When it comes to women and finances, it’s almost never been an even playing field.
Setting aside the wage gap and the often-unfair distribution of work that women encounter between their professional life and being a caregiver, let’s talk about the little things that women are told over time that can undermine their confidence when it comes to finances.
As a woman, how many times have you read or heard something along the lines of, “Well, if you just stop shopping so much (or don’t buy that latte or whatever the overused example is), it will make a huge difference in your finances”?
And how many times do you think someone has said that to a man?
Let’s be honest. Here’s what men often hear: “You need to get that promotion and make more money if you want to save more.”
“You need to stop buying so many shoes.”
While budgeting is an important part of financial planning, it’s unlikely that stopping your Starbucks habit is going to bring about the financial change you’re looking for. Shift your mindset to something that looks a little bit more like this:
I want to spend more. I want to save more. Therefore, I should make more.
As women, we’re often in situations where we can speak up…but we don’t. Many of us have been raised to put the comfort and needs of others before our own and that can hurt our chances of getting what we want. However, that’s doing ourselves and possibly the company a disservice.
“If you feel uncomfortable asking for more money, remember that unapologetically requesting the money you deserve is providing a service to yourself, your employer, and your community,” says Prism Impact Founder Mari Geasair. “When you are clear about the value you offer and the money you need you can show up and do your work with less stress, distraction, and potential resentment. You are also paving the way for other women to receive the compensation they deserve and for employers to recognize what it takes to hire and to retain the best talent.”
Mari offers this tip: “When it is time to discuss money matters with your employer, frame the conversation as working together to solve the challenge of getting you the compensation you need so that you can consistently bring your best talents and focus to the job. You are doing everyone a service when you thrive financially.”
“Four out of five women get a wage increase after requesting one, according to a new survey by job postings website Indeed…. But less than a third, or 31 percent, feel comfortable asking for more money, and only 46 percent of women have requested a raise throughout their careers.” (Source)
Before you decide to change jobs, it could be time to discuss a raise or at least a game plan with your management. Here’s a series you can take a look at for some inspiration:
If it’s time to make a change altogether, tap into resources that might help you land that dream job – and dream salary. For example, you might want to talk to a career coach as I did in this interview with Emily Frank.
Think it’s too late to make a major change, like starting your own business? Think again. “Research shows that entrepreneurs in their 50s and over are twice as likely to be successful as those in their 20s - something that can be put down to one main factor: experience.” (Forbes)
This could be a major swing for you, or it might be something you ease into. Here are a few things to consider from ZenBusiness if you’re thinking of starting your own business:
One of the best things about getting older is we know what we want. Now we need to do what’s necessary to get it. While you might have been thinking about making some changes for a while, I know that it can be scary to ask for that promotion or start that new business.
Working with a financial advisor who will not only guide you toward the future you envision but who will also encourage you along the way could make a big difference. They can also help you look at the situation honestly so you can make educated decisions about your next steps.
However, if you find yourself in a financial advisor’s office who is encouraging you to give up happy hour with your friends as a means of financing your financial goals, run.
And then call me.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
Here’s the disconnect: Women do have the capacity to understand money, despite being told for generations that we don’t.
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.
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.
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.
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’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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
In a 2022 Financial Wellness Survey conducted by Ellevest, 62% of women indicated they’re concerned about climate change. In fact, “more women ranked it as a top financial concern above retirement planning (51%), credit card debt (46%), stock market (38%), and childcare costs (30%).”
This makes sense given what we’re starting to see across the globe with increasingly intense wildfires, flooding, and storms – but for women, the impact goes deeper than that.
The ripple effect created by these catastrophic events is more acutely felt by the world’s most vulnerable populations: women and girls.
That makes this not only a global problem, but specifically a female problem.
You might be wondering why I’m writing about climate change on a financial planning blog, and we’ll get to that. You’ll see how you can make a difference through your investments so that you don’t have to make a choice between helping the environment and saving for retirement; you can do both.
But first, let’s talk about what’s at stake.
Living in the United States it can be easy to look at the climate issue as something that basically affects our weather. Yes, many people in this country have found themselves in dangerous situations as they evacuate fires and lose homes to massive flooding - but compared to other areas around the world, we have it pretty good.
…women are more likely to live in poverty than men, have less access to basic human rights like the ability to freely move and acquire land…. In fact, women are denied property rights in half of the countries around the world. They are often barred from borrowing money for fertilizer and tools, which prevents them from successfully guiding their crops to harvest. They also can have trouble accessing markets to sell their harvest.
As soil quality worsens and water becomes more scarce, women will be less able to find the credit and financing they need to be resilient to the changing conditions. And without any possibility of buying new property, many female farmers will be stuck with ever-declining yields on their existing land.
"The majority of women lack deeds or titles to the lands that they farm, so their avenues for compensation or redress are limited when climate change adversely affects their agricultural output," Alam said. "Generally speaking, it’s not as if smallholder farmers have insurance, either, so they have to look for alternative income-generating activities, which can leave them desperate and vulnerable to exploitation." (Source)
Climate change is rarely discussed in relation to violence against women. It has become a global common concern due to its role as a contributing factor in exacerbating (sexual and gender-based violence) SGBV. Though entire populations are affected by climate change, women and girls face double victimization as human beings as well as because of their gender.
During emergencies, especially conflicts and disasters, women are at high risk of SGBV because of crisis in the family and society as well as due to sudden breakdown of family and community structures arising from forced displacement. As a result, women and girls become more vulnerable and face physical, sexual, psychological harm as well as denial of resources or necessary services. (Source)
Gendered roles in much of the world also make women more susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change. Women are the primary gatherers of water, food, and fuel, and they dominate subsistence farming, caregiving, and cleaning. These duties are more prone to feel the effects of environmental degradation and rising global temperatures as they rely heavily upon natural resources. In the future, this can drive a negative feedback loop of increasing poverty. (Source)
If you’re looking at these statistics and wondering what you can do about this insurmountable problem, take a deep breath; as women have always known, we’re stronger together. Now, it’s time for us to take that togetherness to a global level.
In the next piece, we’ll talk about how investing in your own future can be a big step toward helping others. Through ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing you’ll be able to invest in companies that can not only help your investment accounts, they’re also helping combat this crisis through their own initiatives.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)/Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Investing has certain risks based on the fact that the criteria excludes securities of certain issuers for non-financial reasons and, therefore, investors may forgo some market opportunities and the universe of investments available will be smaller.
Depending on your employer or your industry, you might be offered different types of compensation. Most people are familiar with employers who do some sort of 401(k) matching, but what if your company offers you Restricted Stock Units?
RSUs are stock-based compensation in which an employee is granted shares in the company, but they are “restricted.” Shares are released from those restrictions based on various factors such as time with the company, or performance of the employee. Once they are unrestricted, or granted, the employee owns the shares and can hold them or sell them.
This type of compensation is pretty typical of any public or private company that issues stock and has shareholders – especially tech companies expecting high growth.
As more and more women enter STEM careers (“Since 1970, the representation of women has increased across all STEM occupations and they made significant gains in social science occupations in particular – from 19% in 1970 to 64% in 2019.”), it’s important for employees to understand how their compensation works.
Let’s break down the pros and cons of Restricted Stock Units:
Also keep in mind that shares are taxed as ordinary income in the year they vest, and you are not able to control that as you might with stock options. The value of the stock can go down, but you will still owe tax on the value of the shares at the time they vested. You will also owe capital gains taxes on any growth that occurs between vesting and when you sell the shares. (I like to call this “a nice problem to have.”)
Working with a financial planner can be a huge help when it comes to eliminating the confusion surrounding RSUs. For example, I can help you determine whether or not to sell when your shares vest. I’ll also take a look at your portfolio; accumulating many shares is great but can be a problem for your portfolio if you have too concentrated a position. And as far as taxes, I can help you create a tax-efficient strategy for selling shares and understanding how the RSUs fit into your overall financial plan.
Ready to take a look at where you are with your financial plan? So am I. CLICK HERE to make an appointment!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
If you’ve turned on the news any time during the last few months, it’s likely you’ve heard the dreaded word “recession.”
Investopedia defines recession as “a period of declining economic performance across an entire economy that lasts for several months.” The last major recession we experienced in the United States began in 2007 and ended in 2009 after the bursting bubble of the US housing market.
These days, according to The Street, a possible recession could be because of a number of factors:
1. The Federal Reserve and higher interest rates
2. There was massive fiscal stimulus during the pandemic, financed by the Fed buying bonds
3. Rising input and wage costs
4. High oil prices
5. China Is decelerating sharply
But as with anything when it comes to finances, the big question is…what does a recession mean for YOU?
If you have a solid financial plan in place, you’ve likely already “recession-proofed” your finances. However, there are a few other things you could do to better prepare:
Try to avoid cutting down on retirement plan contributions unless absolutely necessary. Missing even a small number of contributions can have a major impact on account growth. Also, down markets can actually be good for savers (hard to believe, but true!) because of dollar cost averaging.
Remember that there are always going to be periods of economic slowdown; this is inevitable in a modern economy. But taking some action, like the tips above, might minimize the impact on you personally while you wait for the economy to begin “growing” again.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels . Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.
Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal.
In the 18+ years I’ve worked in the financial planning industry, many things have changed – and some things have stayed the same. For example, some of the tools and technology have changed, but the basic principles and the things that keep women up at night when it comes to their finances haven’t.
The good news is that there are ways to alleviate some of these worries and the answers might be simpler than you realize.
Let’s look at the top four things that might be causing you stress and figure out some solutions.
Hang on; “enough” is too broad to get a handle on. That’s because “enough” for one person is not enough for another.
My clients and I work together to identify monetary needs in retirement. Then we take a look at how likely you are to have those needs met based on current and future savings, hypothetical market returns, inflation, and other factors.
Lastly, we can plug and run different scenarios to get to an actual amount you need to be saving (or have already saved!). If that isn’t currently possible, we craft a plan to get you to that savings rate. Having numbers, facts, and a plan goes a long way in alleviating worry.
While I am not a healthcare or health insurance expert, I can help identify tax-advantaged ways to save money on healthcare costs, such as using an HSA as an investment vehicle to pay for premiums in retirement. I also have a network of professionals to whom I can refer you to select and purchase health insurance.
Financial advisors often joke that half of our job is to keep our clients from making poorly timed market mistakes. We jest, but this is truer than not.
Being able to speak with a trusted advisor who is familiar with your situation when the market is volatile is invaluable. I guide my clients back to the plan that we outlined, which already accounts for market fluctuations. An adjustment may or may not be called for, but I am able to bring rationality and experience to the situation. Rash decisions based on fear are rarely the right move.
It is understandable that this is one of women’s largest fears. There are so many variables and unknowns:
“Will I have anyone to help care for me?”
“Will I even need care?”
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years) (Source). It is pretty likely that you will need some kind of care; I work with clients on identifying what that may cost, and if you will be able to pay for those costs with your savings and investments.
Long Term Care Insurance policies are a great tool for bridging the gap between what you have and what you may need. LTCI policies have come a long way in recent years and are no longer just “nursing home insurance.” I work with my clients on finding a policy that is affordable to you and have benefits that either you or your heirs can use if you do not need the policy for care for yourself.
When it comes to most financial issues that are keeping you up at night, there is one answer that can solve almost any problem.
Financial education does seem to help women worry less about their financial security. Many women worry about their finances several times a month, but less so when they know wealth-building strategies – 50% of women who were aware of these steps were worried several times a month, versus 80% who were not aware of these strategies, the survey found. Another seven in 10 women said they worried when they didn’t know how to make their money last, compared with 45% of women who did have an understanding of preserving their wealth. (Source)
Ask questions. Seek out resources. Yes, I know that paying money for guidance can sometimes feel odd when what you’re trying to do is save money – however, working with a professional can often save you more than you’re spending on their services.
The number of single people in the US is on the rise. According to the 2021 Census Report, “there are now 122 million Americans who are divorced or widowed or have always been single,” a number that has risen from 118 million in 2019. (Source)
Whether you’re single by circumstance or by choice, there are some things that you should be aware of when it comes to your future. Estate planning is something that every adult should check off their to-do list, and creating a solid plan can vary depending on your situation.
Estate planning for single women is less about making sure loved ones are protected and more about ensuring you’re protected when it comes to medical and financial decisions.
Designating people for these roles is something you should carefully consider and determining who they are now – before an emergency should occur – allows you to clearly outline your wishes. “For those who have trouble naming a proxy due to a lack of family, an estate planning attorney can help to identify a financial institution that can serve as a proxy and act as a co-trustee.” (Source)
Let’s say you have a cousin you can’t stand and haven’t talked to in 10 years. And let’s say something should happen to you and you haven’t designated any beneficiaries for your assets.
Your estate has now been handed over to a probate court which will decide how your assets are distributed. They’ll start with relatives and work their way through the list. And that annoying cousin could be who ends up with your hard-earned money.
Another thing to keep in mind is, if you’re single because of divorce, in some states, like Colorado, if you don’t want your money to be left to your spouse, this requires specific action. However, “a single person does not need to worry about ancillary documents, such as a marital agreement, in order to disinherit someone.” says Kim Raemdonck, owner of Legacy Planning and Probate and current President of the Women’s Estate Planning Council.
When it comes to your assets, indicating your wishes means that YOU decide what person or charity receives your money. If there are organizations near and dear to your heart, this is a great way to leave a legacy.
When I work with a client, I’m looking at the entire picture – now and long into the future. It’s important that my clients know that everything within their control has been taken care of and it’s my job to make sure the boxes are checked.
If you have questions about living your best (financial) single life and are ready to take care of a few things you know you should…let’s talk!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.