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Is Financial Planning More of a Woman’s Problem?

December 2007
Is Financial Planning More of a Woman’s Problem?

When you think about it, women generally live longer than men based on actuarial science. According to WebMD, in 2004, average life expectancy of women was 5.2 years longer than men. Women are also more likely than men to be caretakers of their spouse in later years, should they need long term care or home health care.   

Yet, when we take a look at most households in our community, and in general, women are often the least involved in the financial planning decisions. Now, does that make sense? Doesn’t it seem like a good idea for women to be more involved in the family finances and taking part in family financial decisions?

This year as you do your year-end financial planning, involve your spouse to create your financial snapshot. If the woman in your house handles your finances, get your man involved. It may not be a bad idea to let your adult children know where you stand, so they can also be better prepared to help you, should you need it.

Your financial picture is like a jigsaw puzzle. Even if you are not involved in putting together all the pieces, you should know where all the pieces are so that in the event you are in the position of having to make financial decisions, you can easily access the information you need to make an informed decision.

Here are four simple things you can do to get a good handle on your family finances.

1. Calculate Your Net Worth: To calculate your net worth, first list all of your assets, which are everything you own, including your bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, business assets, home, and personal assets, and come up with a total. Next, list all of your liabilities—money that you owe—which include your mortgage balance, credit cards, loans, etc. Finally subtract your liabilities from your assets. This will give you your net worth. By doing this, you will have a good handle on all of the assets in your household. Review your net worth statement annually to check your progress.

2. List All of Your Insurance Policies: Locate all your insurance policies including life, health, auto, home, business, disability, and long term care, and review your current benefits. You may want to contact your insurance agent if you are uncertain of your benefits. It may be a good idea also to shop around for better rates, if you feel you are paying too much.

3. Review Your Wills: If you have done your estate planning, review your wills, powers of attorney, and living wills, and get an understanding of how your estate plan is setup. Check your beneficiary elections to make sure it fits with your intentions. If you haven’t done your estate planning, don’t procrastinate, get it done! It is an essential part of everyone’s financial plan.

4. Set Your Goals: How much retirement income will you need? How much college funding will you need? How much net worth do you want? Where and when do you want to retire? Goal setting can be fun! If you don’t know where you are going, it is difficult to get there. There are many goal setting programs to help you accomplish this.

By doing these simple exercises, you will have a firm handle on where you are and where you are heading. If you feel stuck, get some help. Finally, once you have listed and reviewed your finances, keep them in a safe place and tell your spouse and other trusted family members where they can find these items. If you use a safe deposit box, tell the people involved where you keep the key and which bank it is with.

May the new year bring you all the health, wealth and happiness you desire!

By Rajesh Jyotishi

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