Women Building Wealth: Five Things You Need To Know
By Wendy and Beata
At the height of a demanding career, staying on top of your personal finances might not have ranked high on your list. Competing priorities, cultural conventions, or doubts about financial literacy often lead women to delegate control. But now that you have retired from your career, it’s time to focus on mastering these skills. Plus, it’s smart to think ahead: most women are likely to be primary financial decision-makers at some point in their lives. Here’s a guide to getting more engaged.
1. Know Your Numbers: Start by tracking down your annual spending, asset values across all accounts (not just retirement, checking, and savings), and see how you’re currently invested. But don’t stop there. Set spending targets for specific goals—not just a lump sum annual amount—for adventure, lifelong learning or a new business. And determine how these fit with sustaining your lifestyle longer term.
2. Expect the Unexpected: Review your insurance coverage, including life insurance, long-term care, and an umbrella policy for property and casualty. If you purchased insurance more than five years ago, revisit your policies—pricing and product features change, and so do your needs. You are no longer replacing income, you’re focusing on estate planning.
3. Get Your Financial House in Order: While you were busy building your career, you may not have played a hands-on role in household financial decisions. If that’s the case, it’s time to get in touch, now! Know your advisors and how to access all your accounts. Gather estate planning documents (trusts, wills, etc.) and understand which come into play when. Develop an eldercare plan and communicate it to your children.
4. Build Your Dream Team: Engage trusted professionals with whom you feel comfortable and develop a personal relationship with each of them. One-stop-shopping may sound convenient, but rarely works in practice. You’ll likely need a separate tax professional, attorney, financial advisor and charitable advisor—though they should connect and coordinate seamlessly on your behalf. Even if you “inherit” a team, you may need changes to make it your own.
5. Fund Your Favorites: Wealth is a means to an end—but the end-game differs for each of us. What are your priorities? What makes you happiest? Helping grandchildren pursue higher education, gifting to a favorite charity, or pursuing new opportunities post-career may be where you shift your focus. Make your money work for you to fund your favorites.
Taking hold of the reins can be intimidating—and won’t happen overnight. But you’ve done tough things before, and the sense of accomplishment and control you’ll feel may have you wishing you had done it sooner.
Wendy Barasch is a Principal and Financial Advisor in Bernstein’s New York office. She has advised many personal and corporate clients regarding complex financial questions, including retirement planning.
Beata Kirr is a National Managing Director in the Chicago office, and Head of Private Client Core Asset Strategies at Bernstein. She is a member of the Private Client Investment Policy Group, which builds and manages client’s strategic asset allocation advice. Beata is also the host of Women & Wealth, a part of the Bernstein Insights podcast series. For additional Bernstein thought leadership for women investors, click here.