Women, Life Stages, and Finances—
I have the privilege of being the mother of two intelligent, independent, and beautiful daughters. One daughter recently graduated with her Masters and teaches middle school English. The second daughter just changed jobs from teaching to a new job for which she is perfectly suited.
I am the daughter of a woman who, in the 1960’s, transitioned from being a housewife and mother of 10 (yes 10) children, to return to the workforce as a nurse in order to provide for her invalid husband and their children.
I also just had a certain “milestone” birthday.
What does all this have to do with finances? Everything!
Life is about stages. You go from your parents taking care of all your needs to suddenly being an adult. You go from a carefully prepared life plan to take an unforeseen 180-degree turn. You go from being a young mother to being… well, not young.
Each of these transitions impacts your ability to pay your bills, save for the future and have the freedom to move through life like you planned. Each of these transitions also tends to impact women differently than men.
Women statistically live longer than men. They also tend to be “caregivers” more frequently. Often, they step out of the workforce for a time either by choice or necessity. And although progress is being made, they tend to be paid less than men. In general, these contributing factors make the goals of saving for the future or paying down debt more difficult to achieve.
The good news is that it is possible to plan for the future, for yourself and your family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you understand. Don’t be afraid to take control of your finances. Ignorance is NOT bliss. It is dangerous. Even when in a relationship where one person primarily handles the day-to-day finances, both parties should know where they stand financially. You should know the household income and the household debt. You should understand your taxes (as much as anyone can) and your various insurances. You should have an estate plan in place, especially if there are minor children involved. You should regularly review your benefits and investments, and if something doesn’t “feel right” you should question it.
But most of all, you should know what it takes to reach your goals and look for ways to make it happen. If you do not know, you should talk to a professional. That is what we are here for, no matter what your “stage” in life.
by Jeannine Edmonds, CFP®
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