- October 1, 2020
- Posted by: Nelisha Firestone
- Categories: Financial Goals, Investment, Women
Over half of the wealth in the U.S. is controlled by women.1 You are probably reading this because you are one of those women. Finances can be intimidating, so I have dedicated my career to helping women like you gain the confidence to take control of your finances. This financial planning guide is designed to EMPOWER you to take control and achieve your dreams.
Evaluate Your Situation
The first step is evaluating your situation; your priorities and values, your responsibilities, and your dreams. Start with the big picture, what is most important to you. Is it independence, peace of mind, retirement, philanthropy, or something else? Now, look at where you are right now with your responsibilities. These could include a mortgage, car loans, educational expenses, or support for elderly parents. Once you’re clear on where you are right now, you can start planning to make your dreams a reality.
Manage Your Finances
Now that you have a better idea of where you are, where you want to go, and why, it’s time to get into the details. What’s your net worth? You can find out by creating your own personal balance sheet. First list out everything you own, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, other investments, real estate, and other personal property. These are your assets. Next, list out everything you owe, also called your liabilities. This includes any kind of debt, from mortgages and student loans to credit cards and personal loans. When you subtract your total liabilities from total assets, you will get your net worth.
The second step in managing your finances is figuring out what your money is doing day in and day out and putting it in writing. You can call it a personal income statement, but you probably already know it as a budget. Make a list of all income sources; salary, alimony, pension, social security, rental and/or investment income. Next, write down expenses both fixed and discretionary. The discretionary spending will be harder to track and vary month to month. The more detailed you get with the categories, the more helpful it will be for you to make some decisions.
Plan For Your Future
By now, you have a solid grasp on your present situation and can start planning for your future. This is a good time to sit down with an investment professional who can review your financial goals, stage of life, and unique circumstances and make recommendations accordingly. Once you determine how much you should be investing for the future and the best way to do it, you can set up an automatic investment plan where you pay yourself at the beginning of each month instead of letting your future depend on whatever is left over at the end.
Own And Protect Your Assets
It’s important that you own the right investment vehicles. There are many different options when it comes to investing and many of them have tax advantages. An investment professional can help you determine the best vehicles to utilize based on your goals, especially if you are a small business owner and able to set up your own retirement plan.
In addition to owning the right assets, you need to protect them through proper estate planning. The most important estate planning documents for you to have in place are a will, healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney, guardianship provisions, and possibly a trust. These documents ensure your assets are protected and dispersed according to your wishes should life throw you an unexpected curveball.
Work With A Financial Advisor
According to a recent survey, 92% of respondents said that nothing makes them happier or more confident in life than having their financial house in order. Those who work with a financial advisor were more than twice as likely to feel financially secure and also more likely to report that they are happy with their life and headed in the right direction.2 Suffice it to say, you should look into working with a financial advisor.
When looking for a financial advisor to work with, four things you should consider are capabilities, expertise, fee structure, and style. What services do they offer? What qualifications do they have? Do you actually like them? Your financial advisor should be someone that you are comfortable with, that you feel understands you and cares about your best interest, and doesn’t intimidate you or make you feel inferior. Finance is a male-dominated industry, so many women seek out female advisors who may be more welcoming and have a better understanding through their own perspectives and experiences.
While it is very helpful to work with a professional, there is no substitute for personal knowledge. I would encourage you to listen to financial podcasts or read financial publications to get a better working knowledge of the world of finance. Personal knowledge will allow you to not only be more discerning as you choose a financial advisor but work with them more effectively.
Review Your Plan Regularly
Life happens. Things change. A financial plan is not something you can simply set and forget. Planning should be dynamic, just as life is dynamic, and requires regular reviews. Consider reviewing each of these seven steps annually to make sure your financial plan is adapting to your life’s changes and you feel empowered to achieve your goals.
Remember, the key difference between a dream and a goal is the actions you take. Take action today. If this is all a little intimidating for you, I understand. I’ve walked in your heels and I can help. To schedule an introductory meeting with me, call 303-793-3202 or email me at [email protected].
Nelisha Firestone is a Wealth Advisor with Fusion Financial Group, an independent financial planning firm and fiduciary based in Denver, CO. With over 16 years of experience, Nelisha is passionate about guiding women to live their best lives by crafting their road map to financial independence. Her drive to help women comes from watching her grandmother, who was widowed at the age of 49, struggle financially after her husband died. Nelisha recognizes that if her grandmother had someone in her life to offer her sound financial advice, she would have lived a much better life. That’s why Nelisha specializes in serving business owners interested in exiting their business and single women with comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services. She recognizes that women have unique challenges, and she partners with her clients by educating and empowering them to make the best financial decisions possible. Nelisha has a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and is married to a Colorado native. Nelisha and her husband have two beautiful daughters, Addison and Eden, and love to spend time in the great outdoors hiking, skiing, and camping—to name a few! To learn more about Nelisha, connect with her on LinkedIn.