Starting the Conversation

“The secret is … it’s just not that hard.”

What are we talking about? The discussion about money and retirement. So if it’s not that hard, what’s stopping the majority of women from talking about their finances and financial futures? Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence. Or a lack of time. Or simply not knowing where to start. Whatever it is that’s causing the foot dragging, it affects the majority of women. And that simply means the conversation is not taking place at all. Which is a serious issue as women have greater retirement needs; they live longer than men and often have to make up for lost years when they take time out to raise a family.

What to do? Start by talking. Begin the conversation. Learn. Educate yourself. Take charge.

For more on the topic, check out this smart article from Fidelity here. Questions? Of course call or email us. We love talking financial strategy and creating road maps toward strong financial futures.


The Art of Patience

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The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient. So says Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors of all time.  How has he done it?  Among other strategies, value investing –– and being very patient.

What does this mean day to day for your portfolio?  It means you will be better off if you don’t react emotionally to what is happening in the market in the short term. 

Too many individuals believe that the current price reflects the value of their investments. In effect, many see that an investment has done well and they want to buy it. In the reverse, they see that something had done poorly and they want to sell it –– an emotional reaction and very common. However, value investing is all about buying at a reasonable price and selling at a reasonable price. Not following the trend but instead, being ahead of the trend. Often, this means taking profits when the market is still going up and yet is expensive, and it means buying when an asset class is going down and become inexpensive.  Sometimes it means sitting on cash until something becomes inexpensive. Successful investors understand that the market overreacts on both the upside and the downside, which results in price fluctuations that might have little to do with long term valuation. The result is a great opportunity for smart investors to benefit by buying when the price is low –– even if in the short term the valuation goes lower. 

When you buy something out of favor, the key to this strategy is simple: patience. It’s about the waiting. And waiting. And in some cases, waiting some more. This could be longer than you want. However if you are a long term investor, don’t get impatient. Understand what you own and why you own it.  Then practice patience.  At Carlisle Financial, that is what we do.  If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.  


On Passwords and Planning


When it comes to estate planning, most of us have thought ahead and prepared a will or living trust, have organized powers of attorney and executors, and compiled lists of accounts, banks, and more.  In short, all the details a person would need to carry out our last wishes.  But there’s one vital piece of information that many of us have overlooked: our online passwords.

Think about all the passwords and account information that are such a big part of our everyday lives online? Especially those accounts we never receive paper copies anymore. What happens to all of that information? How will it be accessed? Do you have a list of passwords and sites that can be accessed by someone if necessary? Will anyone know where to look for your list?  If the answer is no, read on for solutions, ranging from simple to detailed.

One easy solution is to write down a list of all your passwords and accounts and provide it to your attorney, executor, or trusted friend in a sealed envelope.  Another option is to put this information in a safe deposit box, along with instructions on how to access it.  Both of these options require you to update these lists every time a password is changed.  We recommend getting a small book (much like the address books of the past) to keep track of your passwords.  Keep it close to your computer and update it when you change passwords;  and don’t forget to leave a note for the executor of your will telling them that you have a password book and where to find it.  Here’s a link to a small password book we like.  

There are online options as well, including sites that will store your information for you. But is such sensitive information safe online?  Check out this smart article that discusses the ins and outs of passwords and planning.  We highly suggest you take a look, make a plan and most importantly, write it down.  

Questions?  As always, please write or call us.


Taking Responsibility

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We’re all about women taking responsibly for their own financial futures, so when we came across this sobering Forbes article, we simply had to address it.

The topic of the article is women feeling betrayed by their spouse’s investment decisions. Why the betrayal? According to the article, a variety of reasons including poor planning, bad information, and at worst, a sneaky husband. Whatever the case may be, it’s the wife who loses out and is left without sufficient funds for retirement. As the article points out, this alarming situation is a problem that many women face.

How to avoid it? Start by:

1) Taking the time to understand your particular financial situation and where you want to be in five to ten years.

2) Discussing the many financial decisions being made on your behalf – do they match up with what you want?;

3) If you have willingly given up responsibility for your financial future by leaving the decision making up to someone else, understand that you’re the one who will live with the consequences;

4) Educate yourself! It’s never too late to start — follow us here on Money Matters and read, read, read;

5) Take a first step — maybe by learning more about social security; a good place to start is this US government site here.

The Forbes article is interesting and worth the read (here). It’s a good wake-up call for all women (pass it on!), whether to take more of an active role in your own retirement planning or simply to confirm you’re on the right path.  Questions?  Please let us know.


Five Factors Undermining a Woman’s Retirement


A lot has been written about women and retirement and how we’re not adequately prepared.  Five main factors that contribute to this unprepared state include:

1) Taking time out to raise children or serve as a caregiver

2) Working part time without retirement benefits

3) Being a single parent which can limit career opportunities and make it more challenging to save for retirement

4) Unequal pay; women earn less than men which translates into less earned over a lifetime

5) A woman’s longer life expectancy means she will have greater retirement needs

Does this mean you cannot effectively save if you’re a working mom who has taken time out to raise kids or any of the other factors detailed above?  Absolutely not.  It simply means that you need to save smarter and employ some strategic tactics.  Most importantly, you need to start the conversation about retirement and have a plan in place.  For more information on this topic, check out this Forbes article here.  And to talk retirement, please call or email us.


a bit about social security

cfgPart of a smart investment/retirement strategy includes how and when you’re going to use your social security.  When it comes to social security, there are four basic elements to consider:

1) It can pay to delay.  What does this mean?  It means that although you can start receiving benefits at the age of 62, if you wait until the age of 66, you’ll receive 33% more.  And if you wait until the age of 70, that figure increases another 32%. Determining factors as to when you should begin taking social security include how much you’ll need for retirement, and what other income sources you have.

2) You can receive social security and keep on working.  Even if you are working or earning self-employed income, you can still collect social security.  There are a few details/caveats to keep in mind but essentially, you can earn up to $15,480 without any impact on your benefits.

3. You have choices when you are married, divorced, or widowed.  Details on all of these are specific to your situation.  More here.

4. Social Security may not cover all your needs in retirement.  Social security is a part of the retirement equation, not the whole equation.

For more information on how to make the most of social security, check out this smart Fidelity article here.  And of course, email or call us with any questions you have.


Why Women Make Better Investors

Fast-Company-logoLooking to make a sound investment? Perhaps your advisor should be a woman. Studies show that women have a different approach to investing than men and, thanks to biology and psychology, they’re often more successful.  So says the latest issue of Fast Company in an article titled, “Why Women Make Better Investors.”

Turns out that a woman’s lack of testosterone can make her a better investor.  According to LouAnn Lofton, author of Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl–And Why You Should, Too, “Testosterone can help traders take risks and move fast, making loads of money in the meantime,” she writes in her book. “But too much testosterone for too long can encourage too much risk taking. … The way women tend to approach investing is healthier and calmer, and it’s the way we should all approach investing.”

We couldn’t agree more.  To read the full article, go here.  And for any and all questions about women and investing, get in touch with us — we’d love to hear from you.


Taking Ownership


Last week, Prudential unveiled a study on women and finances and the news wasn’t good.  The bottom line? Women feel just as unprepared to make smart financial decisions today as they did a decade ago.  So despite a greater emphasis on female financial literacy, women have not moved forward.

One of the most sobering statistics of the 1,407 women polled was that only 14% felt they could earn enough for retirement to maintain their lifestyle, and only 20% felt prepared to make smart money moves in general. What it comes down to is this: despite the fact that women are increasingly the family breadwinner, they still feel completely unprepared to make long-term financial decisions about saving and investing.

The study, titled Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, is highlighted in Forbes magazine (here).  It’s an interesting read that includes four simple action steps to help get you moving forward.  As the last two sentences of the article so wisely point out: You’re accountable for your own financial future. Take ownership.  We couldn’t agree more.


A Smart Start


Of course it’s easier to look back and think of what you should have done instead of what you actually did.  This holds especially true for investing in one’s future.  And what better time of year to address this than June, graduation season.

If we could all go back to our 22 year old selves, it would be pretty simple to get it right.  Since that’s not an option, we thought we’d highlight a really great post from a series on LinkedIn called If I Were 22.  This particular post is all about getting a financial head start: putting a small amount away each month during the prime savings years of one’s 20s, that particular period in your life when “every dollar saved can potentially multiply into eight or nine in an IRA or workplace plan.”  Bottom line: starting to save in your 20s gives you an enormous head start. 

The post was written by Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments.  Take a moment to read it (here) and perhaps consider forwarding it to a twenty something — they’ll thank you for it.  And if you’re reading this and you’re not in your 20s, remember that now is always the perfect time to start saving.


Taking Stock

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As the economy has continued to inch along at a slow rate over the last few years, the stock market has raced forward.  According to economist Robert Shiller, “stocks have been more expensive only three times over the past century than they are today.  Those other three periods are not exactly reassuring, either: the 1920s, the late 1990s and in the prelude to the 2007 financial crisis.”

Shiller’s words are from a recent New York Times article titled “Time to Worry About Stock Market Bubbles.”  We think the title says it all.  For the full article, go here.  And if you’d like to know how this relates to your portfolio, please call or email us.  Now would be a very good time to review asset allocation.

{above image from The New York Times}