17 Nov 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
Special to the Tri-State Defender
Growing up in a large family, we were loved abundantly. However, there were certain topics we never talked about. One of those was money. If we don’t talk about a subject, odds are we won’t have a good understanding of it.
Women face unique challenges simply because we are women. Our priorities and the way we approach decisions are often different. Although my mama squeezes more out of a dollar than anyone I know, she was ill equipped to teach me anything beyond “Don’t spend more than you make,” which, by the way, is still a good first lesson.
Here are five basic rules I’ve learned over time:
What you don’t know CAN hurt you!
People don’t reach goals such as “a comfortable retirement” by accident. You can’t change what happened in the past, but you can decide today to set realistic financial goals going forward. If it’s difficult to live within your income and to save, get help setting up and implementing a budget. Once you know where the money is going, you can make educated decisions about where you want it to go.
Odds are, you’ll outlast Mr. Right
Even if Mr. Right has come into your life, women’s longer life expectancy means the odds are high that we will outlive our spouses. The goal then is to make sure our money lasts as long as we do. That includes being informed on your spouse’s life insurance and retirement plans, as well as your own. Ensure that each of you would be OK financially if you lost the other.
‘Mother’ your money
Would you expect a child to grow up to be a mature adult without nurturing? It won’t happen with your money, either. Putting off decisions because you don’t know what to do eventually result in growing old without a nest egg. If you don’t know where to start, a good financial advisor may help you. Remember, the sooner you begin nurturing your child, the better your chances of success. The same applies to your money.
Control where your money and your kids go if you were to die suddenly.
Without a will, the court decides where your money goes. You may think it would go to your spouse (if you are married), but that’s not necessarily so. If you’re single with minor children, the court decides who will raise them. It could be your ex, your mother, or a stranger, and the money and the children may go in different directions. Is that what you want for those you love? Ask people you trust for a referral to a good attorney in your state (state laws differ). Don’t take a chance on trying to prepare a will on your own; it may not hold up in court.
Choose a financial advisor like you would a best friend
This should be a long-term relationship, and you want someone who will be your personal financial coach, and who cares about your success as much as you do.
Start now to take an active role in your finances. Experience the confidence that comes from knowing you have taken steps to help put you on the path to financial freedom. Wouldn’t your mama want that for you?