Your Unique Journey to Financial Wellness
In a study done by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave, it was found that 70 percent of women believe that men and women have a fundamentally different life journey when it comes to career, family expectations, aging, and finances, reinforcing the need to better understand women’s financial concerns and opportunities. In recent decades, there has been a seismic shift in women’s personal and financial representativeness.
Since 2015, women or female run households have had control of more than 50% of our nation’s wealth. With this new wave of women investors and financial heads of household comes the need to identify what can be done to reinforce independence, mitigate longevity risk, encourage financial knowledge and education, and empower women to find their path to financial wellness. Financial independence affords women the confidence in meeting their financial obligations, experience the life that they want, achieve their goals and take care of loved ones.
Looking Beyond the Bottom Line
Money is about financing the life you want, not about making more money. As women become more financially independent, better educated in the areas of finance and investing and more in control of setting and achieving financial goals, there is much to be considered with regard to what really matters. Is financial confidence really about a number you want to reach? Not really, right? It is about what that number represents. And for each woman, that number may represent very different things.
It is important to identify what matters to you in your life right now as well as in the future. Wellness is about reaching beyond what you need and satisfying the, often, intangible things that you want. If a sound financial strategy can offer a means by which to achieve peace of mind and confidence, then taking the steps to solidify that strategy would be a great objective to prioritize.
Women and Longevity
Women tend to live longer and healthier lives than men. This statistic means you need to think about planning for more years and if married to a man, consider your plans for the probability you will outlive your husband.
Life expectancy is up across the board even from just 10 years ago and most industrialized countries are expected to see future generations living longer than today. Younger women may want to consider the implications of a 95+ year financial plan. This type of plan needs to take into consideration your need for increased medical care as you advance in later years, the needs to cover daily living expenses for more years, the best way to spend down taxable and non-taxable accounts, and how your Social Security benefits and RMD’s should be handled.
Living a long and healthy life is a wonderful thing. It means you can experience more things, see more places, and cross more items off your bucket list. Your life’s journey just got a little longer and, if you have a way to enjoy that journey with confidence and joy, then how lucky are you that you get a bit more time on this Earth.
Investing with Confidence
For most women, money is much more than a number and a bottom line. In the study conducted by Merrill Lynch, it was demonstrated that, while women have the same or nearly the same confidence as men in most financial tasks and decisions, only 52% of women say they are confident in managing investments compared with 68% of men. In fact, according to the study, 45% of women say that they would rather talk about their own death than about money. Becoming better informed about financial products and vehicles, investing and planning can help women to make decisions that are tailored to their needs and goals.
Sharpening your investing knowledge can also empower you to be a part of important financial conversations and how those discussions and decisions may impact you directly. Despite the common misconception that men are better investors than women, it is the women investors who outperform on average and tend to fare better over time.
The Wealth Gap and Wealth Escalators
The wealth gap is the result of the interruption to women’s careers due to childcare or caring for a relative. These interruptions cause negative repercussions beyond the interruption itself. Social Security benefits are lower, pretax retirement savings opportunities are put on hold, medical insurance is not being provided at a reduced rate by your employer, and you aren’t receiving paid time-off for rest and relaxation. Women’s longevity, compounded by the pay and wealth gaps, makes it even more critical for women to take the necessary steps to achieving financial wellness.
We are at a crossroads when it comes to women’s financial empowerment. Women, as stated before, are in control of more wealth in this country than men. In an effort to maintain this trajectory and continue the journey towards increasing women’s wealth and well-being, we must be aware of the challenges facing women of all ages and stages and identify how each challenge can be addressed.