Tag: womenandmoney

Mid-Year Wellness: The Credit vs. Debit Debate (Part I)

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Now that we have officially reached the halfway point of 2019, there is no better time to stop for a “breather” and take stock of your total wellness — and that includes your spending habits and how they factor into your progress toward your year-end goals. This brings us to a few questions we receive quite often here at The Humphreys Group: What should you actually use to make purchases? Are debit cards the “safer” method, or do credit cards rein supreme?

Our Financial Planning Associate, Hallie Kraus, is shedding light on the debate in a new, two-part blog series. Scroll down to read part I:

“Credit or debit?” We’re asked this question all the time at the register – but which payment method is actually best to use? And what’s the true difference between the two?

Let’s start with a basic recap: Debit cards are directly connected to your checking account. When you make a purchase, funds are withdrawn from that account immediately and transferred to the merchant.

Credit cards, on the other hand, are connected to a line of credit from your bank. When you make a purchase, you’re borrowing funds from your bank to pay the merchant. If you don’t pay off everything you owe each month, your bank will charge you (usually very high) interest on the remaining balance.

When Is It Best to Use a Credit Card vs. a Debit Card?

When you want to build your credit. If you’re planning on buying a home or car, lenders first want to see that you have a good credit history. And when you use a credit card, your balance and history of payments is reported to a credit bureau each month, creating a record — and, essentially, a narrative — of your financial habits and trustworthiness to lenders. Using a debit card is not reported to credit bureaus and therefore doesn’t create any sort of history.

Of course, simply using your credit card alone doesn’t help your credit; what matters is if you use it responsibly. If improving your credit is truly a priority for you, make sure to keep your credit card balance below 30% of your limit (for example, if you have a $10,000 limit, keep the balance below $3,000). You’ll also want to pay off the balance in full, and most importantly, pay your credit card bill on time every month. Not doing any of the above will negatively impact your score and thus be counterproductive.

When you want to minimize your fraud liability. This is perhaps the most compelling reason to use a credit card. Firstly, when a fraudster uses your credit card without permission, they’re technically stealing money from the bank that issued you the card — not from you personally. But what you may not know is that credit cards also offer more robust fraud protection.

Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), if you report unauthorized charges to your card issuer within 60 days, your liability for fraudulent transactions is limited to $50. Even better, the vast majority of credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover) have a zero-liability fraud policy. Essentially, assuming you report credit card fraud promptly, you will probably never pay for unauthorized transactions.

In contrast, when a fraudster uses your debit card, they have immediately stolen money from your bank account. And although debit cards have their own set of protections through the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), they are much less robust. According to the EFTA:

  • If you report a fraudulent debit card transaction within two business days, your liability is limited to $50.
  • If you wait longer than two days to report the fraudulent transaction, you can be liable for up to $500.
  • If you wait longer than 60 days to report, you could be held liable for the entire fraudulent transaction. So, depending on how much the fraudster has used your debit card, and how diligently you check your transaction history, your damages could be unlimited.

But there is one workaround: If you strongly prefer using a debit card, but want to achieve the same level of fraud protection as a credit card, select “credit” when you run the debit card. This requires the bank to follow credit card rules: Rather than being withdrawn from your bank account in real time, the purchase will go through the credit card network, and funds will be withdrawn within a few days. But the key distinction is that the transaction will be covered by the card company’s zero-liability policy, thereby exempting you of responsibility for unauthorized transactions.

When you want to earn rewards and have a good handle on your spending. Banks love to offer credit cards with cash back, points or other rewards, and it’s easy to see why. When rewards are connected to how often we use a credit card, we as consumers are incentivized to use them more often. The banks are essentially betting that, in our quest for more rewards, we will charge more to the card than we can pay off in one month, so they can charge us interest on the remaining balance.

That said, when used responsibly, rewards credit cards can save consumers a decent amount of money. If you want to use a credit card for this reason, make sure you never use the card for something you can’t afford in cash, and of course, pay off the balance in full every month. It’s also worth periodically doing the math to double check that your rewards exceed any annual fees associated with the card. If you’re paying the bank interest every month, or have sky-high annual fees, the credit card is not worth it, regardless of its rewards or other benefits.

Tune into our blog tomorrow for the second installment of Hallie’s two-part series, in which she discusses the benefits of using debit cards over credit cards and shares some helpful resources you can use to practice smart spending all-year-round.

Why You Need a Money Mission Statement

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“Fortune favors the brave,” an ancient proverb reminds us. The attitude that accompanies these words influences many of the conversations we have with our clients about their long-term plans.

When we begin working with clients on their financial goals and strategies, we acknowledge that, for many women, discussing money matters with loved ones can often be a tense and stressful experience. As we’ve highlighted in previous blogs, we realize a variety of factors can affect how we talk (or don’t talk) about money — so we first take a step back and look at the “big picture.” We ask clients to examine what matters most to them in their professional and personal lives when it comes to:

  • Accomplishments, abilities and goals
  • Responsibilities
  • Priorities
  • Challenges
  • Values
  • Dreams

But we don’t stop there. As our advisors continue to craft savings and investment approaches that consider these factors, we also encourage our clients to develop a money mission statement. A client’s mission statement can reflect their values and priorities, and help them clarify and commit to their specific goals. Additionally, a mission statement may improve how they communicate with others about what they value in their life and what they want to achieve in the future.

When we ask women to answer the following questions, we remind them that possessing a “fortune” can mean much more than accumulating money:

  • “What do I want to accomplish financially (get out of debt, own a home, travel, pursue more education, etc.)?”
  • “Why do I want to accomplish this (to be independent, to create a support system, to remain engaged professionally, etc.)?”
  • “What motivates me and inspires me, professionally and personally (my values, my family, my co-workers, my community, etc.)?”
  • “What else would I like to accomplish or achieve in my life (forge a new career path, create a financial legacy, establish a foundation, etc.)?”

A mission statement not only can help you clarify the next steps and end goals of your financial planning journey, but it can also help reduce the stress and strain of difficult conversations with those closest to you about money matters.

We realize that delving into our dreams and pursuing our goals — and sharing our dreams and goals with those closest to us — can be nerve-wracking. But as women continue to gain independence and power, we know they are brave enough to take important, meaningful steps toward defining their long-term goals and gaining financial security.

Contact The Humphreys Group for advice on how a mission statement can help you move forward to your own, unique fortune.

When One Makes More: How to Manage Financial Inequality

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For most of us, talking about money-related matters with our significant other can be an exercise fraught with tension, especially if one person earns more than the other. Even in the 21st century, “financial inequality” remains the norm in many relationships, and can negatively affect the conversations we have with our partners or those closest to us about finances, life/work goals and long-term plans.

But let’s look at some facts that could influence our approach to such discussions. When it comes to female monetary power, wealth in the hands of women — whether assets or income — is a relatively new and evolving phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down. And consider this positive news: According to the BMO Wealth Institute, women own 51 percent of all personal wealth in the United States. What’s more, women are projected to inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer expected over the next 40 years, according to researchers at Boston College’s Social Welfare Research Institute.

That said, income gaps between partners remain a more common occurrence than income parity. Men still earn more than women, and the difference between what they earn and what women earn is relatively significant. For example: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, only 25 percent of female/male couples had annual earnings that differed no more than $5,000. In just 9 percent of cases, the gap between a woman’s higher income and her male partner’s was $30,000 or more; in 35 percent of cases, the gap between a male partner’s higher earnings and his female partner’s was $30,000 or more.

In the changing earnings landscape, we at The Humphreys Group see an opportunity. As women continue to make inroads toward closing income gaps, and as more women become household breadwinners, we believe we can help develop new rules for discussing money matters with the people who are close to us. We can begin to change the tone of these conversations so that both parties benefit, regardless of the amount of a person’s take-home pay.

How do we do this? Through our research and ongoing client discussions, we count ourselves among the financial experts who recommend the following strategies to help improve money-related conversations when inequalities exist:

  • Discuss and acknowledge each other’s values, goals and priorities
  • Schedule time to make financial plans and decisions together
  • Realize the value of the non-financial ways each of you contributes to your lives and households
  • Work to maintain a balance when it comes to household duties and expectations
  • Communicate money concerns with each other and address tensions triggered by financial inequality

You are far from alone if you feel an edge to conversations about money from time to time, especially if financial inequality is a factor in your discussions. But we believe relationships can transcend all sorts of differences and obstacles — not just those related to money — with open, honest communication and understanding.

Contact The Humphreys Group advisors for more insight and information on how to improve your conversations in ways that benefit both your financial relationships and your financial planning strategies.

The Truth About Money, Power and Personal Relationships

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In previous blogs, we’ve explored the struggles many of us face when it comes to addressing financial issues with other people in our lives. We’ve delved into the reasons why conversations about money can be challenging for some relationships. And as we’ve examined these topics, one small but mighty theme keeps coming up.


We live in a world and in a society that regards power as the ability of an individual or a group to influence actions, policies, people and events, especially when it comes to business and politics. But often we don’t spend time examining how power — a word packed with multiple meanings and nuanced dimensions — can affect our personal lives; and, in particular, our financial relationships.

So let’s clarify.

As part of our thorough strategy to foster healthy financial relationships, the experienced advisors at The Humphreys Group encourage each client to explore her understanding of positional power versus personal power.

  • Positional power comes most often through external sources, and is heavily influenced by public perceptions that measure a person on factors that include her abilities, her job status, her possessions and her income. Conflicts about perceived positional power can contribute to a heightened sense of inequity in professional relationships, but also in individuals’ personal lives — especially when it comes to finances.
  • In contrast, regardless of job, income or social status, personal power is gained whenever an individual values the unique experiences that have shaped her life; determines the values that drive her professional work and personal relationships; and stays true to those principles. We advise our clients to work on uncovering and exploring what has influenced their personal power, to see its value and to understand how they can use it to strengthen and improve financial conversations and goal-setting in their relationships.

Trying to “prove” oneself based on external measurements related to positional power inevitably affects the dynamics of any relationship. But when individuals begin to exert their personal power by expressing what matters to them, the pressure to “measure up” to others — publicly and privately — diminishes. The possibility of fewer adversarial conversations emerges when the power dynamics even out. New opportunities arise for those who share a fiscal relationship to work together to communicate and identify common values, and then develop creative solutions to any financial challenges they face.

When we better understand the principles that another person values and draws meaning from, we can develop a sense of empathy and mutual respect that informs how we handle any kind of power dynamic. Contact The Humphreys Group for expert advice on learning how to explore and exert your personal power, so you can communicate what you care about and what matters most to you when it comes to your financial life.

Find Your Financial Voice

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The Quiet Power

I walked backwards, against time
and that’s where I caught the moon,
singing at me.

I steeped downwards, into my seat
and that’s where I caught freedom,
waiting for me, like a lilac.

I ended thought, and I ended story.
I stopped designing, and arguing, and
sculpting a happy life.

I didn’t die. I didn’t turn to dust.

Instead I chopped vegetables,
and made a calm lake in me
where the water was clear and sourced and still.

And when the ones I loved came to it,
I had something to give them, and
it offered them a soft road out of pain.

I became beloved.

And I came to know that this was it.
The quiet power.
I could give something mighty, lasting,
that stopped the wheel of chaos,

by tending to the river inside,
keeping the water rich and deep,
keeping a bench for you to visit.

— Tara Mohr

How to Cope With Feeling Financially Stuck

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Whether it’s lasted a few days or much longer, at some point most of us have been “there”: feeling stuck between where our lives are and where we want them to be. This feeling can happen in our jobs and professional networks; at home with family, friends and other communal connections; or in other areas of life such as our creativity and our health. Being stuck can even happen in our financial lives.

So how do we get “unstuck,” especially when we start to worry that our circumstances and our financial lives are destined to remain unchanged?

We at The Humphreys Group believe a crucial first step to getting unstuck when it comes to money matters is to engage in multiple levels of self-assessment. We use a powerful and effective variety of talk strategies, writing tools and thought guides with our clients that encourage them to move forward, in ways that align with who they are and what they value, toward determining and realizing their financial goals. What we do helps clients:

  • Establish where they are strong, satisfied and advancing their financial plans — for example: low debt; steady income; healthy spending, saving and investing habits; providing for themselves and other family members.
  • Realize areas of their financial knowledge and practices that may need a boost, such as developing a long-term financial strategy; managing stress about fiscal matters; and making investment choices.
  • Explore whether they are affected by negative myths about women and money, which include wrongly-held beliefs that women overspend, are too emotional about investing or lack self-confidence when it comes managing finances.
  • Discover what motivates them to get unstuck. We encourage each client to determine her unique values and priorities as a way to focus on behaviors and mindsets that will enable her to move forward with assertiveness in life and when making financial planning decisions.
  • Implement strategies that prompt clients to shift into action and engagement in their financial circumstances, perhaps by starting with a set of small daily goals and reaching them; writing about their goals; tackling difficult conversations about money; or regularly meeting with advisors for additional advice and insight regarding their financial plans.

To assist with your efforts in getting unstuck on your journey toward increasing your financial confidence and knowledge, we invite you to download a free copy of our new book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling the Truth about Women and Money”, as an additional resource. We also recommend you contact The Humphreys Group to discuss how we can support and further unlock the financial knowledge and smarts you already possess.

Why It’s Time to Quiet Your Inner Financial Critic

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When we talk about being “good with money,” we’re not talking about being good at stock market analysis or being savvy about the finer points of the U.S. Treasury yield curve. We are not talking about knowing the latest happenings at the Fed or reading The Economist cover to cover every week. Being “good with money” has more to do with making confident financial decisions on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. It means understanding the kinds of decisions we need to make about money to live securely within our means, and it means doing so in a way that aligns our finances with our values, now and with an eye on a secure financial future.

At The Humphreys Group, we know that women are excellent stewards of their financial resources — plenty of data exist to support this — but even in the 21st century, we find part of our work is convincing clients to silence their “inner critics” so each woman can make the best use of her skills and intellect when it comes to their finances and their lives.

Why do our “inner critics” often speak so loudly to us? And how can each of us silence her own “inner critic” when it comes to money matters and financial planning?

Let’s face it: We live in a world designed by and for men, a “coded patriarchy” that includes most of our financial institutions and affects how those institutions decide to serve their female clients. And because most societies are largely designed to respond to the strengths, preferences and perspectives of men, women on a daily basis encounter the deeply entrenched societal and gender-based narrative that they are not “good with money.”

Since we’re living in a world in which the default definition of success is a male one, when women tell us they aren’t “good with money,” we believe they think this because there is a mismatch between how the dominant male-culture views financial success and how women view financial success.

To counter the dominant male mindset about women and money, our work in silencing “inner critics” begins with redefining what success looks like for women. We spend time with clients examining where they feel strong, knowledgeable and satisfied in their financial lives, and we also ask them to consider areas that may need improvement.

The result? We land on definitions of success that include more than financial wealth, and that also demonstrate how most of us are living our lives with a keen understanding of what it takes to be “good with money.” For many women, components that contribute to being “good with money” include:

  • Doing work that contributes to our self-confidence and our financial security and plans
  • Providing resources and finances for ourselves and families
  • Contributing to our own and others’ well-being in myriad ways outside of money
  • Serving as role models for others at home and as mentors in the workplace
  • Securing our mental, physical and emotional health
  • Building personal and professional networks and support systems
  • Attaining safety and security by managing the physical spaces (bills, repairs, etc.) where we live

All of these factors are part of the equation of what it takes to be “good with money.” If women could design a world based on this view of what it takes to achieve financial success, we imagine the voices of our “inner critics” would fall silent.

To better understand what it might look like if women’s unique strengths, concerns and preferences were the financial norm, and to help silence your own inner critic, we invite you to download a free copy of our recent book, “Rewriting the Rules: Telling the Truth about Women and Money”. We also encourage you to contact The Humphreys Group for further discussion about securing your financial well-being.

3 Myths About Women and Money, Debunked

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“Women lack confidence in their financial decisions.”

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

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

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

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

Men are better investors than women

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

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

Women are more risk-averse than men

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

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

Women lack confidence when it comes to money

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

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

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

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

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

Overcome Your Financial Fears

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

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

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

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

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

— Marianne Williamson

Learning to Receive With an Open Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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