female working on her finances

The Female Brain

All human brains have reflective and reflexive thinking. However, the way the female brain is structured makes women tend to be more focused on care-giving, passing on money and life values to the next generation, and using wealth to better the community as a whole. The three areas of the brain that will be discussed are the Amygdala and Limbic System, Hippocampus, and Corpus callosum:

Amygdala and Limbic System: The Amygdala is the center for emotion, fear, and aggression. It is located in the Limbic System and is the part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response. The female brain’s limbic system is typically larger than the male’s. Scientists hypothesize that the larger limbic system contributes to women being more compelled to care for others.

Hippocampus: This part of the brain is the center of emotion and memory formation. This section of the brain is larger in women than men and accounts for a woman’s ability to remember specific details. The larger hippocampus also could contribute to some women wanting their Financial Advisors to remember personal details about their life.

Corpus Callosum: This part of the brain transmits signals and connects the left and the right side of the brain. Women have more connections between the left and right hemispheres, making them excellent at multitasking and verbal communication.

Kingsbury, How to Give Financial Advice to Women

Do you have any past experiences that reflect the new information you just learned about your brain?

Retired couple gardening

Why Women are Less Decisive

Women worry more about their financial health but lag in decision-making and self-confidence:

This difference in self-confidence has an enormous impact on the financial planning industry. A LPL Financial “Women Invest White Paper” survey shows that 67% women want an equal role in financial decision making and only approximately 20% want their husbands to make all the decisions. Yet, data shows less than two-thirds of women actually attain an equal role in financial decision-making (note: financial decision-making here refers to “big ticket item decisions,” not grocery shopping level daily or weekly decisions).

An ideal advisor will listen to both women and men – regardless of the gender of the financial decision-maker – and will avoid being patronizing toward both women and men if they lack financial understanding. Women prefer to work with female advisors, when possible. Although women comprise more than half the financial planning/investment clients in this country, fewer than one-quarter of Certified Financial Planners® (or other credentialed advisors) are female.

Kaplan, Women and Money: Why They Avoid Risk and Lack Confidence when Making

Don’t feel patronized or left out of your financial future. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed, let’s talk about how I encourage women to take on a greater role in the decision making process. Contact me today.

Debt and Your Financial Health

Boomer women glowing
Most people believe that any debt is detrimental to their financial health. However, some types of debt aren’t bad – a mortgage, college loans, or business loans. These types of loans appreciate in value in your future. Bad debt is money that you owe for things that you no longer benefit from; try to eliminate these debts.

There are ways to change your financial situation. Use a spending chart to record how you are using your money. Write down everything you spend and where your money goes to. To reduce debt, look at your nonessential expenses and decide which ones you can remove. Limiting the way you use your credit card can help with your spending.

You can avoid the legal consequences of bad debt by resolving your debt before it becomes overwhelming. Start planning now. Repaying the debts you have accrued will not happen overnight. However, if you control your spending and attain professional help, you will resolve your financial problems over time.

(Morris, A Woman’s Guide to Personal Finance)

Money Issues Across Your Life Cycle

Some women are co-breadwinners while others are the only source of income. Throughout a woman’s life, she will experience many money issues unique to women. A woman may experience the following situations: lower earnings, lack of retirement planning, divorce, and fewer years in the workplace because of child-rearing or caring for older parents. Many of these issues can work against a woman’s ability to accumulate money and attain stable financial status.

Lower Lifetime Earnings

As a population, women generally earn a lower income than their male counterparts. The Equal Pay Act that passed in the 1960s was supposed to narrow the earning gap between men and women, yet a gender pay gap still exists today. Women who work full-time year-round still are paid 77% of a man’s pay ($37,000 for a woman compared to $48,000 for a man in 2009) (U.S. Census Bureau 2012). Inequities start early and worsen over time. Research has shown a 5% difference one year after college graduation and a 12% difference after 10 years. The only identified explanation for the unexplained gaps was gender discrimination (Arnst 2007; Boushey, Aarons, and Smith 2010).

Breaks in Career

Women are more likely to have gaps in their work years because of child-rearing (Duke 2010). Some women may leave their jobs for extended periods of time to go on maternity leave. Other women make the choice to stay home for an extended time, reentering the job market years later. During child-rearing years, some women may leave careers behind and choose to work part-time or find a job with hours that match closely with children’s school schedules. As a result, upon retirement age, women’s income and Social Security benefits are often lower than those of their male counterparts.
Women need to pay attention to any employer retirement plan or matched contributions that may have been a job benefit. Find out about retirement or savings before you leave the job. If money is invested in a retirement plan, can it stay until you are ready to retire? What are the options?

Divorce

The divorce rate in the United States is estimated at 36%–50% (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). In general, divorce creates a financial disaster for families and may leave a woman to raise children using less money. Spending may likely need to change when a divorce occurs. It is important to review monthly expenditures and establish a budget. Since cash flow may drastically change and not be the same from week to week, continue to review income and expenses. Depending on the number of years a woman was married, she may be entitled to part of her husband’s retirement income. Be sure all financial issues are revealed and resolved during divorce proceedings.

Care of Elderly Parents

Another family obligation that may interfere with building wealth is caring for an elderly or ailing parent or other family member. Women tend to be the major caregivers for sick or older parents. Some women may take a career break or retire early to attend to the full-time care of a family member. Even if a woman continues to work, caring for the family member may become a financial burden.

Widowhood

As women age, the likelihood of living alone increases. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010), among those 65 and older, 44% of women were married, compared to 75% of men. Widowed women account for approximately 40% of women 65 and older, but only 13% of men 65 and older are widowed (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). The average age of widowhood is 55 years old (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). A spouse’s death is not only emotionally exhausting, but also will likely end with financial consequences.

Lack of Retirement Planning

As a whole, women tend to focus less on planning for their retirement over the course of their career, having saved less for retirement than men. Because women are often the caregivers for the family, taking steps to ensure their financial future may take a backseat when other events occur.
Women are reluctant to taking risk. When women do put money into a retirement fund, it is often a conservative investment that earns lower interest rates than their male counterparts. Try to research investments and identify your best options.

What You Can Do to Prepare Yourself

Women can improve their financial status and retirement income. Financial planning and learning about investing are the first steps on the road to financial independence. Time is on your side when you start early. Small amounts of money saved and invested over time add up to a secure financial life.

(U.S. Census Bureau 2010)

Women, Money and Emotions

Women can be notorious for making financial decisions based on emotions. It can be as simple as splurging on a new dress or purse that may not be a fiscally sound decision but “you just had to have it!” Or more serious events like leaving substantial money on the table when experiencing a divorce or financial separation. These decisions are often motivated by guilt or to avoid further conflict, and often create a serious and long-term impact on a woman’s financial future.

While not all emotional decisions have a negative impact recognizing your tendency to make financial decisions based on emotions, it can help you navigate more serious issues with greater care.
What was the last emotional decision you made with money? What impact did it have on your financial situation?

Why women worry more

Women worry more about the effect of money on relationships:
A survey by Camden Wealth and Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management shows that a staggering 79% of younger (“next-generation”) ultra wealthy women are concerned their wealth will complicate relationships with spouses, partners, friends and colleagues. Only 22% of wealthy men shared these concerns. I believe the same conclusions can be drawn for women and men in all income and net worth brackets.

Avoid Holiday Spending

Despite meticulous planning, the holidays are the time when most consumers do the most damage to their debt loads by buying presents for family and friends now and figuring out how to pay for them later.

Here are some tips to help you avoid overspending during the holiday season.

Get over the guilt

Are you buying that gift because you haven’t spent enough time with that recipient? Are you trying to make up for something you’re feeling bad about? It’s important to ask yourself if spending a surplus of money on a gift is really going to help you achieve the goal of gift-giving in the first place.

Set a budget, spend within it

It is crucial to establish a budget BEFORE you go shopping. Don’t spend more than you can pay back in one month. You’ll still have to pay your regular bills just like the other 11 months of the year plus all those added holiday expenses.

Always pay for purchases with a debit card

If you can’t pay with debit, you can’t afford it.

Don’t let a gift put a value on you

Consumers value themselves based on their spending choices. People become consumed in what they believe they’re expected to purchase. Think about what you can afford. What is the meaning and value behind your gift? The gift may not cost much, but may be worth more to the recipient than the price.

Put meaning into your gift

Donating to a charity of your choice in a loved one’s name is a fantastic way to show you care while staying within your budget. Research a charity or organization that holds special meaning to your recipient and honor them while helping somebody else in need.

Start the New Year right

Create a monthly expense budget and examine what you’re actually spending each month. Set your spending and saving goals early in the year.

Did you put these tools to use during your holiday shopping? Did you implement any other money saving tools? I’d love to hear back from you.
Source: Keltie, 5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Overspending

Many women feel they don’t know enough…

…to make smart financial decisions

They assume they must understand every aspect of their investments and financial plan in order to make a decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all delegate to professionals who have an expertise that we don’t have the time or the inclination to perfect, the same holds true with your financial life. While we do not suggest you simply “blindly” trust any professional you work with the reality is you do not have to know how to build the clock you just need to know how the clock works and can impact your life.

Types of Relationships; Which One are You?

The Big Spender
The Big Spender has no problem spending money if the purchase seems right. They view money as a vehicle for bringing themselves and others happiness. Big spenders view life as endless possibilities; they enjoy life and what it has to offer. The downside is that they overspend when they are upset or bored.

The Saver
The Saver is the polar opposite of the big spender. The saver believes in saving money at all costs. They keep track of all monies earned and spent and are extremely cautious with their finances. Many positive aspects come from pinching pennies. The positive aspect of being a saver is that they tend to have a nice emergency savings cushion, good credit and very little debt. On the negative side, extreme saving tends to come from a fear of never having enough, which means that the saver probably denies themselves things that they want and even need.

The Entrepreneur
The Entrepreneur gets a thrill from overextending and stretching financially. They make investments in a business or a beach house even if it means eating canned soup every night for dinner. Thrill-seekers tend to be free-thinking entrepreneurs; they view life as a game and money as the playing pieces.
When you’re a thrill-seeker with your money, your financial journey is exciting. Living with this thrill-seeking mindset means that each day is a new adventure. However, this mindset can be risky. If anything goes wrong, this spender could potentially lose a lot of money.

The Security-Craver
If you’re a saver and find yourself constantly checking your balances to make sure you have enough, you crave the security that you feel money offers. You aren’t afraid of spending money like The Saver; you take your time making a commitment to purchases, especially large ones. While this type of spending has its definite advantages, like the fact that you probably won’t find yourself in financial trouble, the urge to check and recheck your safety net can become overwhelming.

The Idealist
The Idealist views money and consumerism as unsavory and the root of many of the world’s problems. They prefer to dedicate themselves to innovative pursuits that don’t focus on money. The Idealist most likely ignores their finances and pays for necessary items quickly; afterwards, they jump back into their own agenda.

The Idealist spender tends to notice simple pleasures. However, this mindset is often impractical. They enjoy life, but forget that they need money to enjoy some aspects of it.
Source: Payoff, 5 Different Types of Money Spenders

Is Your Relationship with Money on the Rocks?

A relationship is defined as the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected. A relationship does not necessarily need to be between two people; it can also be between a woman and her money. Your money needs attention, respect, and understanding; all components are needed in a compatible relationship.

If you are struggling with or misunderstanding your finances, there are a couple steps you can take to acquire the relationship you WANT. First talk to a professional; make an appointment with a financial advisor. Next, educate yourself about money. Read something about finances everyday, that way you UNDERSTAND the other half of your relationship. You can also ask your money savvy colleagues for advice. Finally, be careful of rumors and scare tactics; those facts are generally skewed. Once you have defined and developed a healthy relationship with your money, you are on the road to success!

Source: Stanny, Time to Have a Love Affair with Your Money