Social Security – Don’t Start Early

Don’t start collecting early because Social Security has money problems

Yes, Social Security has money problems. After benefit payments deplete the program’s Trust Fund, in about 2037, Social Security will only be able to pay about 78¢ on the dollar.

social security, retirement, financial planning, financial advisor colorado springs, social security graph, living graph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most prominent proposals to cut benefits:

Raise the Full Retirement Age – So those affected would need to claim later, and collect for a shorter period of time, to get the same monthly benefit.

Freeze the purchasing power of monthly benefits at current levels – So if wages continue to rise, Social Security would replace a smaller share of the earnings of those affected.

Cut the benefits of high earners – But protect the benefits of low earners.

None of these proposals give you more if you claim early. If you are affected, you’ll get less no matter when you claim.

*Nearly all proposals to fix Social Security would also protect those age 55 and older.

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


Does not represent the Social Security Administration.

Social Security – Should you bet that your life will be short?

Yes, you might get less over your lifetime if you claim later

Monthly benefits are set so that lifetime benefits are much the same no matter when the average person starts to collect Social Security.

– If you’re in poor health and unlikely to live as long as the average person, you’ll probably get less, over your lifetime, the later you claim. (That’s because you probably won’t get the highter monthly benefit long enough to make up for starting later).

But note: many whose health is poor still outlive the “average person”.

Should you bet that your life will be short?

No one really knows how long they will live. But if you health is OK, you’ll probably outlive the average person. If you’re married and both in good health, the odds are even greater that you or your spouse outlives the average person.

 

The cost could be quite high if you lose the bet and live “too long”. If blessed with long life, you might barely scrape by in your 80’s.

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


Does not represent the Social Security Administration.

Financial Goal Setting – YouTube Channel

I will be starting a YouTube Channel in the next week about financial planning. I will be discussing all financial aspects (planning, life insurance, annuities, social security, ect). This is my logo sting (intro) to my new YouTube Channel.

Social Security – The Power of Patience

social security, retirement, financial planning, financial advisor colorado springsThe later you claim Social Security, the higher your monthly benefit.

As you approach retirement, how long you work and when you claim will usually have a far greater impact on how much income you’ll have in retirement than how much you save or how much you invest.

If you start collecting at age:

Age 62: $1000

Age 66: $1333

Age 70: $1760

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

 

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.

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 and Money

As a woman, you have financial needs that are unique to your situation in life. Perhaps you would like to buy your first home. Maybe you need to start saving for your child’s college education. Or you might be concerned about planning for retirement. Whatever your circumstances may be, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your overall financial position.

That means constructing and implementing a plan. With a financial plan in place, you’ll be better able to focus on your financial goals and understand what it will take to reach them. The three main steps in creating and implementing an effective financial plan involve:

  • Developing a clear picture of your current financial situation
  • Setting and prioritizing financial goals and time frames
  • Implementing appropriate saving and investment strategies

Developing a clear picture of your current financial situation

The first step to creating and implementing a financial plan is to develop a clear picture of your current financial situation. If you don’t already have one, consider establishing a budget or a spending plan. Creating a budget requires you to:

  • Identify your current monthly income and expenses
  • Evaluate your spending habits
  • Monitor your overall spending

To develop a budget, you’ll need to identify your current monthly income and expenses. Start out by adding up all of your income. In addition to your regular salary and wages, be sure to include other types of income, such as dividends, interest, and child support.

Next, add up all of your expenses. If it makes it easier, you can divide your expenses into two categories: fixed and discretionary. Fixed expenses include things that are necessities, such as housing, food, transportation, and clothing. Discretionary expenses include things like entertainment, vacations, and hobbies. You’ll want to be sure to include out-of-pattern expenses (e.g., holiday gifts, car maintenance) in your budget as well.

To help you stay on track with your budget:

  • Get in the habit of saving–try to make budgeting a part of your daily routine
  • Build occasional rewards into your budget
  • Examine your budget regularly and adjust/make changes as needed

Setting and prioritizing financial goals

The second step to creating and implementing a financial plan is to set and prioritize financial goals. Start out by making a list of things that you would like to achieve. It may help to separate the list into two parts: short-term financial goals and long-term financial goals.

Short-term goals may include making sure that your cash reserve is adequately funded or paying off outstanding credit card debt. As for long-term goals, you can ask yourself: Would you like to purchase a new home? Do you want to retire early? Would you like to start saving for your child’s college education?

Once you have established your financial goals, you’ll want to prioritize them. Setting priorities is important, since it may not be possible for you to pursue all of your goals at once. You will have to decide which of your financial goals are most important to you (e.g., sending your child to college) and which goals you may have to place on the back burner (e.g., the beachfront vacation home you’ve always wanted).
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2012 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.

Implementing saving and investment strategies

After you have determined your financial goals, you’ll want to know how much it will take to fund each goal. And if you’ve already started saving towards a goal, you’ll want to know how much further you’ll need to go.

Next, you can focus on implementing appropriate investment strategies. To help determine which investments are suitable for your financial goals, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my time horizon?
  • What is my emotional and financial tolerance for investment risk?
  • What are my liquidity needs?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to tailor your investments to help you target specific financial goals, such as retirement, education, a large purchase (e.g., home or car), starting a business, or increasing your net worth.

Managing your debt and credit

Whether it is debt from student loans, a mortgage, or credit cards, it is important to avoid the financial pitfalls that can sometimes go hand in hand with borrowing. Any sound financial plan should effectively manage both debt and credit. The following are some tips to help you manage your debt/credit:

  • Make sure that you know exactly how much you owe by keeping track of balances and interest rates
  • Develop a short-term plan to manage your payments and avoid late fees
  • Optimize your repayments by paying off high-interest debt first or take advantage of debt consolidation/refinancing

Understanding what’s on your credit report

An important part of managing debt and credit is to understand the information contained in your credit report. Not only does a credit report contain information about past and present credit transactions, but it is also used by potential lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.

What information are lenders typically looking for in a credit report? For the most part, a lender will assume that you can be trusted to make timely monthly payments against your debts in the future if you have always done so in the past. As a result, a history of late payments or bad debts will hurt your credit. Based on your track record, if your credit report indicates that you are a poor risk, a new lender is likely to turn you down for credit or extend it to you at a higher interest rate. In addition, too many inquiries on your credit report in a short time period can make lenders suspicious.

Today, good credit is even sometimes viewed by potential employers as a prerequisite for employment–something to think about if you’re in the market for a new job or plan on changing jobs in the near future.

Because a credit report affects so many different aspects of one’s financial situation, it’s important to establish and maintain a good credit history in your own name. You should review your credit report regularly and be sure to correct any errors on it. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months. You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com for more information.

Working with a financial professional

Although you can certainly do it alone, you may find it helpful to work with a financial professional to assist you in creating and implementing a financial plan.

A financial professional can help you accomplish the following:

  • Determine the state of your current affairs by reviewing income, assets, and liabilities
  • Develop a plan and help you identify your financial goals
  • Make recommendations about specific products/services
  • Monitor your plan
  • Adjust your plan as needed

Tip: Keep in mind that unless you authorize a financial professional to make investment choices for you, a financial professional is solely there to make financial recommendations to you. Ultimately, you have responsibility for your finances and the decisions surrounding them.

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.