Larry Swedroe and Katie Keary, CFP®, CDFA® recently published a white paper for the financial planning industry exploring the challenges that are unique to women in planning for their own retirement. Their list included some of the following issues:
1. Women earn less than their male counterparts.
2. Women live longer than men.
3. Women start investing later.
4. Women are less confident about their financial knowledge and investing skills.
5. Women are more likely to bear the physical, emotional and financial brunt of being in the “sandwich generation.”
6. Women are more likely to experience elder abuse.
7. Women are more likely to die single, divorced or widowed.
The July 2017 study, titled “The Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: A Global Perspective,” by the Global Center for Excellence in Financial Literacy, shows that there is a persistent gap in financial literacy between men and women worldwide. The study also found that when women are educated about personal finance and investing, they make more appropriate choices relative to their long-term needs.
Both this study and the Swedroe/Keary paper mentioned similar remedies to combating these unique challenges for women. It all starts with female financial literacy. The following is a list of subjects that both studies suggest that women should know, whether they are living alone, are married or in a committed relationship with a partner. We’ll call this a Female Empowerment Checklist:
- List of all checking accounts and online access codes.
- How much do I/we bring home each month in after tax dollars?
- What bills are paid automatically? Manually?
- Mortgage company? Monthly payment?
- List of all investment accounts and online access codes
- Do I/we have retirement accounts with our employers? How do we access these? How much money are we contributing? Is there a company match?
- Is there a college 529 account? Who is the owner?
- Where is the key to the lockbox? Is there a password?
- Where are the estate documents? When were they updated?
- Airline mileage accounts/passwords.
- Car titles, marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports.
Advisors (Know their contact information)
- Financial advisor, estate attorney, accountant, insurance agent.
- Work with a financial advisor to understand clearly how much they will need to have saved to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
- Do we have life insurance? Where are the policies? Whom do I call?
- Do we have Long Term Care insurance? Whom do I call?
- Where is our home and auto insurance held? What is the annual payment?
- Take a financial education class through local community organizations or use online resources like the Kahn Academy, or read basic primers about personal finance to start the self-education process.
- Take an online course about how to negotiate salary such as those taught by “She Negotiates” or “Take the Lead.”
This checklist is the starting point for all women to take control of their financial well-being, at every stage of life. If you find that there are elements to this checklist that you’ve overlooked, then put in place a plan with yourself or your partner to get educated about each of these points over the next few months. Set goals for completing every point on this list. Come to meetings with any advisors or other professionals that you work with.
Outsourcing your financial future to your spouse, your partner or simply relinquishing it to someone else, is the same as neglecting to see your doctor regularly to manage your physical health. Take charge, get advice, know what your own and get help with what you can’t do on your own.
Huber Financial Advisors, LLC is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide investment or tax advice. Always consult your investment or tax professional for advice on your particular situation. All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results.