When you think about your money, think about how to use it as a vehicle for realizing your personal vision of success. Defining your goals and needs can provide a framework for you to base all your financial decisions around as you navigate the inevitable ups and downs of life. Think through where you are today, where you’d like your finances to be ideally and how you can bridge that gap.
Having a plan in place can help you find ways to take advantage of your money’s potential to grow over the long term, forge greater resilience in your life and the lives of your loved ones and even pay it forward to the causes and people you care about most. Make it a habit to review your financial situation and make adaptations according to your needs, new life events and evolving market conditions on a regular basis — at least once a year, and even more often for short-term goals.
A sound financial strategy includes saving and investing. Aim to keep more of what you earn and put your money to work toward your goals over as much time as possible. There can be a lot of complexity in the financial markets as well as in life’s daily demands on our wallets, so the best decisions for you will depend on your goals as well as your comfort level with risk. But whatever you do, start today.
If you’re struggling to find your footing, reach for the low-hanging fruit by participating in any workplace benefits you have available. You may not think of workplace benefits as a way to invest in the markets, but they can be a great starting point.
In addition to salary, your company likely offers benefits to support your financial life, such as a retirement or equity compensation plan. You may even be able to automate contributions through payroll deductions or online banking, making it easier to invest on your terms and at your own pace. Find out the details, talk to your HR representative and research your choices.
If you receive equity compensation or have the opportunity to participate in an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) at your job, that’s another opportunity to potentially build wealth as you continue to build your career. Equity compensation can help you develop an investment portfolio designed to grow over the long term, while an ESPP can be a relatively more affordable way to engage in the market, given that many employers offer share price discounts to employees through their stock plan programs.
Consider how company stock could potentially fit in with your wider goals and make sure you understand the rules and requirements — there are also professionals who can help you with any investment decisions you might be making.
Women provide 66% of the caregiving work in the U.S., and we are more likely to put our careers on hold or reduce our working hours to care for children and/or aging parents. The last couple of years have only magnified this issue, especially for women of color and single mothers.
Caregiving can play a significant role in our financial journey, so if caregiving is or may become a part of your life, it’s important to plan to offset the potential financial impact. Hold honest conversations with your loved ones and start planning for your own future needs.
If you’re already providing care for a loved one, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, look for ways to stay in touch with your professional connections. You never know — maintaining your network may help you find a lucrative side hustle or a way back into the workforce down the road.
Taking charge of your financial life doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own. Work on building up a “dream team” of personal and professional contacts who can be a part of your support system as you pursue your financial goals.
For example, professionals like accountants, lawyers, and financial advisers can help you assess your choices, prepare financial next steps and put your money to work through prudent investments.
You may even be able to access support professionals like these through your workplace benefits — like a retirement plan adviser, an equity compensation professional or a financial coach.
Look to your wider community as well, whether through professional organizations, hobbies or local groups for like-minded people and financial education opportunities that can help empower you each step of the way.
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Even though women face distinct financial challenges, you can find power and control over a great deal when it comes to your money decisions. Taking financial leadership in your own life can help you build greater freedom and protection for yourself and your loved ones, no matter what curveballs life throws your way.
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