If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s in store for us. You could discover your new favorite flavor of ice cream this week. You could meet your future best friend next month. Or you could go to bed tonight living a normal life, and wake up tomorrow to find yourself in a global pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the world into a state of panic and uncertainty. Trips were canceled, plans were put on hold, and suddenly many of us began to question our life’s trajectory. However, over a year later, as restaurants show signs of life, people start to visit with friends again, and vaccines are (slowly) rolled out, it’s an important time to consider your long-term plan.
Although 2020 showed us that even the best laid plans are subject to unpredictable exterior circumstances, we should still be as prepared as possible, especially when it comes to finances. Due to women’s typically longer life-spans coupled with systemic and societal issues like the gender pay gap and career interruptions, long-term financial and estate planning is especially important for women.
How to map out your long-term financial plan
When it comes to thinking through your personal plan, here are a few steps you can take:
Think about your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Start by thinking about your life 5-10 years from now and go from there. What does your life look like? Are you retired? Are you starting a new business? Are you raising a family?
Now, think about each of those dreams, goals, and aspirations with a dollar amount attached to them. Are you living off of a pension or a retirement savings account? Are you taking out a loan to get that new business up and running? Do you have a child to care for, or even two or three? At the end of the day, you want your money to work for you and align with your ambitions. It may not be romantic to lay out your dreams with price-tags attached to them, but momentarily taking off those rose-colored glasses to look at your goals through a pragmatic lens could be the difference between making those dreams a reality and just fantasizing about them.
Once you’ve sufficiently thought things through, it’s time to make a solid plan and put that plan in action. From saving money to investing, each person’s plan will look different. Working with a financial advisor to create an individualized plan tailored to your specific needs is a great place to start.
Now that you’ve thought about your personal plan, go the extra mile and think beyond it. If you were to pass away or become incapacitated tomorrow, how would you want your assets distributed, and who would you want to handle your responsibilities? It may feel like an unpleasant topic and one that you’d rather put off, but one of the best things you can do for your future generations is put a sound plan in place, and when it comes to your estate, the sooner you start planning, the better.
At The Humphreys Group, we know that it can be difficult to put a short-term plan in place, much less a long-term plan. We’re here to help. Over 30-plus years, we’ve seen that it takes care and clarity to build the trust needed to personalize your financial plan. We take the time to learn about you, your dreams, and aspirations to develop a financial plan that will evolve with you during your life. If you’re interested in getting a second opinion on your long-term financial plan, reach out to our team today.
You’ve probably heard of imposter syndrome — the psychological phenomenon in which an individual doubts their talents and qualifications, believe they only succeeded due to luck, and fear that they will be exposed as a “fraud.”
But do you know what financial imposter syndrome is? It’s when you finally start making a living wage, but you still feel poor and old habits remain. “If you’ve spent most of your career not earning much, then it’s more familiar to you than being financially stable,” New York Times writer Eric Ravenscraft writes. “Making enough money doesn’t feel real yet, and you’re afraid it will all go away.”
This anxiety can prevent you from taking care of yourself even though you can afford to — you put off expensive dental work, avoid getting your car fixed, or buy cheaper but not as healthy food.
It’s smart to keep living within your means; you don’t want to fall into the trap of “lifestyle inflation,” where you spend more money because you earn more money. But financial imposter syndrome can greatly affect your mental health, and it’s a problem you shouldn’t ignore.
Here are some tips on how to get over financial imposter syndrome.
1. Give yourself permission to spend money.
When you’ve struggled with paying your bills for so long, it can be hard to justify buying something you simply want and that would “only” bring you joy and improve your life. As New York Times writer Eric Ravenscraft writes, “If you manage to get a better paying job and improve your financial situation, no one automatically comes along to teach you what you can do with your new paycheck.” Try to make a conscious effort to break out of old thinking patterns; allow yourself to spend money on things from time to time that bring you joy.
2. Talk about it.
Voicing out loud what you’re going through — with a therapist, a financial advisor, a friend, or mentor — can help you see the financial facts of the situation versus your perception. The Humphreys Group regularly hosts Conversation Circles where we talk about the emotional aspect of money; consider coming to one of our events!
3. Create a script for times when you feel financial imposter syndrome creeping in.
When you feel old insecurities and unfounded worries coming in (e.g. “I can’t buy that — that’s something that ‘other people’ do,” “I’m selfish for spending money on better clothes/food/etc.,” or “It’s just luck that I got this job; I don’t deserve this money.”), have a mantra/script to remind yourself that you deserve financial success and that you worked hard to get where you are now.
Managing the Emotional Side of Money
At The Humphreys Group, we know that wealth management is best delivered with equal doses of expertise (the technical number crunching) and empathy (emotional intelligence). We know that addressing the non-numerical aspects of money results in better financial outcomes for our clients. If you’re interested in talking to us more about financial imposter syndrome, reach out to our team today.
Podcasts have become increasingly popular over the years, but even more so during the pandemic. Spotify recently reported that podcast consumption has more than doubled. With everyone at home, people have been turning to podcasts for entertainment, information, advice, and community. We asked our Humphreys Group team what their favorite finance-related podcasts were. Here are their answers:
Let us know if there’s any other podcasts you’d recommend adding to the list! Don’t forget to check out last week’s blog post too, where we shared our favorite investment reads. Want more tips on personal finance? Check out our blog archive; every week, we share personal finance tips, commentary, and resources.
With so much time at home during the pandemic, many of us have found ourselves reading voraciously and revisiting some of our favorite books. If you’re looking for some inspirational and educational reads in 2021, here are some of our favorite books on investing and personal finances:
Do you have a favorite finance book to add to the list? Let us know! And if you’d like to continue the conversation about your favorite reads, join us at one of our Conversation Circles, where we have authentic conversations about personal finance beyond the numbers.
Happy International Women’s Day!International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8, celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year’s IWD campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge. As the IWD website states, “We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.”
For IWD, we asked The Humphreys Group team how they will help forge a gender equal world. We also asked who inspires them in their personal and professional life. Here are their answers:
Diane Bourdo, CFP®, President
1. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. How will you choose to challenge gender inequality and gender bias in 2021?
I recently read a thought-provoking book, Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser, founder of The Omega Institute. The subtitle of the book is “When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes.” Lesser revisits stories that have shaped our cultural narratives for hundreds of thousands of years – Eve in the Garden of Evil, Pandora (of the Box), and Cassandra, among others. In taking a closer look, she addresses in a straightforward and unapologetic way how white cis men have controlled the telling of history — and how it affects us all. Women bear the brunt of these misogynistic narratives of course, but Lesser makes the point that we all suffer — people of all genders — from not hearing from a broader range of voices and experiences.
This book struck me in its clarity and power, and my goal is to champion these ideas as much as I can in 2021. Challenging an entrenched system is tough, but I look forward to doing more of it this year and to try some of the many ways Lesser suggests we flip the narrative in her book’s “toolbox.”
2. Who inspires you and why (such as family members, women leaders in financial services industry and other industries, celebrities, and/or fictional heroes like Wonder Woman)?
As a girl I was a tomboy and, no surprise, my first heroines were female sports figures. My earliest inspiration was Donna de Varona who was an Olympic swimmer at age 13 and lived in exotic (for a Wisconsin girl) Santa Clara where they unbelievably swam outside all year long. Before reading her biography, I hadn’t heard about strong female athletes and I was struck by her discipline and devotion.
A similar figure and my second heroine was Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who excelled in every sport she tried. She too was an Olympian and won two gold medals in track and field. Both women inspired me back then and opened my eyes to what women were capable of on a physical level.
Fast forward a few decades and I’ve been most inspired by women from all walks of life who question the status quo, who follow their own path, and who break new ground given the time in which they live.The list includes writers such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison,political figures such as Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Elizabeth Warren, and cultural icons such as Michelle Obama. Each of these women are strong, smart leaders who are willing to lead in their own way, advocate for the voices of other women, and help reshape our idea of the role and power of women in our society today.
Lexi Olian, CFP®, Director of Financial Planning
1. How will you choose to challenge gender inequality and gender bias in 2021?
My parents wanted the best for me, and they told me that even though I was a girl, I could be anything I want to be. So, I spent most of my childhood trying to overcome what I thought was an unfortunate condition. I wore only pants, I climbed trees, and I refused to play with dolls. I skipped over the books with girls on the covers and I completely missed out on Nancy Drew and Little Women. Years later, maybe it was the first time I joined a circle of women, or maybe it was the opportunity to bear a child, I finally began to comprehend and celebrate what a powerful experience it is to be a woman. So now, in 2021, I am very alert for the words, “even though,” whether spoken or implied — and when I can, I will correct and replace those words with “because.”
2. Who inspires you and why?
Early 2017, I was feeling defeated so I decided to start a list of heroes. My first entry was Sally Yates, when she refused to argue the merits of the “Muslim ban.” I watched Emma Gonzalez “call BS” on congressional apathy after the Parkland shooting and added her to the list. When Rachel Maddow cried over the children in cages, she made the list. I added Christine Blasey Ford when she faced the Senate and courageously told a story of sexual violence that millions of women share. One day, Monica Lewinsky posted a joke on Twitter that showed up on my Twitter feed. She made the list. She is a survivor. There are many on my list, and there will be many more, but the most recently added is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I greatly admire her strength and intelligence, but I didn’t think to add her to the list until after she recounted her experience on January 6. Despite being the target of a mob, and being absolutely terrified, she still had the courage to go live on Instagram to tell her story.
Hallie Kraus, CFP®, CRPC®, Financial Planner
1. How will you choose to challenge gender inequality and gender bias in 2021?
After witnessing how the pandemic has disproportionately devastated women’s mental, emotional, and financial stability, I plan to hold my elected officials accountable and demand they enact policies to better support women going forward. Economists say that the wage gap has widened by five percentage points (from 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, to 76 cents), and they project it will take more than 10 years for the gender wage gap to close to what it was before the pandemic. Our government needs to prioritize policies that incentivize companies to close the wage gap and pay essential workers what they’re worth. I’m at the age where lots of my friends are starting their own families, and I don’t want to see them neglected, so I also plan to advocate for access to affordable childcare and family leave.
2.Who inspires you and why?
When I was in the eighth grade, I did a history project on Jane Goodall, and her passion and empathetic leadership quickly made her one of my heroes. But later on I realized that she also inspired me because she proves that you don’t have to be loud in order to be bold. Women like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Christine Blasey Ford have also demonstrated this same quiet power, and I will always be in awe of it. I’m also inspired by the pure grit and determination of women like Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the grace and authenticity of Michelle Obama. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Beyoncé — not just because I love her music (and I do), but because of her unapologetic ambition, her ability to inspire self-confidence in others, and how she very intentionally uses her power as a positive force for change.
Liz Paxton, Director of Operations
How will you choose to challenge gender inequality and gender bias in 2021? Who inspires you and why?
I was raised by a strong, competent woman with a successful professional career. In addition, I attendedall–girls schools through high school. That combination imprinted on me the belief that women could do whatever they wanted. Looking back, it is obvious that this was not the reality of the world in the 1960s and 1970s, but that didn’t alter my thinking that women could do or be whatever they wanted.
Fast forward several decades and we are still bumping up against those barriers, although progress has been made. I am inspired by the many women who have gone before me and widened the path for those that followed. I am especially moved by women who followed a path that not only was traditionally male, but also served a greater good. Virginia Hall transformed herself from a Baltimore socialite into a spy in WWII. Her story is movingly told in the book A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War IIby Sonia Purnell. She operated behind enemy lines in France and is credited with being a linchpin for the French Resistance. Thanks to her skill and courage, she led successful guerrilla campaigns and liberated large areas of France from the Nazis after D-Day.
1. How will you choose to challenge gender inequality and gender bias in 2021?
This year I choose to speak up. As a young woman, I can think of instances in the past where I stayed silent and chose not to speak up. Perhaps it was fear of ruffling feathers or a lack of confidence about my opinions, but this year I choose to put those fears aside. I will push myself in 2021 to have challenging conversations with my friends, family members, and my community about gender equality and gender bias. As an example, I can think back to a conversation with my brother about gender equality in sports and gender-neutral sports in the Olympics. Ultimately, I left that conversation feeling frustrated and unheard. This year, I will take more ownership of those types of conversations and work on how I deliver my opinion effectively and productively.
2.Who inspires you and why?
First and foremost I am inspired by theUnited States women’s national soccer team (USWNT). I grew up watching these strong women play the best soccer in the world on an international stage. As a young girl, being able to see their hard work and determination pay off was inspiring. Fast forward to 2021, the USWNT is still the best team in the world and they are using their voices to fight for equal pay. Their message gives the younger generation and my generation hope for true equality in sports. Serena and Venus Williams are incredibly inspiring female athletes and they have always been a duo that I love to watch. Their rise to the top of the tennis world was an amazing example of how to push through doubters and achieve your dreams.
We are also so lucky to have inspiring political leaders like Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams paving the way for more women in politics. They have impacted how women and particularly how young women view themselves in society. For the first time, a woman and furthermore a woman of color has a seat at the front of the Senate Chamber. We can only guess how many young girls see that example and have set their eyes on a similar path. All of these women challenge norms to push forward, achieve their goals, and inspire a world of women around them.
#ChooseToChallenge with The Humphreys Group
As the International Women’s Day website says, a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.So let’s all choose to challenge.
How will you help forge a gender equal world? Let’s celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.
Your job likely offers you some form of equity compensation. Equity compensation can represent financial security and sustainability — but it also can come with a degree of risk. There are various factors to consider with compensation packages, such as your financial goals, taxes, and diversification strategies. In this week’s blog post, we go over the basics you should know.
Equity Compensation 101
Equity compensation is non-cash pay offered to employees that represents ownership in a company. This includes options, restricted stock, and performance shares. Public companies and some private companies, especially startup companies, offer equity compensation to make up for lack of cash flow and attract high-quality employees.
Employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs) are company-run programs that let employees purchase company stock at a discounted price. Employees can usually contribute through payroll deductions; this typically builds up between the offering period and the purchase period.
Restricted stock unit (RSU) plans are company stock plans offered to employees as additional compensation. Instead of paying you your entire salary in cash, part of it is given to you in the form of company stock. It is usually listed alongside your base salary when you’re hired.
Stock option plans, also known as an incentive stock option (ISO), is a type of equity compensation given to employees and executives. Rather than giving you shares of stock directly, the company might offer derivative options of the stock.
The Role Of Equity Compensation In Your Financial Plan
Where does equity compensation fit into your financial plan? To understand this, you should go over the following with your financial advisor: figure out what kind of investor you are, watch out for concentrated wealth, understand the tax consequences of your investment decisions, and understand how recent tax law changes affects your wealth. This will help you make informed decisions about how to manage your equity compensation.
Work with The Humphreys Group Today
The right financial advisor can help you identify your core values, establish clear financial goals and create a financial strategy.
When you work with a financial advisor at The Humphreys Group, you’ll know that you’re working with a financial advisor that understands the importance of values. In August 2020, we earned the B Corp certification, which recognizes for-profit companies that use business as a force for good. B Corp companies are working toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose.
When thinking of the typical mentor-mentee relationship, the image thatcomes to mind might be of a seasoned professional advising a new college grad over coffee.
But mentorships should exist at every stage of your career. As Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, says in CNN Money, part of it is subverting our ideas of what mentorship looks like. “Mentoring doesn’t always happen in a hierarchical way,” she says. “Often, mentoring happens in bidirectional ways, and you learn different things from different people.”
Mid-career women might feel embarrassed or nervous about seeking out a mentor, for fear of looking incompetent or being rejected. But this move does exactly the opposite. Mentorship expands your career opportunities, builds crucial connections within your professional network, creates a community of support and trust, and ultimately brings you a sense of purpose and meaning.
The benefits of mentorship are numerous, and mentorship helps break down systemic barriers within organizations: “Growing research has also shown that intentional mentorship programs have a positive impact in chipping away at the promotion or opportunity gap, gaps that keep women and people of color from advancing within organizations,” Fast Company notes.
Mentorship is especially important during this COVID-19 crisis, a time filled with uncertainty and loneliness and when mid-career women might be considering a career change. The culture of inclusion and belonging that mentorship fosters is just what mid-career women need during this stressful time.
The Humphreys Group is passionate about connecting women at all stages of their career through ourConversation Circles.
Our circles consist of a group of 12–15 women sitting together (now virtually), and we have honest, authentic conversations about money beyond the numbers. We have discussed topics ranging from “What’s Your Worth? The Art of Advocating for Ourselves” to “Fiscal Unequals: Finding Common Ground with Friends and Family” to “What’s in Your Resilience Toolkit?” If you’re interested in joining us at our next event, reach out to us today!
Retirement planning can be a uniquely stressful and anxiety-inducing experience for women because of the financial burdens they face later in life.
Women typically live longer than men (about five years on average)and are more likely to live their final years alone. Living longer and living alone often means more health problems — which means more medical bills andpotentially the need for long-term care.Women also might not have as much saved for retirement because of systemic and societal issues such as the gender pay gap and career interruptionsto be the main caretaker for their children, aging parents, or other loved ones.
This financial anxiety around retirement is felt by women throughout the nation. A survey last year by the National Council on Aging and Ipsos found that fully half (51%) of women age 60 and older are worried about outliving their savings. Almost six in 10 women (59%) said they are worried about losing their independence.
Many couples do not anticipate how financially and emotionally painful these later-in-retirement expenses can be.When women don’t take part in financial planning and then lose a spouse or get a divorce, they often find out that they aren’t as prepared for retirement as they thought, or that their asset allocation is inappropriate for their level of risk tolerance.
That’s why it’s so important to regularly talk about these gender inequalities and possible scenarios with your partner and financial advisor. According to UBS, when couples do share in the financial decisions equally, they argue less about money and feel more confident in their financial future.
In a UBSsurvey, 64% of married women said they have a greater interest in discussing financial planning with their spouse due to COVID-19. Sixty-three percent said the crisis has affected how they think about money, and 51% said they intend to discuss their inheritance plans with their children because of the virus.
“The consistent message that we need to get across with couples is that long-term financial planning is just not something that can be delegated,” said Liz Sheehan of UBS in theBarron’s article. “You both have to be sitting at the same table for that conversation.”
Prepare for Retirement with The Humphreys Group
It’s important for couples to have open conversations about retirement now. A financial advisor can help facilitate these hard conversations and create a strategic comprehensive retirement plan that addresses these issues.
A financial advisor can help you with every facet of retirement planning — from Social Security optimization, addressing debt, planning for end-of-life costs for both partners, and creating a retirement plan that safeguards you from the “survivor trap.” Start planning for retirement today with The Humphreys Group. Contact us today.
1. Several months in advance, do your research and create a new budget.
Starting a new family means dramatically adjusting your cash flow and lifestyle. Calculate items like baby clothes, food, formula, nursery items, and diapers. A significant new cost will be daycare, whether it’s a daycare facility or a nanny. Get estimates from multiple sources so you can plan effectively. Monthly full-time childcare can cost on average $1,000.
Include new medical expenses in your budget. Talk with your health insurance provider to find out how much coverage you have for hospital bills, such as ultrasounds, labor costs, vaccinations, and regular check-ups.
Try to pay off credit card debt before your child arrives. Also, establish an emergency fund. Aim to save at least three to six months of expenses.
2. Think about lifestyle changes.
In the future, you may want to buy a new home for your growing family; when your child is school age, you might want to move so they are in a good school district. Other lifestyle changes include factoring in the costs of activities like piano lessons, soccer team memberships, etc.
3. Determine how you want your child to be covered under a healthcare policy.
Having a baby is considered a “qualifying life event” that allows for a mini open enrollment period so you can make changes to your health coverage. If both parents are working, view each of your employer’s benefits to see which plan is most advantageous for the delivery and ongoing care.
Increase your Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. HSAs are available to those in high-deductible health plans; it can can be used to pay for a variety of medical expenses. HSAs are different from Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for medical expenses in that there is no “use it or lose it” provision; there’s no time frame in which you are required to spend the money.
4. Research your employer benefits.
Does your employer offer paid parental leave or a FSA (which allows you to save money for medical expenses pre-tax)? Talk to your company HR department. With a FSA, you can have additional money withheld to cover the cost of daycare expenses. This will make some of the expenses come out pre-tax and lower your taxable income.
If your employer offers a 401(k) retirement account, contribute to it so you can prepare for retirement. Many employers also offer a 401(k) match; find out about the contribution match levels.
5. Plan for your child’s education.
Start setting aside money to cover college costs. Talk to your financial advisor about tax-advantaged education savings vehicles such as 529 college savings plans.
6. Know of tax breaks.
Know of the tax benefits of having a child. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) provides a $2,000 tax credit per child, subject to an income phase-out starting at $200,000 for individual filers and $400,000 for joint filers. Research the Child & Dependent Care Credit if you are planning on using some form of childcare,. This reduces your tax liability by up to $2,100 if you have two or more dependents and have incurred more than $6,000 of qualified expenses.
7. Review your life insurance needs.
If you pass away, life insurance can bring your family some financial security by replacing the income needed to maintain their lifestyle. It can also help with outstanding debts, mortgages, and your child’s education. Two types of life insurance policies to consider are term and permanent. Talk with a financial professional to find the right life insurance policy for your family. Also consider disability insurance to replace lost income.
8. Have an estate plan in place.
An estate plan will protect your family’s future. Make sure you have the following in place: a will, a durable power of attorney (DPOA), a health care proxy, and a living will. Update beneficiary designations on accounts to include your child.
9. Talk to a financial advisor.
Talk with a financial advisor to protect your finances — now and for in the future.
It’s no secret that women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men: women live longer, often have lower lifetime earnings, and may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets. This has all been exacerbated by the pandemic recession, which has been so disproportionately damaging to women’s careers that experts are calling it a “shecession.”
1. Nothing prevents you from getting Social Security benefits. You may be eligible for your own benefits if you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits. Whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit once you’re 62 years old.
2. There’s no marriage penalty. If you are married and you and your spouse have worked and earned enough credits on your own, you will each get your own Social Security benefit. A working woman is not limited to one–half of her spouse’s Social Security.
3. If you qualify for two benefits, you get the one that pays the higher rate — not both. You are potentially eligible for benefits on both your own and your spouse’s work record, but you only receive the higher rate. If you don’t have your own work record, you are eligible for between one-third and one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. Most working women receive their own Social Security benefit amount because it’s more than one-third to one-half of their spouse’s rate.
4. If you’re divorced and were married at least 10 years, you’re eligible on your ex’s Social Security record. Divorced women who were married at least 10 years are eligible for Social Security based on their ex’s record, if they are unmarried when they become eligible for Social Security.
5. You’re eligible for a widow’s benefit when your spouse or ex dies. At age 60, a widow is eligible for 71 percent of what the spouse was getting before they died; at full retirement age, the window is eligible for 100 percent.The Social Security Administration pays your own retirement benefit first, then supplements it with the extra benefits you are due as a widow to bring your Social Security benefit amount up to the widow’s rate.
Retirement Planning with The Humphreys Group
The Humphreys Group is passionate about helping women harness their innate financial strengths through an honest,empathetic, and smartapproach to wealth management.Want to learn more about retirement planning?Reach out to our team today.