Resources

Just too good to keep to ourselves

Welcome to our library. We strive to provide resources so that our clients know as much as they wish when it comes to being financially savvy. And it doesn’t stop there! We are part of a larger community – including you, wherever you may be. This is where we share content and tools that are important, fun and even inspiring, with everyone. Our resource vault will help you get smart about money, find your own motivation to move forward, and laugh and breathe a bit easier along the way.

Q&A: What Does It Mean to Be a B Corporation?

Published in: Resources |

We recently shared the exciting news that The Humphreys Group is now a Certified B Corporation. We wanted to further explain what that means, especially since the issues of sustainability and social responsibility are so prevalent right now.

In this Q&A, President Diane Bourdo, CFP®, shares why earning this certification was so important to The Humphreys Group and the firm’s goals for 2021 and beyond:

1. Why did The Humphreys Group want to earn the B Corp certification?

Diane Bourdo (DB): I initially learned about the B Corp certification probably two decades ago. I’ve always aspired to run The Humphreys Group to serve the interests of all stakeholders, so validating that effort with a B Corp certification was a no brainer. I wanted to recognize and foster the idea (and my belief) that business success is not measured solely by the bottom line.

The world of wealth management is steeped in numbers and metrics, of course, and I wanted to explore other ways to measure value and success in a for-profit environment. I wanted to see (and felt challenged by) whether we could pass muster in this regard and earn the certification.

Joining a community of like-minded endeavors has great appeal. I want to add our voices to the growing belief that making money and doing good can happen at the same time.

2. What does the B Corp Impact Score mean?

DB:  From my perspective, the score measures how well we are doing when it comes to including the interests and concerns of all stakeholders in our business decisions and functions. Looking at the various groups of stakeholders:

  • Clients:
    • How well are we serving our clients?
    • Specific to our investment management services, how much of our managed asset base is invested in impact investments?
    • What are the fees that we charge and what is included in them? Are they reasonable and fair, considering the competition?
    • Do we hold ourselves (as we should) as fiduciaries? Do we put our clients’ interests ahead of our own? Yes, we do.
  • Staff:
    • What is the nature of the human resource component?
    • What is the difference between the salaries of the highest paid vs. the lowest paid employees?
    • Are we providing strong benefits including retirement account funding, paid time off, and the like?
  • Environment:
    • This process allowed us to take a close look at our environmental footprint. We are delighted that 60+% of the energy in our building is produced from alternative sources. We are committed to making the greenest choices possible, down to the hand soap and paper products we use.
  • Our Local Community: 
    • Everyone on the team lives in San Francisco, so we have no shortage of organizations we want to support — with our time, talent, and treasure. We commit to closing the office three to four days per year to do community service as a group. We provide financial support to organizations from the firm as a whole and at the direction of each of us, individually. We also regularly provide pro bono financial planning to underserved communities.
  • Our Professional Community:
    • Sisterhood was powerful in the ‘70s and it remains so today! In ways direct and indirect, we support our fellow female financial advisors and share our knowledge and resources.

3. How does being a B Corp change how The Humphreys Group is run?

DB: It formalizes what we already do and our commitment to it — and it also inspires us and motivates us to do better. It provides a much-needed morale boost (2020!) to know that our approach is valued and that we are part of a community of like-minded organizations.

4. What benefits do all stakeholders (clients, employees, communities, the environment) get from The Humphreys Group becoming a B Corp?

DB: They can see what we are committed to, and as it applies to them (see answer to question 2). We are putting our flag in the ground for what we believe in and are committed to doing — in a public, transparent, measurable way.

5. How does becoming a B Corp further The Humphreys Group’s mission of helping women own their financial power?

DB: We frequently urge our clients to align their money and values. We have seen that when that happens, our clients are more engaged in their own financial life, they gain confidence, they make better decisions for themselves, and they achieve better financial outcomes.

It is so important to us to show our clients that we believe this to also be true for ourselves, as a firm. Living by and espousing one’s values is easier said than done.

Becoming a B Corp is a way for us to demonstrate exactly what it means to align your values and your wallet. We all have power in how we deploy our financial assets and this is a way to show just how powerful that can be. We are setting the example — leading by doing.

6. How does the B Corp certification align with The Humphreys Group’s values?

DB: For most of my adult life, it’s been important to me to use my financial resources as a way to express my values. In addition to boycotting certain companies and products, I aim to direct my spending toward enterprises I wish to support and whose values are aligned with mine — and The Humphreys Group.

The metrics that go into a B Corp certification are extremely similar to our firm’s values and the ethic we strive to embody in our work with clients and each other. I have long believed that while the traditional metrics are crucial for business success, the broader business purpose must recognize and value the experiences of those it serves, those working within it, and the broader community.

7. What are The Humphreys Group’s goals for 2021 and beyond being a B Corp?

DB: We look forward to getting more involved in the B Corp community — learning from other B Corp organizations and offering our expertise and experience to the community as well.

We want to do our part in changing the narrative about “profit at all costs” in our own industry as well as championing those values more broadly.

Additional Resources

Miss our B Corp announcement? Check out the press release here! You can also learn more about what a B Corp is here.

Influential Women in Impact Investing

Published in: Resources |

Once viewed as a “finance backwater,” impact investing has come to the forefront as the world collectively comes to grips with issues exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic — from climate change, to systemic racism, to gender diversity in the workplace, to unequal pay, to food insecurity.

While impact investing is now a hot topic (it has $502 billion in assets under management globally), women have been leading the way in this field for decades. Women have been better represented in impact investing possibly because “this sector is inherently — perhaps by design — more diverse and equitable,” Irene Mastelli of Phenix Capital explains.

The list of women shaking up the impact investing field is endless, and we’d never finish this blog post if we listed them all (check out this article for a list of some of them). So in today’s blog post, we’ll just be highlighting three inspiring women in impact investing.

1. Amy Domini, Founder and Chair of Domini Impact Investments

Amy Domini

Amy Domini is a well-known leader in socially responsible investing. In the 1970s and ‘80s, she was a stockbroker in the Boston area. It was then she learned that many investors had strong views on what they would, and wouldn’t, invest in. That led her to understand the power of mission-driven investing, and soon she began pushing for divestment from South Africa, which was under apartheid rule. In 1990, she created one of the first social indexes of U.S. companies based on ESG criteria; later that decade, she started her company based on similar sustainable principles.

What are Amy’s hopes for the future of impact investing? “Companies need to report on the impact their operations are having on people and the planet in a manner that is quantifiable and relevant,” she told InvestmentNews. “With this information, investors will make better, more informed choices.”

 

2. Julie Gorte, Senior Vice President for Sustainable Investing at Impax Asset Management

Julie Gorte

Julie Gorte leads Impax Asset Management’s Sustainability Research team in conducting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) security analysis on prospective and current investments as well as the firm’s shareholder and public policy advocacy initiatives. According to Julie’s LinkedIn bio, her team was instrumental in the development and launch of the Pax Global Women’s Leadership Index, a custom index calculated by MSCI, in 2014.

Julie serves on the boards of the Endangered Species Coalition, E4theFuture, Clean Production Action, Great Bay Stewards, and is the board chair of the Sustainable Investments Institute. She also serves on the Investment Committee of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

 

3. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest and Owner and Chair of Ellevate Network

Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck’s professional mission is to help women reach their financial and professional goals. She hopes this will enable them to live better lives and unleash a positive ripple effect for their families, communities, and economy.

Sallie is the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital, mission-driven investment platform for women. Ellevest is a champion of impact investing; ESG funds are a big part of their Ellevest Impact Portfolios because they believe that by investing in companies who follow good ESG practices — and excluding those who don’t — their dollars can help advance women.

Impact Investing with The Humphreys Group

At The Humphreys Group, we’re passionate about helping investors align their money with their values. If you’re interested in getting started with impact investing, reach out to our team today.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Rules Investors Should Know

Published in: Resources |

The end of the year is usually when retirees have to take their required minimum distributions (RMDs). However, this year, seniors don’t have to take them. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March 2020, allows anyone to forgo the usually mandatory annual withdrawals from their retirement savings.

The CARES Act waives the rules for RMDs for the 2020 tax year, but it’s still important to understand the ins and outs of RMDs. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions:

FAQ About RMDs

1. Why do RMDs exist? Is it just to prevent investors from deferring paying taxes on retirement assets indefinitely? 

Traditional IRAs and other retirement accounts such as 401(k)s allow taxpayers to contribute pre-tax earnings that can grow tax-deferred until withdrawal. The required minimum distribution (RMD) ensures that these earnings are eventually taxed. The required distributions are calculated based on life expectancy so that the account is gradually depleted over the lifetime of the taxpayer.

2. How does the SECURE Act change the initial age threshold for RMDs? Is a good or bad thing for investors?

Previously, account holders were required to begin taking RMDs in the year they turned 70.5 (with a deadline of April 1 for the first RMD only). The SECURE (Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement) Act, which passed in December 2019, allows those account holders who have not yet begun distributions to delay their first RMD until the year they reach age 72. The delay will afford investors additional time for tax-deferred growth, as well as postpone the inevitable tax bill.

3. How do RMD deadline rules work for a 401(k) vs. an IRA?

The SECURE Act also delays RMDs to age 72 for 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans. There are some exceptions for people who continue to work beyond age 72.

4. Can you offer some strategies to avoid the penalty for not taking RMDs on time?

If you fail to take your RMD on time, the penalty is 50% of the RMD amount. Set a reminder for yourself to take your first RMD, as you would for any other significant obligation.

You can take your RMD at any time during the year, so you may choose to take your distribution early to avoid a last-minute scramble. Some people break the distribution into monthly payments, or take a lump sum early in the year as part of their tax preparation process. One of our clients, for instance, likes to take the distribution on their birthday to celebrate all of their disciplined years of saving.

5. Is there ever a scenario where a Roth account would be subject to RMDs?

RMDs are not required for Roth IRAs. Withdrawals from Roth IRAs are not taxable because the contributions were made from earnings that had already been taxed. The IRS has no incentive in requiring distributions.

The only scenario in which RMDs apply to a Roth IRA is if you inherited it from someone who wasn’t your spouse before 2020. Before the SECURE Act, non-spouse beneficiaries of traditional and Roth IRAs were required to take RMDs based on their lifetime. However, now that the SECURE Act is in effect, those beneficiaries must withdraw the full balance of the IRA within 10 years, whether it’s a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

6. Are there any other rules to know about taking RMDs?

If you have multiple IRAs, you must calculate each account individually, but you can take your total RMD amount from just one IRA or a combination of IRAs.

If you inherit an IRA or a 401(k), you can no longer stretch the RMDs from those accounts over your lifetime. Beginning in 2020, non-spouse beneficiaries of inherited IRAs will be required to distribute the full balance of the account within 10 years. This applies to Roth IRAs as well.

A strategy for reducing the tax impact of an RMD is to use a portion of the distribution to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). The amount of the QCD is excluded from your taxable income up to the amount of the RMD and not in excess of $100,000.

Have Any Other Questions About RMDs? Reach Out to Our Team

At The Humphreys Group, we’re passionate about helping investors gain financial confidence and own their financial power. And that starts with knowledge. If you have any other questions about RMDs and the rules for this year due to the CARES Act, reach out to our team today.

Recommended Reads on Impact Investing

Published in: Resources |

You’ve probably been hearing more about impact investing lately. According to Morningstar, the first half of 2020 saw a record $20.9 billion flow into sustainable funds. As we’ve written on the blog before, the global COVID-19 crisis, social unrest, and economic inequality have highlighted how connected we all are and how deeply we need more efficient systems. If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, these three reads are a great place to start:

1. Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change by Morgan Simon

Impact investing has been a hot topic within investment circles for a long time, and for good reason — when like-minded investors pool their resources with a single mission in mind, they have the potential to be a powerful force for good. But after nearly 20 years of leading and managing endowments and foundations, Morgan Simon has noticed that impact investing often comes up short. More often than not, she says, well-intentioned investors choose to address the symptom (for example, temporarily improving the circumstances of underserved communities) without treating the disease (for example, addressing the power imbalances in our economy).

In Real Impact, Simon breaks down why impact investing often fails to maximize its potential, proposes a new model and set of principles that might broaden its influence, and shares stories that bring these principles to life. She passionately argues that investing can be used to foster real, transformative change, and challenges the reader to help build a better economy and healthier world.

2. The Power of Impact Investing: Putting Markets to Work for Profit and Global Good by Judith Rodin and Margaret Brandenburg

Doing good in the world of and getting a return on your financial investment does not have to be an either/or proposition. Enter impact investing — an approach to investing that combines the desire for a financial return with the desire to produce social and environmental benefits. In their book The Power of Impact Investing, Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg map out what it means to be an impact investor, the range of investment opportunities that are available, and perhaps most importantly a chapter entitled “Getting Started” to help you, the investor, get launched. They bring a wealth of expertise to the topic and their passion for impact investing and the positive change it can produce is apparent throughout the book.

Their book is a call to action for those who are curious about this form of investing. As they point out, it may not be the right answer for everybody, but it is a way to harness the power of capital markets for social good. Not designed to replace traditional philanthropy or grant making, impact investing provides an additional tool in the battle to improve lives and solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Impact investing is a means of using capital to drive financial value and social and environmental impact simultaneously. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it, too!

3. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas

This New York Times bestseller looks at how the global elite’s efforts to “change the world” actually preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. It’s an essential and fascinating read for understanding some of the egregious abuses of power that dominate today’s news. Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can — except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. They rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; they lavishly reward “thought leaders” who redefine “change” in ways that preserve the status quo; and they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm.

Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? This book points us toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world — a call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike. Once you get a taste of Giridharadas’ message and style, you may want to follow him on Twitter (@AnandWrites) and subscribe to his newsletter The.Ink (https://the.ink/). You can rely on him for a fresh, informed, original and intelligent take on today’s current events.

Impact Investing with The Humphreys Group

Let us know if you read one of these three books on impact investing! If you want to learn more about impact investing, reach out to our team today.

6 Investing Tips for Gen Z and Millennials

Published in: Resources |

Your 20s is a great time to get into the stock market. Whether it’s in a taxable account or retirement account, investing early gives your money lots of time to grow and lets compound interest work its magic.

Why Start Now?

To understand the consequences of waiting to invest, consider this example. Let’s say you start contributing $100/month at age 25 to your retirement, and you do so for 40 years. Assuming a 7% return, you’ll end up with $260,000 in your retirement account at age 65. If you wait until you’re 35 to begin that contribution, all else being equal, you’ll have only $120,000 in your retirement account at the same retirement age. That ten-year delay would cost you over half of your retirement savings! (Check out the SEC compound interest calculator to play with the numbers for yourself.)

Tips for Investing in Your 20s

Here are our tips and strategies for investing in your 20s:

  • Invest in mutual funds, not individual stocks. The days of old-fashioned stock-picking are long gone — mutual funds offer both diversification and professional expertise, two vital components of investing.
  • Diversify. Buy funds that invest in US equities, international equities, large cap, small cap, fixed income, real estate, etc. to give yourself exposure to all areas of the market and minimize risk.
  • That said, don’t overthink it or worry about picking the “wrong” fund. How soon you start investing is more important than what you invest in.
  • Set up automatic contributions. By investing a consistent amount on a regular basis, you’ll sometimes buy when the market is low, and sometimes buy when it’s high. This strategy will ultimately allow you to buy shares at a lower average cost over time and hopefully help you avoid any temptation to “time the market.”
  • If you’re wondering what account to open first, look to your employer and see if they offer a retirement plan like a 401k or 403b. If they offer an employer match, contribute at least as much as is required to take full advantage of it. If you don’t, you’re essentially leaving free money on the table!
  • If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, consider an IRA or Roth IRA. Roth IRAs are generally advantageous for young people but do keep in mind that there are income limitations involved.

Investing Mistakes to Avoid

Here are investing mistakes that 20-somethings should avoid:

  • Monitoring your investments too closely. Instead, you should set it and (kind of) forget it. Check your account quarterly to give yourself a sense of how much you’ve saved, but don’t check it regularly, especially during market swings. That will just lead to unnecessary anxiety and might prompt you to feel like you have to sell your investments when you should simply be riding out volatility in the market.
  • (Literally) buying into the latest trend. Don’t be seduced by financial sensationalism. The sooner we learn that smart financial decisions are usually not very exciting, the better!

The Advantages of Investing in Your 20s

When you’re in your 20s, your needs are likely much more straightforward. Investing for yourself now gives you more space and financial wherewithal to attend to your other goals when you get older.

People in their 30s and 40s have a lot of competing financial priorities: childcare, saving for their children’s college, saving for their own retirement, maybe beginning to help elderly parents… the list goes on. It’s a lot to juggle and can be overwhelming to decide what to prioritize.

Financial Planning with The Humphreys Group

Interested in learning more about investing and how you can get started early? Reach out to our team today.

Credit Card Habits During the Pandemic

Published in: Resources |

In our six-month reflection, we talked about how the pandemic has changed our spending behavior. For instance, we’ve noticed anecdotally that we’re spending less on travel and entertainment, understandably; instead, our discretionary income is increasingly going toward improving the creature comforts of our homes. Now, Money and Morning Consult’s new survey gives us insight into our credit card behavior with data.

Americans’ Credit Card Habits During the Pandemic

The good news is that over half of those surveyed said that they’ve put money toward a debt as a direct result of the pandemic, or plan to in the future.

But even though Americans are decreasing their balances, there’s a lot of anxiety around it; 25% of Americans said credit card debt is a source of daily stress. The high interest rates that credit cards carry is likely one of the main stressors.

With money worries on everyone’s minds, we wanted to answer common questions about credit cards: 

FAQ about Credit Cards

What is a common credit mistake?

A common mistake is relying too much on credit cards. It’s tempting to bridge any gaps between your income and expenses with a credit card. But because most cards have interest rates over 20%, if you aren’t able to pay off your balance in full every month, your debt can snowball out of control quickly.

How can people avoid relying on credit cards too much? 

If you’re on a tight budget, use them only for fixed, recurring expenses, and pay off the balance every month.

Doing this has a positive impact on the two most significant factors of your credit score: payment history and how much of your credit limit you utilize. This will get your credit into good shape should you eventually decide to buy a car or home, and won’t put you in danger of incurring a mountain of debt.

How can people recover from using their credit card too much? 

Seek credit counseling. Through close examination of your cash flow, credit card balances and interest rates, a counselor can help you identify the best strategy to handle your debt. Most credit counseling agencies are nonprofit organizations that offer free phone appointments. Find an agency near you by visiting www.nfcc.org/locator.

Can closing a credit card affect your credit score?

There are two reasons why closing your credit card can affect your credit standing.

First and foremost, one of the biggest factors on your credit score (second only to payment history) is your amount of available credit — in other words, how much you could spend until you hit your credit limit. And it’s good for your credit score to have a lot of available credit.

For example, if your credit limit is $10,000, and you typically keep your balance around $3,000, your available credit is around $7,000. If you were to pay off that balance, your available credit would increase to $10,000, and you might see your score slightly improve. However, if you close your card, you’d then be decreasing your available credit to $0 — and that will negatively impact your score.

Of course, the impact of closing one account also depends on the other open credit accounts you have. If you were to close a card that has a much lower limit compared to your other accounts, the impact on your score might be negligible. But there is another factor to consider: length of credit history. 

The age of your accounts is the next biggest factor on your credit score, and typically the longer the account history, the better it is for your score.

Let’s say you’re 50 years old, and you decide to close that old credit card that you opened back when you were 18. Unfortunately, your credit score is probably going to suffer as a result — even if you hadn’t used that card in several years — because it was one of your oldest accounts.

Keeping your credit cards open doesn’t mean you have to use them, of course. If your credit score is important to you, you can simply keep your unused credit cards somewhere safe and (more or less) forget about them. Some credit card companies may close the account if it’s been awhile since you’ve used it, so you may want to get in the habit of charging a small purchase to that card once or twice a year. But otherwise, you can stop using those cards and still benefit from the available credit they’re providing you with.

That said, your credit score isn’t everything. If the card comes with high annual fees, or if having lots of available credit makes you feel tempted to overspend, that open credit card probably does more harm than good. Closing the card might hurt your score temporarily, but in some situations, it could be better for your overall financial picture.

Financial Planning with The Humphreys Group

Want to learn more about credit card best practices? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our series from last year, “Mid-Year Wellness: The Credit Vs. Debit Debate.”

Gaining Control of Your Personal Finances in an Uncertain World

Published in: Resources |

Right now during this pandemic, many of us are feeling overwhelmed, stuck, powerless, out of our depth. We’re dealing with unprecedented levels of uncertainty during this COVID-19 crisis, and it can make us feel like we don’t have control over anything — at work, in our relationships, in life in general.

But we can make moves to gain more control in different facets of our lives — including our financial lives.

And one way to gain control of our financial lives is through tracking expenses and budgeting.

Expenses

Why Track Expenses?

The single most important thing you can do to improve your financial health is track your income and expenses. When we track our expenses, we become more aware of where our money goes. Are you underearning or overspending? Some of both? You can see if you’re working toward your goals or against them. Armed with this knowledge, you can make course corrections and feel more in control of your finances.

Tracking and categorizing your expenses can be tedious and daunting, so we encourage you to approach it with the mindset that it’s just data. Clarifying your income and expenses will give you the information you need to evaluate trade-offs, make informed decisions, and feel confident. There’s no secret sauce, but it all adds up to better financial outcomes.

How to Track?

Check your online bank statements — most provide expense summaries or a tracking function. You can also use an expense tracking app like Mint, You Need A Budget, or Tiller or just use paper and pen. The more frequently you check, the easier it is.

Consider dividing your expenses into categories:

  • Foundation Expenses: Expenses you can change eventually (e.g. rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries)
  • Discretionary Expenses: Expenses you can reduce quickly (e.g. concerts, movies, sports, dining out, clothes)
  • Intermittent Expenses: Expenses that don’t happen monthly; add these up and divide by 12 and set this amount aside each month in a separate account (e.g. car payments, home repairs, gifts, vacations)
  • Subsidized Expenses: Expenses that are paid by an outside source (e.g. software, work-from-home supplies, courses)

Set goals for each category so that you can monitor your progress.

Also, establish an emergency fund. We all know how medical bills and car repairs tend to happen when you least expect it. Saving for those expenses before they happen is vital to building your financial security. Borrow from this fund instead of using a credit card. Build this fund to equal more than 3 months of your Foundation Expenses.

Budgeting

Why Budget?

Budgeting allows you to make conscious choices about what is important to you — and then translate what’s important to you into measurable goals. Through budgeting, you can know if you can have it all, and if you can’t, identify trade-offs to make an informed, intentional, and conscious choice. Overall, budgeting lets you be in control of your financial life.

How to Budget?

First, find what budgeting system works best for you — whether it’s pen and paper, online worksheets, Excel, or budgeting apps. Start even if you don’t have all the answers. Schedule a time to revisit your budget and make changes as you learn more. Set short-term goals so you can celebrate your success.

Lastly, know that “done is better than perfect.” It is okay if you don’t have all the answers right away. At first you will be making estimates, but as you become more aware of your spending, you will be able to make adjustments.

Financial Planning with The Humphreys Group

During this COVID-19 crisis, there are still ways we can find control in our lives — whether it’s going for a walk without any distractions or taking a new class. With these tips on how to find control within your personal finances, we hope we’ve helped you find some peace of mind during these challenging times. Reach out to our team if you’d like to further discuss taking control of your finances and creating a financial road map to success.

How Pre-Retirees Can Build a Rewarding Retirement

Published in: Resources |

Our world looks drastically different from the days when our parents were planning for retirement. With longer life expectancies and re-visioning of later life, many people plan to keep working during retirement. In fact, a Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study, “Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations,” found that over seven in ten pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement.

We don’t have to follow the outdated views of retirement from popular culture that if we’re rich, “we should spend our days playing golf, cruising and spoiling our grandkids,” or if we have a more modest income, “we should spend our days in front of the TV, knitting scarves and, if we are especially active, gardening.” Today, we have the freedom to create our own rules of retirement. We each get to choose which rules to break, which to adapt, and which to embrace.

The Merrill Lynch study included this diagram to show how retirement has changed:

Source: “Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations,” A Merrill Lynch Retirement Study conducted in partnership with Age Wave

 

Creating a Fulfilling Retirement On Your Terms

So how can we build a retirement that is best for our specific situation? Here are some tips from our team:

  • For many of us, our busy work lives have simply provided the template for busy retirement lives. The “busy ethic” is alive and well in our culture. Before you fall into a familiar pattern, take a minute to be sure you are considering all possible paths. Ask whether your chosen approach is satisfying your deeper desires before forging ahead.
  • Give yourself a break! Many of us have charged hard through careers and are now (finally) more apt to stop and smell the roses. But that guilt in the back of our minds can be difficult to banish. Simply letting go of social expectations, the “shoulds,” is easier said than done. Why does it have to be a guilty pleasure? Can’t it just be a pleasure? Go easier on yourself during this transition.
  • Gain insight into the specific learning, work, and leisure activities that are especially meaningful to you. Try this exercise: Complete the following sentences quickly, filling in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.
    • I have always wanted to learn more about…
    • When I have free time, I most enjoy…
    • What I like most about my current job/activity is…
    • What I like least about my current job/activity is…
    • When I review my own life story or history, the learning experience that was the most meaningful or interesting to me was…
    • When I review my own life story or history, the work (paid or volunteer) experience that was the most meaningful or fulfilling to me was…
    • When I review my own life story or history, the leisure experience that was the most meaningful or enjoyable to me was…
  • Lastly, write down a list of things that get you out of bed every morning.

Retirement Planning with The Humphreys Group

If we could add an item to our clients’ collective wish list it would be this: find a new, better, less stigmatized name for retirement. Though clients have technically reached retirement, they haven’t retired. There is nothing retired about any of them! So, when our work “outside-the-home-for-pay” stops, what do we do? Do we reinvent? Redesign? Retool? Re-envision? Recreate? Reengineer? Rejuvenate? Relax?

Whatever you call it, we’d like to help you craft a fulfilling, engaging, and meaningful retirement. Reach out to The Humphreys Group today for a complimentary introductory call.

How to Shift Out of a Scarcity Mindset

Published in: Resources |

It happens to all of us: it’s 2 a.m., and you can’t fall asleep because you’re stressed and worried — about bills, about looming deadlines, etc. You feel like you’re not enough.

But then other times, sometimes the very next morning, you’re at the other end of things — grateful for the riches in your life.

As financial advisors, the question of “How much is enough?” comes up often, and while we can do the math and come up with a number, the answer is also nonnumerical. It depends on our mindset.

Self-Inventory: Scarcity, Sufficiency and Abundance

Consider a spectrum, with abundance on one end and scarcity on the other, with “enough” as the resting point somewhere in the middle. That middle point is different for each of us, of course.

This exercise will help you to assess your mindset in different facets of your life and will also help you to evaluate the degree of balance between scarcity and abundance you are now experiencing. 

Step #1: On each spectrum, indicate (with a dot, line or other notation) your current level of sufficiency in that particular area of your life. As you’re filling it out, notice how you’re evaluating and defining scarcity, sufficiency and abundance for yourself.

Step #2: Take a look. Which facets are balanced? How many are off-kilter? Are there areas that need attention? In what facets would you like to experience more sufficiency, or even abundance?

Oftentimes, cultural messages influence our mindset and convince us that we don’t have enough time, money, focus, talent — even that we ourselves are not enough. We are constantly barraged with these messages and they can be debilitating, costly, and limiting and can even have a lasting impact on our health and relationships.

Knowing when you have enough can be liberating and energizing. Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, puts it this way: “When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, which is what we’re all trying to get more of, it frees up immense energy to make a difference with what you have.”

How to Shift Out of a Scarcity Mindset

It’s important to shift our mindset from a place of scarcity to one of sufficiency. Here are some tips on how to avoid falling into a scarcity mindset:

  1. First, recognize the signs of a scarcity mindset. Do you believe situations are permanent? Immediately go right to the worst-case scenario? Feel envious of others? Overindulge? Don’t feel generous with your time or money? If we believe in lack, we often manifest these thoughts and behaviors by default, and they can have a negative effect in many regards. If this sounds familiar, try to seek out your own happiness, choose gratitude over envy, focus your time on what matters the most to you, and make a conscious effort to give more of yourself, invest your time in people, and serve the greater good. 
  1. Identify what specifically is making you feel “less than.” Notice when you feel that you are coming up short and write it down. Consider the factors that led to this sense of deficiency and check them against reality and external factors that led you to feel that way. 
  1. Notice how much time your past achievements have sustained you. If your sense of satisfaction fades quickly after accomplishing something great, it likely isn’t fulfilling to you. You may want to consider channeling your energy into something more aligned with you values. 
  1. Harness social comparison syndrome. It’s easy to get caught in the “compare and despair” trap, especially with the prevalence of social media. We all experience this at some point! Acknowledge your envy without judgment. Get in touch with the aspiration underneath. Are you just using this opportunity to pull yourself down, or is this something you really want? If the latter, ask yourself what steps you might take to, for example, advance your career, or make travel plans of your own. It may take time, but setting an intention can point you in a positive direction. 
  1. Create your own definition of success. Success for one person might be securing the job as a CEO of a company, while success for another might be a full-time job with flexibility so they can get home early to take care of their kids. Measure yourself against what your definition of success is, not someone else’s. Similarly, don’t let one thing define too much of who you are. Think about your self-worth in a holistic way: Are you a good parent, sibling, friend? Do you volunteer in your community? Do you participate in a sports league every week? Apply value to all aspects of your identity, not just if you’ve achieved the traditional prototype of success. 
  1. Practice gratitude. While this always isn’t easy, choosing to be grateful is the antidote to feelings of scarcity. Take some time to reflect on the accomplishments you’re most proud of, and remember that once upon a time, they were all dreams. If you’re having trouble getting started, consider this common wisdom: “Remember when you wanted what you currently have.” 
  1. Gather your own wolfpack. We are often taught to compare ourselves to, and compete against, our peers, and especially against other women. But life is not a zero-sum game! Surround yourself with women who celebrate your success, amplify your voice, and provide support when you fall — and make sure to do the same for them.

Attend one of Our Conversation Circles

We’ve discussed the scarcity mindset and determining “how much is enough” at previous Conversation Circles. Interested in attending one of our virtual events? Let us know!

Explaining the Wealth Gap

Published in: Resources |

Despite a fair amount of progress, women still only earn about 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. Countless advocates have dedicated their time to push for policies intended to close the gender income gap, and it’s still worth fighting for — researchers say the gap likely won’t close until at least 2059.

But the income gap is not the only thing hampering women’s financial mobility. Lurking beneath it is another disparity that, in some ways, is even more alarming: the wealth gap.

We think tackling gender differences in wealth is just as important as tackling gender differences in pay, so we’re taking the first step in doing just that. Allow us to explain why it’s a myth to think that closing the income gap is all women need to achieve economic equality.

What is the Wealth Gap?

Okay, so the wealth gap exists, but what exactly are we talking about? The most recent data comes from the Federal Reserve, which revealed that in the United States, the median wealth for single women is $3,210, while single men have a median wealth of $10,150. This means women own 32 cents for every one dollar owned by men. That’s it — 32 cents. And just like the wage gap, the wealth gap is even worse for women of color. Black and Latina women own just pennies on the dollar compared to their white female peers.

This is important because, at the risk of stating the obvious, a person’s wealth — their assets (cash, investments, and real estate) minus their liabilities (credit card debt, student loans, and mortgage debt) — determines how well they withstand a financial emergency.

In fact, many economists believe that measuring wealth is a much more accurate picture of how one is doing financially because wages only indicate how much money is coming in; wealth measures how much has stayed in. When an unexpected medical bill or car repair arises, it’s wealth that we tap into — and men are able to tap into literally three times as much.

Why is the Disparity So High?

There’s no doubt that the income gap contributes to this difference in wealth, but it is not the sole reason the disparity is so high. Another significant element is single parenthood. Women are more likely to shoulder the responsibility of raising children on their own. If you have kids, you know parenthood does not come cheap. Between 2000 and 2012, child care costs increased by 24 percent and medical care costs increased by 21 percent. This happened during a time when the median income in the United States actually declined.

As a result of rising costs and lower incomes, women — particularly low-income women — are increasingly likely to take on debt to cover their expenses. JP Morgan Chase compared the accounts of men and women following a large, unexpected medical payment and found that one year after the payment was due, women experienced a 14 percent increase in their revolving credit card balance, while men experienced an increase of just 3 percent. And that was just a credit card — when looking at women’s liabilities overall, their median debt was 177 percent higher than the median debt for men. Mariko Chang, a leading researcher on the wealth gap, calls this the “debt anchor” because debt payments so clearly weigh down a person’s ability to build a financial safety net.

Lastly, the wealth gap is further exacerbated by the limited access women may have to employment benefits, government benefits, and tax breaks that facilitate wealth-building, due to their employment status.

Women are more likely to work part-time jobs, which often inhibit them from participating in 401(k) plans and accessing health insurance. In addition, women are incredibly underrepresented among the wealthiest Americans, who receive the most generous tax credits, deductions, and exemptions. The top 1 percent receive $95 billion in federal tax benefits, which is more than 26 times the bottom 20 percent, who receive $3.6 billion — and women are overrepresented in that bottom 20 percent.

What Can We Do to Fix The Wealth Gap?

It’s easy to get discouraged by all of this evidence. We understand that creating positive change may seem daunting, as the causes for the wealth gap are systemic, societal, and largely beyond our control.

There actions we can take that will help alleviate the wealth gap and give it the attention it deserves.

Check out the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a government agency that makes sure American banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat their customers fairly. The CFPB website offers a wealth of resources and information, including guides on securing different types of loans, understanding the ins and outs of student loans, and detecting financial frauds and scams.

If this strikes a chord and aligns with your values, consider supporting a community loan or nonprofit organization that is tackling the wealth gap, such as the Northern California Community Loan Fund. This organization (and others like it) provides financial products, sound advice, and community involvement to create economic opportunities and revitalize low-income communities. 

Support your local female entrepreneurs. Use their services, buy their goods, and frequent their enterprises. In the big picture, this may seem insignificant, but it makes a world of difference to that business owner. Building a business is one of the quickest ways people accumulate wealth, and your financial support — at any dollar amount — will play a part in that.

See Robert Reich and a colleague walk through “the why’s” of the wealth gap, and explore what can be done on a policy level to reduce it. Watch the four-minute video here.

Want to learn more about the wealth gap and breaking money myths? Download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.