Women and Money: Finding Balance
The idea of leading a balanced life is not a new idea. We are more fulfilled when we achieve balance in all areas our life, including our work, personal relationships, family, and finances.
What does it mean to lead a financially-balanced life?
Women who are financially balanced have enough money to take care of themselves in the present and for the future. They have enough to care for their family and to access the resources and experiences that enrich their lives. Financially balanced women share financial responsibility with their partners and don’t overextend themselves by taking on the responsibilities of others.
Financial balance requires personal control.
The amount of control you take over your finances is often related to your upbringing, your natural skill set and interests, and your relationship with other earners in the family. That doesn’t mean you should continue to neglect your finances.
As a woman, it is important to take responsibility for your financial well-being. The truth is that men still tend to make more and die earlier than their female counterparts. It is also true that fewer and fewer marriages are making it the distance, meaning that you are statistically more likely to be single in your retirement years than your mother. As you age and near retirement, you want to make sure that you will not only have enough money to sustain your lifestyle but that you will know how to manage your finances on your own.
What Will You Do with Your Tax Refund?
Don't blow it! Maximize it!
Your savings will save you.
The foundation for your financial balance will come from your savings. You may need savings to pay off debt, obtain more education or training, buy a new home, fund your retirement account, or something else. As you build savings to meet these needs, you will want to diversify the types of accounts and investments you make. Here are three useful account types and suggested ways to use them.
Basic savings account: a savings account is a good place to save a portion of your money (usually less than $1,000). These are generally low-yield accounts, but they are a good place to keep money you are likely to need within the next month or so.
Money market account: this account allows you to save at a higher yield while maintaining access to your money. You may be restricted to a certain number of transactions in a month (usually around six) but if you can keep within that guideline, you can withdraw funds without fees or penalties. Money market accounts are a smart savings vehicle for money you don’t plan to use immediately, like emergency funds!
Certificates of deposit (CD): CDs are more of an investment vehicle than they are a savings account. They also tend to offer a higher rate of return than savings or money market accounts. The hitch is that they require you to leave your money in the account for a specific time period (usually one to five years). For that reason, CDs are a good investment for money that you won’t need immediately, but which you don’t want to have tied up for retirement (for example, money you are saving for a new home).
Don’t fall into the retirement gender gap.
As noted in an earlier blog, the gender pay gap experienced by most women often leads to a gender retirement gap. In addition to your personal savings, secure your future comfort by contributing regularly to a retirement account. Retirement account options include a 401(k) plan provided by your employer, IRA CDs, and a host of other retirement investment vehicles. When it comes to retirement, it’s best to speak with a financial advisor, who can help you develop a plan that meets your needs and fits your risk profile.
Don’t let life get in the way of saving.
It is easy to let savings fall by the wayside as you pay on the mortgage, send the kids through school, and cover the other myriad costs of life on earth. And it may make sense to use your savings, rather than build it, if you have excess savings and interest payments for your loans are higher than interest received in your savings accounts. However, you still need to pay monthly bills and cover emergencies, and retirement is always closer than it seems, so make sure you have adequate reserves for unexpected events, and that you continue feeding your 401(k) or other retirement account(s).
About Heidi White
Heidi White is the content and communications specialist at VSECU. She is responsible for communicating information and ideas through the written word for the credit union’s internal and external audiences. Her passion is helping people live more joyful lives through timely, useful, and compelling content. Heidi lives in Barre, Vermont.