Taking Control Of Your Money

By Janet Kidd Stewart
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to a new survey, 60% of married or coupled women say their financial adviser treats their husband/male partner as the decision-maker, up from 51% three years ago.

Tribune News Service

Women’s pay has been rising faster than men’s, by some measures, so why aren’t they taking more control over their money?

Women’s pay grew by nearly 10% between 2000 and 2017, while men’s earnings ticked up just 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the share of women reporting that they are the breadwinners of their families declined to 38% this year, down from 60% in 2013, according to a survey by Allianz Life.

Fewer reported asking for a raise or promotion at work or acting as the “chief financial officer” of their households.

Overall, they felt less financially secure in 2019 than in 2016. And 60% of married or coupled women say their financial adviser treats their husband/male partner as the decision maker, up from 51% three years ago.

“Unemployment hit men harder in the 2008 downturn,” said Aimee Lynn Johnson, Allianz’ vice president of financial planning strategies. “After the recession, women had more of a bounce-back and stability in employment. We believe, for the most part, that men have now caught back up.”

How does all this affect the road to retirement?

Despite those negative trends for women, more of them said they are managing long-term household finances. This year, 90% said they are taking on more responsibility for long-term savings and finances, up from 86% in 2016.

“To some extent women are more financially responsible in the household than ever, but with that comes this feeling of financial burden,” Johnson said, explaining the findings. “Women might be feeling worried about what they see happening in the markets, since nearly half of women say the volatility in the market is making them anxious. This could be weighing heavily on them and translating to how they feel about their own finances.”

In the study, more than half of women said they wish they were more confident in their financial decision making.

If knowledge is power, whether you’re a man or a woman, consider these strategies for taking more control over your money:

-Stress-test your 401(k): Take a look at how your retirement accounts are invested. Once you know the percentage of stocks and bonds you own in these funds, calculate a 30% decline for the stock portion and a 10% decline in the bond portion. Could you still retire when you have been planning to if the markets restored at least half of those losses within five years? If you’re already in retirement, check in on your cash reserves to see if your current spending could still be generated for three to five years during a bad run in the markets. If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” it’s time to change your investment risk profile.

-Leverage the power of 2: If you’ve lost the status of major breadwinner in the household, don’t lower your voice; look on the bright side. It just means that together, you’re now making more than you were before. Suggest a sit-down to celebrate AND have a conversation about long-term goals for that money.

-Learn: Even if you have a financial adviser, don’t outsource responsibility for knowing the big picture of your financial life. In addition to calculating the mix of stocks and bonds in your portfolio, figure out what multiple of your household’s annual income you have in retirement savings. Know what you’re spending and saving annually, and how much you’re paying for investment management and advice. Learn just these numbers, and you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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