Social Security – Filing Claim

social security, retirement, financial planning, financial advisor colorado springsHow old you are when you claim Social Security has a dramatic effect on the monthly benefits you and, if married, your spouse will get for the rest of your lives.

© 2009, by Trustees of Boston College, Center for Retirement Research

Dale Payne – Financial Advisor in Colorado Springs

financial advisor in colorado springs, financial advise, financial advisor colorado springs, insurance agent colorado springs, retirement colorado springs, long term care, long term care colorado springs, life insurance, life insurance agentMy name is Dale Payne and I am an independent Financial Advisor in Colorado Springs. I’ve worked in securities since 1986 and a licensed insurance agent since 1990. Over my 28 years of experience, I’ve found that it takes both securities and insurance to make a plan work. My objective is to help you achieve your goal of financial freedom. I can help you with a complete Financial Plan, Insurance needs, Annuities and even How to Save Money at any income level. I am also a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

I am an Investment Advisory Representative of Pearl Street Advisors, LLC. Pearl Street is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor.

Credentials – CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CDFA®
I am a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Bachelors Degree of Science in Business Management. I earned my ChFC® (Chartered Financial Consultant) in 2007 and CLU® (Certified Life Underwriter) in 2008 from the American College and my CFP® (Certified Financial Planning Practitioner) in 2012 http://CFP.net.  CDFA® (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Additional professional designations of CAS® (Certified Annuity Specialist) and the CFS® (Certified Fund Specialist) with the Institute of Business and Finance. Additionally, I am a member of the Better Business Bureau.

My passion is financial planning and the relationships that result when I make a difference. My other passions are travel, writing short stories, the practice of yoga, and my Miniature Schnauzer, Bella.

Previously Held

  • Series 7 General Securities 8/16/1986
  • Series 24 Securities Principal 12/13/1988
  • Series 65 Investment Advisor 5/31/1995
  • Series 51 Municipal Securities 2005

I am no longer associated with a broker dealer or FINRA. These are shown only to illustrate experience.

Social Security Seminar

Social Security Benefits

Strategies to Optimize your Social Security Benefits

Dale E. Payne, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CDFA® cordially invites you to join us and learn about many common mistakes people make in sighing up for Social Security benefits. Uncover little known strategies that could optimize your lifetime benefits and KEY FACTORS you need to know BEFORE applying for Social Security benefits. Don’t lose tens of thousands of dollars in benefits unnecesarily! TIMING COULD BE EVERYTHING!

FREE ADMISSION, SEATING IS LIMITED. RSVP TODAY

  • Little-known strategies to increase your Social Security benefits
  • How benefits are calculated and simple strategies to increase them
  • Coordinating benefits… Why maried couples could miss out on substantial benefits
  • When should you apply for Social Security… What you don’t know could cost you!

 

When: Tuesday – March 18th at 6:30pm
Where: Coronado High School Cafeteria – 1590 W. Fillmore St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80904

When: Thursday – March 20th at 6:30pm
Where: Cheyenne Mountain Library – 1785 S. 8th St. – Colorado Springs, CO 80905

If you are between the ages of 58 and 67, you should consider this event.

RSVP by Calling: 800-849-6404

Why Women Need Life Insurance

Today, women have more financial responsibilities than ever before. How will your family or loved ones manage financially if you die? Whether you are single, married, employed, or a stay-at-home mom, you probably need life insurance. At the very least, life insurance can help pay for the costs of funeral and burial services, estate administration, outstanding debts, estate taxes, and the uninsured expenses of a final illness.

Who needs life insurance?

Working women

Increasingly, families depend on the income of two working parents. If you’re a working mother, your income can have a significant impact on the quality of your family’s lifestyle. Your income helps cover the cost of ordinary living expenses such as food, clothing, and utilities, and it provides savings for your children’s college education, and for your retirement. Life insurance protects your family by providing proceeds that can be used to replace your lost income if you die prematurely.

Single women

Often, women, like men, think that it’s not necessary to buy life insurance because they have no dependents. What’s often overlooked is that life insurance can provide necessary funds to pay off car loans, education loans, debts, a mortgage, taxes, and funeral expenses that might otherwise be the responsibility of family members. Also, the cash value of permanent life insurance may be used to supplement retirement income.

Single moms

Whether you’re divorced, widowed, or simply a single mom, you’re most likely primarily responsible for your child’s support. If you die prematurely, life insurance can provide ongoing income to cover child-care costs, medical expenses, debts, and future college costs.

Stay-at-home moms

Maintaining a household is a full-time job, and you have many important roles and duties. The cost of the services performed by a stay-at-home mom could be quite significant if someone had to be hired to do them. If you die, your surviving spouse may have to pay for services such as child care, transportation for your children, and housekeeping. Taking over these added responsibilities could cause your spouse to shorten work hours, resulting in a reduction in income. Proceeds from your life insurance can help your spouse pay for services that keep the household running and allow your spouse to keep working.

Family caregiver

Many women find themselves providing care for both children and elderly family members. Caring for an aging parent or family member can include paying for the costs of adult day care, uninsured medical expenses, and extra transportation. Adding these expenses to the costs of maintaining a household, child care, and college tuition can be financially overwhelming. Unfortunately, these added financial responsibilities often continue after your death. Life insurance provides a source of funds that can be used to help pay for these expenses.

Business owner

You may be one of the increasing number of women business owners. If you die while owning your business, life insurance can be used to provide cash for company expenses such as payroll or operating costs while your estate is being settled. Also, life insurance can be a useful tool for business owners structuring buy-sell arrangements or providing benefits to key employees.

Life insurance types and options

Life insurance comes in many different sizes and shapes, and determining the policy that meets your needs may depend on a number of factors. Understanding the basic types of life insurance can help you find the policy that’s best for you.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance provides a simple death benefit for a specified period of time. If you die during the coverage period, the beneficiary you name in the policy receives the death benefit. If you live past the term period, your coverage ends, and you get nothing back. The cost, or premium, for the coverage can be fixed for the duration of the policy term (usually 1 to 30 years) or it can be “annually renewable” meaning that the premium can increase each year as you get older. However, the premium for term insurance usually costs less than the premium for permanent insurance when all factors are the same, including the death benefit.

Whole life insurance

Whole life is permanent or cash value insurance that provides insurance coverage for your entire life. With most whole life policies, part of your premium is added to the cash value account, which earns interest. Some whole life policies also pay a dividend, which represents a portion of the company’s profits made during the prior year.

The cash value grows tax deferred and can either be used as collateral to borrow from the insurance company or be directly accessed through a partial or complete surrender of the policy. It is important to note, however, that a policy loan or partial surrender will reduce the policy’s death benefit, and a complete surrender will terminate coverage altogether.

Note: Guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Universal life insurance

Universal life is another type of permanent life insurance with a death benefit and a cash value account. A universal life insurance policy will generally provide very broad premium guidelines (i.e., minimum and maximum premium payments), but within these guidelines you can choose how much and when you pay premiums. You are also free to change the policy’s death benefit directly (again, within the limits set out by the policy) as your financial circumstances change. But if you want to raise the amount of coverage, you’ll need to go through the insurability process again, probably including a new medical exam, and your premiums will increase.

Variable life insurance

Variable life insurance is a type of cash value coverage that allows you to choose how your cash value account is invested. A variable life policy generally contains several investment options, or subaccounts, that are professionally managed to pursue a stated investment objective. Choices can range from a fixed interest subaccount to an international growth subaccount. Variable life insurance policies require a fixed annual premium for the life of the policy and may provide a minimum guaranteed death benefit. If the cash value exceeds a certain amount, the death benefit will increase.

Variable universal life insurance

Variable universal life combines all of the options and flexibility of universal life with the investment choices of a variable policy. You decide how often and how much your premium payments are to be, within policy guidelines. With most variable universal life policies, you get no guaranteed minimum cash value or death benefit, but you can direct how your premium payments are invested among policy subaccounts.

Note: Variable life and variable universal life insurance policies are offered by prospectus, which you can obtain from your financial professional or the insurance company. The prospectus contains detailed information about investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. You should read the prospectus and consider this information carefully before purchasing a variable life or variable universal life insurance policy.

Joint and survivor life insurance

You and your spouse may choose to buy a single policy of permanent insurance that covers both of your lives. With first-to-die, the death benefit is paid at the death of the spouse who dies first. With second-to-die, no death benefit is paid until both spouses are deceased. Second-to-die policies are commonly used in estate planning to pay estate taxes and other expenses due at the death of the second spouse. Other than the fact that two people are insured by one policy, the policy characteristics remain the same.

Bottom line

Life insurance protection for women is equally as important as it is for men. However, women’s life insurance coverage is often inadequate. It may be time to consult an insurance professional who can help you assess your life insurance needs, and offer information about the various types of policies available.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable–we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Financial Professional

Are you suddenly on your own or forced to assume greater responsibility for your financial future? Unsure about whether you’re on the right track with your savings and investments? Finding yourself with new responsibilities, such as the care of a child or an aging parent? Facing other life events, such as marriage, divorce, the sale of a family business, or a career change? Too busy to become a financial expert but needing to make sure your assets are being managed appropriately? Or maybe you simply feel your assets could be invested or protected better than they are now.

These are only some of the many circumstances that prompt people to contact someone who can help them address their financial questions and issues. This may be especially true for women, who live longer than men on average and therefore may face an even greater challenge in making their assets last over that longer life span. In fact, one survey found that women often value advice from a professional in their financial decision-making even more than men do.*

Why work with a financial professional?

A financial professional can apply his or her skills to your specific needs. Just as important, you have someone who can answer questions about things that you may find confusing or anxiety-provoking. When the financial markets go through one of their periodic downturns, having someone you can turn to may help you make sense of it all.

If you don’t feel confident about your knowledge of investing or specific financial products and services, having someone who monitors the financial markets every day can be helpful. After all, if you hire people to do things like cut your hair, work on your car, and tend to medical issues, it might just make sense to get some help when dealing with important financial issues.

Even if you have the knowledge and ability to manage your own finances, the financial world grows more intricate every day as new products and services are introduced. Also, legislative changes can have a substantial impact on your investment and tax planning strategy. A professional can monitor such developments on an ongoing basis and assess how they might affect your portfolio.

A financial professional may be able to help you see the big picture and make sure the various aspects of your financial life are integrated in a way that makes sense for you. That can be especially important if you own your own business or have complex tax issues.

If you already have a financial plan, a financial professional can act as a sounding board, giving you a reality check to make sure your assumptions and expectations are realistic. For example, if you’ve been investing far more conservatively than is appropriate for your goals and circumstances, either out of fear of making a mistake or from not being aware of how risks can be managed, a financial professional can help you assess whether and how your portfolio might need adjusting to improve your chances of reaching those goals.

When should you consult a professional?

You don’t have to wait until an event occurs before consulting a financial professional. Having someone help you develop an overall strategy for approaching your financial goals can be useful at any time. However, in some cases, a specific life event or perceived need can serve as a catalyst for seeking advice. Such events might include:

  • Marriage, divorce, or the death of a spouse
  • Having a baby or adopting a child • Planning for a child’s or grandchild’s college education • Buying or selling a family business
  • Changing jobs or careers Planning your retirement
  • Developing an estate plan
  • Receiving an inheritance or financial windfall

Making the most of a professional’s expertise

  • You’ll need to understand how a financial professional is compensated for his or her services. Some receive a fee based on an hourly rate (usually for specific advice or a financial plan), or on a percentage of your portfolio’s assets and/or income. Some receive a commission from a third party for any products you may purchase. Still others may receive some combination of fees and commissions, while still others may simply receive a salary from their financial services employer. Don’t be reluctant to ask about fees; any reputable financial professional shouldn’t hesitate to explain how he or she is compensated.
  • Even if you’re a relative novice when it comes to finances, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what’s being presented to you. You’re not being rude; you’re simply trying to prevent misunderstandings that could backfire later. • Don’t let yourself be pressured into making a financial decision you’re not comfortable with or don’t understand. This is your money, and you have the right to take whatever time you need. However, give yourself a deadline for your decision so you don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis.”
  • If you think your financial life simply needs a checkup rather than a complete overhaul, you’ll need to clarify the areas in which you’re looking for assistance. That can help you decide what type of advice you’re looking for from your financial professional, though you should also pay attention to any additional suggestions raised during your discussions. Your plans should take into consideration your financial goals, your time horizon for achieving each one, your current financial and emotional ability to tolerate risk, and any recent changes in your circumstances.
  • Don’t assume you have to be wealthy to make use of a financial professional. While some do focus on clients with assets above a certain level, others do not.
  • Think about the scope of the services you’ll need. Do you want comprehensive help in a variety of areas, or would you be better off assembling a team of specialists? Do you need an ongoing relationship, or can your needs be taken care of on a one-time basis? If you’re a relative novice or having to deal with decisions you’ve never had to make before, someone with broad-based expertise might be a good place to start.
  • Even if you feel you need detailed advice from several different specialists–for example, if you own your own business–consider whether you might benefit from having someone who can coordinate among them. A financial professional can sometimes be a gateway to other professionals who can help with specific aspects of your finances, such as accounting, tax and/or estate planning, insurance, and investments.
  • If you want comprehensive management, you may be able to give a financial professional the independent authority to make trading decisions for your portfolio without checking with you first. In that case, you’ll likely be asked to help develop and sign an investment policy statement that spells out the specifics of the firm’s decision-making authority and the guidelines to be followed when making those decisions.

If you feel that consulting an expert can be helpful, don’t postpone making that call. The sooner you get your questions answered, the sooner you’ll be able to pay more attention to the things–family, friends, career, hobbies–that an organized financial life can help you enjoy.

*February 2012 survey of 1,150 affluent individuals conducted by Spectrem Group, a research/consulting firm focused on the affluent and retirement markets.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable–we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Adjusting to Life after a Divorce – Financially

There’s no doubt about it–going through a divorce can be an emotionally trying time. Ironing out a divorce settlement, attending various court hearings, and dealing with competing attorneys can all weigh heavily on the parties involved. In addition to the emotional impact a divorce can have, it’s important to be aware of how your financial position will be impacted. Now, more than ever, you need to make sure that your finances are on the right track. You will then be able to put the past behind you and set in place the building blocks that can be the foundation for your new financial future.

Assess your current financial situation

Following a divorce, you’ll need to get a handle on your finances and assess your current financial situation, taking into account the likely loss of your former spouse’s income. In addition, you may now be responsible for paying for expenses that you were once able to share with your former spouse, such as housing, utilities, and car loans. Ultimately, you may come to the realization that you’re no longer able to live the lifestyle you were accustomed to before your divorce.

Establish a budget

A good place to start is to establish a budget that reflects your current monthly income and expenses. In addition to your regular salary and wages, be sure to include other types of income, such as dividends and interest. If you will be receiving alimony and/or child support, you’ll want to include those payments as well.

As for expenses, you’ll want to focus on dividing them into two categories: fixed and discretionary. Fixed expenses include things like housing, food, and transportation. Discretionary expenses include things like entertainment, vacations, etc. Keep in mind that you may need to cut back on some of your discretionary expenses until you adjust to living on less income. However, it’s important not to deprive yourself entirely of any enjoyment. You’ll want to build the occasional reward (for example, yoga class, dinner with friends) into your budget.

Reevaluate/re-prioritize your financial goals

Your next step should be to reevaluate your financial goals. While you were married, you may have set certain financial goals with your spouse. Now that you are on your own, these goals may have changed. Start out by making a list of the things that you now would like to achieve. Do you need to put more money towards retirement? Are you interested in going back to school? Would you like to save for a new home?

You’ll want to be sure to reprioritize your financial goals as well. You and your spouse may have planned on buying a vacation home at the beach. After your divorce, however, you may find that other goals may become more important (for example, making sure your cash reserve is adequately funded).

Take control of your debt

While you’re adjusting to your new budget, be sure that you take control of your debt and credit. You should try to avoid the temptation to rely on credit cards to provide extras. And if you do have debt, try to put a plan in place to pay it off as quickly as possible. The following are some tips to help you pay off your debt:

  • Keep track of balances and interest rates
  • Develop a plan to manage payments and avoid late fees
  • Pay off high-interest debt first
  • Take advantage of debt consolidation/refinancing options

Protect/establish credit

Since divorce can have a negative impact on your credit rating, consider taking steps to try to protect your credit record and/or establish credit in your own name. A positive credit history is important since it will allow you to obtain credit when you need it, and at a lower interest rate. Good credit is even sometimes viewed by employers as a prerequisite for employment.

Review your credit report and check it for any inaccuracies. Are there joint accounts that have been closed or refinanced? Are there any names on the report that need to be changed? You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com for more information.

To establish a good track record with creditors, be sure to make your monthly bill payments on time and try to avoid having too many credit inquiries on your report. Such inquiries are made every time you apply for new credit cards.

Review your insurance needs

Typically, insurance coverage for one or both spouses is negotiated as part of a divorce settlement. However, you may have additional insurance needs that go beyond that which you were able to obtain through your divorce settlement.

When it comes to health insurance, make having adequate coverage a priority. Unless your divorce settlement requires your spouse to provide you with health coverage, one option is to obtain temporary health insurance coverage (up to 36 months) through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). You can also look into purchasing individual coverage or, if you’re employed, coverage through your employer.

Now that you’re on your own, you’ll also want to make sure that your disability and life insurance coverage matches your current needs. This is especially true if you are reentering the workforce or if you’re the custodial parent of your children.

Finally, make sure that your property insurance coverage is updated. Any applicable property insurance policies may need to be modified or rewritten in order to reflect property ownership changes that may have resulted from your divorce.

Change your beneficiary designations

After a divorce, you’ll want to change the beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank or credit union accounts you may have in place. Keep in mind that a divorce settlement may require you to keep a former spouse as a beneficiary on a policy, in which case you cannot change the beneficiary designation.

This is also a good time to make a will or update your existing one to reflect your new status. Make sure that your former spouse isn’t still named as a personal representative, successor trustee, beneficiary, or holder of a power of attorney in any of your estate planning documents.

Consider tax implications

You’ll also need to consider the tax implications of your divorce. Your sources of income, filing status, and the credits and/or deductions for which you qualify may all be affected.

In addition to your regular salary and wages, you may have new sources of income after your divorce, such as alimony and/or child support. If you are receiving alimony, it will be considered taxable income to you. Child support, on the other hand, will not be considered taxable income.

Your tax filing status will also change. Filing status is determined as of the last day of the tax year (December 31). This means that even if you were divorced on December 31, you would, for tax purposes, be considered divorced for that entire year.

Finally, if you have children, and depending on whether you are the custodial parent, you may be eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. These could include dependency exemptions, the child tax credit, and the credit for child and dependent care expenses, along with student loan interest and tuition deductions.

Consult a financial professional

Although it can certainly be done on your own, you may want to consider consulting a financial professional to assist you in adjusting to your new financial life. In addition to helping you assess your needs, a financial professional can work with you to develop a plan designed to help you address your financial goals, make recommendations about specific products and services, and monitor and adjust your plan as needed.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable–we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Women Are Different from Men – Financially Speaking

We all know men and women are different in some fundamental ways. But is this true when it comes to financial planning? In a word, yes. In the financial world, women often find themselves in very different circumstances than their male counterparts.

Everyone wants financial security. Yet women often face financial headwinds that can affect their ability to achieve it. The good news is that women today have never been in a better position to achieve financial security for themselves and their families.

More women than ever are successful professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and knowledgeable investors. Their economic clout is growing, and women’s impact on the traditional workplace is still unfolding positively as women earn college and graduate degrees in record numbers and seek to successfully integrate their work and home lives to provide for their families. So what financial course will you chart?

Some key differences

On the path to financial security, it’s important for women to understand what they might be up against, financially speaking.
Women have longer life expectancies.
Women live an average of 4.9 years longer than men. A longer life expectancy presents several financial challenges for women:

  • Women will need to stretch their retirement dollars further.
  • Women are more likely to need some type oflong-term care, and may have to face some of their health-care needs alone.
  • Married women are likely to outlive their husbands, which means they could have ultimate responsibility for disposition of the marital estate.

Women generally earn less and have fewer savings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within most occupational categories, women who work full-time, year-round, earn only 81% (on average) of what men earn. This wage gap can significantly impact women’s overall savings, Social Security retirement benefits, and pensions.

The dilemma is that while women generally earn less than men, they need those dollars to last longer due to a longer life expectancy. With smaller financial cushions, women are more vulnerable to unexpected economic obstacles, such as a job loss, divorce, or single parenthood. And according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women are more likely than men to be living in poverty throughout their lives.

Women are more likely to take career breaks for care-giving. Women are much more likely than men to take time out of their careers to raise children and/or care for aging parents.
Sometimes this is by choice. But by moving in and out of the workforce, women face several significant financial implications

  • Lost income, employer-provided health insurance, retirement benefits, and other employee benefits.
  • Less savings.
  • A potentially lower Social Security retirement benefit.
  • Possibly a tougher time finding a job, or a comparable job (in terms of pay and benefits), when reentering the workforce.
  • Increased vulnerability in the event of divorce or death of a spouse.

Women are more likely to be living on their own – Whether through choice, divorce, or death of a spouse, more women are living on their own. This means they’ll need to take sole responsibility for protecting their income and making financial decisions.

Women sometimes are more conservative investors – Whether they’re saving for a home, college, retirement, or a trip around the world, women need their money to work hard for them. Sometimes, though, women tend to be more conservative investors than men, 5 which means their savings might not be on track to meet their financial goals.

Women need to protect their assets – As women continue to earn money, become the main breadwinners for their families, and run their own businesses, it’s vital that they take steps to protect their assets, both personal and business. Without an asset protection plan, a woman’s wealth is vulnerable to taxes, lawsuits, accidents, and other financial risks that are part of everyday life. But women may be too busy handling their day-to-day responsibilities to take the time to implement an appropriate plan.

Steps women can take

In the past, women may have taken a less active role in household financial decision making. But, for many, those days are over. Today, women have more financial responsibility for themselves and their families. So it’s critical that women know how to save, invest, and plan for the future. Here are some things women can do:

Take control of your money – Create a budget, manage debt and credit wisely, set and prioritize financial goals, and implement a savings and investment strategy to meet those goals.

Become a knowledgeable investor – Learn basic investing concepts, such as asset classes, risk tolerance, time horizon, diversification, inflation, the role of various financial vehicles like 401(k)s and IRAs, and the role of income, growth, and safety investments in a portfolio. Look for investing opportunities in the purchasing decisions you make every day. Have patience, be willing to ask questions, admit mistakes, and seek help when necessary.

Plan for retirement – Save as much as you can for retirement. Estimate how much money you’ll need in retirement, and how much you can expect from your savings, Social Security, and/or an employer pension. Understand how your Social Security benefit amount will change depending on the age you retire, and also how years spent out of the workforce might affect the amount you receive. At retirement, make sure you understand your retirement plan distribution options, and review your portfolio regularly. Also, factor the cost of health care (including long-term care) into your retirement planning, and understand the basic rules of Medicare.

Advocate for yourself – in the workplace. Have confidence in your work ability and advocate for your worth in the workplace by researching salary ranges, negotiating your starting salary, seeking highly visible job assignments, networking, and asking for raises and promotions. In addition, keep an eye out for new career opportunities, entrepreneurial ventures, and/or ways to grow your business.

Seek help to balance work and family – If you have children and work outside the home, investigate and negotiate flexible work arrangements that may allow you to keep working, and make sure your spouse is equally invested in household and child-related responsibilities. If you stay at home to care for children, keep your skills up-to-date to the extent possible in case you return to the workforce, and stay involved in household financial decision making. If you’re caring for aging parents, ask adult siblings or family members for help, and seek outside services and support groups that can offer you a respite and help you cope with stress.

Protect your assets – Identify potential risk exposure and implement strategies to reduce that exposure. For example, life and disability insurance is vital to protect your ability to earn an income and/or care for your family in the event of disability or death. In some cases, more sophisticated strategies, such as other legal entities or trusts, may be needed.

Create an estate plan – To ensure that your personal and financial wishes will be carried out in the event of your incapacity or death, consider executing basic estate planning documents, such as a will, trust, durable power of attorney, and health-care proxy.

A financial professional can help

Women are the key to their own financial futures–it’s critical that women educate themselves about finances and be able to make financial decisions. Yet the world of financial planning isn’t always easy or convenient. In many cases, women can benefit greatly from working with a financial professional who can help them understand their options and implement plans designed to provide women and their families with financially secure lives.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable–we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.