Giving some serious thought to women’s financial planning issues can be beneficial to both CPAs and their female clients. When advising married couples, it is quite likely that one of them will outlive the other, and retirement plans should consider the longer predicted lifespans for women. Women also typically have lower lifetime earnings than men, which may be a key issue in managing the financial comfort of both spouses. In addition, many individuals, again often women, will serve as caregivers, along with the financial stress that brings.
Two useful websites designed to particularly address women’s financial planning concerns are Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and Women’s Institute for Financial Education (WIFE).
WISER is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to help women and their advisors plan for retirement and other life events. WISER’s website (http://www.wiserwomen.org) offers an excellent collection of resources to educate and guide individuals on financial planning and decisions. The two major sets of materials on the website are the National Resource Center on Women and Financial Planning (http://bit.ly/2bliWnj) and Financial Elder Abuse Resources (http://bit.ly/2b3RaOB). Beyond this, the website covers all aspects of financial management and includes a variety of tools and publications, including calculators, publications, research reports, and almost 60 one-page fact sheets (http://bit.ly/2b3QEjJ).
The National Resource Center on Women and Retirement Planning was created with the assistance of a grant from the United States Administration on Aging to promote financial education and retirement planning information targeted to women. The center’s resources include several easy-to-read publications, such as “A Simple Guide to What Everyone Needs to Know about Money & Retirement,” a 10-page booklet that covers sources of retirement money; savings, investments, and insurance; and considerations for married couples (http://bit.ly/2bEFbs6). The discussions include a glossary, basic descriptions of topics, and a guide on when to see a financial advisor.
“Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know about Protecting Your Money and Retirement” is a must-see for CPAs and clients alike (http://bit.ly/2b70e4b). It discusses eight steps to lessen the financial impact of being a caregiver, beginning with financial planning for the extended family and legal agreements for families and caregivers. Caregivers may need to consider the economic impact of leaving a job, reducing work hours, creating a household budget, and continuing to save for retirement. Financial help for older adults, such as healthcare expenses, reverse mortgages, and immediate annuities, is also addressed. The guide also covers important documents, financial fraud and elder abuse, and end-of-life planning.
One of the longest WISER publications is “Seven Life-Defining Financial Decisions,” with fairly comprehensive topical coverage of jobs and careers, marriage (and divorce) and family, home ownership, planning for retirement, investing, and insurance (http://bit.ly/2b26jwA). Appendix A addresses four ways to save for retirement: bank accounts and mutual funds, Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, and 401(k) plans. Appendix B summarizes Social Security benefit rules, and Appendix C is a useful list of resources.
Women’s Institute for Financial Education
Quoting Gloria Steinem, “every woman needs a wife,” and trademarking the phrase, “a man is not a financial plan,” WIFE takes a fun and friendly approach to the pursuit of financial education and economic independence. WIFE (http://www.wife.org/) was founded by Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall, CPA, and is structured as a membership organization, open to men as well as women, with a focus on general financial management as well as divorce and widowhood.
WIFE’s largest resource collection is Money Clubs, a set of financial management education lesson plans and tools (http://www.wife.org/moneyclubs) Money Clubs is a financial training program designed for any type of group (e.g., family, friends, neighbors) to work through together, but the materials can also be used by individuals.
Money Clubs includes guidance for leaders, meeting outlines, and 31 topical lessons organized around “money zones,” beginning with money attitudes from childhood, personal money style, and fighting money fears. Each zone has a “member guide” lesson plan that the group leader can use to focus the group study lesson. Each topic also includes additional tools, for example an assessment quiz or organizing document. The lesson materials can be printed, downloaded as PDFs, and e-mailed, making it very easy for all group members to gain access.
CPAs may want to consider using Money Clubs by linking the web page or individual resources from their own websites. CPAs working with individuals who are just getting started may find Money Clubs a ready-made option for assisting them.
WIFE also sponsors Second Saturday Divorce Workshops (http://www.secondsaturday.com) in 121 locations in the United States, designed to be led by licensed or credential professionals. These workshops were developed to offer unbiased legal and financial information. Divorce and widowhood is also a major emphasis on the WIFE website (http://www.wife.org/divorce). Billed as one of the most-read articles on the website, “The Twelve Financial Pitfalls of Divorce” (http://bit.ly/2bip8yz) is from a Second Saturday seminar and states that after divorce, the average woman’s cost of living drops almost 27%, while the average man’s increases by 10%. Problem areas include not enough cash, ignoring tax consequences, and not getting good professional advice.
As a bonus for CPAs, WIFE’s website includes a link to a 30-minute webcast, “The Women’s Market: Converting Obstacles to Opportunity,” on how to work with female clients at http://www.wife.org/horses-mouth-webinar.htm.
Easy Listening: Podcasts
Two relatively new podcasts by and for women are Profit Boss Radio and HerMoney. Profit Boss Radio, hosted by CFP Hilary Hendershott, is a weekly one-hour money management program for women launched in January 2016 to help women maximize the margin in their money life (available from http://hilaryhendershott.libsyn.com/podcast or on iTunes at http://apple.co/2aZzUM0). A great feature of this series is the availability of program notes and links to resources. Episodes 13 through 16 are an informative financial planning for couples series that includes a free downloadable four-page booklet, “Couples & Money: 3 Step Guide to Financial Intimacy” (http://www.hilaryhendershott.com/fbcouplesandmoney).
HerMoney with Jean Chatzky (https://www.jeanchatzky.com/podcast/) has offered weekly podcasts on financial planning issues for women since April 2016. Chatzky uses her journalism skills to interview a variety of well-known individuals on money-related topics. The podcasts run about 30 to 40 minutes and are available from her website and iTunes at http://apple.co/2b3Td56. Episode 4, “All-Star Investor Karen Finerman on the Costly Money Mistakes Many Women Are Making,” discusses why women should seek financial independence, as well as how women sabotage themselves in their risk aversion.
App Time: Openfolio and Robinhood
Openfolio (https://openfolio.com) runs on iPhone and Apple Watch and connects its users’ portfolio information anonymously to give members access to more data about their investment targets. With a motto of “don’t invest alone,” users can compare their private performance to community-sourced benchmarks, similar investors, and private groups. Openfolio can access users’ accounts in over 100 brokerages (see the full list at http://bit.ly/2b1W958), as well as other investment apps such as Acorn and Robinhood.
Openfolio offers free stock trading through Robinhood (https://robinhood.com). Robinhood is available for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Android devices. It allows users to trade stock for free, view current market data in real time, and create a watch list with historical market data. It will also notify users of earnings and dividends events.