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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?

Here’s the Good News

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:

  1. Bulk up emergency savings to cover a possible job loss (just don’t keep too much in savings – CLICK HERE for my blog post about hoarding cash).
  2. Pay down high interest debt
  3. Streamline your budget. Now is a good time to trim the fat on budgets because you are probably more clear-headed and not under pressure from a possible decline in income. Review subscription services, cable and cell phone plans, etc.
  4. Polish up your resume and consider getting additional skills. You’ll be ahead of the game if you do find yourself looking for a job.

One thing I DON’T Recommend

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.

What if I’m not saving enough for retirement?

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.

Am I covered when it comes to healthcare?

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.

Will I be okay if the market fluctuates?

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.

How should I prepare for my future? Will I need long-term care?

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.

This ONE THING can help you with all of these concerns

When it comes to most financial issues that are keeping you up at night, there is one answer that can solve almost any problem.

Education.

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.

Power of Attorney

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)

Beneficiaries

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.

Guess what?

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.

What Does this Have to do With Financial Planning?

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.

Guess what? I have some good news when it comes to women and our efforts toward a balanced, fulfilling life. And it has to do with how savvy we are as long-term investors.

More Single Women Own Homes Than Single Men

That’s right. At some point - while we were working to move forward in our occupations, taking care of loved ones, and trying to find time for a social life – we moved ahead of men in the area of homeownership. According to the National Association of Realtors, “single women comprise 18% of homebuyers in the U.S., compared with 7% of single men.” (Source)

On the whole, homeownership is on women’s minds: 73 percent of women say owning a home is a top priority to them, over getting married (41 percent), and having children (31 percent), according to a Bank of America 2018 Homebuyer Insights report. In contrast, only 65 percent of men said homeownership was at the top of their minds. (Source)

Purchasing a home is no small feat and is often one of the largest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. However, having a known monthly payment rather than risking rent increases every year is something that might provide you with a feeling of stability – especially as your income increases over time.

Coming from a financial planning point of view, investing in a home can also help with retirement planning. By purchasing and putting money into your home, you can often increase its equity and possibly pay it off, which could keep expenses lower in retirement.

Think About This Before You Buy

There are a few things you should consider before you start down the real estate road:

It’s also important to have some savings over and above the closing cost of a home because there are always unexpected expenses. If you’ve been a renter, you might not realize what a new furnace or roof might cost (something a home inspector should take a look at before you buy). Regardless of known expenses at the time of purchase, there are often repairs that need to happen during the first year or two of owning the home. It’s better to be prepared for the unknown.

Have I Scared You Yet?

That really wasn’t my intention. It’s my job, as a financial advisor, to make sure you have all the information you need before you make any significant investments.

I believe that homeownership can be a great long-term investment for any woman. After all, “women now dominate not only traditional ‘pink-collar jobs’ like nursing, teaching, social work, and human resources, they are a majority of medical students nationwide (make that future doctors). They are [also] a majority of doctoral students in universities across all fields, including biology, public administration, and the social sciences.” (Source)

The good news is that a financial advisor can help you run projections for you and help answer the question, “Should I rent or buy?” I can also help you decide where to source your down payment in the most tax-efficient way. By working together, we can help clarify your goals and ensure you’re comfortable with your decision.

When it comes to long-term care, many women assume that the need for it is likely far down the road. But the truth is, planning for it might need to start now.

Sure, you might be in your 30s or 40s and in good health, but the need for long-term care – especially when it comes to women – isn’t just about your own needs. It’s about the needs of loved ones as well.

According to PubMed.gov, “Women comprise 75 percent of nursing home residents, 97 percent of professional caregivers, and the vast majority of family caregivers for elderly relatives at home.” This means that those who are personally in good physical condition could still feel the effects of taking care of a loved one.

I’ve even seen this in my own office. I had a client who had to turn down a promotion that she had been working toward for a long time because her mother developed dementia. In the end, the client needed to care for her which meant she wouldn’t be able to travel for the new position.

So, let’s talk about your options, both for yourself and the people you care about.

Do YOU Need to Invest in LTCI?

When it comes to your own long-term financial plan, it’s all about preparing for your future. However, when most people think of “financial planning,” they only think about retirement funds and investments. Creating a strategy around your healthcare should play a big part of this plan as well.

When I sit down with a client, we discuss several things to determine if she is a good candidate for LTCI:

It’s also important to note that women usually outlive male partners, which means they’re in the position of taking care of their significant other but are then left on their own as they age.

We also model scenarios where long-term care is needed, and then create models with and without LTCI. We ask questions like:

What are Your Options?

I know many people are reluctant to purchase LTCI because they think that if they don’t need it, the money will be wasted. But plans have really evolved over the last several years and there are many options now, including hybrid policies that combine long-term care with life insurance.

But It’s Not Just About You

At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned a client who had to postpone her career development because it was necessary for her to take care of a loved one. And this is a big deal – many of us have worked too hard for too long to have our careers derailed by something that could have been planned for and prevented.

In the next piece, we’ll discuss your options for aging parents and how you can start the conversation about long-term care.

Have questions so far? Let’s talk about them. CLICK HERE to schedule a call!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

While women have always been statistically less likely to take control of their finances or increase their financial literacy, pandemic impacts have certainly compounded the problem.

Single women and women of color, in particular, have faced unemployment setbacks since the beginning of lockdown and stay-at-home orders in the spring of 2020.

Women in the workforce

As communities shut down last spring to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, women felt the financial shock immediately. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that women accounted for 55% of job losses in April 2020. Later that year, BLS issued a report confirming that the recession had a more significant impact on women.

More than a year later, women continue to leave the workforce due to limitations created by the pandemic. In December 2020, women accounted for 86.3 percent of all job losses.

Some news outlets have observed that the total job loss for women has undone some of the significant workforce gains made since the 1970s and 80s. One Fortune reporter wrote in February 2021 that:

“Working women have now lost more than three decades of labor force gains in less than a year.”

In addition, women of color have experienced an even sharper employment decline, according to BLS statistics:

Across demographics, women continue to face workforce challenges that could place them at a disadvantage.

Long-term financial impact

The effects of this historic job loss will follow many women over time. While many will return to the workforce, a significant percentage will accept lower-paying or part-time positions and struggle to regain their previous income or employment levels.

As reported in this piece by GMA:

“When women do leave the workforce, whether because they lose their jobs or take time out for personal or family reasons such as childcare, they return to a trajectory of decreased pay over the course of their careers.”

As of June last year, 52% of women had already experienced these changes to their employment:

Those shifts could result in smaller retirement funds for women over the course of their careers as they place short-term spending priorities over long-term financial planning.

Single women also lose Social Security and other savings opportunities without a partner’s income to rely on. Unpartnered women also feel a more desperate need to find a job, regardless of pay, hours or benefits, so could return to work at a disadvantage.

In addition, workforce changes for women affect the overall economy in addition to individuals and families.

Financial education for women

For women who want to improve their employment status and financial position, here are a few places to begin:

When you take control of your financial education, you feel more empowered to set realistic savings and retirement goals.

Whether you need a few hours of debt and retirement planning or a complete financial plan, reach out to me for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation call. I can also place you in touch with other professionals who can help with budgeting and caregiver assistance services.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

You may not be aware that some financial planners will charge you on an hourly basis for their advice. Why would you want to engage an advisor on an hourly basis? There are a variety of reasons this may be a good choice for you.

You Don’t Have the Minimum Assets Many Firms Require

A common structure of financial firms is that they will provide advice for you if you invest your money with them. Unfortunately, many firms have account balance minimums of $250,000, $500,000 or even higher. This pushes those investors with smaller asset bases out of the market for advice.

You’d like a second opinion on the work you are doing yourself

Perhaps you really enjoy and are very adept at managing your own investments and financial plan. Consulting with a financial planner who can double-check your assumptions and outcomes can save you from making big mistakes. It is better to find out you need to make a change now when you have a time left to reach your goals, rather than years after it is too late to correct your course of action.

You’d like to ask a professional a few questions specific to your situation

All of the information you are seeking is potentially available for free on the internet. But it could take years to search for the information you are seeking. And even if you find what you are looking for, is it relevant to you? Consulting with a financial planner allows you to ask questions and receive answers specific to your individual situation. Tailor-made advice, just for you.

You’d like to try someone out before committing to a long-term relationship

Choosing a financial planner is a big decision. This is potentially a years-long relationship, and you are trusting this person to help you make some of the most important decisions of your life. Why not test the waters and make sure you like them and the work they do?

Paying for hourly services may be something which you have never considered, but can be an excellent option. A great place to start would be to make some calls and ask some questions!

CLICK HERE for What Questions Should Women Ask When Interviewing a Financial Advisor?

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

It seems that every day I notice another article or study on Gender Lens Investing. This isn’t surprising considering that there are now at least 35 options of gender lens funds.

What is Gender Lens Investing?

Gender Lens Investing is a subset of “Impact Investing”; that is investments that are made to have a positive (and profitable) social and environmental impact on the world. Traditionally GLI has meant investing in companies that have larger than average representations of women in leadership positions and on their corporate boards of directors. But there are other approaches to consider: providing women entrepreneurs access to funding, or investing in products and services that improve the lives of women.

How Does It Fit Into a Portfolio?

The easiest way for the average investor is access Gender Lens Investing is through ownership of corporate stocks, or mutual funds that hold these stocks.  Investors or fund managers consider factors such as pay equity, board representation, parental leave policies, anti-harassment policies, and management training programs. Some GLI mutual funds focus on just one of these areas.

You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Performance

Investors  often think that by pursuing investments that focus on improving the lives of women and girls they must necessarily accept lower returns. But this is emphatically not true. A study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that companies with at least 30% women in management have enjoyed higher subsequent one-year Returns on Equity since 2012. Companies with more women in board seats or senior leadership are performing better in terms of sales, profitability and invested capital(1)

If you are interested in adding GLI to your portfolio, speaking with a financial advisor is a great place to start.

(1)https://www.piie.com/publications/wp/wp16-3.pdf

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial.

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 investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

In my opinion, too many women still lack the confidence necessary to take control of their financial lives. They often fear making investment decisions, managing their finances, and planning and monitoring their spending - all which can help them increase their wealth.

Why aren’t women more confident with their finances?

The answers are as individual as each woman. However, one of the most common that I see as a financial planner is that women are stopping themselves from being assertive. Many women leave their financial lives to their husbands, boyfriends or parents, or ignore it all together, Because of this way of thinking, they lack financial power. Financial empowerment must come from within. Women must seize it with fervor, reflecting an unshakable determination to take control of their financial lives. You must tell yourself that you can become empowered, and that you will not let outdated notions of gender hinder your success. Keep "EMPOWER" in your mind as an acronym representing these concepts:

Education is critical
Motivation inspired by your values
Protection against risk
Ownership of your future
We — Find a partner to help you
Emotions should be kept out of decisions
Responsibility to yourself

If you are looking for a financial planner who will help you understand your motivations and find your financial confidence, please reach out for complimentary phone call. I’d love to help you!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Get in the know on info that impacts your finances

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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