Rebecca Ross: “Women must prioritize their own goals at this stage of their lives.”
MILWAUKEE, August 10, 2015 – Many women, after taking significant time off to care for children or aging parents, face significant challenges as they re-enter the workforce and attempt to get their financial plans back on track. Baird Financial Advisor Rebecca Ross, a 32-year veteran advisor and President of the Baird Women’s Advisory Council, advises women to make planning for their long-term financial needs and saving for retirement their highest priority.
“By virtue of our nurturing natures, many women find that our own needs and goals are prioritized behind others – whether it is children, parents, spouse or partner,” said Ross who is based out of Baird’s Baltimore wealth management office. “It’s not uncommon to see women step out of the workforce for 15 or 20 years. When they do go back to work, their time to rebuild their finances is limited to maybe 10 or 15 years. There is very little room for error. Women must begin to rank their own financial objectives ahead of others.”
As a first step, Ross encourages women to work through the process of creating a detailed financial plan or “roadmap” that prioritizes their goals, enabling them to determine how much they will need to retire comfortably. “This is crucial. You need to save for what you can’t borrow for – retirement – and accept that it isn’t a bad thing if you can’t pay for an expensive college for your child or loan them money to buy a house,” Ross said. A financial advisor can be a big help here.
Once you know what you need to save, Ross recommends women take the following steps to improve their likelihood of achieving their goals:
- Save aggressively and don’t shy away from risk. Maximize contributions to your employer retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, including catchup contributions, which are available to you beginning at age 50. “We encourage women to save as much as they possibly can in their employer’s 401(k) or qualified retirement plan. If you do that and still have money left to open a Roth IRA, go for it,” Ross said. “We also encourage them not to be afraid of the markets or taking risk. Women tend to be too conservative in their investing.”
- Stick to a budget. Just because you’ve landed a position and are again drawing a paycheck, it is still important to budget. Ross encourages clients to track their spending – eating out, dry cleaning and those $5 dollar lattes do add up. “The goal is to make sure there is enough money to maximize your retirement savings, so always pay yourself first,” she said.
- Understand your partner’s retirement plan. “The choices your partner makes on the timing of his or her retirement and election of benefits can affect you,” Ross said. “Talk to your advisor about how to maximize your joint retirement and social security decisions.”
- Take steps to establish financial independence. “Unfortunately, you never know when you are going to end up alone,” Ross said. She recommends having one or two credit cards just in your name and a separate savings account. Always pay bills on time and don’t flirt with credit limits. Additionally, an emergency fund with three to six months of living expenses will help you weather unexpected expenses without borrowing money.
- Address long-term care needs. “80 percent of men die married and 80 percent of women die single,”1 Ross said. “It is important to make plans for your own long-term care, assuming a spouse or partner may not be in the picture.” Consider where you will live and who will care for you. For many, some type of long-term care insurance policy makes good financial sense.
- Assemble a strong team. If you haven’t already done so, establish relationships with a financial advisor, attorney and accountant you trust and make sure they are working together. Now is the time to get your estate plans in order with updated wills, powers of attorney, living directives and trusts.
- Consider working longer. With more people living into their 90s, staying in the workforce longer can make good financial sense. This means more years to save and contribute to retirement accounts. It also can mean a higher monthly social security benefit and a significant increase in your lifetime social security income. On the flip side, taking social security too early means you could reduce your benefit by as much as 30 percent.2
- Set limits on helping your children. Ross encourages women to set boundaries around the financial help they will give adult children. “You need to set limits on helping your children” Ross said. “Most people will help out in an emergency, but it doesn’t make sense to buy an adult child a car or help with a down payment on a house if you haven’t adequately saved for your own needs.”
To schedule an interview with Rebecca Ross, contact Amy Nutter, Baird Public Relations, at (414) 765-3988 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 According to a 2007 study by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.
2 According to The United States Social Security Administration.
About Baird Women Advisors
Established in 2008, Baird Women Advisors is a group comprised of women financial advisors at Baird. By bringing these advisors together to network and share best practices, the group is committed to promoting the profession and making Baird the best place to work for women in wealth management.
Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in 1919, Baird has more than 3,100 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients. Baird has $152billion in client assets. Committed to being a great place to work, Baird ranked No. 5 on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015 – its 12th consecutive year on the list. Baird’s principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird’s investment banking and private equity operations. For more information, please visit Baird’s Web site at www.rwbaird.com.
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