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5 Financial Moves to Make in Your 40s

Career

It should come as no surprise that different life stages require different financial considerations. As the next installment of this “Money Moves” series (be sure to check out 5 Financial Moves to Make in Your 20s and 5 Financial Moves to Make in Your 30s!) I'll cover money moves to make in your 40s. Here are five top important financial considerations to make:


1. Reevaluate Your Lifestyle Expenses

By the time you're in your 40s and are settled into a career, you've become accustomed to the expenses that come along with being a full-blown adult. With student loans a thing of the past, you’re probably feeling quite comfortable. While in theory, you may be able to afford to travel more often, drive a nice car, and treat yourself to brand-name goods, you are also chipping away from your retirement with this type of spending. No one is saying you need to make drastic cutbacks, but consider toning down your lifestyle a bit in the interest of putting more money towards your retirement, so you can really enjoy life once you reach that stage.

2. Hone In On Paying Off Debt

How great would it be to be able to retire debt-free? While retiring mortgage-free is the goal of many, it makes more sense to focus on other debts first. For example, credit cards, personal loans, and auto loans all tend to have higher interest rates than mortgages. Consider focusing on paying the higher interest debts first, and then using any leftover money to help you determine whether to refinance to a shorter-term mortgage or simply making extra payments towards your existing mortgage. Just be sure to check whether there are any prepayment penalties!

3. Ensure You are Adequately Insured

No one wants to face it, but the truth is the older we get, the higher risk we are at for health complications. While you hopefully won’t be facing any serious health issues yet, now is the time to start considering long-term care insurance, as premiums only get more expensive as you age. Now is also the time to consider taking out a life insurance policy if you haven’t already, since premiums for these also tend to skyrocket once you hit your 50s. This will help ensure your loved ones won’t suffer financially if anything happens to you.

4. Ask for a Raise

If you’ve proven yourself to be an asset to your company, don’t put off asking for a raise or promotion. Make sure to do your research beforehand to determine whether you are being adequately compensated and what your role is worth. Try to avoid lifestyle inflation and instead consider using this extra income to pay down debt and to ramp up your retirement contributions. If you are denied a raise and there is no room for a promotion, you may want to consider looking for a new job or even picking up a side hustle.

5. Meet with a Financial Planner

Now that you have more assets (and expenses), you want to ensure you are still on track to achieve all your financial goals. Meeting with a financial planner can help you get organized and ensure that your money is working for you. Now is a good time to do this because you still have enough time for investments to be effective and to make up for any financial goals you may be behind on.

As always, everyone’s personal circumstances and life stages look different. You know better than anyone what your needs are and what you want your future to look like. As such, these are merely guidelines, but nevertheless it is important to check in with yourself and evaluate your financial wellbeing at this time in your life. Be sure to stay tuned for “5 Financial Moves to Make in Your 50s”!

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.