Financial advice for young female professionals

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  • Females and finance: money questions for the ladies.

    Females and finance: money questions for the ladies.


Last week, Moneywise received a letter from a 29-year old professional and Bermudian resident employed successfully in Bermuda. She asked us to consider answering some financial questions in order to assure herself that she is on track financially. While we cannot provide specific personal financial advice, however, we requested permission to place a sanitised version (scrubbed of personal information) of her queries into the public domain. We thank her for allowing us this chance to provide some information.

Her questions:

1) By age 30, how much money should a young professional have saved? I'm 29.

2) What should a 30 year old's portfolio look like? How much percentage in equities, bonds, commodities, real estate, etc.

3) How much should one be saving monthly?

It was apparent that this young professional has already given much thought on the course of action she will need to take to plan for the future. She further stated, “that even though I can seek financial advice, I independently like to research many alternative perspectives on an issue, then consider them all in making a final decision.”

Coincidentally, our young professional female’s actions certainly seemed to contrast with an article in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Money Management section this week entitled “Young Women Are Bad at Money, Say Old Men.”

According to the author, Nick Summers: “A survey of mostly male, mostly old financial advisers came to this conclusion: Women and the young are bad with money and need to hire financial advisers.”

The article explained the continued need for increased financial literacy in the United States (and we can interpolate this need in Bermuda, too), how financial advisers can assist clients in their financial knowledge and cited the changes in the traditional financial advisor model.

The summarised results came from a survey conducted by AdviceIQ of 350 advisers: certified financial planners, insurance and other professional advisers whose demographics were mostly men (85.6 percent) with more than 60 percent over age 50. AdviceIQ is a US website service featuring a trusted database to find the right financial advisor for your needs.

Joanna Coles, the editor of Cosmopolitan, added in a recent interview with the author, “Many women resist the personal finance industry because it’s the domain of ‘men in bad suits,’” while speaking in praise of LearnVest, another personal finance site with a focus on women.

Check out the full article: www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-03/young-women-are-bad-at-money-say-old-men#r=hpt-ls

Understanding your personal finances as early as possible is a terrific motivator for success, since mastering your financial subject matters, even if fairly complex, means you are in control of your future.

The trend in longevity factors associated with our reader’s young age, along the vagaries of capital markets, country economics, (and fate) may impact her successful career and personal life. After all, a young healthy almost thirty-year-old individual with a long-lived family history may easily live more than 100 years — quite possibly into the next century.

She should develop her personal financial plan as expeditiously and efficiently as possible given that actuarial logistics, too, predict that she will be supporting herself (and her family if future planning so desires) for more than forty to possibly 60 years into the future. This is a very long time for contemplation of personal finance management. The good thing is that a long time itself buys time.

To answer her questions, we will address number three first: How much should one be saving monthly?

We are talking about a budget here, because what one saves monthly (if anything) is the net difference between one’s monthly income and monthly expenses. We almost always know exactly how much we earn as take home income.

But, what constitutes an expense in a budget is a hugely debatable topic. An expense to one individual is a total complete indulgence to someone else. Some people are extremely specific as to what their expenses are — they control this predetermined amount carefully, with the result that every bit of cash left over is saved. Consistently.

In tough financial circumstances, a bare bones survival lifestyle budget means that income barely covers expenses. There is no savings.

In a case where say you absolutely must have those $500 a pair fashionista shoes, and you have a rigid saving plan, then to compensate for this splurge, you will decide to eat peanut butter for the rest of the month. If you interview for a new position wearing those shoes, and that professional look just secured your new increased salary, then the splurge may actually be a justified expense.

So, do we know what that monthly amount to save is? No, there is no rule.

Every one of us is different in our lifestyles, goals, wants, and needs. Generally, even small consistent savings every single month adds up over an accumulation period. The key is consistency.

The amount is what you decide it is for your personal financial profile.

And to do that, we will address, questions number one and two in the conclusion next week.

By the way, budgets should never include short-term credit card debt. Stay away from this — use debt for responsible long-term purchases only. You will be a captive slave to the power of outrageous interest compounding at 20-24 percent, annually. The only winner is the credit card company.

Homework: “Young Women are Bad at Money, Say Old Men”, quotes the article. What say you, old men here in Bermuda — are our young professional women frivolous or financially responsible?

Young career professional ladies, we need your feedback, too. Do you accept the statement that you cannot manage your financial affairs? Or, are you perfectly capable of making your own money decisions?

Our young Bermudian professional is positioning herself to be way ahead in the money management game. Where are you?

Announcement: In line with my constant focus and encouragement of readers to upgrade their financial literacy knowledge, The Bermuda Library — where knowledge comes first — is celebrating the first Smart Money Week from April 21-27, 2013. Watch for details!

Martha Harris Myron JP CPA PFS CFP TEP is a Bermudian, and a cross border financial planning specialist / journalist. Her articles are published domestically and internationally, focusing on the challenging financial environment for local and international residents and their families living and working in Bermuda with connections across the pond in the North Atlantic Quadrangle: United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe. Inquiries to martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published Apr 6, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm)

Financial advice for young female professionals

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