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 JobsandMoms.com 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:
- AtlantaWomanMag.com's Financially Sound section
- Newspapers - Boone recommends staying up on the latest investment events so you don't have to totally rely on other people's advice. Check out "Seven Questions to Ask When Picking a Financial Advisor," recently posted at WSJ.com.
- Self-help books such as "A Woman's Guide to Financial Planning: The Seven Essential Ingredients for Your Best Financial Recipe," by Shak Hill, founder of Lantern Wealth Management LLC. (Yes, it's written by a man, but one who was inspired by his mother's financial hardship to write this book.)
- Websites. Check out "You Can Find Easy Money Management" on CNN.com.
- See how you stack up against other moms by taking the Top Money Wasters quiz at TheMomsBuzz.com. I discovered my biggest spending blind spot was spending too much on groceries. Someone please show me how to master the art of clipping coupons!