Women more than men doubt their abilities to make financial decisions, and as a result women often let their husbands, partners, or significant others handle planning for retirement or investing in the stock market, studies show.
But 2020 is as good a time as any to change that, says Jeanette Bajalia, a retirement-income planner, founder of Woman’s Worth® (www.womans-worth.com), and the author of such financial books as Wise Up, Women and Retirement Done Right.
“Most women are going to be responsible for managing their money at some time in their lives,” Bajalia says. “They will be widowed or divorced, and at that point are going to have a steep learning curve if they always left the investing responsibilities to others.”
To help give themselves a more secure financial future, Bajalia suggests women:
- Become financially literate. “I’ve seen too many women suffer because of ill-informed decisions about their money,” Bajalia says. “Many women, especially baby boomers, were never taught as young girls to assume financial management responsibilities.” To become a good steward of your money, she says, it’s important to understand various savings strategies and options, and the risks and rewards associated with those strategies. So, learn about investing and learn how to read a financial statement. “Studies have shown that people who become educated about their financial strategies and play an active role in planning and monitoring their assets end up twice as wealthy as those who don’t,” she says.
- Schedule a financial checkup. It’s important to develop a financial plan that will provide you income in retirement, but don’t just shove the plan into a drawer, Bajalia says. Situations change and you may need to accelerate savings, reduce risks, or tweak your plan in some other fashion. Meeting with your financial professional for an annual “financial physical” will provide an in-depth assessment of where you are against where you want to be, she says.
- Create or update a legacy plan. Nearly 60 percent of Americans are missing critical legacy and estate planning documents, such as a will, a trust, a living will, or power-of-attorney documents, Bajalia says. “Women need to remember that ‘estate’ is not synonymous with wealth,” she says. “Far too often, we don’t feel like we need an estate plan because we don’t have a lot of money. But lack of a legacy plan can create a burden on those we leave behind. For most women, their greatest desire is to leave a legacy and to not be a burden on their children or other family members.”
- Get healthy and stay healthy. What does this have to do with your finances? A lot, Bajalia says. The longer you live, the more likely you’ll face debilitating illnesses, and those illnesses come with big medical expenses that can drain your savings. “We want to ensure that in our 50s and 60s we start really taking care of both our physical and emotional health, so it doesn’t have such a devastating impact on our wealth,” she says.
“Sadly, most Americans spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning their financial futures,” Bajalia says. “Women who want a quality lifestyle in retirement need to put themselves in control of their own financial destinies, and the sooner the better.”