Happy Financial Independence Day! 5 Ways To Get Financially Healthy
This Independence Day, Take The Lead salutes your path to financial independence and supports you along the way.
According to CNBC, “Ninety percent of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their life. By 2020, women are expected to control $72 trillion, or 32 percent of all wealth globally, up from $51 trillion in 2015.”
While research shows women tend to be more conservative with their money, they also live longer, outlive their partners, and may or may not have had a hand in financial decisions. Financial independence means having the money to live comfortably and also to prepare for emergencies and for the future.
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Janice Cackowski, partner and financial advisor at Providence Wealth Partners, writes in CNBC, “Regardless of investment strategy and regardless of gender, this formula for reaching financial independence is one that everyone should follow includes: creating a budget, saving a specific percentage of income, building an emergency savings, ensuring future earnings appropriately and investing in a way that meets your goals.”
The good news is Millennials and early career women are more financially independent than their male counterparts.
A recent Merrill Lynch report, “Early Adulthood: The Pursuit of Financial Independence” shows “women are outpacing men in financial independence, even with all of the hurdles they have to jump,” Maggie Germano writes in Forbes.
In an era when many move home after college and get parental support into their 30s, the report shows “women (49 percent) are less often getting this support than men (62 percent) are. Women are around half as likely to receive support across nearly all expense categories, including groceries (40 percent of men, 23 percent of women), rent (33 percent of men, 15 percent of women), vacations (36 percent of men, 17 percent of women) and student loans (32 percent of men, 14 percent of women),” Germano writes.
That’s good to know, especially as the “FIRE” movement gains speed.
Standing for “financial independence, retire early,” Joe Resendiz writes in Thrive Global, “ The FIRE movement advocates saving most of your money, often more than 50% of your take-home pay. The idea is that as long as you have enough net worth to generate a 4% annual return that pays for your expenses, you’re financially independent. To achieve these stunning savings rates, many FIRE proponents will endure short-term sacrifices — such as taking on roommates — to make the math work in their favor.”
Resendiz writes, “Most conventional advice recommends a more moderate approach, such as putting 10% to 15% of your take-home pay toward retirement. If you’re in no rush to retire early or achieve financial independence, a lifetime of working — some 40 years or so — will yield a large retirement nest egg.”
To give it context, FIRE is not new. According to Helen Hawkes writing for In The Black, “ FIRE was born in 1992 out of the best-selling book Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. In the book, the authors correlated expenses and time spent at work to hours of your life.”
Hawkes writes, “The movement first gained popularity in the US, spread through a 1990s newsletter called The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Today, the FIRE message is shared through blogs and podcasts, with one – FIRE Drill – downloaded 7,000 times per episode, securing it a spot in the top 100 investing podcasts on Apple’s US charts.”
It is seeing a resurgence in popularity today. Critics of FIRE say it favors rich white males and does not take into account heavy student loan debt. It also discounts the possibilities of mid-career and older women looking to have a healthy financial future. So there are different adaptations and approaches to FIRE.
Lisa Rowan writes in Life Hacker, “The FIRE movement advocates saving most of your money, often more than 50 percent of your take-home pay. The idea is that as long as you have enough net worth to generate a 4 percent annual return that pays for your expenses, you’re financially independent. In fact, some FIRE fans have even broken their ethos down into varieties more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book than a one-size-fits-all roadmap.”
According to Rowan, “There’s leanFIRE: That’s the one where you live as frugally as possible. FatFIRE is for those who don’t want to give up their lifestyle while they save. And semiFIREhelps you plan to “semi-retire” early and work part-time. Those varieties each refer to the lifestyle you’re targeting for your early retirement.”
Here are five ways women of all ages can achieve a path to financial independence.
Get paid what you are worth now. If your salary is not allowing you to save a great deal and you know your skills are marketable, perhaps ask for a raise or look for a higher paying job. “With unemployment at 3.6%, has there ever been a better time to look for a new job? The general rule of thumb is that you can get at least 20% more if you put yourself on the open market tomorrow. Depending on performance and industry, after about three years on the job in a hot labor market, you could conceivably get 50% or more,” according to MarketWatch.
Live within your means and your budget. It’s not cool to splurge. “Without a budget, you risk overspending on discretionary items and undersaving for important big-ticket purchases. ‘The big thing is really to differentiate between your needs, your wants and your dreams,’ says Lauren Locker, a financial planner in Little Falls, N.J., who also teaches a personal finance course to undergraduate students at William Paterson University.First, lay out all your daily expenses (such as commuting costs and food bills) and recurring monthly payments (rent, utilities, debts). When you know where all your money is going, you can more easily see how to cut costs,” according to Kiplinger.
Save the same every month. “The sooner you start saving, the better. Because of the magic of compounding, time will fatten up your retirement kitty. For example, if a 25-year-old saves just $100 a month, assuming an 8% return and quarterly compounding, she’ll have $346,039 by the time she turns 65,” Kiplinger reports. This doesn’t mean if you are 40 or older that your saving window closed. Save whatever you can and start as soon as you can.
Stay up to date on your investments. It sounds basic, but look at the monthly reports if you are in a 401k plan or retirement savings account. Stay on top of your money because it matters the most to you.
You have the power to change your financial health. Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, says the mission is to shift thinking from having power over something to having the power to accomplish whatever you intend. And that can be the power to have financial independence.
Financial oracle and author Suze Orman, who recently joined the board of advisors at Mogul, a burgeoning online platform dedicated to helping women live their best lives, financial and otherwise, recently told Market Watch, “My whole emphasis lately has been on women and money. They have to learn that for them to be truly powerful in life they have to be powerful over their own money — how they think about it, how they feel about it, and how they invest it.”
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