Women, more than men, doubt their abilities to make financial decisions. As a result women often let their husbands, partners, or significant others handle planning for retirement or investing in the stock market, studies show.
But 2020 is as good a time as any to change that, says Jeannette Bajalia, a retirement-income planner, founder of Woman's Worth®, and the author of such financial books as Wise Up, Women and Retirement Done Right.
"Most women are going to be responsible for managing their money at some time in their lives," Bajalia says. "They will be widowed or divorced, and at that point are going to have a steep learning curve if they always left the investing responsibilities to others."
For A More Secure Financial Future, Bajalia Suggests:
- Become financially literate. "I've seen too many women suffer because of ill-informed decisions about their money," Bajalia says. "Many women, especially baby boomers, were never taught as young girls to assume financial management responsibilities." To become a good steward of your money, she says, it's important to understand various savings strategies and options, and the risks and rewards associated with those strategies. So, learn about investing and learn how to read a financial statement. "Studies have shown that people who become educated about their financial strategies and play an active role in planning and monitoring their assets end up twice as wealthy as those who don't," she says.
- Schedule a financial checkup. It's important to develop a financial plan that will provide you income in retirement, but don't just shove the plan into a drawer, Bajalia says. Situations change and you may need to accelerate savings, reduce risks, or tweak your plan in some other fashion. Meeting with your financial professional for an annual "financial physical" will provide an in-depth assessment of where you are against where you want to be, she says.
- Create or update a legacy plan. Nearly 60 percent of Americans are missing critical legacy and estate planning documents, such as a will, a trust, a living will, or power-of-attorney documents, Bajalia says. "Women need to remember that 'estate' is not synonymous with wealth," she says. "Far too often, we don't feel like we need an estate plan because we don't have a lot of money. But lack of a legacy plan can create a burden on those we leave behind. For most women, their greatest desire is to leave a legacy and to not be a burden on their children or other family members.
- Get healthy and stay healthy. What does this have to do with your finances? A lot, Bajalia says. The longer you live, the more likely you'll face debilitating illnesses, and those illnesses come with big medical expenses that can drain your savings. "We want to ensure that in our 50s and 60s we start really taking care of both our physical and emotional health, so it doesn't have such a devastating impact on our wealth," she says.
"Sadly, most Americans spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning their financial futures," Bajalia says. "Women who want a quality lifestyle in retirement need to put themselves in control of their own financial destinies, and the sooner the better."
Life can be messy, and you might be wondering if you should involve your friends with your mental health ups-and-downs. You might be afraid because your friends are undereducated and misinformed about people living with mental health issues. They might be in the dark.
You've heard them whisper, "She's off her meds." As if a pill will solve everything when it is more complicated than that to be truly healthy. Your friends might have said that if you took better care of yourself, you wouldn't have problems. They might have insinuated that your issues are a wet blanket.
It's time to address your mental health without losing friendships.
Mental health is a chronic condition not unlike diabetes or hundreds of other medical conditions. You can ask for support beyond your medication and attending regular therapy appointments.
We are all in need of a friend's help from time to time. Here are four tips when you're feeling low, out of sorts, or on the edge:
1. Be Selective
You're looking for your friends' support and you're looking to be understood. You're not looking for hundreds of people to validate your latest post, you are looking for one brave friend who can be steady for you during a storm. Be aware that people might not see your mental health challenges through the same lens as you do. They haven't lived it.
The friend who you turn to for support might not be your best friend, instead they might be the best person during difficult times. Like a friend of mine called the 'fixer', he had been groomed to be the number-one emergency contact since he was a kid. He was a better guy, a more likable guy during tragedies.
All of your friends might show up when you call them on the first day of a crisis, but there's a chance they might have left the building before all the dust settles. An emotional crisis can last months not just a few hours and very few friends are built to stand-by you for a long time. Involving the right person is key.
2. Be a Planner
Once you've selected the most compassionate, dependable friend to be your contact and possibly help you out during an emergency, you'll want to plan.
Tell them about your medical history and how you manage your condition currently. Share the name and phone number of your health care professional that you see for therapy and medication and give an accurate list of any medicines that you take.
Listen to their concerns and answers their questions. Holding back information can affect whether your friend can truly help you and whether or not they feel a part of your team.
3. Be Committed
Telling a friend about your challenges does not mean that you've hired a personal garbage collector — person to pick-up and take out your trash. Instead, once you've involved a friend in your quest for stability, you will be held accountable to follow the plan that your health care provider and your friends and family outlined.
You should be honest when you fall short of following the plan whether it be not taking your medication or not seeing your therapist or avoiding stress.
4. Be Charlie Brown
Acknowledge that you, too, will be there for your friend.
Thank your friend in writing and out loud after they have helped you get your life back on track. Promise them that you will be there when they need you. You have the unique experience of understanding how people need help from friends and you will be the best helper to your friend.
The friend who helped you through this storm will likely face some kind of challenges in the coming days. Demonstrating that you will be there for your friend is the best way to ensure that they will show up for you.
If you are feeling alone and thinking about harming yourself, please call this hotline: 1-800-950-NAMI or visit NAMI's website.
You are not alone.