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.

The ‘Fifth Trimester’: Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Published in: Resources |

In late December, a new law was passed giving federal workers paid parental leave for the first time. (Unfortunately, not all federal workers are covered by the new law.)

This is a great step forward, and we’re so happy there’s being a national conversation around parental leave — it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. But we’d like to push the conversation further.

Companies and parents need to talk about a little known transitional period that author Lauren Smith Brody calls the “fifth trimester” — the time when new mothers, just months after delivery, are going back to work but often before they feel emotionally and physically ready to return.

Returning Back to Work

Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby, writes that the first three trimesters (and the fourth — those blurry newborn days) are for the baby, but the Fifth Trimester is when the working mom is born.

Brody calls that first day back at work the “second cutting of the cord.” From interviewing more than 700 mothers for her book, she found that the emotional through line was guilt. “Everybody talked about guilt, even if it meant a different thing to each person. Everyone talked about coming back to work, feeling different and knowing that people saw them differently, no matter what field they were in,” she says.

Seventy-five percent of the women Brody surveyed said they wished they had been able to take a longer maternity leave. When asked how much extra time they would want, the most common answer was “a few more months.” “Either way, there’s a monumental transition,” she says. “I like to point out that the fifth trimester might be longer for some women and shorter for others. You kind of don’t know how long that transition time is going to be until you’re on the other side of it.”

Gender Equality in the Workplace

There should be an understanding among workers that this Fifth Trimester exists, and motherhood should not be treated as a career barrier.

As Harvard Business Review writes, “The ability to take one’s full parental leave without diminishing one’s promotion, pay, or leadership prospects is crucial for greater gender equality in the workplace and for helping all working parents, and in particular mothers, achieve greater work-life balance.”

Join Us at a Conversation Circle

Brody says that more than anything, it’s important to be transparent about the challenges, but also about the triumphs. “That will also help everyone be less afraid of it, both of going through it and managing people who are going through it.”

If you want a chance to talk to other like-minded women about these issues and other challenges that arise around money, please join us at one of our Conversation Circles.

Want to Improve Your Financial Health in 2020? Do This One Thing

Published in: Resources |

Creating New Year’s resolutions is a great way to kick off the new year, but sometimes our goals can be so big, lofty, and vague that we don’t know where to begin, or feel too intimidated to even start. What does “improve financial health,” “eat better,” “travel more,” or “stop procrastinating” even look like? What does it entail?

If “improve financial health” is on your list, here’s one tip: The single most important thing you can do to improve your financial health is to track your income and expenses. Whether by paper-and-pen or Mint.com (or other apps), you need to take a clear-eyed, realistic look at your income and expenses. Are you underearning or overspending? Some of both?

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 — data that is necessary to evaluate whether you should make spending shifts and how to make them.

Remember, you can’t embark on a journey until you’ve located yourself on the map. You can’t make choices about how to change your spending until you have insight into the choices you’re making now.

But the payoff is huge: 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.

Make Small Course Corrections Now

Making small course corrections to spending and retirement contributions now will have far greater impact than large corrections you make later. Try resisting the temptation of immediate gratification by thinking of these changes as advocacy for yourself at ages 70, 80, or older.

If you have access to a 401(k) plan, you should absolutely contribute, at least enough to equal your employer’s matching contributions. But it’s never too soon to start supplementing your savings with a health savings account (HSA), a traditional IRA, or a Roth IRA. If you’re self-employed, consider supplementing with a SEP IRA. For women who are closer to retirement, consider obtaining long-term care insurance, especially if you have a family history that indicates you may experience health challenges later in life. Such policies can be costly, yes, but they can make a world of difference.

Work with a Financial Advisor in 2020

Work with a financial advisor to crunch the numbers to see if you are on track. Armed with your financial data and some well-considered assumptions, you can get a realistic idea of where you stand now and devise a plan to make the course corrections that work best for you. If you’re interested in discussing your financial picture with The Humphreys Group, reach out to us today.

How Women Can Build a Sound Investing Strategy in 2020

Published in: Resources |

When it comes to investing, women gain a performance edge thanks to their innate patience, low-trading frequency, and goal-driven strategies. 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.

Women Are Better Investors — Here’s Why

According to a 2016 Fidelity study, female investors tend to outperform male investors by an annual average of 0.4%. This doesn’t seem like much, but it accumulates to a significant financial difference. For example, let’s say a man and a woman each invest $100,000; assuming a 4.6% average annual return for the man and a 5.0% average annual return for the woman, her investment will have grown to $432,200 after 30 years, while his will be valued at only $385,400. That’s nearly a $50,000 difference and is half of the original investment!

What factors are at play here? First, men tend to buy and sell their investments more often. The same Fidelity study found that men made an average of 55% more trades in 2016 than their female counterparts. This can be financially injurious because the more an investor trades, the more he risks making an investment right before it decreases in value or selling the investment right before it gains momentum. Because women are more likely to hold on to their investments throughout market fluctuations, they capture more growth over time.

Why exactly do women hold on to their investments longer? There are a lot of reasons. As women, we usually conduct more research before investing and maintain a long-term perspective more often. We tend to view investing less as a game to be won and more as a means to accomplish goals and reach life’s milestones. And while women aren’t afraid of risk, their heightened risk awareness leads them to allocate their risk-budget prudently, which leads to better, long-term outcomes.

Finding the Right Balance in Investing

I believe it’s vital to have a disciplined investment philosophy and to follow basic best practices. For context and as an example, at The Humphreys Group, we begin by reviewing and discussing the wide world of investment objectives and strategies that are available with each of our clients — expanding their knowledge, ensuring they are informed, and ascertaining the best strategy or strategies that will work for them. Some areas we cover:

Investing 101: Remember you are buying assets for their potential to increase in value, provide income, or do both. This means you need to expect fluctuations in returns, volatility, and cycles of depreciation and appreciation; long-term goals such as retirement, buying a home, or paying for college are investments that often weather such cycles.

Stocks vs. Bonds: Stocks mean investors own shares of a company, and those shares will increase or decrease in value based on how well the company performs. Bonds are considered less risky than stocks; they are a form of a loan to a company and investors’ payoff comes in the form of company interest payments on those bonds.

Asset Allocation: Multiple factors contribute to how you should approach asset allocation. We recommend that, when making decisions about where and how much to invest, you should take into account your unique views on your risk tolerance and risk capacity levels, financial goals, financial timetables, required income, and tax considerations. It’s also important to consider the variety of external factors that have the potential to affect investments, such as: market volatility, short- and long-term risk, inflation, and purchasing power.

The balance really depends on your unique situation — What goals are you investing for? How much do you have in investable assets, outside of your standard financial picture? — tolerance for risk, and time horizon. If you are closer to retirement, for instance, it’s often best to re-allocate to more conservative investments to help protect your nest egg as you move away from a steady, 9-to-5 paycheck. If you are younger with many years standing between you and retirement, you can afford to be more aggressive with your investment strategy, as you have more years to reconcile any losses from market volatility. Enlisting the help of a qualified, credentialed financial advisor can help you feel confident that you’re making the right decisions.

Evaluating Your Financial Situation

Take time to calculate and evaluate your net worth. Understanding this figure is vital to understanding your total financial picture and determining next steps, especially when it comes to investing. The number illustrates your financial realities and can help inform your financial direction and decisions, today and well into the future. Once you understand your total financial picture and where you stand, you can take specific, actionable steps toward successfully saving, investing, and reducing debts. Routinely assessing your net worth can help you stay on a steady path toward your long-term goals.

Education is always a good place to start as well, and women already excel at doing their homework and the research needed to get smart about a topic. What’s most important is to take risk that’s appropriate for your situation. Also, consider that risk and reward go hand in hand.

Be risk-smart — think about your risk capacity (how much risk you are able to take on, given your resources, expertise, and plan) versus your risk tolerance (how emotionally comfortable you are with taking investment risk). Remember that diversification is your friend — you can reduce risk by diversifying across types of investments, investing consistently over time, and maintaining a long-term investment horizon.

Work with an advisor to develop a clear sense of the level of investment risk needed to accomplish your goals. If that level is too high for your risk tolerance, you may need to refine your goals or make other changes, such as allocating more to savings.

Family Legacies: Do They Influence Our Giving Habits?

Published in: Resources |

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.”

Goal Setting with Intention in 2020

Published in: Resources |

In a recent blog post, we provided a warm-up to help you discover how you feel — consciously or not — about setting new year’s resolutions. Here’s the exercise again in case you missed it:

Try completing the sentences quickly; fill in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.

  1. I think goal setting is…
  2. In the past, my experience with goal setting has been…
  3. I think the greatest value of planning is…
  4. The most success I have experienced in setting and achieving a goal was when…
  5. I find it difficult to set goals when…
  6. What I want to avoid in the future is…
  7. The person who has been the best role model for me in defining and pursuing a meaningful life is…

What emotions and thoughts came up? How do you feel about goal setting for 2020?

Excited? Motivated? Wary? Jaded? Cynical?

Often, we view having strong emotions as being a negative quality: For instance, when we sleep in instead of going to the gym before work, when we reach out to an ex, when we procrastinate… But emotions don’t always have to be bad influences. Love, compassion, sympathy, and loyalty are real strengths; our protective instincts and resolve to stand up for ourselves and others are strengths, too.

So, to show how you can embrace both your emotional side and analytical, rational side when goal setting this year, we’d like to introduce you to a favorite analogy of ours: the elephant and the rider.

The Elephant and the Rider

The elephant and the rider is first described in “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt and summarized in “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Our emotional side is an elephant, and our rational side its rider. The rider is perched atop the elephant, holding the reins and seeming to be in control. But this control is precarious because the rider is so small relative to the elephant. Anytime the elephant disagrees with the rider as to which to direction to take, the rider will lose, completely overmatched.

But here’s the deal: we need (and are) both the rider and the elephant. The point is not to squelch one or the other. To change things in 2020, you need both — the rider for the planning and direction, and the elephant for the energy and passion. A reluctant elephant and wheel-spinning rider will guarantee that nothing changes. But when they move together, change comes easily.

The whole point of this metaphor is to illustrate the power of guiding the elephant in the right direction. If you can do that, there’s no stopping you. We focus on emotion because it is such a powerful tool to keep you moving in a positive direction.

What Would an Enriched 2020 Look Like for You?

This year, as you define your ambitions for 2020, we encourage you to utilize both your emotional side and rational side — both your elephant and your rider. Just like how emotions and expertise both have a place in money matters, they both have a place in your goal setting.

If you’d like to learn more about goal setting and planning out your 2020, we invite you to subscribe to our newsletter or to participate in an upcoming Conversation Circle.

Wishing you a safe, warm holiday season, and happy holidays from all of us at The Humphreys Group!

Reflecting on 2019: How Women Rewrote the Rules

Published in: Resources |

Over a year ago, the team at The Humphreys Group sat down and concretely asked ourselves:

  • If we made women’s unique strengths, concerns, and preferences the financial norm, what would we see?
  • What would happen if we flipped the narrative? What if we designed the world of personal finance, using the strengths and preferences of women as our starting points?
  • What if those strengths and preferences were seen as the advantage that they are, rather than something the status quo needs to somehow accommodate or tolerate?
  • If we were to create a financial services firm that was designed for and addressed the needs of women, what would it look like?
  • What would it look like to “do money” like a woman?

In asking ourselves these questions, my colleague Hallie Kraus and I came up with the book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.” In it, we identified 10 myths that have permeated our society for way too long. These are:

1. Men are better investors than women.

2. Emotions and personal values should be kept separate from money and investing.

3. Women are more risk-averse than men.

4. Women lack confidence when it comes to money.

5. Women are less interested in investing.

6. Women are less knowledgeable about math and investing.

7. Women need extra help understanding their finances.

8. Women can’t save because they spend money irresponsibly.

9. Women will save enough for retirement if they set up a 401(k) and play by the rules.

10. We should focus our time on fixing the gender income gap, not the wealth gap.

After defining these harmful myths, we dispelled them. We rewrote the rules:

1. Women possess all the qualities needed for long-term investment success.

2. Empathy and expertise both have a place in money matters.

3. Women have a healthy appetite for investment risk, but they’re more mindful about what the dangers are before diving in.

4. Women take time to reach well-informed decisions regarding finances.

5. Women are more ready than ever to carve out their place in the world of investing.

6. Mathematical expertise is not an innate characteristic; it’s a skill set that improves with effort and practice.

7. Women are taking initiative, proving they do not need to be coddled and cajoled into understanding their finances.

8. Women are powerful consumers with ample spending power, and we need to treat them as such.

9. 401(k)s won’t cover everything — women need to diversify their retirement portfolio.

10. The income gap is not the only thing hampering women’s financial mobility. Another alarming disparity is the wealth gap. And we need to fix it.

The financial services industry was built by and for men, and the institutions that created the status quo have excluded women from the conversation. We must start talking about women and money in an unapologetic and unabashed way — women already possess the financial knowledge and confidence to succeed.

For our part at The Humphreys Group, we will continue to address the challenges our clients face, encourage them to venture outside their comfort zone, and empower them to recognize the strengths they already possess, in finance and beyond.

We invite you to help us change the conversation. You can get your free copy of the book “Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money” at humphreysgroup.com/women-money-myths.

The Year of You: How to Set Your Goals, Your Way

Published in: Resources |

Fireworks light up the sky. Glasses clink as the New Year’s Eve ball drops in Time Square. Family and friends toast, wishing each other another happy new year and promising each other that this will be their best year yet.

But among the endless confetti, balloons, and champagne (or sparkling grape juice), you can’t help but wonder: Will it be your best year yet? Will you actually follow through with your lofty New Year’s resolutions this time?

And you might have not even come up with your 2020 goals yet — or don’t even plan to. With all the hubbub and pressure that comes with New Year’s resolutions, you may choose not to participate at all: only 40 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, the Washington Post reports. Some of the most common — and yet very general — resolutions out there every year are eat healthier, pick up a new skill or hobby, exercise more, read more books, save more (and spend less) money, get organized, and practice self care. And by February, around 80 percent of people have failed to stick to theirs, according to the New York Times.

How Do You View Planning and Goal Setting?

At The Humphreys Group, we understand how emotions can deeply affect how we view money and goal setting. That’s why we recommend taking a personal inventory on your attitudes and beliefs toward goal setting before sitting down to write your New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s an exercise to try before coming up with your resolutions this year. Try completing the sentences quickly; fill in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.

  1. I think goal setting is…
  2. In the past, my experience with goal setting has been…
  3. I think the greatest value of planning is…
  4. The most success I have experienced in setting and achieving a goal was when…
  5. I find it difficult to set goals when…
  6. What I want to avoid in the future is…
  7. The person who has been the best role model for me in defining and pursuing a meaningful life is…

Now that you’ve looked at your views toward goal setting, try to get started on creating your resolutions.

Actionable Steps to Getting Your Finances in Order

If getting your finances in order is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips from CNBC.

  1. Review what you spent in 2019. Schedule a “Personal Inventory Day” (PID) to review your credit card and bank statements.
  2. Set flexible but clear goals.
  3. Get inspired by resources like money-related subreddits or private personal finance Facebook groups.
  4. Write everything down, whether it’s about your savings account balance or how you’re feeling about your spending.

Wishing You a Happy New Year from The Humphreys Group

New Year’s Eve can come with a lot of pressure and expectation, but don’t let the arbitrary date get to you. Take time to sit down and clarify your values, hopes, and views. This will help you come up with specific goals that are personal to you and that can be broken down into actionable steps.

If you’re like to talk more about goal setting or financial planning, reach out to us today.

When Difficult Conversations Come up at Thanksgiving

Published in: Resources |

Thanksgiving can bring a sense of gratitude, happiness… and stress: Judgmental aunts. Nosy cousins. Prying grandmas. Boastful cousins. Jealous brothers. Successful sisters. Uncomfortable in-laws.

When you bring your extended family all around the same dinner table, things can get heated. Difficult topics can come up: money, politics, religion, relationships, career choices, academic success, your appearance, your favorite sports team, the turkey being slightly undercooked… Things can blow up to a screaming match that brings you to packing up your things and doing the five-hour drive home that very night.

Talking about any of these topics — especially money — can be challenging during the holidays, especially when you hear your relative’s voice laden with judgment as heavy as the gravy on the dinner table: “You spend how much on Christmas presents? You’re taking out a business loan? You’re sending your kid to that expensive art school?”

When you don’t see eye to eye with family members, it can be hard to stay even keeled during the holidays. But this can be the perfect opportunity to bring up difficult money topics. It may seem counterintuitive, considering how tense things can get around the Thanksgiving dinner table, but it’s best to have difficult conversations in person and when everyone involved is there.

For instance, maybe you and your siblings need to talk about long-term care options for your parents, and how much they will cost. As tough as these conversations can be, you need to have them eventually, and the holidays can be a good time to have them.

4 Tips on Effective Money Conversations

Talking about difficult topics takes courage — and preparation. Here are four tips for effective money conversations this Thanksgiving.

1. Be proactive.

By being proactive, and planning a conversation when you have time to talk things through calmly, you are a significant step ahead.

2. Don’t blindside the other person. Set a time, a topic and the length of time.

Pick a time when you both will be more relaxed and comfortable. Agree on how long you will talk. Some people are exhausted by long conversations, while others need to walk while talking about stressful topics.

3. Plainly tell them your intention regarding the conversation.

You don’t want to catch the other person off guard, but you also don’t want them to be on guard, arming themselves for battle. Tell them your intention and why the conversation is important to you.

4. Start small, prepare and practice.

Start with easier topics and work up to the bigger issues. Write down what you want to say and practice with yourself or with a friend.

Conversation Openers

If you’re wondering, “Okay, great, but how do I even begin the conversation?” try one of these conversation openers that Judy Ringer, conflict and communications skills trainer, recommends:

“I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.”

“I’d like to talk about _____ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.”

“I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”

“I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?” If the person says, “Sure, let me get back to you,” follow up with them.

“I think we have different perceptions about _____. I’d like to hear your thinking on this.”

“I’d like to talk about _____. I think we may have different ideas about how to _____.”

“I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about _____. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspectives as well.”

Taking the Next Step

After having the first conversation, here are some tips on how to continue navigating money conversations with loved ones.

Commit to having family financial conversations now.

Talking now can help bring families together. Communication between family members can support your family’s financial goals.

Ask detailed questions and make sure loved ones know where important financial information can be found.

Don’t be afraid to ask even the most seemingly obvious questions. Family members should also learn the location of — and know how to access — important documents, along with keys to safety deposit boxes or other storage facilities.

Ensure your goals and values are understood.

A family meeting can ensure that your family not only understands your wishes, but also knows precisely how they should be honored.

Continue the conversation with regular, ongoing dialogue.

Family financial conversations are not one-time events. You should revisit your financial situation with your family regularly.

Get help from a professional.

A financial advisor can help arrange and provide assistance for a family meeting to help ensure peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Attend One of Our Conversation Circles

At The Humphreys Group, we’ve discussed having difficult money conversations at our Conversation Circles in San Francisco. Our circles consist of a group of 12-15 women sitting together and talking about money and everything that goes with it — from our successes and fears to stories, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years.

Talking about money remains taboo, and the Circle provides safety and intention that supports a thoughtful discussion in which we can share and gain insights from other women.

As we reflect this Thanksgiving, we’re so grateful for the network of women who’ve attended our Conversation Circles over the years. We continue to be inspired by the impact that a group of women, talking together, can create. If you’re interested in attending one of our Conversation Circles, contact us today. And from all of us at The Humphreys Group, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

How to Make the Most of Your Charitable Gifts, Emotionally and Financially

Published in: Resources |

It’s that time of the year again.

Once the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, many businesses go full holiday mode:

Suddenly, you’re inundated with joyful Christmas music — in every store, in every restaurant, during every cab ride. Holiday lights envelop the trees, your office building, your entire neighborhood. Commercials on the radio and letters in the mail urge you to donate to their charities. Family members text you insisting for your holiday wish list. And to top it off, you can’t seem to escape the never-ending stream of holiday movies about the joy of giving.

If this somewhat insincere push for joy, cheeriness and gratitude from organizations, media, family and friends makes you feel overwhelmed, anxious and/or guilty, you’re not alone. Giving — whether it’s financial or nonfinancial — can bring up a lot of uncomfortable emotions. For instance, you might feel:

  • guilty when you are gifted money, unexpected gifts, opportunities or someone’s time;
  • stressed when being expected to keep up with your family’s giving traditions;
  • annoyed about not knowing where your donation dollars are going at a charity;
  • or ashamed when you can’t give as much as you want to a charity.

At The Humphreys Group, what we have seen is that when our money and values are out of alignment, we are less happy, less conscious of and less engaged with our own financial management. So how can we make sure that our values and giving are in harmony? We can’t accomplish everything in a blog post, but here are a few steps you can take:

Assess how you feel about receiving.

Think back to a time when you received something. It can be money, opportunity, an object or someone’s time. What was that memory and how did you feel about it at the time? You might not realize it, but our ability to give is in large part determined by our ability to receive. It’s important to understand how we feel about receiving generosity because this often affects how we feel about giving. As researcher Brené Brown says in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

Think about how your family handled giving.

Your family home is where your roots of giving reside — even if you work hard today to operate from a different set of values and behaviors. Looking back to your childhood, what do you remember learning about giving? What habits and money messages around giving (and receiving) have you inherited from your family? What examples or what kinds of giving can you recall? Generosity can take on many forms:

  • Was there generosity among family members? Gift giving or exchanges of favors?
  • Was there a tradition of taking in wayward cousins or stray animals?
  • Were childhood friends invited to dinner?
  • Was there money to pay for grandchildren’s college?
  • Was there tradition of helping strangers or volunteering?
  • Can you think of an example of an enjoyable giving experience you had? Why did it feel good?
  • Now, what did you discover about how your own giving practices are similar or different from your parents?
  • What do you think motivated your parents to give and how is that similar or different from what motivates you?

Not all giving comes from generosity; some comes from guilt, obligation, need or even anger. Even giving to your very favorite charity can feel fraught. If we give too much, our financial foundation can become shaky. If we give for the wrong reasons, our financial landscape may become clouded with resentment, neediness, expectation or disappointment.

Reflect on where you might stop, start or continue giving.

  • Who or what are you currently giving to that you are happy with? Don’t forget things like caring for your mother, taking care of the neighbor’s kids, tutoring a child, handling the fundraising for the football team or being available to a friend that’s having a hard time.
  • Have you had a giving experience that was challenging, that turn out well, or caused conflicts?
  • What kinds of giving would you like to increase and where would you like to trim? If you feel you are giving too much of your time, perhaps you have more tangible things to give. Or, if you are feeling like you are writing too many checks, maybe you’ll find giving time is more rewarding.

Research the organization you’re giving to.

Rating sites like Guidestar.org, CharityNavigator.org or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance assess criteria such as how transparent a nonprofit is about its finances and how much of its budget goes toward programs. The organization you’re giving to should be able to provide information and documentation to confirm it’s a registered 501(c)(3), according to CNBC. You can also use the tax-exempt organization search tool on the IRS website.

Other financial steps you can take:

As well as asking yourself these questions and researching the charities you’re giving to, there are also several strategies you can do to ensure your charitable giving dollars go farther for both you and the charity. Some year-end strategies for charitable giving include:

  • bunching your donations;
  • donating appreciated stock instead of cash;
  • using a donor-advised fund;
  • making a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA;
  • and investing in a charitable gift annuity.

Creating intention around your giving.

In the days coming up to the holidays, give yourself time to reflect on these questions and create intention around your giving going forward.

At The Humphreys Group, we also make sure to ask ourselves these questions. We often make contributions to nonprofit organizations on behalf of our clients to celebrate milestones in their lives, in addition to making an annual year-end holiday donation in honor of all our clients. The organization we choose reflects our vision and values, and our commitment to women’s issues. Past recipients have included She’s the First, Girls Who Code, The Girl Scouts of Northern California, San Francisco Safe House and Raphael House.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to emotionally and financially make the most out of your charitable giving, contact us today.

Understanding the Relationship between Gender and Philanthropy

Published in: Resources |

Women are making strides in charitable giving. What’s equally exciting is that they are doing it on their terms, in ways that are helping to reimagine and redefine their place and participation in the world of philanthropy.

Notable highlights from a 2016 Fidelity Charitable study of 3,254 “millennials” (born 1980-2000) and “Baby Boomers” (born 1946-64)* explored a variety of different behaviors and outlooks between the two generations, but also found that women of both generations shared several traits that differed from their male counterparts. When it comes to giving, women in both age groups:

  • View giving as a key part of their lives and are more likely to do it
  • Lead giving and volunteering efforts within their families and among their networks
  • Are more spontaneous, engaged and emphatic about their giving
  • Seek more information, and do so more often, about tax strategies and benefits related to giving
  • Prefer to be informed by experts rather than peers or family members
  • Exhibit more confidence than men when it comes to budgeting for giving, determining the causes they wish to support, and specifying amounts to give to those causes

*(Note: those born between 1965-1979, or “Generation X,” were not included in the study.)

Researchers from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Indianapolis, which has long examined gender as it relates to giving patterns, behaviors and satisfaction, also acknowledge women’s growing influence and power in philanthropy. This may be due, in part, to overall growth in female incomes, wealth and education levels; this growth has enabled more women to become increasingly interested in, informed about and involved with giving. That’s a trend that seems to be ongoing, with more research about it to come — in fact, it’s worth noting that their most recent study focuses on the intersection of race, giving and gender.

While we’re pleased about this positive outlook, we also realize that beginning to engage in charitable giving may feel like a daunting endeavor. We agree with other experts who say that taking some strategic first steps toward increasing one’s knowledge, confidence and participation in philanthropy can be empowering.

Women who want to commit to becoming donors should consider:

  • Researching the causes, organizations and/or initiatives that interest them, align with their values, and may stand out as priorities for their charitable giving funds.
  • Creating a “philanthropy budget” by earmarking specific amounts or assets, including cash, savings or monthly bank deduction(s), to contribute toward philanthropy.
  • Speaking with an investment professional to review charitable giving basics such as where, when, how much and what kinds of giving to begin with. An experienced advisor can also provide information about the tax ramifications of giving.

The future of women’s involvement in philanthropy is a bright one filled with fresh possibilities, and we welcome the opportunity to explore that future with you. Contact us today to discuss how we can help make charitable giving a part of your overall financial planning strategy.