At the beginning of each New Year many of us resolve that this year will be the year of saving more and spending less but before the clock strikes 4 a.m. on January 1 of the New Year, you find yourself at Waffle House. The all night partying has created an appetite beyond belief and you need to eat NOW. An impromptu breakfast will cost you $10-$15 that you really don’t need to spend (nor did you plan to spend it). And that’s how you start the New Year…screw the resolution!
Hey, I’ve been there so I’m not judging. I know how hard it is to save. Especially when you feel like you barely make enough money to pay your bills and take care of all other life necessities. I can’t tell you how many times I truly wanted to start a savings plan but by the time I received my first paycheck of the New Year my resolution was no longer possible. After I paid my bills; bought groceries; and gassed up the car I had barely enough left over to make it until the next pay period. I’d pretend that everything would be okay and think to myself, “I’ll start next year.”
For a long time (even as I started my career as a financial advisor) my definition of savings was - a sought after but unattainable goal that my personal financial situation couldn’t sustain.
INSANITY – DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS (Albert Einstein)
Don’t dismay. It’s never too late to start and I’m going to help you. Why? Because I believe you still have time to retire rich. I know you can do it – it is possible! If I can change my life and change bad money habits, I know you can! But you have to make me a promise. You have to promise that you are going to commit to doing things differently. You can’t make the same money mistakes that got you into this financial mess in the first place, okay? So are you ready? Here we go.
NEW YEAR RESOLUTION #1 – GET ORGANIZED
Before you can move forward with a new financial strategy for your life, you need to be financially organized. Everyone’s financial life consists of giant paper trails and e-records. Being organized is emancipating…..it cuts down on stress so you can focus on actual financial management. Two types of organization are required: the physical organization of papers and electronic records, and the organization of data or information.
The physical organization of papers and electronic records. These are the paper or electronic records we find at home or work, in our bags and briefcases, on our computers, and in our wallets. They include a listing of your vital documents as well as your account numbers, passwords, and personal identification numbers (PINs). These statements and records are the sources of your core financial data, and they demand a simple filing system. Why? Because we need simple ways to file and retrieve financial records without wasting valuable time looking for critical statements and money papers.
A word about the electronic world. In recent years, new technology has transformed how we conduct our personal financial affairs. As you opt to do more of your financial transactions on-line, a new need has emerged: how/where to record all of those websites, account numbers, and PINs in your life. Think carefully about how to protect the privacy of this information, but at the same time, think about how the information might be needed by someone else should something happen to you. You need an electronic reference list, but you should be cautious about where you keep it and with whom you share it. Since this is very new territory, be sure that the information will not be open to snoopers. Keep up-to-date firewalls on your personal computer, and be very careful how you share sensitive financial information with others. Remember to list all types of electronic accounts that you use: checking accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, bill-paying services or creditors, on-line stores you order from (yes, even eBay!), free subscriptions to financial newsletters, frequent flyer accounts, and other types of accounts. Sooner or later, you will forget an account number, log-in name, password, or PIN, which will be frustrating and cause you to lose a lot of time recovering from your memory lapse if you haven’t made a list of the information.
The organization of data or information. This is the information you need to know to make sense about the money in your life and how you want it to be directed and used.
Warning: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! The information you compile is vital to your future! If you are already “financially organized,” this will not take you as long as it would if you are just starting out. When you start your working and become independent, you need to start keeping records related to your financial life. Over the years, you will reorganize your files and records to meet changing personal and financial needs. Technology will also bring new ways to organize vital information.
Step 1. This is an easy step and an important one. Complete the Credit and Debit Card Safety Record. Much of the information is in your wallet or purse already, but you may have to find information from your credit card issuers to fill in addresses and telephone numbers. (Never keep PINs in your wallet.) Try to keep this record up to date.
Step 2. Complete the Vital Documents Inventory. Not all components will apply to you, and some elements of your financial life may not be listed. Be sure to add them. You can complete this task fairly quickly if you know where your documents are located.
Step 3. Complete the form, My Electronic Accounts, Passwords, and PINs. Be sure you keep this in a safe place. Do NOT keep this information in your purse or billfold where it could easily be stolen.
Step 4. Create a Financial Center at home (or as the Feng Shui advocates like to call it, a Wealth Center). This will be where you keep your financial records and conduct your financial affairs. If you use a computer, provide adequate space for it. Invest in a filing system (metal filing cabinet, baskets, or bins) and plenty of file folders. Some people prefer hanging files to non-hanging; let your own preference prevail. If you do not have the money to buy such equipment for your Financial Center, paper storage boxes will work just fine.
Step 5. Establish a filing system. In Step 2 above, you entered where you keep your vital documents. Now it is time to file them systematically. Develop a filing system. You may wish to use the file categories in the Vital Documents Inventory or create your own. Some people merely file everything alphabetically, and it seems to work for them. Label each file folder so you can easily find what you are looking for. Leave room for more files, which you will create as you work through other sections of the curriculum.
Step 6. Decide how to organize your electronic files. With many financial institutions now providing only electronic copies of statements, decide how you will keep these records. One option is to organize “file folders” on your computer that match the categories in your filing cabinet. You must also decide if you plan to print paper copies of your electronic statements as back-up. If you back-up your computer regularly, it may not be necessary; in the event your computer crashes, you would still have your records. But if you do not back-up your computer files regularly, you may decide it is better to print off vital records.
Next Issue: The State of North Carolina has Already Written Your Will
The section Get Organized was provided based on Wi$eUp, a financial education program developed by Texas AgriLife Extension Service (formerly called Texas Cooperative Extension) of The Texas A&M University System under a contract from the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.
Cali Pearl Corporation and Therapist Leslie Kausch Team Up to Present Workshops to Combat Women’s Investment Challenges
Sherri Brown of Cali Pearl Corporation and Therapist Leslie Kausch are proud to announce a new workshop series entitled, “Women, Wealth and Wine.” The workshop series is set to address deficiencies and challenges women face as they work to invest and prepare for their financial future.
Greensboro, North Carolina, January 14, 2013—
When it comes to the differences between men and women, indeed, the list of characteristics is extensive. However, while it may be easy to debate Mars versus Venus personality traits until an individual is blue in the face, it is the difference in investment and savings tendencies which has interested Sherri Brown, financial planner and managing partner of Greensboro-based Cali Pearl Corporation, and Leslie Kausch, licensed counselor and therapist. Noting a recent article from U.S. News and World Report which discusses the biggest retirement challenges women face, including experiencing a longer life expectancy than men, lower workplace earnings, failure to take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement benefits and widowhood, Brown and Kausch decided to team up to address these issues as well as other factors women face in the investment arena through a new workshop series entitled, “Women, Wealth and Wine.” The workshop is scheduled to commence on January 24, 2013 and will be held at Active Healing in Greensboro. Subsequent workshops will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month.
“[Leslie] and I created a partnership, which I believe is the first between a therapist and a financial planner, to ultimately address and help conquer some of the self-sabotaging financial behaviors many women experience,” stated Brown. “However, the point of the Women, Wealth and Wine workshop is not to lecture, rather present educational information in a fun and balanced atmosphere. We want to instill women with the confidence they need in order to make positive and beneficial financial decisions.”
Brown goes onto note that the U.S. News and World Report article, while informational and realistic, backs up several studies on women investment behavior completed by major financial firms completed in recent years. She recounts an online survey completed by MassMutual.
“MassMutual completed an online survey between November 15, 2009 and January 15, 2010 which interviewed over 1,000 of the company’s retirement plan participants,” commented Brown. “What the survey found was shocking and disheartening, especially since I am a woman working in the financial services industry. The survey showed that women expressed feeling significantly less confident in making important investment decisions on their own and noted that they preferred an ‘avoidance strategy’ when the subject of retirement or investing was brought up. This is devastating information, especially when you realize the implications of women’s financial actions; they are either refusing to educate themselves, defering the decision making to a husband or partner, or choosing not to invest at all—these are all roadblocks.”
While there are still significant workplace earning equality challenges in the lives of many women, in approximately one-third of all American households women who are in relationships are the primary breadwinner. As such, these negative attitudes toward investing and retirement serve to not only hurt the woman in the relationship, but also her entire family.
Kausch agrees with Brown’s position and adds that she believes many of these attitudes toward finances are rooted in deeper psychological fears.
“Women’s lack of interest in financial planning is ultimately a type of fear, a sense of powerlessness,” opines Kausch. “Women often put themselves last when it comes to making important decisions and it affects their lives in tremendous ways.”
Whether single or married, Brown and Kausch have discovered that conversations about money inevitably lead to the realization of bigger life issues for many women and that while married women might automatically defer financial decisions to their spouse, single women who refuse to take charge of their financial futures might also be harboring other money-related issues, including using money as a way to feel loved, achieving a sense of purpose via shopping or through the acquiring of material possessions.
“As the MassMutual study shows and the U.S. News article proves, women have this tendency to voluntarily create financial disadvantages for themselves or use antiquated belief systems when it comes to being responsible for their own futures,” commented Brown. “At the same time, I’ve been working with women for a very long time and I’d like to say that each women is unique and has her own perspective when it comes to financial planning. This also leads to the fact that sometimes there are deeper issues that I cannot handle as a financial planner. That is why Leslie [Kausch] and I developed a partnership. I know what it takes to become a successful investor; Leslie knows how to address fears and other roadblocks that prevent a woman from moving their lives forward.”
The dynamic duo of Brown and Kausch are eager to instill their experience and open up the floor to have an informative and honest financial discussion with area women who are interested in taking the first step in addressing their financial futures or who want to change attitudes regarding their role in creating an effective financial plan. The Women, Wealth and Wine workshop is open to the public and interested individuals can find out more information about the workshop by visiting www.calipearl.com/womenwealthandwine.
Cali Pearl Corporation is a privately-held fee only investment advisory firm based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Cali Pearl has created programs specifically tailored for women that address what women need, want, aspire to and expect in a happy and fulfilled financial life. The company is well-versed in providing services and advice related to investment management, insurance, risk management, trust and estate planning, financial planning and banking services to meet short- and long-term objectives. Cali Pearl Corporation can be contacted by visiting www.calipearl.com or calling 336-808-3496.
Leslie Kausch, Med, NCLPC, NCC is a licensed therapist and counselor who specializes in helping adults and young women address relationship issues, power dynamics, conflict resolution and issues related to confidence, anxiety and more. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kausch can be reached by calling 336-509-3680.
Sherri Brown, managing partner of the Cali Pearl Corporation was recently featured in the June issue of Forbes Magazine. In the article, “Financial Advice for Business and Life”, Ms. Brown provides helpful insights to navigate life’s most complex financial situations including marriage and divorce. She also highlights the basic principles behind Cali Pearl’s investment advice.
To view a full reprint of the article click the title here –> “The Cali Pearl Corporation: Financial Advice for Business and Life”
If you are reading this article, chances are you might be struggling with your financial planning or the investment advice that you have been given isn’t working. If you are in the position where you feel your interests are not being put first in your financial future or if you feel that you are not meeting the goals you want to meet, the problem may lie with the financial planner you are working with. You may want to consider a fee-only financial planner to meet your investment goals.
Being a single woman who also happens to own her own business, I am often asked how I am able to manage the day-to-day finances of my company as well as deal with personal financial matters associated with my household. I suppose that some people may perceive my financial independence as a big accomplishment. After all, on top of the distinctions I just spoke about, I am also a single parent.