6 Tips To Spend Wisely On Self-Care

Massages, pedicures, hair appointments, yoga classes, and more.

These are some of the things I really enjoy in life and make me feel my best.  In fact, last year I went through a stage in my life where I wanted to really honor myself more and take my self-care regime to a whole new level without feeling guilty about spending money on these things.

After speaking with lots of women on this issue, I found that a lot of women understand the important of taking good care of themselves but struggled with the money aspect of doing so.

So, since I realized I was not alone in this self-care struggle, I came up with a solution to help you honor your self-care needs and still stay within your budget every month.

In this week’s Financially Wise video, I share 6 tips to help you spend wisely on self-care.



Who run the world?

rsz_1rsz_celebratingwomen-200x200You go to work, spend your money how you see fit, and live your life each day never thinking about how all that came to be. Not so long ago, women in this country couldn’t enjoy the financial freedom we take for granted today. The story of women and money is an interesting one and it is only when you take a look at the big picture that you can begin to appreciate how far we’ve come.

In Honor of Women’s History Month, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some cool facts about women and also ask some leading female entrepreneurs in Los Angeles how they will be celebrating the progress they’ve made in their financial lives.

  1. As of 2010, women control 60% of the wealth in America.1
  2. Over 40% of Americans with assets of over $600,000 are women.2
  3. Women are earning over $1 trillion dollars in wages and salaries, however women still earn on average $.78 of each dollar earned by a man.3
  4. Women account for over 50% of the workforce and hold about half of the management positions in corporate America.3
  5. Women make 83% of the household purchasing decisions.4
  6. 48% of women versus 38% of men do not feel confident about investing.5
  7. Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of their male counterparts.4
  8. Over 10 million businesses are owned by women.6  1.9 million firms are majority-owned (51% or more) by women of color in the U.S. These firms employ 1.2 million people and generate $165 billion in revenues annually.7
  9. Women live on average 7 years longer than men and need 20% more for retirement.8
  10. At some point in their lives, 90% percent of women in the U.S. will be managing money on their own because they’ve been divorced or widowed or have never married.9
  11. We spend, save, and earn money differently than men. Looking at these facts makes it clear that we need financial advice tailored to us and our specific challenges.



“I am celebrating the progress I’ve made in my financial life by rewarding myself with a new website to launch in May! I keep reminding myself that “financial abundance is mine and money flows to me!”

- Danielle Dowling, Life Coach + Psychologist www.Danielle-Dowling.com




“I am celebrating the progress I’ve made in my financial life by trusting that when I follow my soul, my wealth is taken care of (on many different levels).”

- Christina Dunbar, Artist/Poet/Writer www.christinadunbar.com





“I am celebrating the progress I’ve made in my financial life by giving gloriously to myself with more self car, like my regular yummy massages!”

- Agatha Kulesza, Badass Video Blog Mentor www.heyagatha.com




“I am celebrating the progress I’ve made in my financial life by spending my non-working hours with close friends, lots of laughter, weekend adventures and delicious cocktails!”

- Laurie Brucker, Certified Image Consultant & Motivational Speaker www.lauriebstyle.com




“I am celebrating the progress I made in my financial life because I now know that anything I set my mind to create, I absolutely can. A thriving business, a full personal life and an income that supports me and the growth of my business … anything is possible!”

 - Catherine Cassidy, CEO of U*styled http://ustyled.com




“I am celebrating the progress I’ve made in my financial life by acknowledging how much I have matured in my relationship with money; continuing to be diligent with tracking my income, spending, and savings; and remembering that healing my relationship with money is a deep process and one to be honored with compassion and love.”

- Tabby Biddle, Women’s Leadership Coach | Self-Esteem & Empowerment Speaker www.tabbybiddle.com




5 easy ways to take control of your personal finances

Alright, we’re officially 15 days into the new year.  Every year, you are given a chance to start down a new path in your financial life.  A chance to change how you feel about your money and your finances once and for all.  A chance to begin to manage your money with grace and ease, and use it to live a life you love.

You have this opportunity every day, of course, but at the start of a new year, when finances are on everyone’s mind, you have the power to truly make proactive change in how you deal with money, think about money, manage money…and so on.

So in today’s video, I share five simple yet powerful ways you can take control of your finances in 2014.  These tips may seem simple, but so many people overlook the power they hold. And when they’re practiced on a regular basis, your financial life will start to become something you’re actually excited about, versus something you feel trapped by.  The feelings of being stuck, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious will begin to be replaced by feelings of fun, peace, clarity and bliss–because when you begin to see your money in a new way, you can begin a loving, healthy relationship with it and use it to create the life of your dreams.

Money is something that will be around for your entire life–and it’s better to learn how to manage and deal with it from a loving, empowering place as soon as you can.

So if you’re ready to start learning about personal finance in a fun, easy way, make sure you check out my new Money Class, which opens January 27!  

I will be sending out more information about the class over the next few weeks, but in a nutshell, it’s a six-week online home-study course that will teach you the basics of money management and financial planning in a way that actually makes sense.  And best part of all, you can become a member of a private Facebook group dedicated to those who are enrolled in the course to continue to receive additional support on your financial journey.

Remember to watch the video above and mark your calendars for the open enrollment that begins January 27.

Have a stellar week-and happy New Year!


Plan to work longer, but don’t count on it

They say demographics is destiny.

Well, if that’s so, the U.S. Census Bureau’s report, The Older Population in the United States: 2012 , has lots to say about our collective future.

But instead of asking you to pour through the Census Bureau’s spreadsheet, we asked experts to review and report back on the most interesting takeaways from the 22 tables and hundreds upon hundreds of numbers in this look at Americans age 55 and older. Here’s what they had to say.

Plan to work longer, but don’t count on it

The Census Bureau report, according to the experts, suggests that older men are staying in the workforce, but working longer won’t be a reality for all — including those who want to keep working past age 65.

Larry Cohen, a director at Strategic Business Insights, a Princeton, N.J.-based consumer research and consulting company, noted that after 65, men are more likely to be in the workforce than women, 24.3% vs. 14.3%.

“If the trend of staying in the workforce past 65 continues, this is likely to benefit women more as life expectancy is not increasing so fast that these men are likely to be living that much longer, just working more,” said Cohen. Oh, and in these ages as in others, men typically make more than women.

Victor Marshall, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, speculated that older Americans are working longer for reasons having to do with Social Security.

“In the U.S., a reason for more people working past age 65 is due to the legislation moving Social Security upward,” said Marshall. “It really does pay off financially for those who don’t die prematurely to stay in the labor force long enough to maximize the public pension.”

Others, however, have a different perspective: Matthew Drinkwater, the associate managing director of the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, noted for instance, that only 18% of all individuals age 65 or older are employed. What’s more, among those age 60 to 64, only around half are employed.

By contrast, Anna Rappaport, president of a Chicago-based consulting firm bearing her name and chair of the Society of Actuaries Committee on Post-Retirement Needs and Risks, said 78% of men and 67% of women at ages 55 to 59 are in the civilian labor force.

These statistics, say Rappaport and Drinkwater, suggests that plans to work in retirement don’t always become a reality. And the better plan would be to plan for the worst case — not working — and hope for the best case — working.

“Our research has demonstrated that pre-retirees are far more likely to anticipate working in retirement than is actually the case among today’s retirees, and plan to retire at much later ages than actual retirees do,” said Drinkwater. “While there is merit in planning to work longer because it allows for more years of savings and fewer years over which those savings must be deployed, many people won’t have that option. People’s retirement security cannot depend on job earnings, underscoring the need for saving as much as possible.”

Rappaport shares that point of view. “Employment at older ages is a key strategy for having a better retirement for people who are resource limited,” she said. “The labor force participation rates are up for from recent years, for both men and women, but remain lower than early rates for men only.”

Plus, she noted that many people continue to retire early. For instance, the SOA 2013 Retirement Risk Survey shows that people nearing retirement age have a median expected age of retirement of 65, whereas people already retired have a median age of retirement of 58.

And recent focus groups conducted for the SOA with voluntary retirees who were resource-limited indicated that a great deal of retirement was “pushed,” she said, citing this report — The Decision to Retire and Post-Retirement Financial Strategies: A Report on Eight Focus Groups .

According to Rappaport, the reasons for the “push” included employer cultures and environment, jobs that were too demanding, health issues, family needs and other. “Employer and public policies and practices could facilitate longer retirement and enable more people to work longer,” she said. “This is an area that needs attention. While this is not a new area — it badly needs attention and the issues that need addressing are not yet addressed well.”

And for the record, she said retirement ages have not kept up with increasing longevity. Read Rappaport’s article on this subject, The Golden Glitch: Expanding Longevity and Shrinking Work Lives , in the November/December issues of Contingencies Magazine. It points out, she said, that as a society, we are living longer. But our expectations about work and retirement haven’t kept up.

Your income will be lower in retirement

This might not come as a shock to anyone, but the Census Bureau report shows income levels for those in retirement tend to be much lower than the overall median household income in the U.S. according to Drinkwater.

For instance, median household income was $51,371 in 2012, but only one-third of all age 65-plus households have incomes of $50,000 or more. And among nonfamily households, where no one else living in the household is related to the householder (usually single, divorced/separated, or widowed individuals), the percentage drops to 14%, Drinkwater noted.

Viewed another way: Median household income is around $34,000 for those age 65 and older, while the corresponding figure for those age 55 to 64 is around $59,000, according to Census Bureau’s Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012 .

“While most people understand that their incomes will be lower in retirement, will today’s pre-retirees accept the notion of a 40% drop in their incomes?” asked Drinkwater. “Will they be able to adjust their living standards to this new reality, or will they somehow be able to generate enough income from their assets or employment to enjoy higher ‘replacement ratios’ than was the case for their predecessors?”

Poverty a problem for women

Not only will income be lower for many after age 65, the prospect of living in poverty looms large for some, and especially for women.

In general, however, the 55-plus population living in poverty is relatively low at 9.7%. But Linda Nazareth, author of “Economorphics: The Trends Changing Today into Tomorrow,” said there’s a big difference between age groups.

For instance, the lowest percent is for the group aged 65 to 74, where it is 7.4%. “These are the early boomers/pre-boomers who had related uninterrupted work lives, and who are the most likely group to be getting old-fashion, reliable pensions,” said Nazareth, who is also an economist with Relentless Economics. “The group aged 55 to 59 has 10.7% in poverty and the group 60 to 64 has 10.8%. “Older retirees also have higher rates of poverty, but that one ‘lucky cohort’ had the best chance of escaping it,” she said.

Women, on the other hand, continue to have higher poverty rates than men, according to Rappaport. At ages 85 and over 14% of women are in poverty vs. 7% of men. This compares to 9% for women and 6% for men at ages 65 to 69.

And this data, Rappaport said, reinforces the need for better planning. For the record, and not shown in the census data, is this factoid: Couples are much better off than singles, Rappaport said.

Divorce poses a financial problem

To be fair, divorce and widowhood are two reasons why women have higher poverty rates than men. Consider: 13.8% of the population aged 55-plus is divorced, though it varies wildly by age. For instance, Nazareth noted that just 4.2% of those 85 and over are divorced, but 17.1% of those 55 to 59 are divorced.

“That’s a big deal in terms of how assets are being split up, and it puts the ‘about-to-retire’ group in a precarious state as regards their financial health postretirement,” Nazareth said. “I sometimes say ‘would you rather live in poverty or live with your spouse? Because it might come down to that.”

Planning for widowhood a necessity

Rappaport also noted huge differences when it comes to the marital status by age and sex of older Americans.

For instance, 73% of women age 85 and older are widows. “And with increasing life spans, some of them will live a lot longer,” Rappaport said. “There is a huge need for better planning here.”

The 2013 SOA Retirement Risk Study points out many gaps in planning for widowhood and the SOA’s Retirement Risk Research also points out that many people are unaware of the financial consequences of widowhood.

“Many widows will be worse off financially than before widowhood, but the majority of respondents did not realize this,” Rappaport said. “Among the survey respondents, the majority expect there to be no change in financial status, and the percentage expecting to be better off is about the same as the percentage expecting to be worse off.”

For his part, Drinkwater said it’s worth noting that more than a third (36%) of all women over 65 are widows. Men, he said, are much less likely to be widowed (12%) because they tend to die before their wives and they remarry more often than women when their spouse dies.

Plus, women are more likely to be living alone — 71% of non-married households are headed by women, usually with no family living in the household. Like Rappaport, Drinkwater said these statistics suggest that retirement plans must include provisions for widowhood, which has important implications for caregiving arrangements, managing finances, and other needs. “But it’s not a comfortable subject to discuss and some couples are likely in denial or don’t want to consider the implications for the surviving spouse after one of them dies,” he said. “Our research, as well as that of other organizations such as the SOA, consistently shows that in terms of retirement security, women are less confident, less well-prepared, and less financially well-off than men, putting them at special risk.”

But boomer women are set to dominate

Despite the fact that a greater percentage of women are living in poverty than men, the future looks somewhat bright for women in general, according to Cohen.

Under age 55, the number of men and women are roughly equal, Cohen said. But starting at 55, increasingly there are more women than men. And when you get to 85, there are more than 1.5 times women than men.

Factor into this that the boomers are such a large portion of the population and one of the cohorts that will dominate in the next several decades are boomer women, said Cohen. “And if you think these women are passive, obedient, quiet, go-along-with-the-flow, just like those from prior cohorts, you don’t know my wife,” he joked.

Cohen also said educated women stand to benefit from future trends.

At the moment, only one in four (24.1%) of women over the age of 55 has a college degree or more education. But among the boomer women it is closer to 30%, according to Cohen. “So these boomer women that will be living longer and inheriting their husband’s money (not to mention their parent’s) will be more educated than women who are from prior generations,” said Cohen.

Going back to college

Nazareth also believes that older Americans who are college educated will be more inclined to return to school in their older years. “If you look at the population aged over 55, 16.1% has a bachelor’s degree, but there is a wide variation. In the 55 to 59 group, 18.8% do, while for the group 75 to 84 it is 12.7% and for those 85-plus it is 10%. “If you have been to college earlier in your life, you are going to be more comfortable about furthering your education when you retire,” Nazareth said. “So the boomers are going to be headed to college, in some form or another, in droves.”

It may, however, take a bit for them to get there. “Right now they are working if they can to build their assets, but eventually they will be forced out of the workforce,” she said.

Planning is a must

Another expert, meanwhile, noted that Americans over age 55 have made great progress over the past decade when it comes to educational, income, employment levels of individuals age 55.

But, Lynette DeWitt, a research manager at the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, warned that future generations may not age as gracefully as today. “Only three in 10 consumers feel very secure about their retirement,” she said, citing Deloitte’s survey on the subject, “Meeting the Retirement Challenge.”

“The main reasons for retirement insecurity include a failure to save enough, and a lack of disposable income,” she said. “With educational and housing expenses rising, consumers may continue to find it challenging to balance spending and savings goals. So it is important for individuals to have a financial plan in place to help balance their retirement needs with other conflicting priorities.”

Robert Powell is editor of Retirement Weekly, published by MarketWatch. Follow his tweets at RJPIII . Got questions about retirement? Get answers. Send Bob an email here .


How do I get disability insurance as a self-employed individual?

Approximately 30% of all people age 35-65 will suffer a disability for at least 90 days.

Consider the odds: During your working years, it is more likely you will face a disability than die. In fact, for a male age 35, the odds are nearly 2 to 1; for a female age 35, almost 3 to 1.*

 However, since disability insurance is not state mandated, like some other types of insurance (think auto and home insurance), most people never take the time to really explore this type of coverage and see why it makes sense for them to get this income protection in place. You see, as a business owner, you are, for the most part, in control of creating your own income. If you become too sick or injured to do your work and produce an income, what will keep the money flowing into your life to pay the bills and save for your financial future? That’s where disability insurance comes in. It allows you income protection and gives you peace of mind that in the event you actually do become too sick or injured to work, the financial foundation you’ve worked so hard to create will not be completely destroyed.

If you’re self-employed or run your own business, you must watch this video. I’ll explain what individual disability insurance is, and what to consider when applying for this type of coverage.

*Source: Health Insurance Association of America; The New York Times, February 2000, as published in The JHA Disability Fact Book, 2003 Edition.