‘Women and Wealth’ encourages getting head start on your future

 

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Worried about your future? You're not alone.

For many people, finances rank among top concerns. U.S. women control $22 trillion of the nation’s personal wealth, and nine out of 10 manage their family’s finances at some point. 

Dante Milanesi with MDT Financial Advisors made the case for women to take charge of their future during the recent “Women and Wealth: A Clear View to Retirement” workshop at the San Jacinto College Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) Community Center.

“Make sure what you’re doing today meets tomorrow’s goals,” Milanesi told attendees.

His advice to women: Invest in your financial education, learning everything you can about wealth management. Whether you begin with books, podcasts, or media, start exploring financial/retirement strategies.

“But learn how to filter and interpret the information,” Milanesi said. “Ask questions. Find someone you can trust and talk to them about your financial situation.”

Although his presentation focused on women, Milanesi offers this retirement planning advice for everyone:

1. Start with the future.

The best place to start retirement planning is to start.

  • Put your top three hopes and concerns on paper. Before diving into investment strategies, understand your current needs, then predict your future ones.
  • Be optimistic about your lifespan. Many people live 20-30 years in retirement. List your current monthly activities and expenses on paper and factor in inflation, unexpected medical issues, etc.
  • Determine your replacement income. A common target is 80 percent of pre-retirement income. However, everyone’s situation is different.

While some expenses will remain the same, health care costs can be tricky to predict, so Milanesi provides some ballpark numbers. Referring to Employee Benefit Research Institute data, he says the average couple pays $273,000 during retirement for health care premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses (or $147,000 for a woman and $131,000 for a man).

2. Plan, plan, plan.

After envisioning how you want your future to look, flesh out the plan.

First, ask yourself:

  • When will you retire?
  • When will you receive retirement benefits (Social Security, TRS, etc.)?
  • How do you define fun and fulfillment? What activities will you participate in daily, monthly, and yearly?
  • What housing expenses will you have?
  • Do you support children or parents?

Next, define tomorrow:

  • Plan to and through retirement.
  • Understand your top hopes and concerns.
  • Identify and discuss goals with a trusted person.
  • Put a price tag on retirement.

Finally, write down your plan.This makes “some day” tangible and gives your vision action steps and milestones. Commit to…

  • Have important conversations now.
  • Develop your plan and review it semiannually.
  • Continue learning.
  • Use a checklist to measure your progress.

Besides consulting with someone you trust, find a professional financial advisor to help choose the right investments to match your plan. When the stock market plunges, seek counsel from this advisor first rather than cashing out your investments. Keep your eyes on the long-term goal.

“The success of your finances depends on having good budgeting, investing, and exercising discipline to meet your goals,” Milanesi said.

3. Share your wealth.

Multimillionaire or not, you can share your “wealth” with your children and grandchildren, passing on what you’ve learned about finances.

Workshop participant and retiree Elma Davila wishes today’s youth received more lessons in home “economics.” Long before retirement looms, she says they should learn to budget and save.

“You have to start somewhere. I don’t care if it’s a nickel,” she said. “Put it aside and don’t touch it. You’re gonna need it someday.”

Davila has no problem sharing her experience. Her 10-year-old grandson, who has been stuffing his piggybank to save for a Ferrari, has probably heard a lesson or two. While his goal might change, Davila feels the principle is spot-on.

“Immediate gratification is big right now,” she said. “People need to learn to put money aside rather than spending everything they make.”