26 Aug, 2016 – Women today comprise 45 percent of the U.S. labor force. They own a third of U.S. businesses and control two-thirds of annual spending, according to a recent report.
“Despite the economic strides women have made, they have unique needs as investors,” says Bill Winters, senior vice president and managing director with Tompkins Financial Advisors. Women live longer, earn less, have fewer savings, and have higher medical costs. To prepare for their future needs, women need to have a clear understanding of their overall finances and start the process to develop and implement a sound financial plan.
Assessing Your Current Financial Situation
Before creating a financial plan, women need to develop an accurate picture of their current finanical situation. This can be done by establishing a budget or a spending plan to identify current monthly income and expenses, evaluate your spending habits, and monitor your overall spending.
You can start by adding up your your salary and other types of income, such as dividends, interest, and child support.
Then calculate all of your expenses, dividing them into two categories: fixed and discretionary. Fixed expenses include necessities, such as housing, food, transportation, and clothing; discretionary expenses include items like vacations, entertainment, and hobbies.
Stay in line with your budget by getting in the habit of saving, and making budgeting part of your daily routine. You can build occasional rewards into your budget, and you should examine your budget regularly and make changes if needed.
Setting Your Financial Goals
The next step in developing a financial plan is to set and prioritize financial goals, Winters says. Start by making a list of your short-term and long-term financial goals. Short-term goals may include paying off your outstanding credit card debt or determining if your cash reserve is adequately funded. Your long-term goals may include buying a new home, saving for your child’s college education, or retiring early.
After establishing your financial goals, you should prioritize them since it may not be possible to achieve all of them at once. You’ll have to decide which of your goals are the most important (sending your child to college) and which can be postponed (buying that beachfront house in Florida).
Implementing Saving and Investing Strategies
The next step is to determine how much it will take to fund each goal. If you’ve already set aside money toward a goal, you’ll want to know how much more you need to save.
Beyond saving, establishing appropriate investment strategies will also help you work toward meeting your financial goals. To determine which investments you should pursue, consider these questions:
• What is your time frame?
• What is financial tolerance for risk?
• What are your liquidity needs?
The answers to these questions will guide you in choosing investments that will help you target specific financial goals, such as buying a new home, starting a business, or increasing your net worth.
Monitoring Your Debt and Credit
Managing your debt and credit should be part of any sound financial planning process. It is essential that you avoid the financial pitfalls that sometimes result from borrowing, whether it’s debt from a mortgage, credit cards, or a student loan.
To keep up a good credit history, make sure you know exactly how much you owe by monitoring balances and interest rates. If you are using revolving credit, don’t spend mroe than you can pay off at the end of each billing cycle. And optimize your repayments by paying off high-interest debt first, and consider the advantages of debt consolidation or refinancing.
Working with a Financial Advisor
While you can create a financial plan on your own, you may find it beneficial to work with a financial advisor to help you develop an appropriate investment strategy. A financial advisor can help you achieve the following:
• Evaluate your financial situation by reviewing your income, assets and liabilities.
• Create a plan and help you determine your financial goals
• Recommend specific financial products and services
• Monitor and adjust your plan as needed
Remember that a financial advisor ‘s role is to make financial recommendations for you. Only you have the responsibility for making decisions about investment choices that will help you work toward your goals.
Some of this material was prepared by Forefield/Broadridge for Tompkins Financial Advisors. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with your financial advisor prior to investing.
Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.
Investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
Investment Services provided by Tompkins Wealth Advisors. Trust and Estate Services provided through Tompkins Trust Company. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. LPL Financial is a separate entity from Tompkins Financial Advisors. The investment products sold through LPL Financial are not insured Tompkins Trust Company deposits and are not FDIC insured. These products are not obligations of Tompkins Trust Company and are not endorsed, recommended or guaranteed by Tompkins Trust Company or any government agency. The value of the investment may fluctuate, the return on the investment is not guaranteed, and loss of principal is possible. Tompkins Financial Corporation, Tompkins Trust Company and Tompkins Wealth Advisors are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
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