Category: Blog

3 Myths About Women and Money, Debunked

Published in: Blog |

“Women lack confidence in their financial decisions.”

Sound familiar to you? It’s just one of the many stereotypes that have long-defined conversations about women and money. For decades, these stereotypes have conditioned us to believe that women aren’t interested in investing. That they don’t have the knowledge needed to handle their finances independently. That finance is a “man’s world.”

But the truth? These are complete myths — at least, that’s what the research says. Today, women are the primary breadwinners in almost half of American households and control about 60% of the nation’s personal wealth (a number that’s on the rise). And what’s more, 70% of major financial decisions are made by women.

With the advent of the widespread #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women all over the world are claiming their power, rights and influence — and financial services is the latest industry that’s getting a wake-up call.

Here are three myths about women and money that we can confidently debunk.

Men are better investors than women

When you think of the word “investor,” your mind may instinctively drift to images of men in suits and ties strolling down Wall Street, thanks to perceptions painted by the media and pop culture. Women are rarely included in these depictions, which sends a clear message: When it comes to investing, society generally considers men to be the more knowledgeable gender.

But the data actually proves this myth wrong. According to a 2016 Fidelity study, female investors tend to outperform male investors by an annual average of 0.4%. The same study also found that men made an average of 55% more trades in 2016 than their female counterparts. Since women are more likely to hold on to their investments throughout market fluctuations, they capture more growth over time.

Women are more risk-averse than men

In conversations about investing, women are often cast as “The Conservative Ones,” while men are positioned to be “The Financial Mavericks,” undeterred by risk and the financial markets. A 2015 study conducted by Merrill Lynch proved otherwise. Of the 5,000 women the firm surveyed, 85% said they agreed that risk-taking is beneficial in investing, and 81% said they could adapt to changing markets and investment outcomes.

What’s more, the study also found that men and women with the same level of financial knowledge exhibit the same risk behaviors. And though it’s true that women often spend more time contemplating the impact of investment decisions before diving in, it often works in their favor, as they take the time to evaluate whether the reward justifies the risk.

Women lack confidence when it comes to money

This is arguably the most popular and well-known stereotype about women and finance — and it’s also one of the timeliest. In recent years, prominent female executives and business leaders across industries have offered up their commentary on “the confidence gap,” or the notion that women are less self-assured than men. In the financial world, this has translated into depicting women as indecisive investors, insecure about their financial acumen and the decisions they make with money.

But the tide is changing: According to Ameriprise, women ages 25–34 are more likely than their elders to report they learned about finances from one or both parents, and over half say they are very confident in their investing skills.

At The Humphreys Group, we have seen firsthand that women are already financially savvy in so many crucial areas of their lives — for instance, family budgeting, volunteer work involving financial management, managing medical issues, and advocating for family members and loved ones.

We strongly believe that self-confidence starts with self-reflection. If women are clear about their goals and values, they’ll find that making financial decisions can be simple and straightforward. When you align your financial resources with your values and the aspects of your life that matter most to you, you’ll feel a sense of certainty and confidence in your path forward.

We invite you to help us change the conversation. Our new book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money,” dispels the myths that have held women back for too long and offers strategies to harness strengths they already possess, in finance and beyond. If you haven’t already, click here to download your free copy today.

Overcome Your Financial Fears

Published in: Blog |

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:
‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

— Marianne Williamson

Learning to Receive With an Open Heart

Published in: Blog |

As women, we are often encouraged to believe that “it is better to give than to receive” gifts both material and abstract. And yet, “until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart,” states professor, speaker and writer Brené Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection.

Brown explores how receiving — a kind word, a heartfelt gesture, a thoughtful gift or simply someone’s time and attention — can challenge and overwhelm many of us. We feel compelled to give back immediately rather than relish what we’ve been given; clearly, many of us have work to do when it comes to becoming more comfortable with receiving.

We at The Humphreys Group have worked with clients and sought input from others on the subject of giving, and examined various ways to become better at receiving. We consider this work as important as any financial strategy — it’s a “holistic life investment” that can also contribute to our overall balance and security, now and over the long term.

In addition to Brown’s thoughts, we appreciate this helpful advice and the following thought-provoking observations about receiving from writer Karen Mead:

  • Receiving takes practice. Most of us are taught lessons about giving from an early age, but we must also be open to learning the value of receiving gifts from others, with grace and without guilt.
  • Receiving involves vulnerability. As Brown has also noted, vulnerability is often viewed as a weakness rather than a strength. But if we are to fully enjoy what it is to receive, we must strive to become comfortable with our vulnerability; doing so allows others to give us something of their time, talents or treasures — enriching our lives and experiences.
  • Receiving can “quench our needs” for connection, validation and attention, just as much as the act of giving can (or sometimes more!). If we find ourselves struggling in our attempts to “give with gladness,” we should consider how receiving gifts with joy and gratitude contributes to spreading happiness into others’ lives and provides others with a purpose. In this way, being able to receive gracefully — free of judgement of ourselves or others — becomes its own gift.

“In the long run, we can’t stay emotionally healthy without accepting gifts, both concrete and intangible. Refusing to receive leaves us chronically empty, prone to addiction, obsession, codependency or an eternal psychological hunger that’s never quite satisfied. The healthy alternative is to stop merely closing down and learn to receive wisely,” states the life coach and author Martha Beck. We couldn’t agree more.

Contact The Humphreys Group to discuss how we can help develop a practice of balanced giving and receiving that’s right for you.

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?