Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Moms, Get Financially Fit!

Personal finances used to be a very private matter - something we rarely discussed in detail with anyone but our spouses and financial advisors. Today, however, personal finance is on everyone's minds – especially those of moms. With the country deep in recession and unemployment at record levels, moms are no longer thinking about long-term financial goals. Our minds are now on how do we feed a family of 4 on an ever-tighter budget? How do we tell our friends that going out to eat just isn’t an option this week? And how do we tell our kids that we’ve had to cancel the trip to Monkey Joe’s just to make sure we can fill our gas tanks this week?

So how can we avoid smashing open that piggy bank and cut back in the short-term, while still preparing for the long-term?

Galia Gichon, founder of Down-To-Earth Finance, offers these helpful tips in a recent article:

1. Take a financial snapshot.

2. Deal with your debt and credit report head on.

3. Create a spending plan.

4. Make saving for retirement a priority.

5. Set up automatic savings.

6. Take a look at how you plan to save for your children’s college education.

7. Examine your insurance.

8. Change a money habit.

Citi Smith Barney Vice President of Wealth Management Lisa Boone and Clearbridge Advisors Product Specialist Director Caroline Smith brought the disparity between short-term and long-term financial planning into sharp focus at a recent Atlanta Woman Magazine event, Personal Finance 101. The overall theme was that just because times are tough doesn’t mean we should completely ignore the future.

This theme was summed up best by Smith's quote from Warren Buffet: "Bad news can be an investor's friend." The core message being that despite current volatility in the markets, there is still opportunity.

To take advantage of that opportunity, it is important to find a financial advisor you can trust, someone who can guide you through the process of identifying:

  • Your specific investment needs

  • How your assets are allocated

  • Your short-term and long-term goals and priorities, and

  • Investment strategies that will help you meet your goals.

When looking for an advisor, Boone recommends seeking out money managers with consistent track records who can take the emotion out of the market. Ask for referrals from friends, look for credentials such as financial planning certification, and understand how they get paid on your investments so that there are no conflicts of interest.

Personal finance doesn't have to be an overwhelming, confusing thing. There are plenty of resources out there for women looking to fully take control of their wealth:

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