We turned to financial advisor Maureen Zavatone for some expert advice on how to get control of your finances. She specializes in working with women and here’s what she had to say… WOMEN – A GROWING ECONOMIC FORCE Today, women account for 47% of US wealth creators. Two-thirds of women identify themselves as primary decision-makers, not just influencers, when it comes to money. And yet, four out of five women say they lack confidence in their financial knowledge. Women also represent two-thirds of family caregivers, whether it’s caring for young children or aging parents. 2 Between their responsibilities at home and at work, many women spend so much time caring for others that they forget to make themselves—and their financial futures—a priority. TALK WITH YOUR PARTNER ABOUT MONEY Money can be a complicated and even controversial topic. Open discussion about money makes it easier to develop a financial plan that takes into account your family values and goals and is flexible enough to provide the security you need if Plan A doesn’t unfold as expected. Have an understanding of all the different types of assets your family has, and know where your accounts are located and how to access them in case of emergency. HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN Create a family financial plan, even if it’s just a high-level one. Talk through the plan together, what kinds of events you need to plan for—education, second homes, weddings, retirement, and your family’s legacy. It’s the best way for women and their partners to know where the assets are and how they are invested, which can help avoid unanticipated surprises or conflict. FACTOR IN WIDOWHOOD OR DIVORCE The average life expectancy for a woman is just over 80 years, which means not only a retirement that could last 15 to 20 years or more, but also a high likelihood of outliving your spouse.3 Are you prepared to take on the responsibility of making investment and asset allocation decisions as a surviving wife? Women are often unaware of the true state of family financial affairs until they are plunged into it due to the incapacitation or passing of their husbands, or divorcees who suddenly find themselves responsible for their own financial well-being while coping with enormous emotional stress. Considering the things you’d prefer not to think about—death, divorce, disability, disaster—allows you to plan for unexpected detours. HAVE THE CONVERSATION WITH YOUR PARENTS As the population ages, more and more women will need to shoulder the responsibility of caring for an aging parent. Asking your parents about their financial affairs—wills, insurance policies, investment accounts, birth certificates, passports, long-term care plans—helps you understand if and how to include them in your financial plans. GET EDUCATED Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many women are reluctant to reach out to their Financial Advisor, either feeling intimidated or just reluctant to ask simple questions. It is important to entrust your wealth management to someone you can develop a relationship with and who not only understands your needs, goals and risk tolerance but can also help you understand those as well. Your advisor should be willing and able to clearly explain your financial situation, portfolio allocation and anything else—simple or complicated. DONT TRY TO BE THE MASTER OF IT ALL Just be confident you know enough to recognize whether the advice you’re getting is sound. To learn more about Maureen Zavatone, Financial Advisor, visit her website.