Category: Uncategorized

Savings Self-Care: What It Means to Your Personal and Financial Health

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

We talk a lot about resilience and how our clients can apply their unique skills, talents, and knowledge to achieve their personal and professional goals. We know this can be tiring work, which is why we highlight the important role “Savings Self-Care” plays when it comes to forming healthy habits that can support an individual’s long-term economic health and success.

But what is Savings Self-Care, and how do we go about practicing it?

First, let’s take a step back and understand what financial resilience looks like to us. At The Humphreys Group, we believe the following strengths contribute to an individual’s ability to take charge of their financial circumstances:

  • Living within your means
  • Building savings for an emergency
  • Knowing your credit score
  • Diversifying your income and investments
  • Attaining job security
  • Getting insurance
  • Having conversations and exchanging wisdom about money with others

It’s a substantial list, and many of us lead busy lives that can distract us from doing our best in each of these areas. To bulk up any weak financial resilience muscles, we suggest engaging in a variety of Savings Self-Care exercises that will fit your life and schedule.

Start by examining the financial resilience categories listed above, and determine which ones you want to prioritize. Then focus on self-care steps that target that resilience. For instance:

  • Resolve to budget and save. Money is a stressful and loaded subject for a lot of people, but this is a great first, self-care step to take. Review how much you make, how much you spend and where you spend it. Next, determine how you might alter your habits to live within your means, save more and put money toward an emergency fund. Doing so can lead you toward another self-care step: developing short- and long-term budgets and financial goals (i.e., travel, starting a business, saving for retirement, buying a home, paying for college) that are honest reflections of your life. Ones that you can resolve to stick to.
  • Manage your debt and income. Begin by learning your credit score and, if necessary, resolving to improve it by paying off debts, paying down bills and paying back loans. Once you know what you are spending, what you owe and where your credit rating stands, you can take yet another Savings Self-Care step: begin to work with a financial advisor to develop a plan to build your money through long-term investments and strategies.
  • Assess your goals. As part of the savings self-care process, review what you expect of your life and work goals. When it comes to work and employment security, what else could you be doing to ensure your future (additional training, education, etc.)? As you assess your personal and professional life, make sure you remain mindful of insurance that will sustain you during a job shift or change in health.
  • Remain engaged. Find a supportive community, whether online, in person or both, where you can continue to check in with others who make Savings Self-Care a priority. For instance, The Humphreys Group offers clients the opportunity to participate in Conversation Circles where we tackle issues that may be challenging us on the road to financial success and work together to discuss possible solutions.

We agree with industry subject matter experts, like the one in this U.S. News & World Report article, in the idea that balance, sustainability and empowerment lie at the heart of financial self-care and resilience. But remember that self-care isn’t something you have to do alone. In fact, we believe we are made stronger in our efforts to improve our lives when we work together and support each other. Reach out today for more information from us, or to learn about joining an upcoming Conversation Circle. We look forward to discussing ways you can continue to practice Savings Self-Care, and exploring other strategies that will strengthen your financial resilience.

4 Ways to Take a Stand Against Financial Mansplaining

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: women understand money. Our research reflects this, and countless real-life examples bear out this truth. In fact, women today:

  • Control 85 percent of consumer spending.
  • Make 70 percent of major financial decisions.
  • Perform as the primary breadwinner for 40 percent of households.
  • Expect their controlled personal wealth to grow to $22 trillion by 2020.

We also know that women are able to negotiate risk and manage their emotions when it comes to their earnings, savings and investments. While millennial women are more confident in their investing know-how, women across generations possess the skills and desire to take charge of their financial health.

And yet.

Countering the good news and irrefutable evidence that women have what it takes to be financially successful is the sustained presence in many advisory circles of what we’ll call — for lack of a better word — “mansplaining.”

From patronizing advice about skipping lattes, to ignoring the very real and multiple inequalities women face regarding their wages, spending, loans, credit, business funds and domestic responsibilities, it’s easy to detect how some investment approaches dismiss women’s abilities to manage their money. Furthermore, surveys note that women with male partners report being ignored during meetings with male financial advisors, or presented with a more limited range of strategies when meeting one-on-one with men in the financial services profession.

A majority of women overall are not satisfied with the level of services they currently receive from their (male) advisors. However, in addition to the growing number of women who are in charge of their day-to-day finances, more women are taking the lead in retirement planning — both their own and their partners’ planning needs. And women who have lost a male partner are also more likely to change advisors when their spouse dies. It’s clear to us: As women continue to take control of their financial lives, they are beginning to expect better from industry experts.

While the financial services field remains dominated by male leadership, professionals are taking steps to be more responsive to women’s experiences, knowledge and points of view about their finances. As leaders and their employees work to do better by women, we offer some suggestions for how female investors can ensure they remain empowered when it comes to taking charge of their financial investments and planning.

  • Find a supportive financial community. Whether it’s online, in person or both, develop financial information resources where you can go to feel comfortable asking questions and learn more about investing without being judged or patronized.
  • Engage financial advisors who speak to you. Women often earn less, live longer and have fewer savings than men due to the demands and responsibilities of their combined life and work experiences. Find an advisor who acknowledges your unique financial reality; advisors should treat you as fairly and equally as any other client, and take your realities into account when helping you develop your financial strategy. 
  • Pay attention to how financial information is presented. Some industry employees have noted distinct differences in how male and female advisors present investment information to their clients. Whether it’s a “good ol’ boy” style (as described in the linked article) or one that hews closer to industry studies and data, make sure that you get information from your advisors the way you want it.

We at The Humphreys Group are inspired every day by women who are taking charge of their financial lives and encouraging others to do the same. We welcome the opportunity to be part of your financial planning journey. Contact us today to start a conversation.

How to Raise Your Daughter to be Financially Confident

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

Most of us know that pay gaps between women and men stubbornly remain in place throughout the nation’s workplaces, and that misleading myths about how women handle money persist. We also know that women continue to push for equal pay in their fields and increasingly reject narratives that contend women aren’t good with finances. However, what you might not know is that the groundwork for inequalities in how women and men earn and regard money is often laid during childhood.

Several studies reveal jarring differences in the ways parents educate their children about money. And the messages those differences send to our daughters may have a lasting impact on their expectations and perceptions about earning, saving and investing as adults.

What the Data Says

Data in these studies show girls often receive less money from their parents, via allowances or gifts, than their male siblings. Additionally, boys are introduced to wealth-building topics, such as credit and investing, earlier and more frequently than girls — and those topics are usually broached by fathers. In contrast, budgeting and spending habits, which emphasize fiscal restraint, are the dominant themes of parents’ fiscal conversations with girls — with mothers more often leading those interactions.

This data reflect a bigger reality: Women tend to take others into account when considering financial matters, while men have a more individualized decision-making process. Additional discrepancies that result from how men and women learn to prioritize, view and manage finances — as well as the ways they learn (or don’t) to talk about money — may result in women developing more cautious and hesitant approaches to their financial lives.

What Should Parents Do?

Both mothers and fathers should make it a priority to raise their daughters to be financially confident individuals. Experts encourage parents to involve children early and often in lessons and discussions about money. U.S. News & World Report’s Coryanne Hicks provides the following tips for parents who are determined to empower their daughter’s financial futures:

  • Set the example and model money equality at home.
  • Introduce sound money-management behaviors early in your daughter’s life.
  • Be proactive about discussing your actions and thought processes regarding  money.
  • Be open and honest about your own insecurities when it comes to financial matters.
  • Give your sons and daughters equal allowances and chore responsibilities.

In all likelihood, if you parent a daughter, you aim to serve as a positive role model for her in multiple ways as she moves toward adulthood. This means you can also exhibit behaviors that provide a valuable, positive perspective on a woman’s ability to determine her financial future:

  • Share lessons about the value of work and the ability to earn a living. Commit to ensuring your daughter believes she does not deserve “less than” when it comes to her earnings and investments.
  • Communicate your financial priorities, outlook and management style. Let your daughter know decisions about money do not follow a single formula.
  • Clarify the distinctions between wants and needs — and discuss how spending and saving behaviors can support healthy, lifelong financial habits.
  • Gain self-awareness of the ways you verbalize your thoughts and views about money and finances (or lack thereof). Our attitudes toward various subjects inform our children’s behaviors and attitudes. If you want them to be financially confident, show them what that looks like.

Women continue to make strides in their personal and professional lives. At The Humphreys Group, our knowledgeable, experienced advisors are committed to providing resources that help our clients advance in their financial lives, with all the confidence, intellect and ability we know they possess. Contact us to discuss how we can work with you — and influence the next generation of financially savvy women together.

Flying the Nest: How to Cope as Your Children Grow

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

Back-to-school month is winding down and another year is peeking around the corner, but for many of us who parent, these months mark a time of new beginnings rather than endings. Millions of our children have headed off to college, started first jobs, moved into their own homes or undertaken myriad other endeavors that now firmly plant them on the “adulthood” side of the fence — leaving us to experience the phenomenon known as Empty Nest Syndrome.

While not a clinical diagnosis, Empty Nest Syndrome is commonly understood as the adjustment period that parents and guardians may go through as their children embrace independence and begin to travel the path of their futures. Caretakers are left holding a mixed bag of emotions: excited for what lies ahead for their children, and hopeful that their children put the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired throughout the years they’ve spent at home to their best uses in the wider world.

At The Humphreys Group, we’ve written extensively about the role resilience plays in supporting the effects of significant life changes. We believe strengthening one’s emotional and social resiliencies can help balance the intense feelings that may accompany a transitional stage like this one.

While the emotional impact of such a transition affects each person differently, experts suggest a few ways to prepare for this new chapter in your own life. Here are several ways you can begin to enjoy the new opportunities for growth and connection — to your children, your partner and your extended community — it also offers you:

  • Plan ahead. If you’ll be faced with an empty nest soon, realize one positive aspect is that you likely will have more flexibility to engage in endeavors that interest you. What would you like to do with those extra moments? Exercise; engage in creative or educational projects; pursue social or cultural activities; strategize your financial future; or volunteer in your community? Remember your dreams. Revive some (or all) of them. Or dream new ones.
  • Strengthen ties. Bolster your support system by recharging your relationships with your partner, friends and community — as well as the children who’ve “flown.” Make the effort to reconnect with those you haven’t been in touch with, given all your parental duties. If you have a partner, use the moments and space you’ve gained to rekindle your connection to each other. Remember that staying in touch with your grown children can help you foster the “adulthood dimension” of your relationship with them.
  • Trust the process. Many soon-to-be empty nesters experience a range of feelings — loss, excitement, impatience, frustration, sadness, relief and happiness among them. Be gentle with yourself as you grapple with this complicated gamut of emotions while finding your footing and redefining the relationship you have with your increasingly independent adult child or children.

As you watch your child or children head into the responsibilities, roles and adventures of their adulthoods, cherish all you’ve accomplished in raising them. Remember that change is one of the few reliable constants in life; give yourself permission to enjoy the changes, on your terms. Contact us today to begin a conversation about how to make the most of this new phase in your life.

Retirement or College Tuition: Which Goal Comes First?

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

Saving for retirement versus paying for college tuition?

For those of us who are parents or legal guardians of school-age children, this is one of the most loaded questions we ask ourselves during our professional lives. At The Humphreys Group, we realize the answer isn’t necessarily clear cut: Is it “either/or”? How about “both”? Additionally, underlying myths and incorrect assumptions about women’s investment abilities may influence the choices our clients consider when grappling with this question.

Our advisors have written extensively about our belief that women possess unique financial, investing and goal-setting skills. We encourage our clients to explore their life and work values, in ways that will help inform both their personal and professional long-term goals and strategies. This includes those that relate to saving for retirement and paying for college.

As you aim for success in your financial planning — specifically your own retirement, your children’s college or both — we offer these additional action steps, and recommend you continue discussing your long-term financial strategy with your advisor:

Explore multiple ways you (and your children) can pay for college

This includes savings plans (ESAs, 529 plans and others); loans (government and private sector); grants; scholarships; on-campus work-study programs and off-campus part-time employment.

Understand how you will afford retirement

Retirement lasts many years longer than the typical amount of time it takes a child or children to finish college. As the amount of money parents contribute to higher education costs continues to rise, it is increasingly important to know just how your retirement may be affected if you shift some of your savings toward paying for college.

Keep doing your math homework

Other advisors stress the importance of calculating accurate estimates of both retirement costs and higher education expenses — and doing so with your potentially college-bound children as they prepare for life after high school. Should they choose the college-route, it will help them make decisions about the schools they’ll apply to. And while they are on that path, continue to discuss finances (annually at a minimum) to help them manage any education debts they personally acquire along the way.

Make informed decisions about your priorities

Many advisors note you can save for both retirement and college. But they stress the reality that money is a somewhat finite resource for most of us; at some point, either retirement or college will naturally become a priority. Suggestions include funding 401(k) plans for employer matches and contributing the cash boost that comes from any raises toward retirement, while also establishing a college savings plan for your child to which you and other family members can contribute.

Questions about retirement and college savings are not particularly easy to answer. Financial subject matter experts have much to say on the subject, and many people wrongly assume looking out for yourself in your later years means you are selfishly putting your own well-being before your child’s. But at The Humphreys Group, we believe the answers you find and whatever strategies you develop should belong to you. They ultimately should also empower you.

Our experienced advisors are unwaveringly confident in our clients’ abilities to clarify their values and determine their priorities so that they can undertake investing behaviors that help them meet their goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you approach saving for retirement and paying for college with a strategy uniquely your own.

4 Healthy Ways to Teach Your Children About Money

Published in: Blog, Uncategorized |

“It’s the root of all evil.” “It’s what makes the world go ‘round.” “It can’t buy happiness and it doesn’t grow on trees.” At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard, or said, at least one of these aphorisms during a conversation about money. In fact, many of us heard phrases like these when we were children and, as adults, many of us have repeated these same words to our offspring.

However, we at The Humphreys Group believe money talk should go far beyond pithy observations, especially when it comes to discussing and teaching our children about financial stewardship.

We know money can be an emotional issue, tied to early lessons and conversations (or the lack thereof) about it among family members. But research has shown that, by age 3, children begin to gain an understanding about the power and influence of money — so the sooner they begin their financial education is likely the better.

To instill financial stewardship in your children, we suggest starting with simple lessons and tools; for instance, a piggy bank is a tried and true “first savings account.” Providing financial lessons at an early age can also help set your children up with a secure, healthy outlook and approach to financial issues by the time they reach adulthood. Forbes writer Laura Shin outlines how lessons can evolve into more sophisticated and nuanced ones as children age; teens can engage in discussions about college costs and student loans, credit cards and debt, and investment interest.

For those wondering how to begin sharing lessons about money and money management with their children, here are some ideas, including insights culled from several subject matter experts:

1. Play Games

Finance veteran Jim Brown suggests games like “Let’s Go Shopping” and “How Much Does It Cost?”. Games not only teach children about the price of items in a spirit of fun and creativity, but also strengthen math and budgeting skills, and create opportunities for families to talk about the value of products and work.

2. Discuss Money in Everyday Conversations

Conversations related to spending, earnings, bills and other areas of daily financial life can help lessen the mystique and stress that often surround money matters, writes personal finance author Camilo Maldonado.

Teachable moments — from discussing a water bill to analyzing cell phone service, and everything in between — can also help expand your child’s understanding of living costs and increase their comfort with asking questions about money, according to CNBC’s Nicole Spector. They’ll certainly better understand there’s good reason for the saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

3. Work on Budgets Together

Understanding living costs and household financial obligations is a great place to begin a conversation with children about budgets, according to Brown and other subject matter experts. Because such conversations often depend on your child’s age(s) and your and your partner’s comfort levels, parents should ultimately determine if, how and when they will expose children to their bill-paying and budget behaviors. With an older child, working to create their own budget is another hands-on way to demystify money matters and educate that child about establishing solid financial behaviors and practices.

4. Demonstrate How to Make the Most of Money

Opinions vary about whether to give children a routine allowance that increases with age and responsibilities, have them engage in what Dave Ramsey calls “commission”-style paid work or forgo allowance altogether. The decision is ultimately a parental and household one.

But other financial subject matter experts, including Maldonado and others mentioned in this post, widely agree on another point: Money children earn while living at home (including financial gifts for milestones such as birthdays and graduations, and paychecks from part-time jobs) provides great opportunities to learn how to establish beneficial habits in the areas of saving, spending, investing and donating.

At The Humphreys Group, we are well aware that many of us continue to work on developing our own best practices when it comes to money, and ensuring that our goals and values align with our investment plans and strategies. For more information on how we can help you share the lessons you’ve learned and teach your children about financial stewardship, contact us today.

Want to Have More Effective Money Conversations? Consider These Four Tips

Published in: Blog, Get Inspired, Get Smart, Uncategorized |

Want to Have More Effective Money Conversations? Consider These Four Tips

By: Diane Bourdo, President – The Humphreys Group

 

In today’s digitally driven world, many aspects of our daily lives are easier than ever. We get answers to questions in minutes — sometimes even seconds — with the click of a button. Friends and family can stay up to date on important news (or something as simple as your morning latte order) by quickly scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

 

And yet, with all of these advancements and countless channels at our fingertips, many of us still struggle to communicate with each other. We’re talking about real, personal communication — not text messages or emails sent through your smartphone.

 

Communication can be made even more difficult when the topic at hand is anxiety-inducing or uncomfortable. Take money, for example. In its 2017 Money Matters report, which surveyed 3,000 Americans ages 18–44, investing app Acorns revealed that 72% of respondents would rather talk about their weight than how much they had in savings.[1]

 

But the truth is, talking about money doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, when broached appropriately, money conversations can actually bring positive, life-changing results — an enjoyable retirement and a secure future for your children, to name a few. Whether it’s with your spouse, parents or children, here are four tips to help ensure your money conversations are healthy and productive:

  1. Think ahead. Proactivity is great, but it’s important to take some time to plan your approach to starting the conversation, especially if the topic is sensitive to your audience (for instance, discussing long-term care with an aging parent). Pause for a moment, be calm and think about the effects of what you’ll be presenting to the other party, including potential assumptions or perceptions. Being thoughtful about the preparation process will allow you to have more meaningful, productive dialogue.

      2. Don’t blindside the other party. Once you’ve thought through your approach and prepared appropriately, set a date and location for your conversation. Choose a time when you both will be more relaxed and comfortable. For instance, choosing to discuss finances with your spouse after a long day of work may fuel existing stress or exhaustion, which will likely derail your discussion. It also may be helpful to agree on the length of your conversation — some people are exhausted by long conversations, while others prefer to walk while talking about tough topics.

      3. Be honest about your intentions. When starting your money conversation, you should avoid catching the other person off-guard — but you also don’t want them to become defensive. State your intentions and explain why the conversation is important to you. Consider structuring your introduction like this:

 

“I feel like the way we’re handling our credit cards is creating tension between us. I would like for us to work together to find some agreement so we can deal with this issue as a team. I have an idea for a new approach that could help, and I’d like for us to really listen to each other.”

 

     4. Prepare and practice. If there are multiple money issues you need to discuss with your audience, don’t panic. Start small by broaching easier topics first, and then work up to bigger issues over time. It may help you to write down what you want to say and practice the conversation aloud to yourself or with a friend.

 

Put simply, communication, on any topic and in any form, can be hard — even when it’s with the people you trust and care about most. But if you prepare and approach the conversation in a respectful way, you can surmount money challenges and come out the other side with renewed perspective and confidence.

 

You can also enlist the help of experienced, trusted professionals, so you don’t have to start the process on your own. At The Humphreys Group, we’ve helped countless clients navigate tough money conversations and reach positive resolutions. Contact our team to learn more.

[1] 2017 Money Matters™ Report, Acorns, https://sqy7rm.media.zestyio.com/Acorns2017_MoneyMattersReport.pdf, accessed September 2018.

Simple ≠ Simplistic 

Published in: Blog, Financial Myth Busting Series, Get Smart, Uncategorized |

 

We hear a lot of talk about men vs. women as investors, and we don’t have a shortage of perspectives, based on our years of working with women, helping them get smarter about money.  In our experience, women view investing as a way to accomplish a goal, rather than as a game. In doing so women sidestep the seduction of accruing bragging rights.  Moreover, even from the start, women are money smart. They often serve as the de facto family CFO, have budding or demanding careers, or gain valuable experience via volunteer work.

What tends to bog down the process – for men and women alike – is that the world of investing is filled with jargon and unnecessary complication. This is by design: for decades, the financial services industry has used complexity as a sales tool by framing investments as challenging instruments, then offering themselves as gatekeepers to those instruments.

Our message to you?  Don’t let yourself become enticed by complexity. By keeping it simple and manageable we can stop procrastinating, make real progress, and achieve great investment results.  One caveat:  though a solution may be simple, it may not be easy.  But attacking complex challenges with unnecessarily complex solutions will distract us, dilute our focus and even foster magical thinking.  Simple may be difficult or it may be easy – but it is always going to lead to better financial outcomes.