Attention, Women

BY May 13, 2010

Attention, all women: plan now, live longer and be happy!

Taking control of your finances leads to a healthier and happier life, according to a new, landmark study commissioned by Northwestern Mutual Life in partnership with LLuminari, a network of health experts.

Ladies, if you’re between 40 and 65 years old, you can expect to live until you’re 85 years old. If you’re between 20 and 40, you’ll probably live to be 90. Great news…right?

Have you thought about your plans for the future and the 20 to 25 years of your life after you reach 65? Traveling, grandkids, charity work—it all sounds terrific, and it can be wonderful—if you’ve planned properly. It is important to start planning for your financial future now, if you haven’t already. Plan for all of the fun, all of the traveling, all of the grandkids and all of the giving. Plan to outlive your husband if you’re married. And plan now not to outlive your money.

Often when people talk about financial planning, the conversation is centered on specific products and services—stocks, bonds, wills, trusts … but these are just the tools. Planning really is about taking charge of your life and deciding what you want for your children and grandchildren, your community and ultimately your own enjoyment.

What is important to you? What are your values? How have you dealt with money in the past, and will that plan work for you in the future? Should your strategy change at some point? If so, when? Who are you financially? There’s an emotional aspect that affects your approach to money and your security, and it’s important to address this sooner rather than later. Determining where you are financially is the first step toward getting where you want to be for your secure and enjoyable future.

A few basic tips for women of all ages:
1. Know where your assets are. Prepare or update your inventory of assets.
2. Prepare a financial statement for yourself, and update it annually.
3. Check the beneficiary designations on all life insurance policies and other accounts to make sure they are up-to-date and in line with your wishes.
4. Live on less than you earn.
5. Pay off your credit card balances monthly, and if you are married, keep one credit card account in your name individually to establish your own personal credit worthiness.
6. Pay yourself first—invest in your retirement every month before the discretionary items. Max out your 401K and IRA every year.  
7. Calculate what you’ll need financially to enjoy your later years, and make money management part of your normal routine.
8. Take classes, read books, stay informed and be proactive. Build a trustworthy advisory team that understands your personal goals and objectives to assist you with all aspects of your financial planning—banking, credit, investing, taxes and estate planning.

Adria Starkey has a 30-year track record in the financial services industry and is president of The Naples Trust Co. She previously served as managing director for First Union/Wachovia Wealth Management and then as regional president for Wachovia.

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