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A Woman’s Financial Reality

Irene Smith is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, Certified Financial Planner® and Certified Public Accountant with Smith Financial Management. We are proud to be hosting three of Irene’s excellent financial seminars this summer. For more information about Irene’s seminars, visit our events page at TheLawCollaborative.com/events.htm. These seminars are free but space is limited. Please RSVP if you wish to attend.

A WOMAN’S FINANCIAL REALITY: Your financial future is up to you … and no one else.
Presented by Irene Smith

Will this be your future? Did you know that Social Security income represents two-thirds of income for women 65 and older? Did you know that without Social Security, an estimated 58% of widows aged 65 and older would live in poverty? 1

These findings are from a 2010 U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee report. As Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) put it, “Social Security is literally a lifeline for most elderly women.”

That lifeline is barely adequate. With inflation and other economic pressures, a mature woman relying on SSI may eventually have to choose between food or medicine, or rent or car repair, or contend with other stressful money dilemmas.

When these women were younger, did they envision such a meager future ahead of them? Probably not. More than a few probably wish they had understood money matters better or actively invested for retirement.

How much do you know about personal finance? The more knowledge you have, the more action you can take to define and pursue your financial goals and build retirement savings. You can also respond to a few financial realities common to women’s lives.

The average woman spends 12 years out of the working world. So finds WISER, the non-profit formally called Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. Typically some of this absence is for parenting, some of it for caregiving. This means the average woman has 12 fewer years to pour steady money into that 401(k), 403(b) or IRA.2

Women live longer. According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, female life expectancy is at roughly 80.5 years versus about 75.5 years for males. The reality unnoticed in these numbers is that many women will live on their own for a decade or more after being divorced or widowed.3

Women face an earnings gap. On the whole, women do not earn as much as men. In 2009, the Government Accountability Office noted that women earn $0.78 for every $1 that men earn. Some people question this statistic, arguing that it reflects gender inequality in career paths rather than distinct salary discrimination. Regardless, the gap exists – and it is even more pronounced for women of color.4

At work, many women are worth more than the salaries they receive. Some women are reluctant to negotiate a better salary for themselves. Will it upset the equilibrium at the office? Will it be seen as too aggressive? The answers here are probably “no” and “no”. It takes confidence (and it may take a little research) to affirm your professional worth in front of your boss – and it should be done.

A rich spouse does not equal a retirement strategy. It is nice to have a spouse whose wealth allows you freedom from financial worries. Yet even if you are blessed with a rich and attractive mate, there is no telling where that mate (and that money) might end up someday but for fate.

How do you plan to arrange a comfortable future for yourself? If you don’t want to end up dependent on Social Security, then see that you have the financial education that will let you make major money decisions with confidence. Study fundamentals of investing and read up on the basics of retirement and estate strategizing. Follow up by meeting with a financial representative who can help you put a strategy into action.

Irene Smith may be reached at 818 884 4888 or Irene.smith@investmentcenters.com.
www.smithfinancialmanagement.com

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty.

Citations.
1 – thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/801-economy/126543-changes-to-social-security-could-negatively-affect-women [10/29/10]
2 – mainstreet.com/article/retirement/women-still-far-behind-retirement-plans [4/25/11]
3 – nytimes.com/2011/03/17/health/17brfs-ART-AMERICANLIFE_BRF.html [3/17/11]
4 – civilrights.org/archives/2009/04/291-equal-pay-day.html [4/29/09]
5 – montoyaregistry.com/Financial-Market.aspx?financial-market=money-and-happiness&category=29 [6/5/11]

Financial Infidelity

According to a survey of more than 200 American consumers, 80% of couples have at least one member who spends money their spouse does not know about. Almost 20% of married individuals have a credit card with a balance unknown to their spouse. 38% of those with secret spending habits and credit card balances worry their spouse would consider divorce if they ever learned of the Financial Infidelity. (PacDivorce.com)

FINANCIAL INFIDELITY
Originally posted on ASeriousGirl.com

The other day I came across an article about “financial infidelity”. Wikipedia defines financial infidelity as “a term used to describe the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other. Adding to the monetary strain commonly associated with financial infidelity in a relationship is a subsequent loss of intimacy and trust in the relationship.”

Basically, according to the Internets, married people are cheating on each other with money.

Within a week of our moving in together, Mike had added my name to his checking account and I’d closed mine out and deposited all of my funds into his account. I wouldn’t recommend this to all couples, for in some situations that could be a really stupid thing to do. Yet in our case it made sense. For one thing, I had excellent credit and a knack for data entry, while Mike made lots of money that he never took to the bank. He used to get all his bills in red envelopes, not because he couldn’t afford to pay them, but because he never had money in the bank. Instead, all his money was scattered across the kitchen table, shoved into cracks in the walls to keep out drafts, tucked into books like so many bookmarks, and wadded up in the dryer lint catcher. It drove me crazy. So when we agreed to move in together, we agreed to a joint bank account so that I could manage our finances. And manage them I did! Every night when Mike came home from work he would put all his cash in a cigar box we kept next to the bed. Every morning I would deposit his cigar box cash at the bank. I paid all our bills, balanced the checkbook, and watched our budget. By the time we married we had zero debt and a nice little nest egg. Then we moved to New York and blew it all. Then we paid down our debt again, built another nice little nest egg, and moved back to California.

The value of a man who, without complaint, hands over his paycheck every week, is not lost on me. I know how lucky I am to have a partner who is so careful of his spending, so sincere in his desire to help me build the future we want for ourselves. It’s a blessing to know that we have the same goals in mind and that we’re both doing the best we can to meet them. Which is why the thought of financial infidelity is so absolutely horrifying. Aside from death or actual infidelity, I can’t imagine many things more terrifying than discovering that my husband has secret credit card debt. Or secret gambling debt. Or secret anything.

I thought about all this when I read the article, then I googled “financial infidelity” and found 809,000 more articles, and with each word I read I climbed higher and higher on my money-management pedestal. Patted myself on the back and told myself how superior we are because we would never lie to each other about money. We’re better than that. And then I remembered the parking ticket.

If I get a parking ticket and send the check off and don’t say anything to Mike about that $55 – is that financial infidelity? What if I go shopping and tell him I only spent $100, but I actually spent $350? We each have a budgeted personal allowance of $80 a month and Mike never spends that much, but in the past I have spent three times my allotted amount. Yet I’ve never told him (until now). I’ve just let him think I stay within my budget because I don’t want him to get mad, and it’s not like he ever looks at our budget sheets because he totally trusts me to take care of it – so am I cheating on my spouse with money?

AM I A CURRENCY INFIDELITE?

What do you think? Oooh, touchy subject, this is. Money! Scary stuff, I know. But I’m curious. What do you think?