Category: Blog

Family Legacies: Do They Influence Our Giving Habits?

Published in: Blog |

For many of us, our family legacies have influenced how we engage with the world — including our financial practices. As we grow older and begin to examine our spending, saving and giving patterns, some of us realize our families have taught us money-related behaviors we admire and strive to emulate, especially when it comes to giving. But let’s admit it: it’s not always easy to give. As women negotiating busy, 21st-century lives, how can we sustain and grow the inspiration to continue giving traditions, particularly to the causes and issues we care about?

One thing to keep in mind is that giving may contribute to our overall sense of life satisfaction and happiness, and serve as a model behavior that others around us want to emulate. Study results reported by Fidelity Charitable in 2018 revealed:

  • A higher number of respondents who said they grew up with “strong giving traditions” felt closer to immediate as well as extended family members, and also felt higher levels of happiness than those who reported their family giving traditions were not strong.
  • “Strong giving tradition” respondents were more likely to engage in conversations and negotiations about the value of giving and where to focus their giving efforts; the same group reported parents and grandparents were key influencers of their adult giving behaviors.

When it comes to giving, however, women often forge their own path. A body of research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) continues to reveal differences between the factors that influence the giving behaviors of women versus men. Among the key findings from WPI’s 2018 study? Parents’ giving behaviors, as well as the frequency of parental giving, appear to influence women’s adult giving behaviors more significantly than men’s behaviors.

There may be additional reasons for why giving behaviors and patterns can differ between genders: a 2007 New York Times article cites social research that adds to the discussion about contrasts between what motivates the giving behaviors of men and women.

How can women, who demonstrate distinct giving behaviors, apply what they know about the general benefits of giving to their individual financial behaviors? Additionally, how can women develop long-term giving behaviors and habits that remain within their financial capacities and align with their distinct values so that when they give, they are consciously “giving with gladness”?

We offer a few final recommendations on how to approach giving, and encourage you to share these ideas with your network of friends and family (the one you have or the family you’ve made):

  • Build a network for your financial giving by discussing and sharing stories about the issues or organizations that you’d like to give to, and highlight the benefit(s) your giving could support.
  • If you choose to donate part of “your treasure,” establish a financial gift-giving timeline — monthly, annually, or on another schedule — to ensure you remain within your financial capacities and do not place undue stress on your personal budget and other fiscal plans.
  • As we’ve discussed previously, consider what “time” or “talent” you could provide — volunteering, consulting services, sponsorship, fundraising, etc. — in addition to or instead of a financial gift.

We understand that establishing a habit of giving can be a complex endeavor, influenced by lessons we’ve learned from our families or associated with a variety of positive and not-so-positive experiences related to money. Contact our team to discuss how you can develop a thoughtful strategy to begin meeting your goal of “giving with gladness.”

Give Yourself the Power of Reinvention

Published in: Blog |

Reinvention

There is always the possibility

of reinvention

sometimes born of longing

sometimes offered faintly,

like birdsong in your ear

sometimes —

born of pain.

Life is long for a reason.

So that every chapter swells

with a new chapter of us,

so there is time to change

the meaning of your name

to everyone around you,

and especially

to you.

When the name that once meant

tired girl comes to mean

she who rose again,

– then

art begins.

I met a woman

whose house burned down

and in the ashes

she found the blaze of her self.

Now it roars

still angry, sometimes uncontrolled,

always a blinding light.

If you see her on the street,

bow to her courage.

Stare back into her flickering animal eyes,

and know, she is fighting a fight.

– Tara Sophia Mohr

Are Your Giving Efforts Aligned with Your Values?

Published in: Blog |

It’s no secret: women still grapple with societal norms that encourage us to give generously throughout our lives — of our time, our attention, our counsel, our experience, our leadership and even our physical labor. When we begin to develop financial plans, this emphasis on being generous with our innate resources can cause the idea of sharing our hard-earned monetary resources to feel like a challenge.

However, several studies indicate individuals can feel happier and more engaged with their financial management practices when those practices align with their values, and include “giving with gladness” to causes, organizations and other outlets that matter to them.

The idea of “giving with gladness” is not new, nor is it limited to money. We at The Humphreys Group offer support to clients who want to incorporate giving into their overall long-term financial plans by guiding them to assess how or what they can give when it comes to:

  • Their time
  • Their talents
  • Their treasure

We also recommend that our clients reflect on lessons they’ve learned throughout their lives about the practice of giving to help them examine how they might incorporate giving into their present and future. Some questions we ask them to consider:

  • How have you benefited in the past from another person, organization or cause giving you their time, talent or treasure?
  • How have you benefited in the past from giving your time, talent or treasure to another person, organization or cause?
  • What positive lessons have you learned — in childhood, at home, at school, at work, among friends, from your community — about giving time, talent or treasure?
  • How could these lessons influence you to “give with gladness” now and in the future?

That said, we realize not all giving is done with the spirit of gladness or generosity. Sometimes, our experience with giving has been tinged with guilt, obligation, need or anger. The result? We fear that if we give too much, our financial foundations can become shaky. If we give for the wrong reasons, our relationships with those in our financial landscape may become clouded with resentment, neediness, expectation or disappointment.

To bolster a sense of gladness in giving, we help clients analyze occasions when giving may have prompted stress:

  • Did my giving come with strings attached?
  • How did giving without gladness impact me and those around me?
  • How did I cope with the challenging aspects of giving?
  • What financial strategies can I develop so that I do not experience worry when giving?

At The Humphreys Group, we believe that success at “giving with gladness” lies in each individual developing a plan to share their time, talents or treasures in ways that align with their values and fit within their capacities and abilities. That means taking the time to explore the different dimensions of past giving experiences and learning how those experiences have affected their outlook on and approach to giving. Contact The Humphreys Group’s advisors to talk about developing a giving strategy we all can be glad about.

Living in Gratitude

Published in: Blog |

Messenger

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —

equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

 

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

 

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

 

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

 

– Mary Oliver

Why Women Are Natural Long-Term Investors

Published in: Blog |

Many of us have heard the expression, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” when faced with adjusting our attitudes to meet a long-term challenge. As the spring running season gets underway, we at The Humphreys Group (where we count several runners among us, including yours truly!) have been thinking how these words also apply to individuals and couples who aim to develop winning, long-term financial plans, and to female investors in particular.

Consider the notable lesson learned from participants in the 2018 Boston Marathon, where more women literally “went the distance” than men and gained the attention of multiple observers for doing so. Female participants — in one of the most grueling and well-known 26.2 mile races in the United States — lasted longer and finished in greater numbers when bad weather led to increasingly challenging course conditions last April; just 3.8 percent of women dropped from the race, compared to 5 percent of male runners.

The stamina of female marathoners did not go unnoticed. Shortly after the race, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Lindsey Crouse, a runner and NYT senior staff editor, who asserted the idea (and added related links) that women have the capacity to withstand both physical challenges and mental stresses for long periods of time — in some cases much longer than men.

In an article for Business Insider several months later, Shana Lebowitz explored the theory that women may be more driven to complete a race as their end goal, whereas men tend to want to win a race above all else. Drawing a connection between women’s racing mindset and other areas where women exhibit an attitude that relies on mental staying power, she noted: “And the implications of this gender difference go beyond marathons, or athletic prowess.”

Backing up Lebowitz’s observation are those who’ve examined the possible relationship between gender and financial investing traits. Some writers have noted differences between women and men when it comes to money-related decisions and provide evidence that women investors exhibit marathon-like behaviors when it comes to investing: they make steady choices that will result in bigger long-term financial gains and stability, and react to setbacks with less stress and emotion that men.

Others assert that the concerns some women voice about their supposed lack of investing abilities are not strongly supported. A recent MarketWatch article emphasizes that, despite professing lower levels of confidence in their investing abilities and exhibiting more risk-averse tendencies when it comes to investing, women generally possess the characteristics of solid long-term investors.

The 2019 Boston Marathon is still weeks away. We can’t predict April’s weather conditions, but everyone who persists toward that finish line is a winner in our book. In the spirit of those who are preparing to travel a lengthy course — including a financial one — we encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group to see how we can help you stay on track and go the distance with your investment strategy.

4 Misperceptions About Life in Retirement

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

As many people live longer and healthier lives, we’re witnessing a move from traditional, “sit-back-and-relax” attitudes about retirement, toward “use-it-or-lose-it” approaches. What accounts for this significant shift in how we plan to live our later years? Cyn Meyer, senior wellness coach and founder of Second Wind Movement, explains that many of us are thinking differently about retirement due in large part to what we are learning about the physical, mental and social aspects of aging.

This more nuanced mindset is especially valuable for women, who often feel more satisfied as the weight of various personal and professional responsibilities lessens with age — and who, researchers note, are emotionally and socially well-equipped to handle the challenges of aging.

Meyer explores four misperceptions about aging and retirement, and in doing so encourages people to think deeply and broadly about their later years:

Retirement years are meant for rest and relaxation. While true to a point, Meyer cites research that demonstrates people in their 50s and older are continuing their educations, beginning new personal relationships and reshaping themselves professionally. Looks like retirement is also a time to get up and go — in a new direction!

Depression, loneliness, anxiety and dementia are unavoidable during the retirement years. Meyer acknowledges multiple instances of inevitable physical decline linked to aging, including: eye trouble, hearing loss, diminishing mobility and balance, declining mental stamina and increased fragility due to lower bone/muscle mass. And yet, she also points out that assessing and increasing our social, professional and educational interactions and involvements as we move toward retirement may help offset potential emotional or mental challenges for individuals later in life.

Retirement puts an end to learning opportunities. Hobbies, skills and high-level thinking about complex issues all help keep the brain healthy, engaged and flourishing. Meyer highlights research that details how people build neural pathways and forge new connections in their brains throughout their lives. In dispelling this misperception about aging, Meyer also encourages people to understand that learning is a key aspect of staying holistically fit in retirement.

We have little control over most aging factors. Healthy environments, lifestyles and daily behaviors — elements individuals can control — help balance influences from factors we can’t control such as genetics, pre-existing medical conditions and the “normal” limitations that come with aging, according to Meyer. She stresses that retired individuals should develop good habits and steady routines as they approach retirement to help ensure they are able to continue to achieve their goals and dreams for years to come.

We are living longer, healthier lives, and research supports a new outlook on retirement in the 21st century. While we all will experience physical, emotional and mental changes with age, individuals — and women, in particular — can take steps to get the most out of their post-work years by remaining physically active, mentally stimulated and socially and emotionally engaged.

Contact The Humphreys Group to discuss what’s important for you to experience and accomplish in your retirement years, and to learn how we can provide financial planning support for your 21st-century retirement mindset.

Why You Should Take a “No Rules” Approach to Retirement

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” goes the old saying, a fitting question for women facing retirement in the 21st century. We have spent decades helping redefine workplaces, and changed the landscape of the modern work world by making inroads toward an array of jobs few women in previous generations were able to access, via roads often rockier than ours. As part of a generation that can expect longer and likely healthier retirement years, it’s never too early to ask ourselves what we want those years to look like.

Given that most retirement role models of the past were men (who seemed to relish their move from work by devoting their days to leisure activities and hobbies, tinkering around the house, sitting in front of the television or traveling to sunny climates), many women have had few examples and no clear expectations of how to experience their retirements, outside of continuing to be caretakers and homemakers.

What a difference a few decades make!

For most women, the plans or expectations we had when we were younger about what it would be like to age — into our 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond — have changed. While previous generations could expect to work in a single field at a single career, then retire and begin the process of slowing down mentally and physically, many women today have opportunities to delve into “encore careers.” They are re-inventing themselves in their professional as well as personal lives — and redefining retirement on their terms.

As women live extended life spans and spend more years in good health, we are more active, more productive, more engaged, more employed and more employable than previous generations have been. Studies show our levels of activity help us enjoy retirement more, with fewer unspoken rules that limit us in what we’re doing during those years or restrict how we’re doing it.

Consider this question to jump-start your thinking about your retirement experience: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years (not so farfetched, as financial planners are increasingly projecting client lifespans of 100 years)? Do you want to work? Travel? Get more education? Will you be a caretaker? A volunteer? A mentor? Will you embark on a new career or creative project? How busy do you want to be? Who do you want to be to and for others? Who do you want to be to and for yourself?

We spend the bulk of our working years being shaped, or even limited by, social constructs, norms and expectations regarding what we can and should do. We also, whether we’re aware of such behaviors or not, may constrain ourselves by maintaining well-worn thought patterns and adhering to familiar behaviors. We do this to preserve continuity and order in our personal and professional lives; we can only do this for so long before our habits risk becoming entrenched.

As we age, we have opportunities to loosen our maintenance of our status quo outlook. We bring more wisdom to our jobs and our lives. We have experienced a variety of life’s triumphs and trials. We’ve gained resilience. We’ve also widened our perspectives about the world and ourselves: we know who we are and what is important to us.

We at The Humphreys Group suggest you face the challenge of creating a new construct regarding the retirement phase of your life. Reach out to work with our advisors as you continue to ask questions that matter to you. Resolve to make your own rules, and become your own role model for making the most of your retirement years. We are here to wonder with you, as the poet Mary Oliver wondered: What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

How to Plan Your Retirement Journey

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

For most generations, retirement has long been considered a leisure-filled “destination” that professionals reach after decades of hard work. However, it’s becoming clear that retirement in the 21st century is less about reaching retirement and more “about the journey” through it once you’re there. How prepared are you to enjoy your retirement journey?

Research continues to show that many retirees are living longer and remaining engaged in a variety of activities during retirement; in fact, when building retirement plans, some advisors now calculate clients’ life expectancy to reach 100 years.[1] That means we at The Humphreys Group recommend our clients not only examine their fiscal strategies when thinking about retirement; we also encourage clients to take a fresh look at what they envision for themselves when they ease out of their workplace lives and professional responsibilities.

Since women still need to pay careful attention to the details of how they will afford a long-term retirement, we take a two-part approach when examining their journey.

First Look: Finances

Studies show women tend to retire earlier than men, may be less familiar with the “big picture” of family finances and may not have saved or invested as much for retirement as their male counterparts have. We initially advise women who are preparing for retirement to spend time on their financial plans by taking these steps:

  • Assess savings, spending and debt
  • Increase financial literacy and understand how best to diversify your portfolio(s)
  • Research affordable health care options, since retirement can include a greater need for medical care
  • Determine how and when to access retirement funds

What’s Next: Retirement’s Fun Factor

Once clients have made their financial considerations, we support their plans to fully engage in their journey through their retirement years by asking questions such as:

What skills and abilities would you like to sustain and share after retiring? We prompt clients to consider teaching, mentoring or volunteering in their professional field(s) so they can pass along well-earned knowledge and experience to younger professionals in their networks.

What activities and interests would you like to renew or explore in retirement? With the time and freedom that come with retirement, we encourage women to feel empowered to expand their boundaries of what they want to do. What do they dream of? Clients make plans that include traveling, taking classes or working part-time to earn supplemental income as they explore fields that reflect their personal (not professional!) interests.

How will you commit to an active lifestyle in retirement? While keeping each individual’s unique abilities in mind, we support our clients’ steps to embrace and engage in activities that bolster their physical health, mental fitness and social connections as they age.

Like many aspects of modern life and work, today’s retirement experiences look and feel different from those of previous generations. Following years of dedication to their professional lives, women in particular stand to experience retirement in exciting and innovative ways. Our advisors work to ensure our clients are prepared to reach that destination with both financial security and the ability to enjoy the journey through retirement for years to come. Contact us if you have questions about your retirement plan or need a second opinion on your approach.

[1] Katie Robertson, “Why the World Needs to Rethink Retirement,” The New York Times, December 4, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/business/retirement/why-the-world-needs-to-rethink-retirement.html, accessed January 2019.

What Does It Mean to Maintain an Active Retirement?

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

For many professionals, retirement used to mean a complete end to work and the start of unfettered leisure time. But recent data show many adults are taking a different approach to their retirements by exploring a number of options available to them in today’s complex and complicated work world.

We continue to unpack information from the 2014 Merrill Lynch study, Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, and learn that many individuals now embark on a more nuanced, four-phase retirement process: pre-retirement, career intermission, re-engagement and leisure. Even more specifically, it’s interesting to note another set of data, which indicates women tend to experience and engage in retirement differently than their male counterparts.

The Merrill Lynch study rejects the myth that retirement is a time of declined engagement and instead outlines how individuals begin to prepare — ahead of retirement — to incorporate work and other activities into their post-career lives. According to the study, as many as 54% of pre-retirees who want to work in retirement start to make plans two years before they retire (pre-retirement).

Almost 70% of the Merrill Lynch subjects who scheduled a break (career intermission) between their careers and post-retirement work said they did so to allow time to “recharge and relax” from work responsibilities. While this can be a risky course of action — older workers can be perceived as out of step and out of touch with business networks, industry trends and evolving technologies; it may take longer to find employment as an older and retired worker — most are able return to the workplace in ways they seek, with the added bonus of increased work-life balance and flexibility (re-engagement). Eventually, as they advance in age, many of those surveyed embrace their earned leisure time as the final phase of their retirements.

But the 2016 Forbes article by Richard Eisenberg, “Retirement Life: Men and Women Do It Very Differently,” highlights a 2016 TIAA study that discovered women take on more diverse activities than men when it comes to work and play during their retirement years. According to Eisenberg, the TIAA study found that men are slightly more likely to give their time to sports-related activities or remain close to traditional work-related environments (through consulting, teaching/mentoring or part-time work). Retired women stay almost equally involved with work-related environments, but also give their time to volunteering, care-taking and engaging in learning and creative opportunities, as well as staying physically and socially active.

These studies — and what they reveal about how 21st century professionals approach work and retirement — are food for thought for women at any stage of their professional careers. You’re putting time, effort, skill, focus and dedication into doing your best at the work you do. Why not also put some of those energies toward getting ready for your ideal retirement? Wherever you are in your retirement journey, The Humphreys Group can help you ensure that you are well-prepared to head down the post-work path you want to take. Contact our team to start the conversation.

Retirement Means the End of Work – Or Does It?

Published in: Blog, Retirement |

Age, Savings, Ability: studies show these are the three most influential factors that affect how individuals spend their traditional retirement years. For women in the 21st century, the combination of longer life spans, a choppy economy, and sustained desire to remain in the workforce means that retirement looks and feels markedly different than it used to for many older professionals.

According to Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, a 2014 Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave, almost 50 percent of retirees expect to work or are currently working during what they view as their retirement years. And roughly 70 percent of non-retired people over age 50 – “pre-retirees” – are planning to work during their retirements.

What has influenced the trend to continue to work after retirement?

When asked, those at or nearing retirement age say they want to continue working to remain personally and professionally engaged and stimulated, to explore entrepreneurship opportunities and to ensure their ongoing financial security.

Women’s retirement needs differ

A more recent 2018 study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave – Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line – details the nuances of women’s retirements. Women continue to take more time from their work lives to address personal responsibilities such as family, and they retire slightly earlier than their male counterparts. Furthermore, while data show that women are now living longer and healthier than previous working generations, they wind up earning and investing less overall than their male counterparts by the time they reach traditional retirement age – which means the risk of outliving their finances is real.

Knowing that women’s retirement needs are distinct, we advise our clients to discuss what they envision for their retirements and begin to make financial plans for retirement while they are still working. Some questions to consider:

  • At what age do you hope to retire? Begin with your ideal age, but be prepared to adjust your expectations as you examine your financial readiness for retirement.

 

  • What is your current financial status as it relates to retirement? Consider your current debts, investments, earnings and other income sources such as pension and Social Security.

 

  • If you plan to continue to work in some capacity after retirement, what do you envision for your worklife? Assess what kind of work you’d like to do – as a part-time employee, an entrepreneur, an unpaid volunteer or steady earner – while considering the hours, effort, travel and benefits (financial earnings and otherwise) involved.

 

  • Will you take a break or look for post-retirement work immediately? Determine your projected financial preparedness and stability at the time of your retirement; knowing this can help you gauge how much time you can afford to take off to enjoy retirement and explore post-retirement work opportunities.

 

  • How will you manage your finances in retirement? Meet with an advisor to develop your post-retirement, long-term financial plans and to keep them up-to-date as your retirement continues.

Clearly, the “workscape” of the 21st century is changing how all individuals view work and approach retirement, and also now significantly influences individuals’ long-term financial and life plans. As a distinct group that is working and living longer, healthier, more professionally-engaged lives, women should be mindful to develop financial plans and post-retirement goals that will address their specific needs and talents, and provide them fiscal security for years to come. The Humphreys Group is committed to your vibrant financial success every step of your worklife journey. Contact our advisors to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your post-retirement life.