Guide to Achieving Financial Independence for Women

Financial independence is the ability to support oneself financially without assistance. Financial independence is an important goal for people of all backgrounds, but it is crucial for women who continue to be disadvantaged in the job market.

Money management skills and financial awareness can give women more confidence to invest and save for their future. 

A Closer Look at Where Women Stand With Finances

While many strides have been made, the fight for equality in finances among women and men continues. Here are a few startling statistics:

  • Only 5.8% of S&P 500 CEOs are women.
  • 85% of women control their families’ day-to-day finances.
  • When women invest, their portfolios outperform men’s by 0.4%.
  • Women of color only make up 3% of women in C-Suite positions, compared to 66% of white men.
  • Since the onset of COVID-19, more than 2.3 million women have left the labor force, compared to 1.8 million men.

Women Face Challenges in the World of Finance

Women who seek personal empowerment should focus on financial freedom. There are several roadblocks that make it challenging for women to partake equally in the financial world as their male counterparts.

One example is the pay gap. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, women earned only 82.3% of that earned by men. Many women of color experience an even wider gap. 

Household responsibilities, lack of resources to financial tools, and pay discrimination are all issues that women face compared to men.

While equal rights between men and women have increased, there is still a lot of work to be done. Here are a few key challenges women continue to face:

Women continue to be paid less than men

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women still make less than their male counterparts. This gap widens for women of color.

Having children often disrupts a woman’s career

Having children as a working woman tends to result in a wage cut of 4% per child. For working women of color, this number increases to 10%. 

Exposure to financial literacy is less for women

Women are less likely to choose their course of studies that lead to financing careers. Men study economics almost 2x more than women.

Typically women have a longer lifespan than men

A man’s life span is typically 8% shorter than a woman’s. This leaves most women left to manage their own finances at some point in their life, particularly when their male counterparts pass away.

Strategies to Sustain Your Wealth

Women typically know more about managing their finances than they give themselves credit for. While some financial strategies are applicable at any time, some moves make sense at certain stages of life. Becoming more financially literate is the best way to start developing a financial plan.

When creating a lifelong safety net, it’s important to set financial goals and understand short, medium, and long-term money strategies.

To build independent wealth and financial independence, it’s important to start budgeting, investing, planning and saving for retirement.

  1. Create a Budget and Evaluate Your Spending Habits

Following a budget allows you to save for financial goals while living within your means. Women are typically better at managing money, but it’s always a good idea to reevaluate where their money is going.

 A good place to start is by listing how much money is earned each month, then itemizing spending into categories of necessary and unnecessary expenses. 

PAYING OFF ANY DEBT YOU HAVE

Uncontrolled debt causes stress and prevents women from attaining financial freedom. To start, consider adding paying down debt into your monthly budget. The debt avalanche and debt snowball methods are two strategies to do so. 

The avalanche method works by paying off debts with the highest interest rate first. The snowball method works by paying off debts by prioritizing the smallest debts first.

Regardless of the strategy, it’s important to always make more than the minimum payment.

  1. Investments

Investments can be a reliable source of income, can help counteract inflation and help to ensure your savings continue to grow. Many women lack the confidence to invest successfully, however, women are just as effective in investing as men, and oftentimes their portfolios are more successful. 

Surprisingly only 26% of American women invest in the stock market, even though nearly half of women view the stock market in a positive light. 

Investing helps to give women an equal opportunity to accumulate similar wealth as men.

INVESTMENT STRATEGY TYPES

Finding an investment strategy that is right for you will depend on your risk level and your goals for short and long-term investing. 

Do you want to be an active or passive investor? Active investors are typically involved in the buying and selling of assets, while passive investing tends to mean more “sitting and waiting.”

In general, short-term investments are designed to provide results within three years, while long-term investments provide financial security many years down the road, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.

Portfolios can be high or low risk. A high-risk portfolio has an aggressive strategy. This has the potential of high rewards but could result in several ups and downs. Low-risk portfolios will not have as strong results as high-risk but also are not as volatile.

  1. Save, Create an Emergency Fund, and Build Credit

When planning your monthly budget, setting aside a specific amount for savings is important. I recommend keeping a 3-6 month emergency fund. This emergency fund can help with an unexpected family emergency, job loss, or health crisis.

Building credit is another great way to work towards financial independence. Pay off your credit card balances every month to enhance your credit score.

  1. Plan for Retirement

According to the World Health Organization, on average, women live 6 to 8 years longer than men. However, since women often have less than men saved, it’s common for them to outlive their money. Saving for your later years will help to give you a more enjoyable retirement.

Create a Life of Financial Freedom

In our society, there are a lot of challenges and inequalities that women face when it comes to finances and economic security. However, it is still possible for women to create a life of financial freedom in spite of these challenges. If you’re not sure where to start on your own financial journey, I encourage you to reach out to me for a free no-obligation consultation. Managing your finances is an important step in taking control of your life and creating the future that you want for yourself. With diligence and perseverance, you can help make your financial dreams a reality. Contact me today to get started!

Financial Journey LLC is a registered investment advisor offering advisory services in the state of Virginia and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Information provided is for educational purposes only and not, in any way, to be considered investment or tax advice.

Tax Planning

It’s hard to believe that we’re already winding down the first quarter of 2022, it’s important to start thinking about your tax planning. While there are many things that can be done to reduce your taxable income, there are a few key steps that should be at the top of your list. Did you know we offer annual tax planning?

Continue reading

How Interest Rates and Mortgages Affect Each Other

Interest rates can have a big impact on your monthly mortgage payment. One item that will come up when you borrow money for a mortgage is the interest rate. Interest rates can affect your monthly mortgage payment and, in turn, will affect how much money you have each month to pay other bills, buy food, travel, and pay for entertainment.

How your mortgage is affected by the interest rate

Interest is the money that you pay on top of your mortgage balance. Your interest rate is determined by the terms of your mortgage, and the higher your interest rate, the more money you’ll have to shell out each month. 

The best way to keep your interest payments affordable is to keep your interest rate low. You can do this by looking around for a mortgage with favorable interest rates or by refinancing your current mortgage. 

The interest rate is one factor that determines how much you’ll pay each month. Your payments also depend on the amount of money you borrow, the term of your loan, and any escrow or insurance payments. If you keep this in mind, you can make sure that your mortgage payments are affordable.

When you’re shopping for a mortgage, be sure to compare interest rates from different lenders. This way, you can get the most competitive rate possible and save yourself some money each month.

Mortgage Points Can Make a Huge Difference in your Finances

Interest rates may not seem like a big deal, but even a small difference can add up to a lot of money over the life of the loan. 

For example, let’s say you have a $200,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 3.1% over the life of the loan, you would end up paying $215,607 in interest. If your interest rate was just 2.7%, though, you would only pay $193,258 in interest – that’s a difference of more than $22,000! 

Here’s how to get lower interest rates

Typically, the people who have better credit and who can pay more for their down payment will enjoy lower interest rates. If you’re thinking about buying a home soon, you can get lower interest rates by investigating down payment options, getting your credit report, and improving your overall credit. To improve your credit:

  • Pay your bills on time
  • Fix any credit report errors
  • Pay down your debt
  • Avoid high credit card balances
  • Limit your number of credit cards

Having good credit could help you get approved for loans with lower interest rates and can help you get approved for credit cards with better terms, such as lower interest rates and higher credit limits. 

In addition, landlords and employers often consider credit when making decisions about rental applications and job offers. Therefore, it’s important to understand how your credit works and how you can improve it. 

A financial planner can help you assess your current situation and develop a plan to improve your credit. By understanding your credit history and making smart financial decisions, you can take control of your credit and safeguard your financial future.

What factors influence interest rates?

The Federal Reserve is just one of the organizations that set interest rates. They look at several different factors, such as how much money is being borrowed and the state of the economy. The Federal Reserve also looks to see what other banks are doing to get an idea of where interest rates should be. 

Should I still buy a home when interest rates are high?

Interest rates are a big factor to consider when buying a home, but there are other things to think about, too. Your financial stability, job security, and credit score all play a role in whether or not now might be a good time for you to buy a house.

You also have to consider how much money you have saved up, how much you can afford to borrow, and what your monthly payments will be.

My recent blog post Buying or Selling Your Home may be of interest to help you along with your decision.

Fixed-rate -vs- Adjustable-rate mortgages

A fixed-rate mortgage is a loan where the interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan. This type of mortgage is a popular choice because it is predictable. Your monthly payments are the same each month, making it easier to budget for your home. They can last 15 years or 30 years and are ideal when Federal interest rates are low. 

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are popular because they offer lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages in the beginning. This type of mortgage is riskier because as the interest rates go up or down, it makes the monthly payments more or less expensive. 

ARMs are popular because in the beginning they offer lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgaging and can be refinanced for better rates. If interest rates rise, your monthly payments will go up, which could make it difficult to afford your mortgage payments. However, if interest rates fall, you may be able to refinance for a lower interest rate and save money on your monthly payments.

The best mortgage rates take a proactive approach

When you’re looking for a new home, it’s important to find a lender that you can trust. A good lender will be able to answer any questions you have about interest rates, your credit history, and how the interest rates will impact your monthly mortgage payment. They can also help you find ways to save money on your mortgage to make it more affordable. 

Financial Journey LLC is a registered investment advisor offering advisory services in the state of Virginia and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Information provided is for educational purposes only and not, in any way, to be considered investment or tax advice.