Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody can do something about it. – Rebecca Johnson
The realm of finance can be confusing and contradictory. The rules governing this industry are indeed complicated and often seem convoluted. Tax codes constantly change. Investment opportunities are sometimes not so opportune. Financial planning strategies designed for stability and durability are still prone to shocks outside of our immediate control. It’s understandable if all of this sometimes feels overwhelming. However, there are resources out there that can help bring many of these challenges into focus. The goal of this column is to help simplify and explain some of the forces at work that can affect your financial stability.
Try as we might to understand the bigger picture, it is the nuts and bolts behind our own personal finances that concerns us most. This is true for pretty much everybody. However for women, there are unique factors that affect us. Women face different obstacles in planning for financial security in retirement than men do. Let me share a few facts:
Women earn less than men. This means that women generate smaller contributions to Social Security and pensions, and they may have less free cash available to save for retirement.
Women spend fewer years in the workforce. Social obligations such as child rearing, elderly parental care and household management can keep women out of the workforce for long stretches at a time.
Women live longer than men. The money women save for retirement must stretch further. Earning less money while making it last longer may require some women to work longer than anticipated.
Most women don’t have pensions. Among today’s seniors, only 29% of women receive income from a retirement plan or employer pension, compared to 42% of men.*
These factors, as well others, create a financial disadvantage for those of us without a Y chromosome. Unfortunately, all things are not quite equal. Women must be extra diligent when plotting their financial course. We must expand our knowledge base and acquire understanding and confidence in our ability to navigate such shifting sands. Women are key decision-makers and caregivers in their households. We’ve seen steady progress in women becoming more aware, engaged, and actively involved in their finances.
My goal as a Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner and attorney is to inform people of what to take into account when creating a long term financial strategy. Most likely, whatever financial path you’re on has been travelled before. There’s no need to go it alone. Some obstacles can be foreseen and some options do have clear benefits. In this Smart Women, Smart Money column I hope to address a host of issues that will help guide you, regardless of your gender, to make better informed financial decisions.
I encourage you to send in your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Add your voice to the conversation. Let me know if there are any gadgets in your financial toolbox that you’d like to take a closer look at. I hope to hear from you.
By Emmy Hernandez JD, CFP®, Attorney at Law