approach to successful financial planning is important:

In the essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” author Rebecca Solnit explains that mansplaining isn’t just annoying, but perpetuates the idea that women are inferior.

“It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; it crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world," Solnit writes. "It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

(Reporter)

At no time during a financial planning meeting should anyone feel talked down to or “less than” – this is your money, and you have everything it takes to understand it, make more of it, and manage it.

Stop the Mansplaining

If you’re reading this and have either experienced the mansplaining scenario with your own advisor or it’s something you’re trying to avoid as you look for a financial planner, it’s important to think about the following.

Would you be comfortable talking to this person about:

If you’re picturing the mansplaining that could happen during one of these conversations with your financial advisor, it’s time to make a change.

Here’s how you should feel after a conversation with your advisor:

Ready to cut down on mansplaining in your own life? CLICK HERE to make an appointment.

If you’re a Gen X woman, the word “roommate” might conjure up memories of a tiny apartment or dorm room decorated with the posters you collected from the mall and plastic dishes we probably shouldn’t have microwaved.

Yeah, no one wants to go back there.

But if you’re sitting in your home alone, wondering what to do with all the space you have or wondering what aging as a single woman will look like a few years down the road…you might want to change how you think about the word “roommate.”

Lots of things have changed since our parents’ generation:

Many solo adults live in homes with at least three bedrooms, census data shows, but find that downsizing is not easy because of a shortage of smaller homes in their towns and neighbourhoods.

Compounding the challenge of living solo, a growing share of older adults – about 1 in 6 Americans 55 and older – do not have children, raising questions about how elder care will be managed in the coming decades. (StraitsTimes)

Factors like these change how we think about aging and independence. This means that the options available need to change as well.

How Home-Sharing Can Help Your Retirement Savings

Any extra funds that you can bring in can lead to more retirement savings; every dollar helps. If you are in the distribution phase of your retirement, you are potentially compounding the impact of money brought in from a roommate.

If you’re not quite in the distribution phase of retirement, keep in mind that home-sharing is a great way to generate passive income that can be used as an investment in your future. By using the money you make from home-sharing wisely—such as putting it towards long-term investments or contributing it towards a 401K—you can significantly increase your retirement savings over time. Additionally, since home sharing is considered rental income by the IRS, any profits made from renting out your space may be eligible for tax deductions which could further reduce your taxable income in retirement years. As always, it is best to consult your tax professional for further clarification.

Should You Take the Next Step?

As always, the best first step is to make sure you have a very good handle on exactly how much you need to save for retirement; this is when it’s a good time to talk to your financial advisor. If you have run retirement scenarios and are coming up short on funds for your retirement goals, adding income from a roommate can bridge that gap. Perhaps you are okay with hitting your retirement savings, but your retirement is looking a little dull. You might be able to expand your options for what your retirement can look like by saving more money and setting DREAM retirement goals!

Aspen Wealth Management and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or tax services. Please consult your legal advisor or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

You’ve likely heard about the changes to the original SECURE Act of 2019, aptly named the SECURE Act 2.0. But unless you’ve sat down to read the 350-page document – I know. In your spare time, right? – you might not know how it will affect you.

Here are four key takeaways that you should be aware of:

Maximum Increase in Retirement Accounts

Beginning in 2025, those retirement plan participants who are aged 60 to 63 can save even more in their 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plans. Currently, participants who are 50 or over can save an additional $7500 over the maximum contribution of $22,500. Starting in 2025, those aged 60 to 63 can save an *additional* 50% of the catch-up.

For example, if the catch-up amount stays at $7500, a 60-year-old can save an additional $3750. Additional to note: If your income is in excess of $145k, your catch-up contributions must be made as Roth (after-tax) contributions.

Student Loan Payments and Matching 401(k) Contributions

Today, many employees are missing out on the funds employers match when they make a 401(k) contribution. Beginning in 2024, employers can provide those matches based on student loan payments. Stated a different way, your student loan payments count as if you made a contribution to your 401(k) and your employer will match those funds in your 401(k).

Yahoo Finance provides this example of how this works:

The situation: To give a better visual imagine Dave, a fresh college graduate with student loan debt starts a new job that offers a salary plus benefits. One of the benefits is a 3% company match. Traditionally this match applies to his retirement contribution, so when Dave contributes 3% of his salary to his company-sponsored 401(k), he’s met with an additional 3% from his company.

The problem: When Dave contributes to his 401(k), it puts him in a great spot for retiring on time down the road, but he now can’t afford to save for a house and pay down his student loan debt at the same time. He has to choose one or the other. One leaves him as a prolonged renter spending money on an asset that he’ll never own; the other leaves him extending student loan payoff and accruing additional interest.

The solution: Student loan matching allows his company to match his student loan payments instead of a retirement contribution. So the result looks like this:

Dave is able to pay down his student loans avoiding additional interest charges. Dave can get a jump start on saving for a home preserving thousands on potential rent. Dave gets a compounding effect from his company’s retirement plan contributions.

Unused 529 Plan Funds Can be Rolled into Roth IRAs

I’m often asked by parents who are considering opening a 529 college savings account for their child, “What if they don’t use it?”

Starting in 2024, parents and other loved ones no longer need to worry, at least for $35,000 worth. If the 529 has been open for at least 15 years, individuals will be allowed to roll up to $35k from a 529 to a Roth IRA in the name of the student beneficiary.

Great news for those of you who have “lost” old 401(k) accounts

Another worry I often hear is regarding old employer retirement accounts. Maybe you had a modest amount in your 401(k) and then left that job. Perhaps you’ve moved many times, and that old company has merged with another. It can be very difficult to find YOUR money.

The SECURE Act 2.0 will establish a “Lost and Found” for old retirement accounts. The Dept of Labor has two years to get this done, so in the meantime, if you’ve lost an account, let me help you find it!

I know that this new legislation can be hard to navigate. We all look at this information and ask the question, “What does this mean for ME?” If you have questions about these changes and want to help ensure you’re not missing out on anything that might benefit you, let’s talk.

If you’ve ever looked at your married friends and assumed that they have an advantage over you financially…you might be surprised.

Recent research from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found women who have spent most of their lives married tend to fare worse than never-married women. The reason is largely due to the declining wealth of their spouses. Because never-married women’s wealth has mostly stayed stable, their wealth has increased relative to their mostly married counterparts, according to the report.

An unexpected divorce or death of a spouse can also upend their financial plans in retirement. (CNBC)

There are other reasons why you might have a bit of an advantage over your married friends:

Decision making

Sure, the buck always stops with you and that can be overwhelming at times – but it can also make life easier when you don’t have to take someone else’s situation into account. This also means that you can be more consistent with your day-to-day budget and long-term savings.

Long and short-term goals

It’s not uncommon for married couples to have differing opinions on what the future holds; one spouse might be focused on long-term retirement planning while the other just wants to live for today. As a single woman, you don’t have to deal with competing ideas and goals. You can decide how you want to live and do it!

Career development

As a single woman, you have the freedom to explore different professional opportunities without worrying about how your job will impact someone else. This can mean more money over time AND allow you to save for the retirement you want. As a side note, understanding how to negotiate and taking advantage of career development opportunities can also help your bottom line.

Using a professional YOU like

It’s not uncommon for couples to disagree on who they might use for a financial advisor – or for a husband to make that decision for the couple. As a single woman, you have control over who you work with – and you’re able to choose who you’re comfortable with without taking another personality into consideration.

As a single woman, you’re used to taking control in many areas of your life – and that’s a GOOD thing. My goal as an advisor is to make sure you have as much confidence about your finances as possible, so you know you’re on the right path. Have questions? Let’s talk.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC, a registered investment advisor. GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The LPL Financial registered representative associated with this website may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the states in which they are properly registered or licensed. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident of any other state.
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