If the walls in my office could talk, you would be able to listen to a variety of stories on the journeys our clients have taken. The one piece in common: change. Throughout all of the pivots and sharp turns, each of our clients comes from varying levels of experience and emotions that impact their journey and how we create a road map for them. Today, I want to share with you the top changes we guide our female clients through: marriage, divorce, motherhood, career changes, navigating independent lifestyle and caregiving.
When we approach these transitions with our clients, we do so knowing that they impact more than just their financial lives. We realize that their relationships, practical day-to-day lives, and emotional well-being are also being affected, and those can vary at times when they are happening. So, imagine a team that will surround you with compassion in knowing that, although you may be here to strategize with us on the transitions financially, we know the decisions you make are rooted in and intertwined with all the parts of your life.
I will break down for you examples of how to work through these transitions and key things you should be thinking of. Bookmark this blog – you never know when you or someone you know may need these resources.
The traditional image of marriage has changed. No longer are we envisioning the young twenty-something couple who may not have an established wealth picture. Marriage can happen at various ages; it may be the second, third, etc., introducing layers of complexities. Let’s let go of those traditional “ideals” of marriage and money. For women, financial knowledge and ownership is important.
Before you say “I do” have a conversation about money that includes the following pieces:
- What is each of your financial pictures are made up of? Include income, expenses, debt, and assets – stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc.
- Discuss how you learned about and managed your wealth before you met. What are the aspects that you find empowering and which ones that may be triggers for you?
- Define a Wealth Mission Statement with each other.
- Set common financial goals to work toward your vision for your life and wealth.
- Schedule a regular check-in point to discuss your wealth together.
- Decide together the purpose and need of any legal prenuptial agreements.
- Consider assets and businesses that you have established before your marriage, and consult with your attorney on the best course of action in structuring them to remain in your ownership.
After your marriage is official:
- Establish your legal documents: powers of attorney, health care directives, and wills at minimum. Depending on the complexities of your wealth and family, you may want to consider a trust.
- Change all titling to match any name changes and legal titling from your estate plan.
Remember, you do not have to merge your financial accounts to create and manage your wealth together. We have clients who have multiple accounts and varying levels of complexities that we help manage together so that both partners are on the same page. This helps them understand how and why the strategies they’ve implemented are working toward a common wealth vision. This the most critical part of a healthy financial relationship.
Whether you have arrived at this decision in an amicable way or it has been a tumultuous ride, you have many things to consider. Transitions that can impact us in four key ways: financially, emotionally, relationally, and practically. Divorce is one transition that can come with significant impacts financially, some that are heavily swayed by emotions. As hard as it may be, we want to be there to help you make the decisions that will embrace how you look at your wealth in the future, and not just as it is today.
- The house and real estate — Who will get it? Real estate can be the largest asset you have in your marriage. You likely have emotions tied to the property or you want to keep the children there so as to not disrupt their lives. While this statement may be direct, hear me out: your children’s lives are already disrupted, the house may remind them of moments that are not happy. Consider not only starting fresh financially but also the environment that you will continue to live in. Your kids will not always live there. Consider using your portion of the proceeds to have a property that starts fresh for you.
- Retirement account distribution — A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is when one party will splits their retirement assets and the ownership will transitions to the other party. If you are the one who has to divide your assets, there is no tax liability to you. If you are the receiving party, you should make sure that if the asset has before-tax contributions in it, that you transfer the funds into a tax-deferred account in ownership of an individual retirement account to avoid what could be costly taxes. As the individual receiving the assets, you should consider that if those assets are not transferred correctly, they will have taxes owed on them, because they are considered additional income.
- Alimony — If you are the one who is paying alimony it is no longer a tax deduction as of 2018. If you are paying alimony, it is likely that you are in the high-income bracket.
- Splitting of investments does not mean liquidation — Remember, that you want to keep as many assets and investments as possible. You don’t want to liquidate what you have received or invested to support a lifestyle. This is why cash-flow planning is important to revisit. Even if you are at a high-income level, you shound understand any adjustments you need to make.
- Inherited assets — If you inherited assets during your marriage, make sure your attorney advocates those as your assets and allows for you to keep all that you can. Keep accurate records of when the assets were received, which assets were received, and which accounts they went into.
- Ensure your personal board of directors is working together to pursue what is important to you.
We have heard an increased buzz since the pandemic on addressing motherhood, the workplace, family leave, and the pay gap for women. According to Pew Research in a 2019 study, 72% of mothers work either full time or part time; this is up from 51% of mothers in 1968.
Economists say that the stay-at-home parent who gives up a career may lose about $1 million over the years, and that many years of employer-contributed Social Security benefits. (Source: Moneyning)
I am not saying one way is better than the other. I want you to consider all of the costs associated with this major decision. In fact, we have a blog specifically dedicated to this topic with tools and resources available to you:
Cue Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies”. According to the Institute for Family Studies, in less than 20 years, the proportion of never-married Americans has risen from 21% to 35%, a 14-percentage point increase. Women are becoming increasingly financially independent whether it be by choice or not deciding not to have a partner, by divorce, or by becoming a widow. One of our core values is empowering and guiding our clients on their individual wealth journeys.
When you discover financial independence, this means you have freedom of choice. The choices can range from working for a company or for yourself, working or not working, and having enough assets to live comfortably with choosing how to supplement your income.
According to a study by the CDC, 80 ½ years old is the life expectancy of women — 5.4 years longer than men.
The cost of living, although core inflation is overall coming down, it will still continue to increase over our lifespan. If you want to preserve your lifestyle, then you should be considering how your investments and income combined will support the increase in cost of living, and then need for these funds to last longer.
In a study from BNY Mellon, its findings show that if women invested at the same rate as men there would be an extra $3.22 trillion of assets under management.
Women have historically been more conservative investors and with the wage/wealth gaps affecting them women have not had as many funds available to invest as men have. By 2030, women are expected to be in control of $30 trillion in financial assets according to a study by McKinsey & Company in 2020. Women are becoming more confident.
Women know when to hire the right partners to delegate. Why not partner with a female investment firm like ours? We understand the balance of strategy and behaviors – emotions, responsibilities, and passion.
According to FORBES, one in four female business leaders is setting up their own business and more than 60% are planning a complete pivot all together post pandemic.
I have lost count of the number of career professionals who walk into my office and a career pivot or business launch is listed on the goals of what they want to discuss. It may actually be the majority of all of our working clients.
We discuss the strategic parts of their financial lives that they need to understand along with the mission of what they want to work toward by making this transition. Here are a couple items to consider first before jumping into the transition.
- Understand your compensation structure – What amount of income do you want to replace or increase with this change?
- Beyond income your compensation also is made up of executive compensation: stock options, restricted stock, performance bonuses, deferred compensation, etc. All of these pieces will require your financial planner and CPA to work together on a liquidation strategy.
Caregiving and Death
According to the National Alliance of Caregiving, as of 2011 $324,044 is the total impact of caregiving on the individual female caregiver in terms of lost wages and Social Security benefits not including retirement.
Whether it is your partner or another loved one becoming the caregiver or even the coordinator of care, it can be a full-time job. Navigating the financial commitments and the health concerns can feel overwhelming and complex no matter your level of experience.
If you are an avid reader of this blog, you know that I have experience as a sandwich generation caregiver – those caring for aging parents and raising young children. There are a few strategic items to consider if this is a transition that you anticipate coming your way.
- Make sure you understand your role for your loved one within your family
- Have a communication plan with family members
- What type of care and where does your loved one want to receive care.
- Ensure legal documents are up to date – specifically power of attorney and health care directive.
- Understand what income and expenses are needed to support your loved one’s cash flow.
- Do they have a long-term-care insurance policy that will be assist with the payment for services? Is that policy a reimbursement or will it pay direct with no need for receipt?
Community + Connection
We want to leave you today with two upcoming opportunities that we have for you to connect with like-minded people and grow in your wealth journey:
Fierce Financially Independent Females – As a fierce financially independent woman, you are grounded in your wealth through your vision, purpose, and goals. You have a plan of action to bring your vision to life. Surround yourself with other women who are up-leveling their wealth to make an impact in their lives, their family’s lives, and their community.
IN PERSON – Wednesday, March 15th 6-8pm at Mall of America lululemon
This will be an abbreviated workshop.
Creating Financial Resilience in Transitions – Change is the one constant in our lives. I am sure you have experienced multiple life transitions at once – losing a loved one, a job promotion, divorce, children entering a new stage in life, opening a business, and so many more. You deserve to build a strong financial foundation to assist you in getting through these transitions.
IN PERSON – Thursday, March 30th from 5:30-8:30pm at Modernwell Co-working Space (Forethought Planning HQ)
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.